October 12, 2010

Forty Days and Forty Nights

After half a year of near continuous overtime at work, I took a 40 day leave of absence to explore the faraway regions of China. I said goodbye to some friends, reunited with others, and made new ones along the way. My Irish roommate and Malaysian diplomat would both leave the country to pursue other opportunities while I was away on my trip. My friend Preston would be my travel partner for the first half of my adventure, before returning to his American homeland. We met up in Xinjiang, crossing deserts (the Taklamakan), borders (into Pakistan), streets, and anything else that we came across.

At the midpoint of my journey I would spend a few days in Chongqing with my father, who would be attending a conference there. Preston and I would continue onwards, sailing the utterly disappointing Three Gorges before going our separate ways in Wuhan. He would return to Beijing to collect his belongings before flying home to America. I would turn my gaze eastwards to Shanghai and the World Expo, before traveling south to a tiny village in Fujian province to attend a colleague's marriage.

One successful wedding and several sessions of heavy drinking later I would find myself in Xiamen, a lovely coastal town near Taiwan. Here I would reunite with my former sidekick Leo for a few days until our paths diverged again. He was headed north and I was going south. My 40 days were almost up as I reached Canton, where I divided my time between the mega-city of Guangzhou and the tiny villages of Kaiping before jetting back to Beijing. All told I traveled over 13000 kilometers during this epic journey, or approximately 1/3 of the circumference of the Earth.


Not all those who wander are lost. - J. R. R. Tolkien