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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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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Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite

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The day was Sunday, January 24th, in Hanoi, Vietnam. I had just awoken from a good night’s sleep, despite being in a 16-person dorm room at the Hanoi Rocks Hostel, to discover something atrocious–BED BUGS. At first, I didn’t realize I had a bed bug infested bed, but then I saw a little bug crawling on my sweatshirt and started to worry. I checked the seam of my mattress, and sure enough, there were two bed bugs and some blood stains. I went down to the lobby right away to inform the staff, and they didn’t seem to think it was that urgent of an issue. After bugging them (no pun intended) enough about it, they finally agreed to check the bed out, clean my belongings for me free of charge, and comp my room for the night.

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