Canadian Nathan Ring's most prized discovery in China: an 1885 Stanley London Compass.
Sometimes the road less traveled can lead to wondrous discoveries, a lesson Nathan Ring learned on his first journey to China two years ago.
As a lone traveler, 20-year-old Ring would often seek the path lesser sought, taking advantage of the individual freedom granted by his one-man status.
It was on one of his lone-wolf wanderings in western Hong Kong that the Canadian student stumbled upon an antique street where he discovered an 1885 Stanley London Compass, now one of his most prized possessions.
"Acquiring this item gave me a sense of accomplishment. It served as a symbol of my success at my own individual exploration," he says.
At first, Ring says, he couldn't justify the HK$400 (US$51.2) price tag and was about to put the compass back when he saw a smile creep across the merchant's face.
"The shop owner saw the look of intrigue in my eye, took the HK$400 sticker off and threw it in the garbage," Ring recalls.
Instead he took the piece home for only HK$100.
The compass holds special significance to Ring because his deceased grandfather, whose name is also Stanley, served in the Canadian Navy and had the spirit of an explorer.
Imbuing the artifact with even more significance was the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken etched under the lid.
"Not following the crowds, listening blindly to recommendations, and taking the path less traveled; it really has made all the difference. Had I taken a guided tour of Hong Kong, I would have never had this compass," Ring says.