A Broken Key and a Grope in Hong Kong

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. 

hong kong night

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.

Damn it.

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?



Related Articles on Hong Kong

🇭🇰 22 Incredible Things to Do in Hong Kong
🏙 The Cost of Travel in Hong Kong: My Detailed Budget Breakdown


  1. Micamyx|Senyorita
    January 11, 2012

    Oh my goodness! That is really stressful! I am not really sure on how I’d be able to keep my cool if there are language barriers. I’m just glad that he didn’t steal your MacBook or pursued with his not-so-good attempt.

    • January 12, 2012

      It was incredibly stressful! And yes, thank god my Macbook was safe, I would have exploded if that had gone missing!

  2. Toni
    January 11, 2012

    I love you but you are RIDICULOUS lol. This could only happen to you. I swear you’re a 24/7 ‘Punk’d’ star =D

    • January 12, 2012

      Hahahahaha, oh Toni, that is SO true! Why does it always happen to me?!

  3. Anthony
    January 11, 2012

    “Fortunately, the locksmith chose that moment to enter the building and break up the sexual tension”

    Pahahaha! :)

    • January 12, 2012

      Anthony – yeah I’m pretty sure that if the locksmith hadn’t entered at that moment I would have lost my self-control and dived at his shiny gums. Yum yum yum :)

      • Anthony
        January 12, 2012

        Ahahaha you can’t beat a bit of gum on a man ;)

  4. January 11, 2012

    Anthony beat me to it. The Locksmiths timing was surely worth the £50 alone?

    Whats was your hosts reaction?

    • January 12, 2012

      Yes, thank GOD the locksmith saved me!

      Ally freaked out, ran out of her lecture and back home and was convinced that the locksmith took a copy of the key and was going to break in and rape us all that night.


  5. George
    January 11, 2012

    Oh god I don’t know what I would do in that situation either you seem so unlucky with these things! Ah well at least you managed to get it sorted :)

    • January 12, 2012

      For a few hours there I considered fleeing the country!

  6. Tom
    January 11, 2012

    Hahahaha this is brilliant! I think travellers in Asia all develop mad mime skills after a while as a kind of survival adaptation! I wonder if the concierge would have come on to me, too? LOL

    • January 12, 2012

      Tom, my mime skills are absolutely dreadful! I remember trying to mime a train station to a taxi driver and standing on a street going CHOO CHOO!

    • Dan Thompson
      August 10, 2012

      LOL That is SO true! Imagine trying to mime that you need a hair drier when you’re a bald man… Quite entertaining.

      Crazy story! Dirty old men…. They’re everywhere.


  7. Sarah
    January 11, 2012

    I have definitely had a similar experience. I lost a key to a hostel but was too scared to tell anyone so I just spent the week climbing through the dorm room window.

    But I didn’t get groped by a concierge.

    So you know, I don’t know if that helps or not.

    • January 12, 2012

      Hahahahahahaha! Sarah – that’s hilarious! Unfortunately, this was on the 17th floor so I couldn’t have climbed through the window :D

  8. Amanda
    January 11, 2012

    Yikes! That does indeed sound like a horrible day! I’m impressed you kept it together enough to figure things out!

    • January 12, 2012

      So am I, Amanda, hahaha! I just waiting for something else to go wrong that whole evening…

  9. John
    January 11, 2012

    Wow – sounds like it was just not your day! One bad thing after another. Thanks for sharing though so we can all learn and maybe laugh a little too!

    • January 12, 2012

      Just not my year ;) Still, at least I know what to do when I lose a key in the future as I’m sure will happen at some point…

  10. Chais Meyer
    January 12, 2012

    Shawna and I had a really stressful situation in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia. All the hostels were full, except for one. We stayed there and paid WAY too much for it’s shitty quality. While we were sleeping I felt like things were crawling on me…and there were! We woke up to bed bugs crawling and biting us, with blood splatters on the bed from where we re-adjusted our bodies while sleeping and squashed them on the covers. At 2:30am, we had to wake up the staff (sleeping in the lobby) and convince them to move us to another room where the electricity didn’t work…it was stressful and very annoying! Come to think of it, this would make a great blog post!

    • January 12, 2012

      Chais, It really would! You SO have to write about it! :D

      And also, that’s really gross :)

  11. Sam
    January 12, 2012

    Love to see Ally’s reaction as you explain all that happened. What a day!

    • January 12, 2012

      Ally was horrified and rushed home ASAP!

  12. Chris
    January 12, 2012

    You always have such sexy adventures.

    • January 14, 2012

      I know, I’m such a sex kitten.

  13. Someday I'll Be There - Mina
    January 12, 2012

    This is hilarious!! I know it’s been horrible for you an I’m sorry but it is hilarious :D glad that locksmith just showed up at the exact right moment :D

    • January 14, 2012

      As all of this was taking place, I was thinking, this will make a hilarious blog post!! :)

      • Someday I'll Be There - Mina
        January 16, 2012

        that’s how a travel blogger thinks ;) I just had an accident, and my back is still hurting, while doing a safari trip a couple of days ago, and first thought after i checked that i could still move my arms and legs is “new post!” haha

  14. Jen
    January 12, 2012

    LOL Lauren this is hilarious, you poor thing xxx

    • January 14, 2012

      :) Glad it made you laugh!

  15. Chris
    January 12, 2012

    it never fails to baffle me how much trouble you land yourself in lauren! it’s like you were solely put on this earth to travel, have heaps of bad luck and entertain us all :)


    • January 15, 2012

      Hahahahahahahaha! That is so true.

  16. Jarmo
    January 12, 2012

    Woah, that is a bad day! But when you are travelling, you are bound to get some of those days when nothing goes as planned.

    I also just wrote about my trip to El Nido, trip when a lot of things went wrong! :)

    • January 15, 2012

      …It just seems to happen to me a lot more than it does anyone else!

  17. Gina
    January 12, 2012

    Awww, sweetie … what a story! Although you were quite upset at the time … it was fun reading! :-) Glad things worked out and that you and that concierge aren’t an item ;-) LOL!

    • January 15, 2012

      Hahahaha, oh god, me too!

  18. Ian [EagerExistence]
    January 13, 2012

    Oh I have so many similar stories. One from 2 nights ago in Morocco. But don’t know when I’ll get the chance to post. Unlucky adventures in travel at least make for good stories. Glad you didn’t have to pay for the favour with a favour.

    • January 15, 2012

      Yep, I was constantly thinking about what a good blog post this would make!

  19. January 13, 2012

    Classic post. Enjoyed the misery, panic and the great story with photos.

    Am sure I’ve seen that gumless old man flapping them about elsewhere in the world!

    • January 15, 2012

      Hahahaha, he’s following me wherever I go!

  20. Kieu ~ GQ trippin
    January 14, 2012

    Holy crap. And.. Bahahaha. I doubt any one else could put such situation in words. Good timing on the locksmith. Glad things worked out in the end. How did Ally take to the story? ;)

    • January 15, 2012

      Ally was horrified and ran home in a panic! She calmed down the next day though :)

  21. The World of Deej
    January 14, 2012

    What a story! My scariest moment was the first time I was abroad. Was visiting a buddy in Naju, South Korea. After 20 hours of flights and a 4 hour bus ride, I was dropped on the street and my buddy was not there to meet me as promised. Needless to say, I freaked out a bit..

    • January 15, 2012

      Ugh, that would scare me too, especially if it was the first time I went abroad!

  22. Jaime
    January 14, 2012

    Ja I love ya~ Too funny!

    • January 15, 2012

      Love ya too!

  23. Will - TravelSexLife
    January 19, 2012

    Unfortunately, given the nature of my site (and our collective minds), you had us at “grope”.

    It’s a shame to see that female travellers have to put up with this stuff still. Good to see you got out of it unscathed and all the better for it!

  24. January 27, 2012

    The old “offer them a sweet” routine. The number of times I’ve falled for that.. Doesn’t sound like the best of days.. but you emerged the victor! Which is what matters :)

    • January 27, 2012

      I’ve falled? Man.. I’ve got to stop falled for stuff.

  25. James Cook
    February 1, 2012

    I hate it when ATMs don’t work in forign countries. I have had cards randomly swallowed which is not fun!

  26. Cheryl
    February 2, 2012

    OMG! You poor girl. I feel so bad for you! What an insane stroke of bad luck. Glad things turned out to be OK for you. :)

  27. February 8, 2012

    Ha ha – what a hilarious story. I’m sorry, I’m sure you didn’t think it was funny at the time, but hindsight has a way of adding a layer of humour :)

  28. Deb
    February 14, 2012

    Now that’s a bad day indeed. Glad it all worked out in the end.

  29. March 2, 2012

    Oh, just call it an adventure. :)

  30. December 20, 2012

    Sounds terrifying – glad that you were able to sort it out in the end :)

  31. Aus Globetrotter
    March 23, 2013

    Haha oh poor Lauren, your always getting in these epic adventures where your sex appeal is mistaken by so many(well mostly men especially in 3rd world countries where they are all creepazoids). You need to get a t-shirt in each language saying “thank you Mr. but NO THANK YOU!” as you trek around the globe haha. Must be tough traveling solo as a girl but keep these entertaining adventure stories coming and try to keep safe whilst doing it.

    • March 23, 2013

      I’m sorry but I completely disagree with pretty much everything you’ve said.

      I can think of one other time where a guy has “tried it on” with me while travelling (in Laos. And he was from a 1st world country). Two incidents over two years of travelling is hardly it *always* happening to me, no?

      And your sweeping generalisation that every single man from a 3rd world country is a “creepazoid”? Wow.

      It’s pretty easy travelling alone as a female but I haven’t done so in over 18 months :-)

    • Kel
      April 23, 2017

      I agree with Lauren. Can say that about and possibly happening at home, travelling and the way the world can be, anywhere! Should not hold anyone up and be a deterrent, especially female you are talking about Lauren’s situation. The world can be a shitty place and because of shitty people.

      • June 12, 2017

        Yeah, the world is much less dangerous than people think.

  32. kim
    April 3, 2013

    where was dave?

    • April 3, 2013

      I hadn’t met Dave at this point.

  33. July 2, 2013

    One of my closest gal friends is going to Hong Kong alone. If that locksmith didn’t walk in, how would you have handled the leg stroker?
    Just discovered your site, so I look forward to the rest of the posts…


    • July 3, 2013

      I would have firmly removed his hand from my leg and got up and waited outside for the locksmith.

  34. Cat Sigur
    August 1, 2015

    Hey Lauren! Recently just found this site too, and a nice and funny story, but that you were safe and it all was okay in the end. Re the leg stroker, I hate those which I seem to have a penchant for attracting (and it’s not the skirts and dresses). Most are alright and can get out and away no issue in a civilised and firm manner, but one and only worse time was, what I thought was an alright male ex colleague who was way OTT, hands all over them and would not take no for an answer, I swear I was SECONDS from kneeing him when we were stood up and me trying to get away from him. He saved himself as he eventually let me away from his grasp right just before I was going to do it, and I would have, hard! (I was so angry then, felt trust totally betrayed and not the guy I knew or thought he was). Anyway, glad I found this site and have bookmarked. Will come back and have a look again when more time, it seems pretty interesting. Cheers Lauren and keep up the good work!

    • August 3, 2015

      Thanks so much, Cat! And sorry to hear about the douchebag work guy. I’ve definitely had similar experiences in the past!

  35. Simon Welch
    January 24, 2018

    An amusing story… you’d not believe the amount of incidents like this I deal with.

    For the benefit of your readers, if this ever happens to you:

    1) attempt to place the second half of the key into the door as the 2 broken pieces together should still manage to open the door.

    2) Once in you would need to unscrew the lock with a screwdriver and push the broken piece of the key out from the back.

    And save yourself a locksmith call out fee.
    Check out my blog for more useful tips like this.

    • March 21, 2018

      lol thanks