Change of Plans

It’s been a while since I put up a post. Don’t worry; I’m working on them. But first I wanted to direct you to a post on my other blog that will explain a drastic change in my original intent to travel around the world for several months.

So yes, I’m currently back in the States, and I don’t know if I will be traveling again anytime soon.

That doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop blogging here, though! Besides for a few overdue posts about my last month’s adventures in China, I have a bunch of ideas for new things I might do in the next chapter of my life that may make for interesting blog posts. There is a certain sort of freedom to starting a new blog: fewer expectations, more opportunities to play around with content and focus, and so on. I’m not ready to give up on that kind of mental freedom and creative opportunities yet.

My plans have changed, but that’s okay. And I am doing okay, despite some difficult periods, and I look forward to my next step with nothing but optimistic anticipation. 🙂

Desertscapes and Dunhuang

Ah, Dunhuang! I remember having a relaxing time during the 4 days I spent there, but to tell you the truth, in retrospect I think it may have been more about my hostel’s superb Wi-Fi connection than what the area had to offer.

Piney with a touch of Chinese: Charley Johng's Hostel's common room. I spent a lot of time here...

Piney with a touch of Chinese: Charley Johng’s Hostel’s common room. I spent a lot of time here…

Dunhuang, a desert oasis town in Western Gansu province, had been on my list of places to visit ever since I saw a picture of the Crescent Moon Lake and Mingsha Sand Dunes on CNN’s article of the 40 most beautiful places in China. Beauty? Heck yeah! Giant sand dunes for me to play on?? I’m there already! Continue reading

June 2013 Reflection and Summary

I don’t have an exact date on which I began my travels. Well, I left the US on May 22, but in the two weeks following that I visited approximately five countries. However, one of them (Singapore) was for more professional reasons, and two of them (Taiwan and Japan) were with family. Then I did Xinjiang with friends, so it wasn’t until probably two weeks ago that I fully started my solo travelling. Yeah, do you see why it’s kind of hard to explain?

So this month’s summary/stats will be a bit messed up, partly because I don’t know how to count the countries I visited prior to China, and partly because I didn’t really start keeping track until the latter half of June. Please bear with me while I figure out a system that works for me, thanks!

Countries visited: 3 – Japan, Taiwan, China

Cities/towns visited: (Japan and Taiwan not included) Shanghai, Kashgar, Tashkurgan, Turpan, Urumqi, Dunhuang, Xiahe, Langmusi, Xi’an

Beds slept in (Japan and Taiwan not included): 14 – 3 sleeper trains, 1 yurt

Number of trains taken: 3

Number of buses taken: 7

Best experience: Ambling in the hills surrounding Langmusi

IMG_0108

Worst experience: Arguing for over an hour with a driver in Turpan who tried to cheat us

Favorite food:

Winner: Yak milk yogurt – naturally sweet, with a lumpy texture, and with just a bit of sugar and/or honey makes for heaven

Runner-up: Xinjiang dumplings – oily, juicy, sinfully good

The following stats are from mid-June onwards, or basically when I started traveling on my own:

Transportation costs: 1064rmb or 173.41 USD (42%)

Accommodation costs: 467rmb or 76.12 USD (18%)

Entrance fees: 340rmb or 55.42 USD (13%)

Food: 548rmb or 89.32 USD (22%)

Other expenses: 132rmb or 21.52 USD (5%)

Total amount spent: 2551rmb or 415.80 USD

Yikes! I didn’t realize I had spent that much on transportation. And FOOD. Getting around China adds up. And I had better start getting used to eating noodles for meals…

So with just over two weeks of solo traveling under my belt, I feel alright. Travel can be surprisingly tiring: I usually try to get my sightseeing done in the morning, and then just spend my afternoons on the computer, editing photos or preparing blog posts. (Or napping. I’ve done that several times, especially here in Xi’an, where it’s sweltering during the day.) Of course, one of the unexpected best parts of travel is all the great new people I’m meeting. It’s not the easiest thing for me to make friends, and I actually do better with brief acquaintances… so this works out!

I lasted only about two weeks before I already started to get sick of the only clothes I have to wear. I will share my thoughts on what I packed later, for sure, but I am still trying to work out the packing system that works for me and makes me content.

Do I miss home? Sometimes. I especially miss people. Seeing new faces practically every day gets old quick. 90% of the time, solo travel suits my independent and introverted nature, but I always catch myself staring wondrously at this and that, and my first thought is usually, “Man, I wish I could share this with someone, right this instant.”

July is more of China! (Hey, China’s a big country: even the 3 months or so that I plan to spend here can’t do it justice.) I’ll finally explore Beijing, some place I haven’t visited even though I’ve lived in China for the past two years. If all goes well, I’ll travel via the crazy bus routes of Western Sichuan, which is glorious grasslands and Tibetan culture, as I work my way south. Looking forward to it!

Best selfie taken: 

Langmusi: hiking in Namo Gorge.

Langmusi: hiking in Namo Gorge.