Paying to sleep on a bus? On Hong Kong, this is the bet made by a new tourist bus company that proposes tours without destination, an offer presented as a solution for fight insomnia problems. On this sunny Sunday, about 70 passengers – excited children but also retirees with gray hair – get on two large double-decker buses. Final destination: “nowhere”. The first is a “silent bus”, in which people can sleep, the other – a classic tourist bus. The 85 kilometer trip It begins in a lively neighborhood of the city, before traveling along the coastal highways and arriving at the Hong Kong airport, almost deserted since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. While some enjoy the view, others put on ear protectors and masks over their eyes, quickly immersing themselves in Morpheus’s arms for five hours, the length of the bus ride, which passes various tourist spots. “I think everyone has had the experience of not being able to sleep at home, while on a bus you can sleep very soundly, because it sways and vibrates,” Ho Wai, a recent follower of these silent buses, told AFP. “All the inhabitants of Hong Kong are stressed by work, by apartment prices, by life, and now we cannot travel,” he laments, referring to the strict quarantine rules to fight covid-19, which they have practically isolated Hong Kong from the rest of the world.
“With all the accumulated stress, I think a lot of Hong Kong people don’t sleep well.”, Explain.
Feeling of traveling
Another passenger, Matthew Chick, also decided to take part in the trip in hopes of solving the sleep problems of the past few weeks. But he finds it difficult to look away from the window. “The day is too beautiful to sleep,” emphasizes the 29-year-old. The price of tickets fluctuates between 99 and 399 HKD (between 12.73 and 51.25 dollars). The squares on the upper floor are the most expensive. According to Frankie Chow, president and contractor for Ulu Travel, the chosen routes have as few traffic lights as possible to reduce the stops that can wake passengers up. For him, the objective of these trips is twofold: that people who have difficulty sleeping can take a nap, and also offer a moment of escape to Hong Kongers who want to do a little sightseeing after 20 months of border closure. The government’s zero coronavirus strategy has kept the infection rate low, but has completely isolated the international business center. “I used to go to the airport (to travel) every month,” recalls one of the passengers who requested anonymity. “Besides sleeping, this tour gives us the feeling of traveling,” he sums up.