Pay to sleep on a bus? In Hong Kong, this is the bet made by a new tourist bus company that offers trips without destination, an offer presented as a solution to fight against insomnia problems.

On this sunny Sunday afternoon, some 70 passengers, excited children but also silver-haired retirees, board two large double-decker buses. Final destination: “nowhere”.

One is a “silent bus”, in which people can sleep, the other is a classic tourist bus.

A journey of 85 kilometers

The 85-kilometer journey begins in a bustling part of the city, before skirting coastal highways and reaching Hong Kong Airport, which has been virtually deserted since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

While some take advantage of the view, others equip themselves with anti-noise balls and night masks, diving quickly into the arms of Morpheus for five hours, the time of a trip serving several tourist sites.

“I think everyone has had the experience of not being able to sleep at home, whereas in a bus you can sleep very soundly because it swayes and vibrates”, Ho Wai, a recent follower of these silent buses, told AFP.

“All Hong Kong people are stressed by work, by apartment prices, by life, and now we can no longer travel”, he laments during this singular journey, referring to the strict quarantine rules intended to fight against Covid-19 and which have almost cut Hong Kong off from the rest of the world. “With all this accumulated stress, I think a lot of Hong Kong people don’t sleep well.”

It’s too good today to sleep

Matthew Chick, another passenger, also decided to be on the trip hoping to resolve the sleep problems encountered in recent weeks. But it is difficult for him to take his eyes off the sight. “It’s too good today to sleep”, underlines the young man of 29 years.

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Ticket prices range from 99 to 399 HKD (11.30 to 45.50 euros), with seats on the top floor being more expensive.

According to Frankie Chow, president of Ulu Travel and entrepreneur behind the concept, the routes chosen have as few traffic lights as possible in order to reduce the stops likely to wake up passengers.

A moment of escape

For him, the objective of these trips is twofold: to take a nap for people having trouble falling asleep, but also to offer a moment of escape to Hong Kong people wanting to do some sightseeing after 20 months of border closures.

The government’s zero Covid strategy kept the infection rate low but isolated the international business center.

“Before, I went to the airport every month (to travel) every month”, one of the passengers who requested anonymity remembers. “Besides sleeping, this tour also gives us the feeling of traveling. “

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