Sometimes, you only get one chance to make the most of your travels. You really never know when you are ever going to get to come back to a city or country. In fact, I’ve been to cities that I am no longer allowed to visit now. Policies have changed and the world has changed. I’m glad I visited them while I had the chance.
By the time I was stationed in Japan, I had traveled all over half the world. It was my time to travel all over the other half. I took nearly three weeks one summer and just blew my wad of cash on these traveling arrangements.
Travel Itinerary: 1993
Hong Kong – May 13 to May 17
Manila – May 18 to May 21
Ho Chi Minh City – May 22 to May 24
Singapore – May 25 to May 29
Thinking that the next time, if ever, I get to visit Hong Kong, it will no longer be a British Colony, I made plans to travel there when I was in Japan. I had friends in Manila who had retired from the Navy. I had met them while I was in the Marine Corps.
History took me to Ho Chi Minh where my uncle fought in Vietnam. But, Singapore had been calling me since I was a kid. Commercials on the television, pages in my geography books and posters in every Asian food restaurant I ever ate had beautiful pictures of the land. So, I put it on the itinerary as my last stop for my vacation in 1993.
I could go home for Christmas.
But, the summer was for seeing the world.
I called a travel agent and made the arrangements. It wasn’t until I actually landed in Hong Kong and started trying to get around that I realized I should have hired a travel guide. A travel guide is nothing like a travel agent because a guide goes with you and knows where all the greatest places are. A travel agent only gives you an itinerary and provides you with travel arrangements.
Travel agents are capable of providing you with quality discounts while you’re traveling. You’ll know what restaurant to go to because you might have a pass or a coupon that gives you a nice discount on your food. You’ll know where to stay because lodging is cheaper. A travel agent can also make sure you have the proper travel insurance. But, a travel agent most likely knows little else about the place you are traveling.
When you hire a travel guide, you are hiring an expert. You are hiring someone who knows Hong Kong and Singapore like the back of their hand. You can look in any brochure and find the highlights of any city. But, you probably already know about the Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen Harbor or about the Ocean Park and Water World where kids can play in huge pool parks. That’s what everyone knows about Hong Kong.
But, a guide can show you so many other interesting things that very few travel agents even know. Did you know about the kayaking trips in Hong Kong? Have you ever heard of the Al Fresco Restaurants and Cafés where you can eat outdoors? And what about the nightlife? Would you be able to find your way to Club No. 9 or the Hei Hei club? A travel guide could get you there in a minute.
Travel guides have been around for a long time and plenty of people use their services. But there are still some people on the outside who don’t know about this little insider secret. Guides are all over the place. There might be a guide in your city who knows where you are going and what to do when you get there. Spending the extra cash on a guide will save you trouble in the long run.