Halloween in Hong Kong is insane.
I didn’t realise this until I arrived and found out that 95% of hostels were fully booked and I had nowhere to stay.
I put out a cry for help on Twitter and announced that I was going end up sleeping on the streets. Within minutes Ally had replied, offering me her couch to crash on for a few days.
Staying in an apartment as opposed to the dorm rooms I had become accustomed to was a welcome change and I enjoyed feeling settled and having a decent night’s sleep for a change. It couldn’t have been more perfect. I of course appreciated the generosity of a perfect stranger as well. Travellers are awesome.
I was having so much fun until my second day in Hong Kong.
After returning back to Ally’s apartment after a full day of sightseeing, I was looking forward to a relaxing evening of doing nothing.
As I removed the key from my pocket, slid it into the lock and turned, I heard a sound which sent my heart into my mouth.
I looked down at my hands in disbelief before starting to hyperventilate. I was holding one half of the key and the other half was stuck in the door.
Oh my god.
I stared at the shattered key in my hand for what felt like hours, trying to piece together what had just happened. How on earth do I possess the strength required to break a key in half? The only key to the apartment.
How is that even possible?
My temples began to throb and I felt the panic rising in my throat as I stared at the key in the door. The minutes ticked by, peppered with the sound of my frantic breaths and gentle sobbing.
Attempting to pull myself together, I twisted the door handle but it refused to move. With the key completely wedged inside the lock, I was unable to either remove it or unlock the door.
I dropped to my hands and knees in desperation and frantically scoured the floor, searching for fragments of the key. When that proved to be unsuccessful I rummaged through my purse, and tried using a pen, coin and a Happy Meal toy to force the key to turn but nothing worked.
I had no idea what time Ally would be returning to her apartment, and I didn’t have a phone to contact her or anyone else. I freaked out.
Pacing backwards and forwards along the metre long corridor I wrapped my arms around myself and started whimpering.
This is the exact situation where possessing common sense would be helpful. Just a little bit. Just enough to figure out what a normal person would do in this situation.
What do I do in this situation?!
Half an hour soon passed before I decided I had to take action. I went downstairs to find the non-English speaking concierge and attempted to mime what had just happened to me.
I handed the shards of key to the concierge, started pretending to cry and waved the pieces of metal in his face.
He picked up the phone, and after a few minutes of screamed Chinese down the phone, handed it to me.
The person on the other end couldn’t speak any English so after my attempts of shouting “I BROKE MY KEY” failed to get the point across, I handed the phone back to the concierge and he shook his head in disappointment at me.
As soon as my legs stopped trembling, I looked up to see the concierge grinning inanely at me and motioning for me to get up and sit on his stool. Upon sitting down he offered me a sweet.
I began to smile as I unwrapped the sweet and popped it in my mouth. My smile soon faded, however, as I watched the toothless man flash his gums at me and slowly lean over to touch my leg.
Could my day get any worse?!
Fortunately, the locksmith chose that moment to enter the building and break up the sexual tension. I showed him up to the apartment and within minutes he had the door open. Perfect. All I need now is the lock replaced and all would be well again.
Except he then held out his hand and asked for money.
I put my mime skills to good use yet again, acting out that I needed a new lock. Finally understanding what I meant, he wrote down a price of the equivalent of £50. I wasn’t happy but I had to agree to it.
With no money left in my purse, I rushed out to find an ATM. Fortunately, there was one just across the street but upon inserting my card in I received the following message:
“We could not process your request. Please try again.”
So I did. I tried again and again. I tried three different ATMs but not a single one of them would accept my card.
As I trudged back to the apartment block, my mind was in overdrive and my stomach was churning.
How do I explain to someone who doesn’t speak English that I couldn’t withdraw any money? What if he decides to takes my beloved Macbook as payment? What if he’s already stolen my Macbook as I left him alone in the apartment?!
After trying to explain that I didn’t have any money to pay him, he led me downstairs.
Was I about to be kidnapped?!
After 10 minutes of the locksmith and concierge arguing and screaming at each other in Chinese, the concierge took out his wallet and handed over the money I owed to the locksmith.
Relief washed over me and after thanking the concierge profusely and promising to pay him back first thing tomorrow.
Now I just had to explain to Ally why she had a brand new lock on her door…
What’s the most stressful thing that’s happened to you while you’ve been travelling?