Adventures in the Far East

Why am I travel blogging now? Read more.

Load ’em up, move ’em out!

One of the best parts about my job is that once a year I get to travel to some place new and exciting to support my college’s annual conference on women’s leadership. In past years I’ve traveled to South Africa, India, and Brazil, and this year it’s CHINA! The lead-up to the conference is absolute madness, but I’ve come to love it, and it gives me insight into the culture that I would never normally have. Here’s a peek at my schedule over the next few weeks.



Mar 13: depart Newark for a non-stop 15 hour (ugh) flight to Shanghai
Mar 14-20: Shanghai
Mar 20-23: Guilin/Yangshuo
Mar 23-26: Beijing
Mar 26-29: Seoul, South Korea


The Savvy Traveler

As I pack my bags, I will share with you my top, tried-and-true packing and travel tips.

1) Make sure the cat is not in the suitcase. This is harder than you would think. My Oliver is a stealthy one, and he’s dark, so sometimes I don’t see him.

IMG_0068 IMG_0795
Juno does not want me to go… Ollie says “Please take me with you!”

2) DO take a Swiss army knife –  ridiculously useful. Do NOT pack it in your carry-on. Accidentally. Like I did. Twice.

3) Pack things that are almost at the end of their usefulness, use them, then toss them. This goes for underwear that has lost its elastic, mismatched socks or socks with almost-holes, and tennis shoes that you probably should have thrown out 6 months ago. I’m terrible about throwing things away… in that I don’t. Like hardly ever. But if it means I don’t have to carry around dirty clothes AND I get more room for souvenirs, I will happily toss things out!

4) Keep a word document of addresses of people you’d like to send postcards to. Before each trip, print out the addresses on label sheets (I use Avery 5160 – 30 labels per sheet). This makes sending postcards super easy, and helps you not forget anyone.

5) Prepare mentally. I’ve been reading books on China for the past month, and are bringing along the two I haven’t yet had a chance to read. My China reading list:
River Town: Two Years on the Yangzi. Peter Hessler. (So good – read it even if you aren’t going to China)
Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present. Peter Hessler .
Shanghai: Life, love and infrastructure in China’s City of the Future. Stephen Grace. (Almost done with this, but alas, it’s due back at the library)
Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China. Leslie T. Chang. (Taking this with me.)
Fried Eggs with Chopsticks: One Woman’s Hilarious Adventure into a Country and a Culture Not Her Own. Polly Evans. (Taking this with me.)

Traveling mindfully

Part of my mental preparation has been to think through what I’d like to accomplish on this, my first trip to East Asia. To keep myself honest, and to practice what I preach (I make my students do this too), these are just a few of my goals for my upcoming trip:
  • Become more comfortable eating with chopsticks. I am truly, truly terrible at it right now. Perhaps I will improve to be only a little terrible.
  • Try at least one dish that is outside my comfort zone. Not just different or new, but really pushing my boundaries. I do not enjoy seafood, so being in Shanghai, I will have lots of opportunities to accomplish this.
  • Practice a few Chinese phrases daily, namely:

Hello – 你好- Nee how
Goodbye-再见- Zai jian
Please- 请-Ching
Thank you- 谢谢-Sheh Sheh

  • Have a meaningful conversation with  a Chinese person (not necessarily about China)
  • Have at least one experience that is really unique, special, and after which I can say, “Now most tourists would not get to do that.”
  • Take a few really amazing photos.

Well, that’s all folks! I’ve got to go shoo the cats out of the suitcases and make sure I know where my passport is.  I’ll update again when I have something to share!

6 comments on “Adventures in the Far EastAdd yours →

  1. Love this. Stay safe I know you will be mindful of all that is around you. Love you
    and can’t wait to see pictures

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *