Tag Archives: coping

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?

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?

To Russia, with love

Cheap champagne

To Russia

Mockba

The arch

They look familiar...

Metro tiles

St Basil's Cathedral

Moscow peek

Moscow, Russia

I am sure I’ll be writing much, much more about the Trans-Siberian train, but I’ll try to start catching up with everything that’s happened on my journey so far. This is a lot to catch up on, so I think I’ll split it into several parts over a few days while I attempt to get to Beijing and meet my dear Mandi…by the way, I’m currently in Ulaanbaatar after a 5-day train from Moscow, an 8-hour marshrutka ride from Irkutsk around Lake Baikal, and a 13-hour bus from Ulan-Ude; 1 very pathetic attempted mugging (don’t worry, they weren’t successful); and 5 slips on ice.

I am pretty sure that UB is the anti-Mongolia, as it totally sucks here. (And everyone I’ve talked to who’s been to Mongolia says the countryside is amazing.) I’m excited to be leaving tomorrow. I’ll be totally honest: so far, my trip has been nothing like what I expected. It’s been a lot lonelier than I thought – so far, I’ve met a grand total of 7 other travellers, only 4 who actually wanted to chat – and in general, a lot harder than travels in Europe. You can know something in your head, but when you’re lost for four hours, in the snow, in a city that you don’t know, and you can’t ask a single person for directions and have them understand what it is you’re looking for, well, it’s absolutely exhausting. And only having about 5-6 hours of daylight blows. Since I’m a solo female travelling, I really don’t want to risk being out at night by myself. (Which really sucks because I am a total night owl.) Also, I have not had a single bit of alcohol for much the same reason. It’s not like I’m an alcoholic or anything, but I do like beer. However, it’s depressing to drink by yourself. It is nice to be paying for one bed in a hostel dorm and getting the whole room to myself, though. And the people who’ve helped me along the way have been amazing. I think that part of the reason they are so helpful is because I’m a girl by myself (and they all say I’m crazy). Overall, though, it’s very empowering to know that I’ve gotten this far! Parts of the trip have been really fun. My next post will reveal some fun details.

Soundtrack for the rest of this post (the not depressing part!): To Russia, my homeland & Transatlantique.

The flight to Russia was a good introduction to the country. Leaving from NYC, we were delayed inexplicably for about 4 hours, then sat on the runway for another 2 hours once boarding. At least they gave me a voucher for refreshments due to the delay. Also, the in-flight services included one glass of cheap champagne and one glass of cheap red wine, so I was appeased. Transaero proved to be pretty legit, despite not being able to change my ticket at all once it was purchased since my origin was the US (not Russia). I’m pretty sure it was due to the New Year’s holidays, but there were about 30 people on a Boeing 777-200, so we each could take five rows to ourselves. Boss. Flew over Iceland but it was late at night and did not get to see anything interesting. And there was applause from the other passengers when we landed. Hmmm.

Next, Moscow. I already did a post about the metro, but unfortunately didn’t get photos of the metro station with stained glass windows (pretty sure it was Novoslobodskaya, but I only saw it on my way to Yaroslavsky for the Trans-Siberian). Curses!

Couchsurfing, once again, proved to be completely invaluable. In Moscow, I was taken in by Genrikh & Victoria, an absolutely wonderful couple who were the very definition of hospitality for a weary traveller. Genrikh was particularly delighted to speak with a native English speaker – something I haven’t heard very often in my life – and cooked me absolutely delicious food, took me on a walking tour all over Moscow, and we discussed life, Georgia (the country, not the state), and our plans for the future. Moscow is a very beautiful city, particularly around the river…the view from near the Vorob’evy hills at night time across the river is as gorgeous as any view in Venice. (Only super blurry photos of this, sorry y’all.)

Every time I feel myself thinking pessimistic and cynical thoughts about humanity, I think about the best of my couchsurfing experiences and I just can’t hold onto them. Moscow was highly enjoyable through the lens of my couchsurfing experience, and I’ll do another post on it later. However, having gone to Russia to experience proper snow, I can safely say that I think I’ve experienced it as much as I need to.

After Moscow, with a lovely farewell from Genrikh – “Enjoy your road.” – it was time to board the train to Siberia.