Mental chaos half across the world (Part 2 of 3)

Hong Kong skyscrapers mountain
Hong Kong

Please also consider reading part 1 of 3 set in Taichung, Taiwan

When I made the decision to up and leave everything in Taiwan, I must have been approaching a moderate to high level of hypomania. I was impulsive, but with still some ability to put on the brakes. But, once hypomania is triggered, it can grow to a full blown mania in people with bipolar disorder type 1. The following part of my Asian adventure shows one such transition.

My first stop outside of Taiwan was Hong Kong. I chose it because I had a little hankering for a bit of a Western flavor after six months in a very foreign feeling one. Hong Kong, still under British rule at the time, had that modern cosmopolitan atmosphere I missed in Taiwanese cities. I could see how spectacular the city was straight from my airplane window on the approach. Hong Kong International Airport (the now closed Kai Tak Airport) was perfectly situated with a view of Hong Kong’s splendid skyscrapers, mountains to the north, and Victoria Harbour at the end of the runway. The approach to the airport afforded all of these amazing views. The landing was also a dramatic experience, and was known to be technically demanding for pilots.

Hostel exampleUpon leaving the airport, I headed to a cheap youth hostel that was listed in a guidebook I purchased in Taiwan. There, I booked a $6 per night bed in a room that had at least eight bunks. It was mixed men and women, something I didn’t mind at all from past experience. I chained my suitcase to the bunk, secured it with a lock, and headed out with my backpack. From that point on, I have only select memories of my time in this wonderful city. Memory problems are pretty common side-effects of manic episodes, but here are some of the things I do remember.

hong-kong boat in harbour

I think the first thing I did was board a ferry to the modern part of the city. The air blowing through my hair was intoxicating and the harbor had a fragrant smell about it (Hong Kong means “fragrant harbor” in Chinese, after all). Unlike Taiwanese cities, parts of Hong Kong have scores of beautiful modern skyscrapers. Architectural treasures! Many Taiwanese buildings look more like communist block housing, though they’re not.

Hong Kong skylineWhen I arrived in the modern city, I wove through the skyscrapers stretching my neck backwards at each block. Some were even more remarkable than those in San Francisco. Then suddenly, I stumbled upon a hidden treasure; a beautiful green park full of paths surrounded by tall trees and flowering bushes of types I had never seen before. I climbed the steepening paths to the top and recall a glorious view of the city. I was high up and high mentally, feeling like I was floating above the world, and strangely I was all alone and in what seemed like silence.

Hong Kong night street scene Kowloon
Kowloon district at night

During the next days, I visited Hong Kong’s popular Kowloon district, a much more typically “Chinese” looking section of the city. I zipped around town exploring what seemed like every hustling street. Then I stumbled upon “electronics row”, with one shop after another selling cameras, TVs, watches, and everything else that moved. The area itself was fast moving, bustling with people, just as my mind and body was moving. Fast, fast, fast! What normally could have been sensory overload was a sensory symphony. A mix of Chinese opera and Beethoven somehow combined into a perfect harmony.

Hong Kong recordsI remember being impressed by more numerous and more modern CD stores than I had ever even seen in the U.S. This one shop I entered had headphones where you could listen to any of the CDs for sale. I know, it later became common when CD stores still existed, but that was a new thing in the mid-1990s. Exciting! I remember hearing Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album for the first time, freshly released, and discovering a band called Oasis. New sounds. If they were popular in the U.S., I hadn’t heard of them!

During my exploration, I hooked up with a number of people. When you’re a lone traveler, that’s what you do. The first people I met were three Australians. One of them, a guy maybe 25 years my senior, seemed to consider himself a winner finding me, and even asked me to join him for a movie nearby, after a lunch. In the movie theater, he started to get a little fresh with me, so I excused myself to go to the bathroom. He said I could leave my backpack with him when I went. Yeah, right! I told him I needed something from it, and high-tailed it the hell out of there.

Later in the trip, I met an Israeli guy in my youth hostel. He was in Hong Kong with a young Korean girlfriend he met in China P.R.C., while studying Chinese. They told me that the girl’s parents didn’t know about the relationship, and that they would have forbidden it, if they did. I ended up hanging out with the guy three times total. The first time just for a walk around town with his girlfriend. The second time, was just with him in the hostel. He invited me to see his private room. It was 10 times more comfortable than my barracks-like situation, and included just one queen-sized bed with a private bathroom. He propositioned me for sex, but despite my elevated mood I refused, reminding him of his girlfriend. But, that didn’t keep me from hanging out some more with the two of them. He was a blast to talk to, and seemed riveted to every word I said, laughing at every joke. Such people are extra stimulating to a manic person. Manic people are sometimes extra exciting.

Hong Kong street food
I usually ate street food

The Israeli guy invited me to join him and his girlfriend for dinner that night. We walked around a bit and he listened to my profuse rambling. His young girlfriend was obviously quite unhappy about it, but I wasn’t concerned. He asked where I (not she) wanted to eat and I picked a fancy looking Szechuan restaurant in a nice part of Kowloon. Mmm! I hadn’t had anything but street food in ages. My mouth was watering, and I felt I deserved some luxury!

I had heard that Hong Kong cuisine was extraordinarily delicious, and he was immediately excited about my suggestion. We went in, sat down and ordered several yummy-sounding dishes from the menu. The Israeli guy and I were talking together, but then suddenly his girlfriend started to cry and yell at him and me hysterically. I recall her shouting “We can’t afford this! Why are we here?! Only because of her! Tell her to go away! TELL HER TO GO AWAY!”

People in the restaurant were staring at us, but I wasn’t shocked. I was living only in my own world at the time, but it nevertheless occurred to me that I’d better scat. I put down a good chunk of money quickly and left mid-meal. I laughed the whole way down the street, hysterically. After that, I don’t remember what happened. I eventually went back to my hostel, checked my luggage (thank god, nothing stolen), and decided it was best for me to move on to Bangkok in a few days. I don’t remember booking the ticket or even flying to Thailand, or what I did during that remaining time in Hong Kong.

Continue reading the final part 3 of 3 in Thailand









12 thoughts on “Mental chaos half across the world (Part 2 of 3)

    • updownflight April 24, 2017 / 6:22 pm

      I’m glad you liked my part 2 of the Mental chaos series, too. My part 3 will be the most intense of them all. I was planning on writing it today, but I suddenly got so tired and just don’t have it in me right now. I might finish writing part 3 tomorrow instead. Please do look for it if you liked the first two.

      Liked by 1 person

      • yuhublogger April 24, 2017 / 6:24 pm

        Absolutely. Why did you think I followed you blog? The story is simply irresistible! I simply can’t wait for more. Such a gripping story, sorry, true life.


  1. Emma April 28, 2017 / 10:51 pm

    Your pictures are stunning. Travelling is something I am really keen to do in the future! I live in the UK and the only time I’ve been abroad was in my last year of Primary school when I was about 10/11 where I went on a school trip to France so I don’t remember much since I was so young! I remember our head teacher buying us ice cream as a special treat and that day we went to Disneyland Paris and I and my friend assumed we had enough time to go on one final ride when we didn’t so end up really late back to the bus only to get shouted at by a teacher! But I don’t remember much else. I really want to visit Australia and many places in America! Also, what was the experience like in the cheap youth hostel? I’ve been to a hostel before with a friend but we got a private room but I know the sharing rooms are cheaper. I’m too scared to do it in case my stuff gets stolen like my phone when I sleep as I use that as an alarm. Did you bring the locks yourself or were they provided? I totally understand the memory issues as I get that with Bipolar but it’s mainly my low moods when I get that. I remember halfway through high school, I became really close to a new teacher then one day I tried to add her on Facebook. I supposedly messaged her as well. After I did it, I completely forgot what I had done and it took me ages to remember thanks to my Bipolar. Nowadays, the who time is cloudy in my memory. I remember I started being nasty towards her because I imagined her outside my house cursing in at me – hallucinations were another side effect of my Bipolar. When I was in my last year, we were back to getting on well but didn’t trust each other because of the past issues. Which is a shame as we were quite similar types of people mentally and understood each other really well and I know she’d have kept in touch with me if I’d have apologised which is also a shame. The thing is because this was just before I ended up in the hospital where I was diagnosed with Bipolar, I wasn’t well and I didn’t know it and therefore I don’t remember most of what happened at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 29, 2017 / 5:48 am

      Hi Emma. Yes, I’ve experienced the memory issues of bipolar disorder too. During both depressed and manic stages. I have also had psychosis during both severe stages. I’m sorry you have had hallucinations. The worst of my psychosis happened when I was in my early 30s.

      I hope you do get to go to Australia and the states. I don’t know about Australia, but there aren’t really any hostels in the states that I know of. Hosteling is quite the experience. Fun, but not very comfortable. But when you’re young that is not always that important. Yes, I imagine with expensive electronics it is a risk in hostels now. I did lock my stuff up. Some hostels were very dirty.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Emma April 30, 2017 / 12:05 am

        Yeah. The low stages are less often now but they know when to creep up when I’m least expecting it! And, to be honest when your travelling young you spend as little time in the accommodation as you can so at least its cheap. I’ve only stayed in a hostel once and luckily it was very clean, not dirty just the bed wasn’t the most comfortable. When I stay anywhere, I only take the most minimal electronics so I would probably only have my phone and at most my tablet which I would take both in my bag when I leave each day so that part wouldn’t be an issue.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight April 30, 2017 / 11:33 am

        Emma, I would also probably now have my cell phone with me and keep it on my person. It’s definitely a different world now.

        Liked by 1 person

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