Wednesday, August 31, 2016

On My Way to Seoul!

Usually travel days are uneventful which they should be but today was different and in a very good way.

I took Uber to BWI, leaving the house at least 40 minutes before I had to. You never know what the traffic is like on the Beltway and 95 and today, I was not about to risk missing my flight. The Uber driver was at my house in less than 5 minutes and in less than 40, we were at the airport. I arrived with more than plenty of time to check in and go through security.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Noodles and Dumplings.

A dish of dumplings from De Fa Chang Restaurant, Xi'an.  Yes, these are dumplings!
(Photo from Absolute China Tours.) 

For me, Chinese food is comfort food. No surprise given that is my heritage. 

Chinese cuisine offers a wide variety of food but two of my favorites are noodles and dumplings.  I am the Noodle Queen.  I can eat some form of noodle every day of the week though every now and again, I will break away from the noodle habit and indulge in some pasta.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Packing List. Korea and China.

Camels with a Howdah, by Émile Rouergue, 1855
I  may be going to the Silk Road but thankfully, I won't need a camel caravan to carry everything with me!

With trips to more countries than I can remember, I am now more than a seasoned traveler who knows how to pack a suitcase.   I have also done enough adventure travel to know how to pack really light.  At most, my suitcase now weighs in at no more than 13 kilos and that's if it's really, really, stuffed.  Typically, at the start of a trip, my faithful 22" Eagle Creek ORV Trunk suitcase tips the scale, fully packed, at under 12 kilos. 

Not bad as at that weight,  I can easily manage to hoist into the overhead compartment of the plane and I can easily carry it up and down stairs.  That suitcase has been with me since 2010 and despite all the beating and battering it has gone through, so far the only thing I've had to *repair* is a lost zipper pull.  A few more trips from now and I will likely have to replace the wheels.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Seriously Surreal. The Zhangye Danxia Landform.

Zhangye Danxia Landform. (Photo by By YubYub41.  Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)

Danxia landform is a general term referring to a unique type of landscape found in southeast, southwest and northwest China.  Geologists believe that danxia topography was formed millions of years ago by the endogenous folding of layered oceanic crust.  Exogenous forces then created towering peaks, cave holes, and stone halls.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Back to the Yellow Hats. Labrang Monastery.

Prayer wheels at Labrang Monastery.  (Photo by Photo by Cardboardbird.  Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)

From Xian, our first on our Silk Road route will be the town of Xiahe, an ethnically Tibetan town in Gansu Province. The name of the town in both Chinese and Tibetan, literally means, "Xia River" refering to the Daxia River. The town lies along one main street parallel to the river; the Chinese section (commercial) lies to the eastern end of the road and the Tibetan section lies at the western end. In between lies the town's most famous landmark - Labrang Monastery.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

At the Crossroads. Dunhuang.

Crescent Lake, Dunhuang.  (Photo by Sigismund von Dobschütz.  Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)

Situated on the edge of the Gobi Desert in western China, the city of Dunhuang was founded by Emperor Wudi of the Han dynasty in 111 BC at the cross roads of the ancient Southern and Northern routes.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Ancient Trade Routes. China Silk Road.

An illustration of Marco Polo's caravan being guarded against an attack.

To say that I have a traveler's obsession with the Silk Road is an understatement.  My dream is to travel all the routes that make up this ancient artery of trade routes spanning countries from Asia to Europe passing through China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The China Silk Road. Itinerary.

Maijishan Grotto, Tianshui.  (Photo by Shizhao.  Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)

I  kicked off this year with plans to travel to Korea with my friend George. He was only able to take a short time off of work to go with me.  But there was no way I was going to fly all the way to Korea for less than 2 weeks.  My travel mantra is that for every hour I fly, I have to stay at least a day.   That would mean a minimum of 16 days in Korea and George was not able to do that.  So, I needed to find some other place to go to to make up the time.  Originally, I had thought of going to Hong Kong.  Our trip would coincide with the Annual Mid Autumn aka Moon Festival and there would be no better place to celebrate that than in China.  Hong Kong was a close destination.