“What would you like?” the lady asks me in her English accent.
“Iced green tea,” I reply, unfazed by her accent, she unfazed by mine.
We may be foreigners to each other, but nothing feels really foreign about us.
I grab my drink and head out the door, making my way back into the busy streets of London.
I’m a little lost but not worried. I am, after all, in the country that invented my language.
I look at a few road signs, ask some directions, and I’m on my way.
There’s no real confusion. There’s no sense of being truly lost.
I make my way into the London tube, where I sit silently, looking at the stoic faces in front of me.
You don’t speak on the London tube.
Today is my last day in London, and I’m speaking at World Travel Mart about travel blogging.
Twenty-four hours from now, I’ll be touching down in Hong Kong.
The familiar will be replaced by the unfamiliar.
After six months in Europe, I’m finally leaving.
It’s gotten too easy to be here. Too natural.
I move almost too effortlessly between countries.
I know how to make myself understood, even to those who speak little English.
I debate the Greek bailouts like they affect me directly.
I get Europe.
It gets me.
I look at those faces on the tube again.
Soon they’ll be gone. Replaced by a culture I don’t know. A people I’ve never experienced.
Soon I’ll be back wandering unknown streets, trying to figure out an unknown language, and bargaining in unknown markets.
I’ll meander down dim alleys lined with street vendors as I take in the smell of new spices, soups, and dishes.
My stomach will pull me in different directions.
I’ll wonder if that taxi driver is really giving me a good price.
I’ll marvel at the unknown.
Hong Kong may not be an undiscovered place.
It may not even be semi-undiscovered.
Its roads have been traversed by thousands of travelers before me.
It’s been written about by hundreds of writers better than me.
But it will be different.
And it will be new.
And it will be exactly what I need.