I read a long comment by Elena Kim in the 2014 Travel Roundup, and decided it deserves a post of its own. Here’s Elena:
This year I learned I could walk on water. I was in Hong Kong on my first overseas trip alone, and wound up in a town called Sai Kung. From there, I bought a ticket to Sharp Island. A small boat dropped me off and sped away.
I noticed people walking from Sharp Island to a smaller island on foot. Not swimming—WALKING—across the ocean. They were using a tombolo, a sand bridge that emerges during low tide creating a path to walk in the middle of the ocean. The sun hit the water and created the illusion of a line of people walking across the water. It was amazing. I had to try.
I didn’t know how to swim and the thought of being in the middle of the ocean without a boat was exhilarating. It was so exhilarating that I walked the entire length of the tombolo before I realized my mistake. When I reached the smaller island I noticed everyone else had been walking in the opposite direction. Now the tide was rising. I looked back, the tombolo had disappeared under two or three feet of dark ocean water. Gone was the strand of people in the ocean.
I ran to the other end of the island hoping to find a person or boat. Panic started to set in. There was nobody there and the sun was starting to set. I sprinted back to the tombolo, hoping that by miracle the tide had receded—but the tide was now up to my waist.
How would I get back across? What if a wave came and knocked me off the tombolo? What if the tide rose above my head while I was walking across?
The island was uninhabited. The sun was setting, I was wet, and the temperature was dropping. I had to take my chances in the ocean. I carefully walked into the water and tried not to think about the tide rising around me. What was underneath the water? I had always been scared to death of sharks, whales, and pretty much any ocean creature.
I tried to focus on the mission, Sharp Island. I saw tiny dots on the beach and moved towards them. I could feel the power of the ocean as I struggled to put one leg in front of the other. I felt my way across the sand with my toes. The little dots started to look like people. I moved toward them as fast as I could, but every step was a struggle and the tide continued to rise. Minutes felt like hours.
When I finally reached the shore, I wanted to kiss the dirt. People had gathered to watch the show—there was a crazy girl who walked across the tombolo in the wrong direction, as the tide was rising. I passed a small boy who had walked out a few feet into the water to get a closer look at me. His mouth was open, his face in awe as I passed by.
I threw myself down on a log on the beach to catch my breath. After the small crowd dispersed, I stayed and watched the last ray of sun swallowed underneath the water.
Now, whenever I feel like I may be traveling in the wrong direction, opposite the way everyone else is taking, or whenever I feel alone or uncertain, I remind myself that life is an adventure. Today could be the day you do something that you never before imagined. Today could be the day you learn to walk on water.
Note: I’ve been to Hong Kong many times, but never on the adventure described by Elena. The next time I’m there, you can bet I’ll be heading out to learn to walk on water. -cg