Hello to all after a long period of silence! After saving it to the very last possible minute, I’m finally writing to explain my somewhat atypical travel plans for the coming three-and-a-bit months.
Tomorrow morning at o’dark-thirty I head to Denver and board a plane to Beijing (via a seven hour layover in Seattle’s airport, oh joy). There are a few things that make this trip special.
1. I’m not the one leading the way: my boyfriend is. As someone who has spent her entire dating life ending relationships for the sake of travel, this is a wonderful change of pace. Ryan will be working on some collaborative projects at Tsinghua University in Beijing for three months, and I’m coming along to accomplish some more Halliburtonian goals. It’s great–I get to work on my project without being apart from Ryan for months on end. I’m a very happy traveler and girlfriend right now!
2. I’ll be living in Beijing for the bulk of the three months abroad, making it both the most time I’ve spent in one place outside the US, and the most time I’ve spent in a city. I’m very excited to sink my teeth into the city, make friends, find hangouts, and have unique experiences I wouldn’t have if I were just passing through. I’m not looking forward to the illness-inducing smog, the suffocating volume of people and traffic, or the seemingly insurmountable language barrier, but hey, it’ll be worth it.
3. It’ll be my first time in Asia. I mean, yes, technically I swam to Asia from Europe last year, but that was a matter of geography, not culture. I’m pretty sure Beijing will pull the rug out from under me. It’s been a long time since I’ve arrived in a place with no idea what to expect, and I’m really eager to be completely out of my comfort zone again.
The specifics are, well, less than specific. Ryan and I will be in a hotel for the first week, then I’ll try to find a long-term arrangement at a hostel near the University. I’m planning on spending 40-hour work weeks writing–it’s about time I get this whole book thing rolling.
Sometime in late September or early October I’ll head over to Japan for a few weeks of following in Richard Halliburton’s footsteps/train tracks. That’ll include an off-season ascent of Mount Fuji that I’m really excited for.
Then it’s back to Beijing for another month or so. I’ll spend the last few weeks of the trip traveling overland to Hong Kong, including taking a ferry downstream from the Three Gorges Dam, and visiting Macau for a bit of gambling. I fly home from Hong Kong, the last place Richard Halliburton was seen alive by anyone but his stalwart crew, and arrive back in Colorado in the middle of December.
Just three months! Feels like a daytrip compared to the last seven-month stint. Even my friends are unimpressed. “Oh, only three months? Cool, have fun, see you soon.” Yawn.
Sometimes I think the whole coming-and-going thing is getting old, but then I arrive in a new country and the same thrill is right there to greet me. Though my priorities are gradually shifting, I know that travel will never become boring.
So, anyways, next time I check in I’ll be on the other side of International Date Line! Oh, and because inquiring minds want to know, yes I have a VPN to get around the Great Firewall of China. Everything I use online (Google, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and even the platform for this blog) is blocked in China, so I’ll have to connect via a VPN to access everything. Assuming it works I should be
writing a book fooling around online pretty much every day. And this time I’m bringing my iPhone, so expect more candid pics and humorous updates on my Facebook page.
Wan an! (goodnight!)