Boutique Backpacking in Hong Kong

Sue Ostler and her fiancée put on their Converse sneakers and backpacks and spend the rest on a spa-rty.

cc. / ppz
cc. / ppz

Hong Kong is a great city to have a spa-rty in. And it’s an amazing place in which to ignite all the senses – if you have loads of money – which frankly, I didn’t at the time. What I did have was a lovely fiancé in tow, financing a day of beauty treats – but after that, he’d said, shaking his finger in my face – it was back to rice noodles. Roger that!

I love the way we travelled. We bound around with backpacks (mine the deluxe ladies model, cleverly designed to let the bulk of the weight sit on your hips – and ladies, the bigger, the better); and while we zipped about in trains, buses and budget airlines, we resided at 4-star accommodation – the management of which sneeringly looked us up and down from our Converse clad feet.

We didn’t give a toss though: mixing it up, from chowing down at the best restaurants to scoping out the hawker stands made famous by the locals.

I was happy, I was content, I was loved up, but my god I felt fugly. I hadn’t washed my hair for three days knowing that the insane humidity would only make it greasy again. I wore it scraped back into a limp pony-tail with bare-faced chic. The result was that almost nobody paid any attention to me and they sure didn’t flirt with me – not even when I pulled out all the charm stops to get the best bargains, but hey, this was Hong Kong, and everyone was too intent on making money to muck around.

Despite this, the lack of attention was giving me a slight case of the backpacker blues – I really am that shallow – basically, I needed a beauty hit. Confucius say long time, no facial!

We had been travelling across Asia for a few weeks and I’d decided that I would achieve glowing health on the road if it damn well killed me.

For treatments that were good enough to eat, I was advised to head down to Times Square for the Honey Spa: sweet, sticky body wraps and masks which contained vitamins and antimicrobic properties to replenish moisture and repair skin. But it was the Wine Spa that sounded the most intriguing: it used antioxidants to reverse the signs of aging and rejuvenates skin by neutralizing free radicals caused by sun, stress and pollutants – not alcohol of course.

Or I could venture out to Kowloon for the Wasabi Spa: a Japanese mustard wrap which allowed the skin to absorb further treatments. But who could resist the most decadent experience of all? The Chocolate Spa – guaranteed to generate feelings of pleasure boosted by lashings of phenethylamine – the Lurve Chemical. Sure – if I could go past the 24-carat gold facial with its promise of magic and an exquisite glowing complexion in exchange for a several hundred Hong Kong dollars!

Being backpacked out and needing comfort food, I settled on the Chocolate Spa and came out beaming love and happiness and smelling like a choc-dipped strawberry. I suggested a ceremonial dinner of Peking Duck on the 66th floor Revolving Restaurant to soak up the mad symphony of lights which lit up the Kowloon Star Harbour below. As for what happened after that, well, what goes on the road, stays on the road. Needless to say I felt recharged and re-energised and radiant. Hong Kong will do that to a girl.

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