Tag Archives: solo female travel to China

Lijiang, China: Round Bed, Choking on Altitude and Getting Westernered

Upon arrival in Lijiang, I was picked up by a driver my hotel set up for free, and I was brought to my hotel.  I am staying at Xi Tang Exquisite Hotel.  When I had booked it, I picked it because it had round beds and I had always wanted to sleep in a round bed.

Shortly after booking, I got an email letting me know that there is going to be construction going on during the day…my heart sank as I thought this was going to continue to tell me that the room is now not available.  But it was!  I had a reduced rate because of the construction. YAY ROUND BED!

round bed

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The room was really nice.  It was Tibetan style.

Xi Tang Exquisite Hotel Lijiang China Tibetan sink Xi Tang Exquisite Hotel Lijiang room xi tang exquisite hotel lijiang window

I was brought to my room by a woman who I assume is the owner,  She pulls out a map that is the size of my bed, and shows me how to walk to the old town.  She shows me the nearby school on the map that I can use as landmark if I get lost, and gave me the WiFi password.  I truly appreciated this.  This may be the first time in China where I was actually given a map and shown how to walk to anything.  Oh plus the WiFi password.  I cannot tell you how many times I have to go back downstairs and ask because I never remember when checking in.

Lijiang was a struggle for me with altitude.  I felt fine for the most part, but stairs and sleeping were difficult.  Actually scratch that.  Stairs were difficult.  Sleeping was a literal nightmare.  When you sleep, you breathe in deeply.   But when you are in high altitude, you cannot breathe in deeply and you start to choke.  And your brain thinks you are dying so you wake up shaking with your heart pounding, because you are dying.  The sleeping part was so much better on day two.  Walking through Lijiang Ancient Town was a bit slow for me because I kept getting tired.  But there are plenty of places to sit and ignore all the people staring at you by playing with your phone.

I got lost twice in Lijiang.  Okay three times.  But one was my own fault.  Okay all three were my own fault.

The streets of Lijiang are a wonderful place to get lost in.  They are so pretty.

Lijiang China pretty flowerslijiang flowers chinaroof top bar lijiang china1stone bridge lijiang china

I surprisingly found the area I was looking for pretty easily.   I was shocked to end a maze of old streets with a square that had a Haagen Dazs, KFC and not one, but two McDonalds.

I had wanted to go to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain but with the altitude kicking my ass, I thought that might not be the best of ideas.

I spent at least an hour walking around trying to find the tea bar on my map that was listed as “Waste of Life.”  I thought I could post a photo of the sign on Instagram with the message “I am with my people!” But since I never found it, you will have to appreciate my cleverness without an accompanied image.

Lijiang is happening at night.  There was one bar that was blasting techno music that I found extremely hilarious because the lyrics were things like “Shake that ass”and “Get on the fucking dance floor” being repeated over and over. No one batted an eye.  I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that very few, if any, people understood the lyrics.

Lijiang China night

Lijiang China at nightLijiang is full of places selling fresh squeezed fruit juice and my hotel was right next door to a store that sold large yogurt drinks.  I probably ate healthier here than anywhere else in the world.  This includes my own apartment.

I had never heard of Lijiang before booking this trip.   So I was a bit surprised at the hotel prices when I first began searching.  They were higher than Dali or Shangrila.  But now that I have been there, I understand. It didn’t actually feel like a real place. It felt like a fabricated sort of amusement park with a China section that was man made to look like a stereotype of China.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was real.  This is a real city.  It was not constructed with an engineer following blueprints drawn up at a CEO for an amusement park’s directions.

If I were to come back here, I would spend a full week so I could be completely adjusted to the altitude and take the ride up the cable car to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.  I am also a bit bummed that I could also not go see the Lijiang Impressions Show.  Okay maybe bummed is probably not the right word, given the elation I felt once I convinced myself that by not going, I could instead, stay in an air conditioned room and breathe.

Lijiang was also the hottest city so far in the trip, with temperatures in the 90’s.  the only time I like the 90s is when I flash back and talk about life in my twenties.

Black Dragon Pool.  This photo was the first thing I saw when I did research on Lijiang.  Of course I wanted to go here and take one myself.  I guess that the time of year makes a difference because in the photos I saw online, the background mountains were reflected in the water.  Not when I was here.  Still a beautiful sight though.

black dragon pool in lijiang china

Somewhere while walking through this area, I of course got “Westernered.”  This is when people get overjoyed to see you and take photos of you with them.  I hate this so much but you kind of have to just let it happen or you will drive yourself insane with trying to avoid it.

Later on, I was sitting on a bench and I hear “OH FOREIGNER” and I look up and see two Western girls in complete fits of laughter as they mime taking my photo.

I also saw what I guess is China’s version of a dollar store.  No idea why this amused me so much:
dollar store Lijiang China

And then there were the waterwheels that are a big attraction in Lijiang.  I honestly didn’t see the big deal. They were much smaller than I imagined.  Actually, when I first saw them, I somehow thought they were an entrance to THE water wheels.  As if that even makes sense?  Sigh.
Lijiang China water wheels (2)

Itinerary for Traveling 7000+ Miles to China to Take One Photograph

Okay that title is unfair. I am not going to take ONE photograph.  I am going to take eleventy billion photographs.

I always have my future travel plans mapped out in my head.  Once per year I take a BIG trip.  I knew last year that my BIG trip for 2015 was going to be India.  But then as always, my plans changed.

Last year, I spent a month in China.  This includes me going to Tibet and spending a night at Mount Everest Base Camp.  I really should get my posts about that up on my blog, eh?  Most exciting thing I have ever done and I have yet to post about it a year later.  Worst blogger ever.

But anyway, back to THIS post.   When I left Tibet and flew to Chengdu, I was crippled with depression because I wanted to still be in Tibet.  It was the most beautiful place I have ever been.  Sometimes I look at the photos and I cannot believe that I ever stood here:

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So I sat and began Googling for other trips to Tibet.  I can picture me sitting at the desk in the apartment I rented in Chengdu and the exact moment when I found this photo that made my jaw drop:

[Photo credit: www.thelandofsnows.com]
larung gar

Wait, what?  Is that real?  It IS real?  This exists?  On Earth?  And I can go there?  Here is the post that started it all.

As soon as I got home, I began my plans of traveling 7000+ miles just to see this incredible place.  Although getting there requires me to first get to Chengdu, before spending eight days traveling on buses through small towns on the Tibetan Plateau, it doesn’t seem all that complicated.   The route is clearly laid out here, all I have to do is follow it.   How awesome is that?

I spent months working on an itinerary.  I was determined to see all the things in China that I had to pass over in 2014 due to time.  I booked my flights based on this itinerary.  Then of course, I got totally sidetracked and veered way off course.

Here we go:

Kunming: I am flying here to see the Stone Forest in Shilin.  I booked a flight to Kunming specifically to do this.  As time went on, I wish I hadn’t because there were now places I wanted to see more.  Note to self:  Once you book a flight, stop Googling for places to see in China.  It just complicates EVERYTHING for  you.

Dali: The next obvious stop from Kunming.  The iconic image of Dali’s three pagodas that are highlighted in every China guide book.  Cangshan Mountain.  Blue skies, fresh air…yes I did just use “blue skies” and “fresh air” to describe my upcoming trip to China.  It isn’t all Beijing ya know.

Lijiang:  There is a mountain.  There is an impressions show.  There is a “must take” photo of a beautiful bridge being reflected in the water below, with a view of the mountains in the background.  Um, sign me up please?

Shangrila:  I kind of almost did not go this far.  Because once you go this far, you have to go to Tiger Leaping Gorge, right?  I mean it is RIGHT THERE.  But adding on Tiger Leaping Gorge took up too much time.   But I did want to see the Baishu water terraces.  Oh and the second largest prayer wheel in the world.  So I’m going.  And skipping Tiger Leaping Gorge.  Because it is my trip and I can do whatever I want.

Mount Emei:  This was on my itinerary last year but I never left Chengdu because I was too busy having a mental break in my room while furiously reading about traveling to Tibet.  I am correcting this mistake this year.

Kangding:  OH KANGDING.  I AM SO EXCITED TO MEET YOU!  You are the start of me making my way to Larung Gar!  The whole purpose of my trip!  You offer a hostel run by an American couple who now live in Tibet, a mountain with a cable car (I LOVE CABLE CARS), a river…cool, crisp air and an overwhelming sense of LOOK AT ME!  I AM IN TIBET AND I GOT MYSELF HERE BY MYSELF AND I AM GOING TO LIVE FOREVER!

Tagong / Ganzi:  These two small towns are basically stops en route to Larung Gar.  Both look really picturesque, and I am excited to see them.

Sertar / Larung Gar: FINALLY!  This is the peak point of my trip.  The reason I am in China at all.  The holy grail of photographs.  The reason I bought a wide angle lens.  The reason for everything.  I am going to see LARUNG GAR.  I am going to cry I am sure.

Manigango / Jyekundo:  I am continuing on this route, as at some point I had planned to turn around in Xining and follow this route back.

Xining:   I went to Xining last year on my way to Lhasa.  I had plans of things to see and when I got there, decided I would rather just alternate between napping and editing photos in the beautiful common area of my hostel.

courtyard of Quinghai Heng Yu International Youth Hostel in Xining ChinaI would not be going back to Xining, except that you kind of have to once you leave Jyekundo.  It is a turn around point.  Your only other options are to go back the way you came, or fly to Xi’an.  My original plans were to go to Xining, take a slight loop through Xinjiang, return to Xining and head back to Chengdu with a final stop being Jiuzhaigou.  But nope.  I totally bungled those plans and forgot that a loop includes looping back. So now I continue:

Dunhuang:  A lake in the middle of a desert?  That everyone swears is Photoshopped?  Well aren’t you all going to be red faced when I prove you wrong.

Zhangye:  If you have ever read any of those viral “Top Places You Won’t Believe Exist!” stories, you have seen Zhangye.  The rainbow mountains.  That unlike Crescent Lake, actually ARE Photoshopped.  But they are beautiful even when they are not, and I am going to see them!

This was where I started to veer off course. I was going to return to Xining from Zhangye.  There was my loop.  But then I decided to go to Yining.  Why?  Because simply put, it is beautiful.  Then realizing I was going to be so close to Kazakhstan during the last couple of weeks of the trial period for US citizens to enter with no visa, well I have to go there right?

Zhangye to Yining is a 24 hour train ride and I vowed to never again.  But a twelve hour train ride, I can handle that.  So I am going to Turpan in the middle.  I am spending one day with a guide who will take me to see everything I want to see, then I will fly the rest of the way to Yining.

Yining: Dear Yining, You are going to be worth traveling to because you have Sayram Lake AND you have yurts I can sleep in at Sayram Lake.  Need I say anymore?  Yeah I didn’t think so.

Almaty:  Crossing over to Kazakhstan.   I have never seen Borat but I could probably quote many lines of it via people quoting it to me when I say I am going to Kazakhstan.  Almaty looks like a dream.  I am most excited to see Big Almaty Lake.  It will be the biggest splurge of this entire trip as I hired a guide to make it easy.

Astana:  I wasn’t going to go here at all, but it only a one hour flight from Almaty.  Plus that whole “no visa” thing may end in July.   So I may as well go and spend a day.

Then it is back to China.  I had already booked my flight home before going this far away from that flight.  I have a two day layover in Urumqi, which allows me to visit Heavenly Lake.  Then I return to Chengdu and spend a night before flying home.

I can no longer make changes to my itinerary because I am locked in with domestic flights and prepaid train tickets.  But if I could, I would cut out Yining and go to Jiuzhaigou.  Which was the actual reason why I was flying home from Chengdu to begin with.  Now to visit Jiuzhaigou, I have to make a third trip to China and…a third trip to Chengdu.  Fourth if you count that I am going to be in Chengdu passing through from Shangrila to Emei.  It is a good thing that I am going to live forever.

Arrival in Xi’an China: The Day Nothing Went My Way

I flew to Xi’an from Guilin.   At the airport, I was doing a combination of trying to stop sweating and silently willing everyone who was staring at me to STOP STARING AT ME.

We had a meal served to us on the plane.  I could not identify it so I did not eat it.   As we were about halfway through our flight, there was an announcement that I had never heard in real life before:  “Is there a doctor on board?”   YIKES.   The very young looking woman in front of me stood up to help. If she is old enough to be a doctor, then I am old enough to live in a nursing home.  I don’t really know what was going on because other than the initial announcement, there was no English spoken regarding what was going on.

Arrival in Xi’an.  UGH.  I need to buy a lighter (yes, smoking is gross) and there is nothing open in the airport.  I go outside to take a cab to my hotel.  No cabs will let me get in.  There are about eleventy billion cabs outside.  Approximately five lanes worth of cabs, all going back way so far that I cannot see the end of the lanes.   Every cab I tried to get in told me “NO.”  What do you mean, NO?  I’ll show YOU no.

I basically just stood in the middle of traffic (all cabs mind you) screaming about how “I NEED A FREAKING CAB.  I AM FROM NEW YORK, YOU CAN’T GET AWAY WITH THIS” and “I WILL STAND HERE IN THE MIDDLE OF TRAFFIC FLAILING MY ARMS UNTIL ONE OF YOU LETS ME GET IN YOUR CAB.  LET ME SEE YOU STARE AT THAT, MOTHER FUCKERS!”

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It didn’t work.

I went and stood to the side and smoked a cigarette before trying again.  This time I scored a cab driver who let me in the cab.  It was so hot in the cab so I opened the window and ahhhhhhh, cool breeze!  The driver then instructs me to close the window.  I assume he is going to turn on the air conditioning.  I was wrong.  Hot.

The driver got completely lost looking for my hotel and never turned off the meter.  He ended up leaving me not really at my hotel at all, but pointing in the general direction.   He also did not give me change.   The cab cost $87 Yuan ($14.22 USD) and I gave him $100 Yuan ($16.35) and he drove off.  I don’t really care about two bucks.  It’s the principal.  I had a cab driver in Guilin chase me down to hand me 2 Yuan (32 cents).

Mind you, all of this is my own fault because I should have just taken public transportation.

i check into my hostel:  Ancient City International Youth Hostel.  I am booked in a private room.  I have a cute room which is a decent size for China.  Everyone who works at this hostel is incredibly nice and they all speak English.  The room actually has American outlets, you rule.  I also like the WHEN you get trapped” as opposed to “if.”
elevator

When I get into my room, I check my email.  There is an email from my bank regarding suspicious activity.  The email has a reference number, and they ask me to call them.  I get instantly furious.  I told my bank before I left that I was going to China.  My bank is forever contacting me for suspicious activity.   I know, I should be grateful they look out for me.  But being that I have dealt with this so many times, I know how long this phone call is going to take.  Not to mention, I TOLD YOU I WAS GOING TO CHINA.

So I call my bank.  FROM CHINA.  They ask for the reference number from the email, I give it to them.  Then there is a verifying that I am me part.  This is long because they ask you about ten questions.  Then there is the “Let’s go over your most recent charges” part.  I had to cut her off and yell about how much this phone call is costing me because I am calling from China, which is where I told you I was going to be, using my debit card.  She then tells me that she sees the travel alert but does not see anything about them contacting me.  Well you did.  You know, like when I first got on the phone with you, I gave you a reference number which is how you looked up my account to begin with.

Finally this conversation ends.

I walk around the corner to 7-11 and stock up on milk tea and I buy this, without any clue what it is, because THIS:

pigIt turns out he had custard inside.

I am so mentally exhausted.  Between the whole “no cab at the airport will take me” to “It is SO HOT INSIDE THIS CAB” to “let me argue with my bank” I am just done.   Even the cute little custard pig cannot cheer me up.  I fall asleep instantly.

Two Months Until China Extravaganza!

So we last left off last month in my “Three Months Until Asia Extravaganza” post.   In the past month, I have modified my itinerary and have decided to not leave China.  The more research I did, the more I realized it was stupid to go through complicated routes just to leave a country that I will exit with things still not crossed off my bucket list for. I have not applied for my China visa yet, as it is still too early.  I did manage to (I hope) cement my itinerary.  The plan now is:

HONG KONG:  I do not expect to fall in love with this city.  It is a big city, jam packed with people.  I live in one of those.  If I thought places like this were wonderful, I might not spend every waking moment fantasizing about escaping from it.  So why fly there?  Well… Continue reading

MACAU:  The real reason I am flying to Hong Kong.  I LOVE GAMBLING AND I LOVE LAS VEGAS.  I want to see the Las Vegas of Asia.  I decided to splurge and booked a five star hotel.  This is not really in a typical backpacker’s budget.  Despite not being a typical backpacker, it should still not really be in my budget either.  I do not even care about staying in fancy hotels.  In Las Vegas, I often give up comps in nice hotels to stay in crappy ones.  I would much rather wake up in a crappy room next door to a 24 hour Starbucks and across the street from the nickel Double Double Bonus Supertimes Pay machines, than wake up in a fancy bed on the Strip.  It’s all location. But for Macau, I am going to be more of a tourist than a gambler so why not just go for it?  Plus LOOK AT IT.  I love how the tower on the right sort of resembles the now demolished Sands of Las Vegas. Grand-Lisboa-2016 One thing I was so looking forward to doing in Macau was seeing the House of Dancing Water show.  It is the Cirque du Soleil show of Macau.  I love Cirque shows.  But unfortunately, it is dark when I am there.  I guess that leaves more time for gambling!

ZHANGJIAJIE:  The third stop of this trip was so hard to choose.   I wanted to go everywhere.  Every time I narrowed it down to one spot, something would happen for me to change my mind.  I finally landed on Zhangjiajie.  I will arrive here by overnight train – FINALLY – I get to live my dream of taking an overnight train. The hotel I booked has free pick up from the train station.  So my first few steps on mainland China will hopefully be that much less of a clusterfuck. I will be going here: zhangjiajie_5 I will not be doing this: zhangjiajie glass walkXI’AN:  My second overnight train takes me here.  While doing research for Xi’an, I had a temporary mental meltdown.   I was Googling looking for maps of the city and everything was written in the Chinese alphabet.  Well of course it is, I am going to China.  Then it really hit me that I am going to CHINA and I cannot read Chinese symbols.  I can’t speak any language other than English.  Most people I encounter will not speak English.  OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?  Then for a couple of minutes, I will admit, I wished for someone to travel with to make it easier.  ME.  The person who will stand triumphantly while speaking loudly about how every woman should stand proud and travel alone.

Fortunately, all it took was for me to flash back to the last time I traveled with anyone who was not me.   We were in a crappy motel with a clogged sink, located outside the bathroom.  As I was sitting on the bed texting, I just happened to look up and see my travel  mate using MY TOOTHBRUSH to unclog the sink.   She never said a word to me.  If I had not seen it, I would have used my toothbrush without any clue.  At the time I was too furious to say anything because I would have said too much.  

But now, I am glad that happened.  All it took was that memory to remind me that the luxury of turning to someone and saying “YOU ask him/her if he/she speaks English” is not worth having to travel with anyone ever again.  Crisis averted!

In Xi’an, I will be seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors, obviously.  I will also be traveling to Maijishan Mountain, after which maybe I will stop referring to it as “Magic Mountain” Maiji-Mountain-Grottoes I hope to spend a day at Huashan mountain.  I will be riding this: cable carsInstead of climbing this: huashan Or this: huashan closeup 11 While simultaneously never doing this: plank walk From here, I am flying to JIUZHAI-HUANGLONG.  Why am I suddenly now hopping on a plane rather than taking yet another overnight train?  Because I am going to HUANGLONG PARK.  There are no trains that go to this area.   I am so confused IF there is a bus to Huanglong Park, and if so, what time does it go back to Jiuzhaigou?   Because oh yeah I am also going to JIUZHAI VALLEY NATIONAL PARK as well!   So I discovered that if you fly to Jiuzhai-Huanglong Airport, there are shuttle buses that go from the airport to Jiuzhaigou, stopping for a few hours at Huanglong Park.  How easy is that? I get to see THIS: huanglong terraces I found that gorgeous creature by playing on atlasobscura.com.  I cannot get enough of this website.  It’s like spinning the globe and blindly pointing. Then I will sleep in Jiuzhaigou and see Jiuzhai Valley National Park.  It is not going to look like this when I am there because this is what it looks like in the Fall.  But still, let’s pay some homage to such a beautiful place! Jiuzhaigou1 CHENGDU:  I will be taking a bus here from Jiuzhaigou.   This particular route has a lot of doom attached to it.  Back in 2008, there was an earthquake that rendered the expressway impassable.  The route was then moved to a lesser traveled road that the internet tells me is a very rough ride.  I am not sure at all if the expressway is reopened.  I am having a hard time finding current information.  The internet does tell me though, that I will be passing remains of the earthquake. The ride can take anywhere between eight and twelve hours.  So I am budgeting for twelve and hoping for the best.

In Chengdu, I will be seeing the Leshan Buddha – LOOK AT HOW BIG HIS TOES ARE COMPARED TO THE PEOPLE: leshan_buddha_frontview_chengdu AND OBVIOUSLY I am going to the Giant Panda Research Breeding Base! Chengdu-pandas-d10I am also hoping for time to go to Mount Emei.  I may consider just staying near there / Leshan because that seems to be easier than commuting to both separately from Chengdu. emei From Chengdu, I will be taking a 46 hour train ride to LHASA.  This is the dream.  It is the highest railway in the world and it has been on my bucket list since the day I started it.

TIBET:  All of the places I am going are exciting.  If they weren’t, I would not be going.  But Tibet is more than just a “I want to” type of place.  It is a life changing place.  I am going to see MOUNT EVEREST with my own two eyes.   Although I can now say with absolute certainty that doing so is actually a lot easier than I had imagined, I do not think most people realize this.  Therefore most people do not do this in their lives.  I will not be one of those people.

Due to it being illegal to travel solo in Tibet, I will be joining a tour group. Between Lhasa and Mount Everest Base Camp, I will see other incredible places. Potala_Palace_05-2007 Yamdrok_Lake2 kumpa I will also be sleeping in a yak hair tent.  You know, because that is how you get to wake up HERE: 03 Mount Everest North Face and Rongbuk Monastery Morning Sometimes, I cannot believe my life is real.  Sigh.

Moving on…

SHANGHAI:  The next and last stop of my trip.  I still do not like big metropolis cities, but I do want to see Shanghai.  I had originally treated myself to an apartment here.  My main thought was that it would be wonderful to have a washer and dryer in my apartment and go home with all clean clothes.  Then I had this conversation.  With myself.

Me: This trip is adding up.  Maybe you should rethink the Shanghai apartment

Me: But WASHING MACHINE

Me: But doing laundry when you get home costs $2.75.  Are you really willing to pay more than a hundred times that to do laundry in Shanghai?

Me: GOING HOME WITH CLEAN CLOTHES

Me: BUT AT A HUNDRED TIMES THE COST

Me: Are you really going to want to go to the laundromat when you get home?

Me: Well, no

Me: So apartment it is?

Me: Okay. WAIT NO WAIT.  It is stupid to pay that much just so you can do laundry.  Besides, when you get home, you have to go outside anyway.  You will have no food in your apartment.  Why not put your clothes in the washing machine, go get food and when you are done, so is your laundry!

Me:  Um, did you forget we live in Brooklyn?  We have the world’s best coffee shop that delivers ICED COFFEE.

Me: Okay.  Hmm.  Maybe we should…wait NO.  We are not paying a hundred times more than the cost of laundry, just to do laundry.

Me: But CLEAN CLOTHES

Me: But FUCK YOU, NO.

Me: FINE.  YOU WIN.  Let’s cancel the reservation and stay at a cheaper place.  Are you happy?

Me: Yes

Me: Good, at least one of us is

In the end, the room I ended up reserving is in a hostel that just so happens to have a public washer and dryer.  It also has two floors and a balcony.  And it is only $170 for three nights.  This may not sound like a bargain, but compared to the apartment I had originally reserved, it sure is.

I have not been able to book anything other than hotels.  I do not want to book any flights until I have my visa.   As far as trains, you actually cannot book trains until 20 days in advance.  That is a whole other complication that I guess I will talk about for a little bit.

Buying train tickets for China:  They go on sale 20 days in advance.  I will not be in China 20 days in advance of my first two train trips.  You cannot buy tickets outside of China. You have to get an agency to book for you.  Or else you may find all the beds are sold out and then you will sit on a hard seat for an overnight train. Honestly, I personally know I could handle this.  On a normal train. But not on a train in China.

From everything I have read, I expect the seating area to be pure hell.  There will be people sleeping on the floor in the aisles, there will be fights to use the toilet, the toilet will be disgusting.   Once you get up, someone may steal your seat.  I have also read several blogs where the author had their picture taken while sleeping.  I am considering a ski mask.  I mean come on now.

So I need to be in a cabin away from the masses.  I am just hoping that the people sharing my cabin do not have a baby wearing split pants.  I won’t make it out alive.  Or I will be the only one who makes it out alive.  It could go either way really.

That concludes this version of my itinerary.

Places that almost made the cut:

Datong with a 24 hour layover in Beijing.   When I went to actually book it, I discovered that Datong is best done by renting a cab for the day.   The cost of this is really not known.  I found a bunch of blogs that were several years old where it cost around $100 a day for this.  I contacted the CITS office, they quoted me $270 for a car for the day. So now I would be paying airfare AND maybe $270 for a car?   Maybe not.  I am an obsessed maniac when planning trips and this was too expensive of a mystery for me to be comfortable with.  So Zhangjiajie took its place.

Kunming / Yunnan Stone Forest:  This was actually probably the third place I had picked to see on this trip, right behind Hong Kong and Shanghai.  It fell victim to being old news to me once I started researching and found all these exciting new (to me) places to go to. I am sorry Kunming.  I didn’t mean to neglect you.

Guilin: Oh man did I want to go here!  It looks incredible.  Plus I could cross “see a rice terrace” off my bucket list.  But this seemed a tiny bit complicated to get to the rice terraces.  I am sure I could have done it, it was really only something like “take a bus to another bus and stand on the road because there is no bus stop”  But honestly, I just got tired reading it.   Which sucks because right now I am wide awake and considering going back and rearranging my itinerary.

Me: NO DON’T YOU DARE!

Me:  BUT GUILIN

Me: BUT NO

Me: FINE

Up next:  I will apply for my visa.  Once it is approved, I then go nutso with my plans for each place I am visiting.  I will book my Tibet tour (I already have it all picked out, I just need my visa approved before China finds out I am applying for a Tibet permit)  Then I can also start with booking trains.  It is still too early to book, but I can contact ticket agencies now and get that set up.  I will also start budgeting down to the penny because I am a maniac who actually enjoys budget planning.

I will also be taking a camera class!  I purchased a Canon EOS Rebel T3.  I do not know what any of that means.  It hasn’t even shown up yet and to be perfectly honest, I already regret buying it.  I am not only bad at technology, I am jixed with it.  For example, my laptop stopped working a month after I bought it.  My laptop type thingy (which I think may be a netbook?) is forever frozen.  My real PC – ugh. I haven’t even been able to talk about this because I have been too busy bottling it inside.  I recently did a disc cleanup on here.  I checked the box “compress this drive to save disc space”  It ran for TWENTY FOUR HOURS and now that it is done, I no longer have an option for 256 colors on my monitor.  Everything is all big and fuzzy and so ugly and I cannot look at it without my eyes spazzzing out.

So there’s that.

Join me next time for what I hope will be my announcement that I have a China visa in hand!