Local equestrian star, Cheng Man-kit, remembers his first overseas training trip to The Netherlands vividly.
"I had to do everything on my own," the 25-year-old says. "Also, not everyone was willing to speak English, which made it even tougher."
Cheng was 14 at the time. Now based in Belgium, the Hongkonger is used to the constant travels - over the past 11 years, he's been training all around the world, from Austria to Australia.
He was "forced" to leave home frequently, because Hong Kong has neither the space nor environment for equestrians to thrive.
As a teenager, Cheng attended Sha Tin College and juggled school work with training. He credits the school for accommodating his frequent travels, and for not putting him under pressure.
"As long as I wasn't doing really bad in class, the school didn't have issues with [my training]," he says. "There are more flexible arrangements for academic work in international schools than in local schools."
The training paid off for Cheng, who represented Hong Kong at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The rider says that was the turning point in his career.
"To prepare for the Olympics, I trained full time," recalls Cheng, who was also a torchbearer at the Olympics ceremony in Hong Kong.
"The Olympics was a special award for me; I treated it as a stepping stone."
Cheng returned home for last weekend's Longines Hong Kong Masters, and will prepare for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, this September.
He understands that patience is the key. He'll train hard over the next few months, he says, but not rush the routine.
"I won't be making too big an adjustment [in my training] before the Asian Games," he adds. "Everything has to build up gradually, and naturally."
But then again, he always trains hard - six days a week, 10 hours a day - so there is really no need to push himself further.
He will use that time to bond with his horse, and together, they can ride to glory at Asia's sporting showpiece.