Living Like a Local: 12 Day Tour Through Central Mongolia

Although I could go on and on about Mongolia and write about it for HOURS, I have decided to make it a little easier on myself (and my readers) and created a video showcasing some of the best moments caught on film along with a day-by-day breakdown of the highlights of my (and my friend Hannah’s) 12-day tour through Mongolia (plus a few clips from our first few days in Ulaanbaatar). I realize it is still a pretty long post, but it would be MUCH longer if I really went into the details of every single day. Enjoy!

And if you want to learn more about how we got from China to Mongolia, click here!

P.S.-The tour company we went with was AMAZING and they have tours all over Mongolia. We went with Sunpath Mongolia. Check them out if you’re ever in Mongolia!

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Our 40+ Hour Journey from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar

Once again, I’ve decided to rejoin the blogosphere after a long hiatus. I was fortunate enough to travel to a lot of destinations over the past year and a half, but I am going to start with one of my all-time favorite destinations—Mongolia.

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Before I can talk about the incredibleness that is Mongolia, I need to tell you about how my travel companion/BFF, Hannah, and I got there. At the time, I was living and teaching abroad in Chongqing, China (as you may already know if you’ve been following my blog), so the voyage to Mongolia wouldn’t be too long, or so one would think. Most sane people would take a 2.5-hour flight from Beijing, China to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, or the Trans Siberian Railway from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar, which takes about 26 hours. But for those of you that know me well, you know that I’m not one of those sane people. Instead, Hannah and I decided to travel on a tighter budget. Rather than paying roughly $250 for a one-way rail ticket or plane ticket, we spent approximately $54 to travel from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar using three different modes of transportation and 40+ hours: an overnight bus, a jeep, and an overnight train.

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The Beautiful Island of Ko Samui

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The FINAL leg of our two-week journey was Ko Samui—an island in the Gulf of Thailand. We thought this would be the perfect way to end our adventure through Asia, as Ko Samui fosters many relaxing activities such as beach chilling, massages, and cocktails by the pool. After over a week of going nonstop through China and Hong Kong, we were due for a break. However, being the adventurous people that we are, we managed to do a bit more than just relax. Continue reading

Another Disney Park

In case you didn’t already know, I am a bit of a “Disneyholic”. I worked for The Walt Disney Company for 8-months back in 2013 with the Disney College Program, and have always had a special place in my heart for Mickey Mouse. Although I had been to Hong Kong two times before, I somehow still hadn’t hit up Hong Kong Disneyland. This visit though, I definitely had to check it out, especially since I was with Megan, who did the Disney College Program with me. Hong Kong Disney would mark my 4th Disney park.IMG_1586 Continue reading

24 Hours in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Victoria Peak

View from Victoria Peak

Ahhh, Hong Kong, one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. For me, Hong Kong is so special because I feel like it offers a little bit of everything, and in a great way—beaches, mountains, city, great nightlife, incredible food, and some killer views. This trip marked my third trip to Hong Kong and I can’t wait to go back again. There’s just something about Hong Kong that brings a smile to my face. I was excited to see my friends’ reactions to this magical city.

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Now THOSE are some grottoes!

After a few days of action-packed fun in Beijing, we boarded a sleeper train for Luoyang. Luoyang is located in Henan province, Central China. The train left around 10:45pm and arrived in Luoyang at 7:30am the next day. Luckily, we had the perfect number of people to have our own soft-sleeper berth, without having to share with random people or split up. On most overnight/long-distance trains in China, you can either book a regular seat (I would highly avoid this—although it’s the cheapest option, you will be miserable), a hard-sleeper, or a soft-sleeper. Some trains even have luxury soft-sleepers, but we won’t get into that. The hard-sleeper berths have six beds per compartment and no doors. Although I’ve taken a hard sleeper before, I would try to avoid it as it’s just too many people sleeping together and the soft-sleeper is only a little more expensive. The soft-sleep is a little roomier, has softer beds (as the name suggests), sleeps four people, and has a lockable door. Since we were a group of four, this was the perfect option. Click here for advice on booking train tickets in China.

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Buying Train Tickets in China

OPTION 1: BUY ONLINE

When buying train tickets in China, the easiest/most convenient way to do so would be online. Before I buy my ticket, I usually go to Travel China Guide first to check train routes and schedules. A lot of the larger cities will have connecting train routes, but sometimes you have to transfer trains when going to certain cities, all dependant on your departure and arrival locations. Travel China Guide is great because it will show you options for connecting trains to take if there isn’t a direct train available for your journey.

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That Time I Ate a Tarantula

IMG_0544On Tuesday, June 20th, I made my way to Beijing to begin my summer holiday. This was my fourth visit to Beijing, but this time was like no other—I was meeting my friends who flew all the way from the US to travel around Asia with me. My childhood/SG (SG stands for Girl Scouts…it’s a long story) friends—Megan, Kaitlyn, and Lauren—decided to use up practically all of their vacation time to visit me. Last year, my mom joined me in Southeast Asia, but this was the first time I would be able to show people from back home what my daily life is like in China, as we would also be heading to Chongqing, the city I live in. I was excited to act as “tour guide” and humbly show off my Chinese language skills.

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It’s a Small World After All

img_2171The first stop on my journey back to the states was Shanghai, China. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that I traveled back to Shanghai for a visit in January, so why was I feeling the need to go again? The answer is simple: to go to FREAKIN SHANGHAI DISNEY. I had been waiting nearly four years to check out Disney’s newest theme park. Back in 2012, when I studied abroad in Shanghai, I got the opportunity to meet with Shanghai Disney Resort representatives who were working on the park and was able to learn more about what the future park would entail. Being able to see those ideas and plans come to life was something I had only dreamed about. With the park opening around the same time I was set to leave China, I knew I had to make a pit stop in Shanghai.

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The Hippie Town

IMG_0117The last stop of my nearly two-month long winter vacation was Pai, Thailand. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get to Pai from Chiang Mai is by mini bus. The mini bus ride takes about three hours with one bathroom stop about halfway into the trip. But be warned—since this drive is through the mountains the roads are super curvy (there are 762 curves between Chiang Mai and Pai), so many people will fall victim to motion sickness along the way. I took some motion sickness medication before the drive and ended up sleeping like a baby the whole way there. If you book your bus ticket in advance online, you can also choose your specific seat. I would suggest selecting a seat as close to the front as possible. Click here to view the different modes of transportation from Chiang Mai to Pai.

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