Tue, Jan 15, 2013 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: HK man travels world by his wits

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

He then embarked on his first trip to Europe, and after that experience, he made a little adjustment: He would apply for a work visa to work in a foreign country for a time, travel in and out of the country, and when he was out of cash, he would then work for another period to cover his travel expenses.

So far, he has traveled through nearly 20 countries in Asia, Europe, South America and Oceania.

Asked to name the most unforgettable experience during his travels, Fai answered: “Being detained in Malaysia and robbed in Brazil.”

Fai recalled that before flying to Malaysia in 2007, he tried to withdraw some money from an ATM at Hong Kong International Airport, but for some reason, it did not work.

“I was in a hurry the catch the flight, so I gave up, thinking that I could always get money in Malaysia with a bankcard in hand,” he said. “However, at the immigration inspection, I was asked if I had money on me since I had a one-way ticket. I said no, but explained that I planned to withdraw money from an ATM in Malaysia. The immigration officer did not listen, and I was taken to a small room without windows.”

That detention was the most painful time in his traveling years, Fai said, since he had to stay in the small room without knowing when he could leave, and the only interaction he had was when food was delivered.

“I lost count of the days, and only after I was released and put on a flight back to Hong Kong did I realize I was in there for four days,” he said.

Another shocking experience happened to him in Brazil in 2011.

“It happened in Rio de Janeiro when I was in South America for the first time. I was very tired that day, so I found a place under an arcade to sleep,” Fai said. “I thought it was a safe place since I saw police patrolling the area in gold cars, but as a precaution, I chained my large backpack and small backpack together.”

In the middle of night, Fai was awakened by a man speaking in Portuguese.

Still half asleep, he only repeatedly said “no” to the man.

The next thing he realized, another man showed up and tried to take his large backpack, while the first man pinned him to the ground.

Fai shouted for help, but no one came to his aid. After a few minutes’ pulling, the large backpack broke off from the chain and the two men quickly ran away, leaving Fai with only his small backpack.

“Although most of my important things, including my passport, wallet and camera were all in the small backpack, it was depressing to think that everything that I had accumulated during my years of traveling — banknotes from different countries, postcards from friends and traveling necessities I’d purchased along the way — were all gone,” Fai said.

Indeed, Fai considers friendship the most important asset that he has gained during his years of travel, and he said he felt pleasantly surprised by Taiwan several times, leading him to consider making Taiwan his second home.

“I took a cycling trip around the island, and I was surprised by the friendliness that the Taiwanese showed to a traveler,” Fai said.

When he was in Sanyi Township (三義), Miaoli County, he asked for directions from a group of children he encountered.

“They not only gave me the directions, but one kid went home to get water for me, while two others accompanied me on their bikes to an intersection, worrying that I might take the wrong turn there,” he said.

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