Today, I purchased my round-trip airplane ticket to fly to Hong Kong in April and spend about two weeks there.

While there, I will stay with two wonderful friends who work and live within public transit of downtown Hong Kong. Most of my days will be spent roaming, shopping, swimming and hiking the trails of Hong Kong and the park lands of its “New Territories.”

I’ve been thinking about going ever since they moved out there about two years ago. The timing was just about perfect for me to go in April, especially when my flight has been paid in full with tax-return money. Wohoo!  Plus I wanted to plan to go when I still had vacation time remaining.

In the last few days, I’ve immersed myself in travel books, websites and Google maps online trying to do all that I need to before leaving. Not only do I want to have all my papers, luggage, emergency information, etc. worked out before the end of the month. But I’m starting to gather the beginnings of an itinerary.

I have several primary objectives for the Hong Kong trip.

The overarching objective is to immerse myself in the city and take as many photos and write journal entries/update this blog as often as possible. My friends work during the weekdays so I’m going to have the city to  myself, well, to myself and millions of other people.

Objective 1. Spend time with friends.

I want hear all about their life there and all that’s  happened in the time since they moved, see their fun new gadgets and vehicles and eat at their favorite restaurants.

I’m also excited at the idea of having friends who can help me know where to go, what buses to take from their place, and show me around the area. We have a lot of common interests so I imagine it will be a blast.

Objective 2. Shop, shop shop.

Being a fanatic of teas, and Chinese/Asian decorations and food (and food and personal accessories), I’m guessing I’ll be in shopaholic heaven. I have yet to decide on a spending cap.

In reading the tour books, I’m paying attention to shopping hints and locations. Other than stopping in Hard Rock Cafe for a friend who wants a city pin souvenir, I fully intend to stay the hell out of American franchises and to attempt to buy local products as much as possible.

Knowing I’ll need extra luggage space for the return trip, I’m hoping to take two half full luggage bags (the equivalent of one full bag) and stuff every nook and cranny with gifts for others and things for myself.

Objective 3.  Get out of the crowded city and enjoy the natural scenery.

I read in a tour book that Hong Kong is 40% park and I intend to enjoy that aspect at least a little. I’m not sure if it’s possible yet, but I’d also like to find a way to get out to an island that can be reached only by boat.

I do have one small concern, however, about how I’ll handle my gluten allergy in a world where noodles and soy sauce reign supreme. My friends have already gone to great efforts to find out my options and GF soy sauce in Hong Kong. I’m sure I”ll be able to eat there as there is a large variety of cuisine, but I am somewhat disappointed that I won’t be able to dig into a plate of dumplings.

As smaller items, also I would really like to catch a Chinese opera and tour/visit a monastery in Hong Kong.