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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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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City of Temples

IMG_9414The next leg of our trip was in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We were only here for two days (wish it could have been longer) but got to see a TON of temples. Out of all the temples I’ve seen throughout Asia, the ones in Cambodia stand out to me the most. I just think the architecture of these temples is so impressive and unique. There are actually over 300 temples in Siem Reap and we saw every one of them! Just kidding…we probably saw about five or six of them, which was the perfect amount. I started to get “templed out” by the fifth temple.

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Highlights of Hanoi

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Cyclo Tour Through the Old Quarter

The beginning of my trip with my mom (Mich) began in Hanoi, Vietnam. Aside from the unusual, cold weather and the bed bugs in the first hostel I stayed at, Hanoi was a great city to visit. Hanoi is a bustling city in Northern Vietnam. Everywhere you look there are different shops, cafes, restaurants, and motorbikes.

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That Time I Ate A Seahorse

IMG_8474In my previous post, I said that I thought Shanghai wasn’t as good as I remember it being. Beijing, on the other hand, was much better than I remember it being three years ago. Maybe I had a better experience this time around since I never had to take a cab in Beijing (cabs are the absolute WORST in Beijing) since our hostel was conveniently located within walking distance of the subway. The pollution also wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be…we could see blue skies! We still wore our face masks most of the time though to be safe.

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Back in Shanghai

IMG_8359Returning to Shanghai after three years was definitely a weird experience. Up until the time I moved to Chongqing, I thought that Shanghai (where I had studied abroad my Sophomore year of college for a semester) was the best city in China. After returning to Shanghai for a few days on vacation, however, I realized Shanghai isn’t really a true “Chinese” city. Shanghai seemed even more western than before, which is to be expected—major cities in China are only becoming more and more western over time.

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Cruising Through the Three Gorges

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Me, Kaitlyn, Nancy, Barb

Right as the New Year began, I was off on a new traveling expedition with some family friends from the US. My friends Kaitlyn, Barb, and Nancy—who had been traveling around Northern China for about a week beforehand—met up with me in Chongqing on January 1st for a Yangtze River Cruise through the Three Gorges. (I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but there is a lot to cover.)

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