Tag Archives: China

Faced with the dodo’s conundrum, I felt like I could just fly

statues
even more gigantic incense
gigantic incense
Fresh mango juice
Victoria Harbour
cube light thing
Side alleys amongst the skyscrapers
Lanterns
GO
Tiny shrine
Lion guarding the peak

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

I don’t have much to say, save that I’m headed to South Korea (by ferry from Qingdao, China!) next week and I’m very excited about it. I’ll be meeting up with a good friend from college, Liz, which is what I’m most excited about, and possibly doing some more Couchsurfing along the way. I’ve had a really great time hanging out with my friend Mandi and her lovely and gracious friends here in big bad Wuhan, but the weather has been truly dismal and has me in a funk. I am more than ready for sun and sandy shores.

In South Korea, I plan on visiting Insa-dong in Seoul, going to the DMZ, hitting up Gwangju, maybe stopping off in Andong, and sleeping in the Seoul Incheon airport on my way out. From South Korea, I’ll be flying to Vietnam instead of overlanding back through China like I’d originally planned. There are a lot of things I love about China and I honestly wouldn’t mind trekking through a lot more of it, but without a basic grasp of Mandarin, I feel like I’m missing out on so much of what this country has to offer and a lot of fun interactions with local folk. Also, I’m more than ready to feast upon pho and drink cà phê until I get sick.

So far, my plan is to fly to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), find some beaches, head up to Nha Trang, then on to Da Nang (maybe), Hoi An (for sure), possibly Hue, and onwards as I feel like it, zig-zagging through southeast Asia.

Any recommendations or must-sees for South Korea or Vietnam?

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Finding happiness in Hong Kong

First of all, I must apologize for no photos this time. I’m having a fun time trying to get bits and pieces of information out through the Great Firewall and an internet connection which detests my computer (or maybe just me).

I returned to the north of China Monday morning and I’m still thinking about my time in Hong Kong. I spent one week there and loved it. I finally found the state of mind I’ve been searching for in every place on my trip so far: the one where I feel like I am exactly where I belong. I’ve felt snatches of it on this trip, but so far, this trip has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I won’t lie, I’ve struggled a lot to figure out what exactly I’m looking for, and just what I’m doing, on the other side of the planet from everything I’ve ever known.

What is this state of mind? To me, it’s what “being on the road” feels like. It’s hot and sticky days wandering through back alleyways in southern Spain, it’s misty and foggy bike rides on ancient islands in Ireland, it’s laughing with friends and discovering the Cathedral of Junk in Austin, it’s stepping onto the Great Wall for the first time, it’s playing chess at midnight on a train in Russia, it’s hiking through the hills of Scotland and Mississippi.

It is also, to my surprise, sleeping in a dusty warehouse in Hong Kong until late in the day, and drinking milk tea with yum cha at every possible moment, and dancing with other foreigners and locals in the streets in the wee hours of the morning. It is making new friends at The Tower. It is the quest to find cheese and Belgian beer. It is public libraries that have English books. It is egg tarts over a menu written solely in Portuguese. It is all this and more.

It’s me finally settling into the travelling mindset again. It is also now the longest I’ve ever spent outside of the US. It’s the adventure I worked so hard for and dreamed about constantly. In some ways, it feels like wandering into the wardrobe of Narnia…a waking dream that I’ve lived for years and years.

Have you ever had an unexpected change in your itinerary and ended up loving it?

Happy (belated) Year of the Dragon!

courtyard
good eats!
lanterns
lol
happy lunar new year!
sparkler magic
crab
red

doggie
storefront display
doorway
temple
down the rabbit hole
when in china
snack table
napoleon hat
makin' dumplins
dangerous but oh so fun
more sparklers

Xixian, China

So far, I think my favourite city in China has been Xixian, and it’s entirely because of the incredible family that hosted us crazy foreigners. I think back to the blur of days that were Chinese New Year, and I smile. Giant boxes of fireworks, being taught how to make dumplings, getting challenged to chug a half-liter bottle of beer by an auntie, sleeping in everyday, absolutely delicious food, random firecracker explosions in front of store-fronts. Smoking lanterns in the field and red (and red and red everywhere).

I am in Hong Kong now. I thought I would be in China for a lot longer, but I severely overestimated my capacity for withstanding the cold as well as how grating the lack of diversity in China can be (it’s when people won’t stop staring/take tons and tons of photos without asking that it gets to me). I really, really can’t wait to head south and hang out on the beaches of Southeast Asia and eat Thai curries. I’ve got awesome friends to visit first, though!

I think I’ve finally gotten rid of the fever I picked up in Guangzhou…will venture out to find some sort of soup to test this theory in a few hours time. Or maybe I can find a sandwich, since I *am* in Hong Kong. If you spend a long enough time in China, you will never, ever take a good and proper sandwich for granted again (at least I won’t). No way that I’m getting up for the Couchsurfing Superbowl party, though. Pesky time zones mean that the Superbowl starts at 7.30 am here. Hell to the no.

Let me count the ways.

simply magical

in the countryside

the dock

the village

jumping shot

new friends

raftin by

cookie mtn found?!

breathe in

noodles

From Yangdi to Xingping & Yangshuo, China

Let me count the ways, all the ways that I love China. I’ve been here since January 14, and every day something really crazy happens. I love not knowing what exactly to expect, or even what to anticipate. I love that every day when I wake up, I really have no idea what or who I’ll run across. I’ve been super lucky to be travelling with my dear friend, Mandi, who speaks Chinese – the experience has been so much better having someone who speaks the language! And we have gotten up to some hilarious adventures together so far. We are parting ways soon, at least for a bit. My original plan from here was to go to Chengdu, then the Tibetan areas of western Sichuan, and possibly to Lhasa & the Tibetan Autonomous Region for Tibetan New Year. However, because of new political unrest (NYT), the entire area that I had planned on travelling through has been banned for foreigners. So, instead I’m headed to Hong Kong and Macau next, and hoping that it won’t completely eat through my wallet.

Unfortunately, it looks like WordPress doesn’t work from behind the Great Firewall. That, combined with sporadic wifi access + way too much fun hanging out with old and new friends = my posting being totally absent. Posting will probably continue to be super sporadic while I’m still in China. My apologies. I’ll try to blog what I can, when I can, and catch up on the rest of Russia, the disaster of Mongolia, the hilarious/awful journey down to Beijing with a standing ticket, couchsurfing the Great Wall, an amazing Chinese New Year!! and taking a shower and playing ping pong in a hospital, and the magic of the sleeper bus. I am definitely feeling way better about my trip than I was in Mongolia. I think that I have to accept that I simply was not made for the cold…the thought of heading due south, to beaches and weather that I can’t wear my down jacket in…ohh, it makes me super happy!

For the past few days, Mandi and I have spent our time wandering in and around Yangshuo, in Guangxi province. Today we took a bus up to Yangdi, with no actual idea of where we were headed thanks to a lack of decent maps, met a Taiwanese woman who joined us, met a local girl going home for the holidays from a village on the path who invited us into her house for fruit and made sure we went the correct way, hiked for hours along the Li River, enjoyed breathing in clean, mostly non-polluted air, marveled each step of the way at the incredible beauty of the karst mountains, met a Chinese family who let us hop on the bamboo raft they’d rented, chatted with the son who is going to study in Finland, ended up in Xingping after dark and grabbed two Russians and told them to hop in the shared bread van back to Yangshuo to lower the price of the ride, and had delicious Muslim noodles for dinner. Got served tea once again by our awesome hostel staff, and then watched more of Community in our room.

Being so blessed to have an excellent travelling partner is amazing, and when you get into crazy adventures it’s that much more hilarious when you’ve got someone to share it with. The Li River is absolutely magical, though its beauty is tainted in knowing that the local people can’t make the income they used to due to new governmental laws enacted very recently. The weather hasn’t been the greatest either. Still, I don’t know if I could ever get tired of seeing these fantastical mountains every single day…

Down the rabbit hole

the pier

        nom nom nom   sorry mandi

what is this i don't even

mmm kingcake

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Finally, a post about my upcoming trip! I feel like it’s easier to talk about my previous travels, because it’s only with time and distance that I realize what it was I learned from them. I find it harder to talk about upcoming journeys because a.) I am kind of superstitious about dumb things, and typing things into a blog about an upcoming trip is one of them (completely illogical, I know), b.) I have so much to do, I can’t believe that I decided now was a good time to start a blog, and c.) I don’t have any photos to post of a trip I haven’t gone on yet!

But anyway. I’m super excited right now, so much so that even after working somewhere around 10 hours today and being completely exhausted, I want to type this up! I’m so excited because I got to skype with my lovely friend who I’m going to visit and travel with in China, M., for 2 hours tonight! Our plans are coming together nicely. Now if only we can manage to find each other in Beijing…(Which is a dilemma I’d love to find myself in many times over: having to find a good friend in a foreign city so we can adventure about. A tough life indeed.)

M. is absolutely wonderful! (Hopefully she’ll forgive me for posting photos of her on the internets. ;) ) Somehow, we attended the same high school but managed to never meet one another. I ended up working at a coffee shop that M. had worked at previously (before she studied abroad in China). When we finally met after she returned to the US, we ended up becoming good friends after working some long and crazy shifts in that same coffee shop making weird raptor noises at ungodly hours, at Christmas parties playing Candyland, after adventures on abandoned piers, and over King cake and nachos.

Anyway, long story short, M. moved to China and has been working there for a few years. I said, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if I came to visit you in China?” And M. said, “Let’s do it!!” And thus, the epic plan to take the Trans-Mongolian to China was born. From the very first time that we talked about it, to actually discussing the minute details of when and where to meet up…it’s been a long road, but it really is a dream coming true. In exactly one month, 9,530 miles away from my current location, we’ll be meeting up again to hunt for Peking duck in Beijing. The last time we saw each other was a late night chat in a gas station parking lot in the hot and sticky humidity of Louisiana.

Some days, I feel very lucky and blessed indeed, no matter how bad or long of a day I’ve had. Today is one of those days. To know that my hard work is going to support something I love doing makes it all worth it. But getting to explore China with an amazing friend? It’s the icing on top of a sweet cake.