Originally published in: We Said Go Travel
Beep beep beep beep beep! The MTR gates shut behind me; my inhibitions waving goodbye from the window of the zooming train. I make my way through the blur of multicolored faces, escalator after escalator, in a concrete underground maze. When I finally reached ground level, the familiar sight of red walls greet me, along with the notorious sign that reads Exit D2. As people zigzag their way into each other, the Chinese characters from the print ads in the subway become a constant reminder of how different this place is from what I am used to.
As my friends and I make our way above ground and take the last step to exit the subway, the humid evening air embrace us as if expecting company. “We have arrived,” my friend said, the twinkle in her hazel eyes unmistakable. We parade into the street, welcomed by the symphony of lights that emanate from buildings, malls and bars just like stars – much like how we feel. Instead of a blare of trumpets, we are greeted by the strangely appealing discordant harmonies of bass drops, car horns, drunken laughter and alien accents. A short uphill trek take us to the heart of the place – a 711 store that both causes and nurses hangovers and broken hearts. And with a few drinks that comprise of a surprisingly pleasant selection of world beers, tropical vodka mixes, mini-wine bottles and the occasional accompaniment of noodle bowls or pork balls, I’m ready for the rest of the night – hopping from one rooftop bar to another, one club to another, one flight of stairs to another, one group of strangers to another, one set or arms to another, one side of myself to another.
Whenever I am here, I forget who I am, or who I am supposed to be. I forget about the things I worry about. I forget about what people expect me to do or how people expect me to behave. I forget the things that hold me back from experiencing life to the fullest. Like my ancestors before me, I just surrender to the rhythm of the night and forget everything but the beating of my own heart.
When you forget everything, all that is left is you. Without the influence of the past or future – it’s just you and the present seeing eye-to-eye. You freely raise your hands up in the air, dance the way you want to, befriend a random stranger, pretend you are royalty, just do what you want to do and feel what you want to feel, even for just a night – spilling over to the next, and the next and the next until life becomes just one grand party you take part of and celebrate.
To feel most alive – that is what freedom means to me. To submit to the senses and silence the mind. To have so much energy to last until sunrise. To be open to all possibilities and not say “I can’t” or “I won’t” because in this place, both do not exist. All that exists is YOU, and that is what matters most in the world.
I found freedom in the rugged rawness that reeks from the streets of Lan Kwai Fong, because this is where, for the first time in my life, I stopped thinking and started being.