Sunday, December 7, 2014

January Travel Plans

I'm in the middle of wrapping up my first semester teaching abroad in China. There are only a few weeks left until I have almost two months of vacation time. Our spring semester doesn't begin until March.  This vacation is the longest time I will have off during my first year in China so I am really looking forward to spending as much time traveling and soaking up every experience possible. Since the day I signed my contract, I was only certain that I would spend one year in China. Anything beyond that is unclear at this point. My plan than is to make the most of this year as possible. If I stay longer, great! If not, I don't want to have any regrets.

Here's the list of places I hope to visit:

I've been dreaming of visiting the Terracotta Warriors since my visit to Washington DC in 2010 to view the traveling exhibit at the National Geographic Museum. That was only a preview, now it's time for the real deal! Of course there are a few other sites to check out in this former capital city. With my love of Middle Eastern history, I'm also looking forward to visiting the Great Mosque and the Muslim Quarter.

I've loved the Giant Pandas since I was a child. They look so beautiful and soft and cuddly but can also be ferocious with their sharp claws. I'll be visiting the Giant Panda Sanctuary where 83 pandas live.  Of course a day trip down to Dafo, Le Shan to view the giant Buddha carved in sandstone is a must.

In case you didn't know already, I love history, culture and architecture. Plane tickets are super cheap from China to other parts of Southeast Asia. I am so excited to visit this fabulous country and visit as many temples as possible during my stay. I also plan to take a bicycle tour, learn the local cuisine through a cooking class, and souvenir shop at local businesses that employ women and disabled people to support and give back to the community.  

I've heard this region is beautiful and warm during the winter months. I don't have any specific plans yet, but I know I have to experience this province before I leave China! This vacation might be my best opportunity to do so.

The Longmen Caves are on my list of sites to visit in China. I'm hoping to fit in a visit at the end of my trip on the way back up to Beijing. 

Near Datong are the Yungang Caves and the Hanging Temple. If I can't get there in February, I'll definitely make a long weekend trip there in the spring.  

North of Beijing is a mountain resort area that the emperor would visit when the summers in Beijing would get too hot. Puning Si is a beautiful temple in the mountains that I'd love to visit. If I can't make it now, I'll take another long weekend up there once it warms up this spring.  

This city is practically in my backyard so I'm sure there will be at least one trip to Beijing, if not several. Perhaps this will finally be the time I experience the Great Wall? 

If I can fit it in my plans I'd love to spend some time traveling down the Silk Road. Beijing has been advertising that it will push for tourists to visit this famous part of ancient Chinese history in 2015. I'd love to get to Inner Mongolia. However, this time of year is brutally cold and I've heard the train takes about 20 hours to get there from Beijing. By the end of this trip I may not have the time or funds to make it. I might have to save this spot on my wish list for another vacation/trip. By the end of this vacation I'll feel pretty comfortable that I've experienced a large portion of China. Of course, there is so much to see that I'll really only be seeing a tiny fraction of what there is to explore.    

What are your holiday vacation plans? Do you have any trip suggestions for me?


  1. Where in China do you live? I currently live and study in Wuhan :)
    I'm happy Chengdu is on your list! It's such a beautiful city, and so much more relaxed than many other Chinese cities. It has a lot of parks and people enjoy spending time in the park drinking tea. You should definitely check out Tianfu Square, People's Park and the Bamboo Park there. If you are planning to travel some more in Sichuan province Emei Shan and Leshan Giant Buddha are both amazing sceneries and not too far from Chengdu :)
    I also really want to go to Inner Mongolia, but it's just so far away, especially form Wuhan. I'll have to come back to China in the future to go there and to go to actual Mongolia as well!
    Happy traveling, hope you see and experience a lot on your way!

    1. I'd love to get to Emei Shan and the Le Shan Buddha. How did you get there by tour, bus or taxi?