I travelled pretty frequently that academic year. When my friend tried to bring up this trip, he referred to this as that time I went “somewhere exotic”. I never realised how often I got to see different parts of the world, and different cultures, until then. I know I should be grateful I got to go all the way to Guam, but during the trip, I was more focused on the fact that I’d be missing Chinese New Year. Red packets (and food) aside, I really enjoyed seeing family over Chinese New Year, especially because that would be the only time I’d see a lot of them that year. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.
1. We arrived quite a while before the sun did, which is saying something. It was so early to the point where we got to see the sunrise, and we couldn’t check in at our hotel yet. So we sat, jet-lagged and adjusting to a new time zone, at the lobby and went between dozing off and being bored and a mixture of both. Honestly, the whole day was an ethereal experience. When I wasn’t sleeping whenever and wherever I could, I was drinking a huge can of AriZona tea, being awed by the large variety of pop-tarts, and kind of just floating by, detached from the mortal realm. I lasted all the way from dawn to dusk (though I slept all the way from that night until noon the next day).
2. The beaches were surreal. The water was so clear and blue (it’s dark and murky in Hong Kong), I’d only ever seen that kind of quality before in plastic models of beaches. For real, the water looked like it was gel. Beaches aside, my next fondest memory of Guam is my dad, being used to driving on the left side of the car and the lanes, accidentally driving on the left side of the lane in right sided Guam. After the moment of panic of a head-on incoming vehicle, we laughed it off, because we’d have been too shaken up otherwise.
3. On one of the days, we explored around our hotel area. This meant walking uphill to the next hotel, which seemed to cater largely to Japanese people. As a weeaboo at that time, I was fascinated, although I was struggling to read the Japanese characters. We also walked over to the nearby church, which led to conversation between our family about marriage. More specifically, my parents’ marriage, and how they didn’t get married in a church. We didn’t get to go in, but going around it and seeing it from afar was enough.
4. Fourteen is the age where you become part of a herd, and just go along with whatever is cool and popular at that time for your age demographics. For me, it was colourful, aesthetic photos of slim hands holding a drink, among other things like dreamcatchers, armfuls of bracelets, and the like. Conveniently for me, and not so much for my parents’ wallet, I really liked Starbucks coffee, and was excited to find it in the form of a nice-looking glass bottle. Nowadays, I don’t drink that much coffee, ingest that much sugar, or blow that much money, which is a triple relief for everyone.