One month ago, we left Kunming for Northern Yunnan province. After seeing Dali and Lijiang, we flew all the way to Kashgar, then made our back across Xinjiang province via Urumqi and Turpan. A long bus ride brought us to Dunhuang, then another to Jiayuguan. We made our way through Gansu province to Xiahe, then came back to Lanzhou, down to Chengdu in Sichuan province, and finally had one last train trip which brought us back to Kunming yesterday morning.
We journeyed down the Silk Road. We travelled through deserts, mountains, and long vast expanses of nothing. We went to ancient cities, caves, and markets. We visited mosques and temples. We sampled many types of bread, noodles, and hot pots. We slept on buses, trains, and in hotels that varied from cold and dirty to clean and comfortable. We felt adventurous, fortunate, and occasionally horrified.* We saw the things people expect to see in China - the Great Wall, panda bears, and pagodas - but often stumbled onto the unexpected.
Tomorrow we fly to Kathmandu where we'll fulfill a long-held goal of trekking in the Himalaya. Excited is an understatement on this day - we're practically skipping down the streets of Kunming getting ready to go. The truth is, one only needs three things to be able to travel: money, time, and the desire to go. While we've always had the desire to go to Nepal, one of the other two has always been missing. Well, no longer, our bags are packed and we're ready to go, happy to leave behind the long bus and train rides of China to begin hiking from teahouse to teahouse on the Annapurna Circuit.
*Get these motherf&$@ing rats off this motherf@&*ing train! It's a story for another day, when the trauma wears off.