Saturday, August 26, 2017

Six Months In, Six To Go

Time is a funny thing. I was recently thinking about my time here and I suddenly realized that August is almost over and there is still so much I want to do. I decided to take full advantage of things being a slow at school because I have been a bit lazy exploring my road trip options, mostly because it has been so damn hot. We had temperatures over 40 every day for 4 weeks in July and early August moving about was exhausting.

Now the temperatures have cooled and I started reorganizing my days off and took leave for a couple more giving me 6 days off next week. What does someone do with six days off while in China? You look at the map and review all the research you have done then you pick a place that excites you. Then you buy a plane/train ticket and GO! With that I am heading to the city of Jiayuguan, the western-most fortress on the Great Wall. After 3 days I will take 4 hour train into the Gobi Desert to the Oasis town of Dunhuang. I will go all touristy and climb aboard a camel but more exciting are the treks into the desert to sit atop huge dunes and enjoy the vastness.

September 12th with be the midway point of my year in China. I have a few other trips planned including Tibet (Sept 30 - Oct 9) and Beijing sometime in November. There are quite a few one and two day trips I want to take and that should fill my China experience. I am 90% sure I will not stay on for a second year with the richness and diversity of Asia is calling.  My contract ends in Mid March and with hiring season in most countries starting in August/September the universe has smiled on me giving me the opportunity for 6 months of travel...and I desire. The truth is I will probably wander for 3 months then find a quiet place near the Indian Ocean in a country that will give me a 90 day visa. From there I can relax and explore, tutor online to keep earning, learn the basics of a new language and prepare for my next teaching assignment.

Nanjing City Wall
My friend Caitlyn Tran, who has traveled and done amazing things has finished up a trek up Kilimanjaro. Reinvigorate after some "soul searching" she has decided next up for her in Nepal and the 15 day trek to the Everest Base Camp. Her motivation is part "bucket list" and part "pissed off at the old white dude" because he is going to the Everest Base Camp in Tibet with her. Although constantly harassing me about being here "white father" I have decided  to join her. The universe is smiling because as I mentioned my contract ends mid March so we have decided to meet in Nepal in late March and do the trek together. If for whatever reason to I stay in China (most likely because of a girl or a huge pay increase) part of my new contract will stipulate time off for this trek. That being said, job or not job in China I am off to fulfill one of my personal goals, hiking and trekking in Nepal. Doing it with a friend, who I know will be awesome on the trail, is an added bonus. We are now just deciding who to guide us. To view Mount Everest from both Tibet and Nepal in a span of 6 months, I will tell you how I feel when it is accomplished.

As for Nepal that kicks open the door wide open to big, bold, and colourful India and mysterious, mystical Sri Lanka. Currently, of the 7 man-made wonders of the world, plus the honorary 8th I have been to Petra in Jordan, The Great Pyramids in Egypt, Chichen Itza in Mexico, Machu Piccu in Peru and the Colosseum in Italy . That leaves the Great Wall of China which I will walk on next week, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil and Taj Mahal in India. Going to India and the Taj Mahal will put Brazil in my cross hairs when I leave Asia. In my head I see Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Suriname and Cuba as apart of that trip but let's reign it in a bit. I get giddy looking at maps.

Finally back to China. I sometimes find myself thinking about the comfort level here in China and how easy it would be to stay for an extended period of time. There is nothing wrong with that but I have a desire to see and experience so much more all the while challenging myself to go farther. I have 6 months more to go and I am fully aware that anything can happen. However, soon I will have to make a deposit on a trek in Nepal and thus commit to it. When I do that China will be in the rear view mirror (yes I know that small chance I can stay exists). I am going to continue to embrace the contradictions that exist here. One day I can visit a temple that is 2000 years old and get lost in the rich history and culture of the Middle Kingdom. The next day I can see a 5 year old girl lift up her dress, squat and take a shit like a dog on a very busy sidewalk and nobody flinches...except me.

Life Moves Fast. Make Sure You Don't Miss It.

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