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