Hong Kong – The Sleepy City

Hong Kong – The Sleepy City

I was very lucky to have a week off in Hong Kong on my own this past week. Since having kids, I have had a couple of opportunities to travel on my own for a week’s duration, however, it has always centred around a startup conference. The schedule is always frantic: Early mornings to get to the conference, full days networking and absorbing as many insights as possible, and then the inevitable very late, alcohol-fuelled nights bonding with the delegates. I come back from these trips totally wiped out and take a taxi from the airport straight to rehab.

So, when my husband said he would take a week off work so that I could have a week off to myself anywhere in Asia, it was a very good deal. Tokyo is on my bucket list. Always has been, but it is so hot and humid at this time of year, that I decided to travel to Hong Kong for the first time.

Ever the entrepreneur, the timing also coincided with a regional startup conference. So the plan was to attend the conference and then have the rest of the week to myself to write, to explore business opportunities and check out this vibrant city. And I was super excited that one of my friends agreed to join me for the first few days.

Hong Kong is a great city. We ate amazing food, we toured the island and took in the sites, which included a ridiculous number of handsome, fit and hunky expat men. All the singles ladies, take note, get on that plane and high tail it to HK!

But my biggest insight from this trip has been about my body clock.

I have vivid memories as a child of not being able to get out of bed and get ready for school. My parents used to rip my doona off in the morning to startle me awake. At university, I purposely scheduled all my lectures in the afternoon because I simply could not rise before 11am. As a worker, I had an army of strategically placed alarms to shake me out of my slumber and make sure that I made the express bus into the city. Having children forces me to be up early and on the go all day and into the night, busily darting from place to place to get done what needs doing.

But that is not my natural state, and never has been. Left to myself in a Hong Kong hotel room with no distractions or alarms, I found myself waking up at 11am, 10:40am and 11:45am on three of the days. I could only conclude that every stage of my life, from being in fulltime work to being a mother, has been robbing me of what my body desperately needed. Long and deep sleep.

And these few days in Hong Kong have reminded me of a long-lost feeling – that I am happiest when I am asleep. There is actually a scientific reason for this. Because when you sleep your brain processes everything that has bombarded you during the day, fixes the body, detoxifies and restores balance. So as the night goes on, you become more relaxed and go into deep, meaningful restorative sleep.

The issue of sleep has always fascinated me because I am a person who has vivid dreams. I have always put it down to being visual. Some of my dreams have been so epic that they could be nominated for an Oscar.

And I have never told anyone this before. But one of the main reasons I like sleeping is that there is a character in my subconscious. Someone who has always been with me since I was young. He is my sleep guardian. When he arrives in my dreams, I feel happy. Because when he turns up it is a sign that things will change for the better. His presence represents confidence. He is someone from my past who came into my life at a time of transition, as I became a more independent and self-assured individual. I go to sleep every night secretly hoping that he will visit. Though, truth-be-told, it is a rare occurrence because he only appears when I am going through a major transformation in my life.

I suspect, the reason I have never feared my own death is that is means getting a really good sleep. Further suspecting that this may be a strange perspective, I have gone in search of an explanation. I have ordered Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying: An Exploration of Consciousness by the Dalai Lama and look forward to sharing the insights in Book Club in the coming weeks.

For now, I am enjoying catching up on a decade of sleep. Sweet dreams, Maxers.