In 2020, the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for Communication and Public Opinion Survey made it very clear that stress-induced sleep deprivation was a widespread problem. Almost seven out of 10 respondents disclosed that they were experiencing insomnia, and of those, 60 percent of them believed that a good night’s sleep was evading them because of the pandemic and social unrest, while the other 40 percent blamed work and school-based stress.
The city itself doesn’t help, as construction noises are often heard from dawn until dusk, and most people have to live in small spaces, likely with roommates or family, making their own homes unideal for resting.
This explains why it’s not uncommon for tired workers to bring eye masks and neck pillows to the office so that they can catch a few winks on their lunch breaks, and why Instagram accounts such as mtrsleepers, which features photos of the funny and creative ways residents of Hong Kong nap on the subway, have endless content.
Well, Frankie Chow, the founder of Ulu Travel Agency, is providing a solution for the stressed out and sleep-deprived: a five-hour bus route designed especially for passengers to sleep. “The motion of buses resembles a mother swaying a baby in her arms. It is very comfortable,” he reasons. “I have loved taking the bus since I was young, and I love sleeping on the bus.”
Chow’s air-conditioned double-decker bus drives along a scenic 47-mile-long journey, the longest public bus route in Hong Kong. Passengers are comfortably situated on artificial leather seats with head supports and are given eye masks and earplugs to help them fall asleep. The journey includes stops at particularly beautiful points along the route, and for bathroom breaks.
One of the passengers on the buses’ debut trip to nowhere, 44-year-old Ally Yeung, reported that she used to love napping on her commute to and from work, but since switching to a job closer to her home, she hasn’t had a chance to indulge in a proper bus nap. “It doesn’t need to be like nighttime when you have to force yourself to sleep because you’re supposed [to sleep at night],” she says, “But you’ll easily fall asleep on the bus when it moves.”
The long bus route may also provide residents with an “escape” from the city, as most residents are unable to travel abroad because of the city’s quarantine requirements.