What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been

Wow! , hard to believe but it’s here already. 2 years ago today , I touched down in cold snowy Tianjin after an exhausting 24 straight hours in airports/airplanes due to an extreme blizzard messing up travel plans , standing in line for at least 6 hours getting re-routed ,and  a bonus one day stop-over in San Francisco , all while lugging around a massive suitcase containing all my worldly possessions that were chosen to make the trip to China. I started out a student in Tianjin and now I find myself teaching at a private kindergarten after working with private weekend centers and being contracted out to various public schools scattered around Shanghai.

During this time period I’ve made it to Beijing, Qingdao , Xi’an , Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Taiyuan, Pingyao , Tianjin , Kunming , Dali, Lijiang,and Shangri-la. I’ve hiked Tiger Leaping Gorge , climbed two holy mountains (Taishan and Huangshan) , wandered amongst the sand dunes in the edges of the Gobi desert , puked and shat my brains out while in a hostel bathroom for 10 hours  after bad food in Sichuan,slept in a Mongolian yurt in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia , made many trips to the Great Wall , been fed mass amounts of baijiu and food by middle-aged Chinese dudes on an overnight train, hosted my amazing friends Lindsay , Will , and Amanda. Played tour guide to my family , gazed over Shanghai from the 101th floor observation deck of the Shanghai World Financial Center , and eaten soooo many amazing foods as well as strange foods ( donkey , dog, duck blood and intestine soup , and pig brains are some the ones that come to mind immediately). Now all this is only in China!

I’ve gotten out of the country three times , and I have spent 1 month in the Philippines, 2 weeks in Laos , and 2 weeks in Cambodia. I’ve managed to chill in mountain villages of the Philippines , eaten a meal of fish and dog with 2 Laotians and my Korean friend Mr.Kim , floated in the South China sea along the paradise of Sugar Beach, strolled through the colonial streets of Luang Prabang , stood dumbstruck with awe amidst the ruins of Angkor Wat, and swam in the Gulf of Thailand with a bunch of bioluminescent algae. Along the way I’ve consumed countless Tsingtaos, Red Horses, and BeerLaos.

The future is looking good with plans to extensively cover Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces on weekend trips from Shanghai , a trip to Taiwan next Golden week, wanting to visit Harbin for the Ice Festival next winter and a move to a new apartment in Xuhui district coming up. I’m going to get my Chinese drivers license this year and I’m eyeing an nice digital SLR camera to get some nice photos and planning on signing up for MatadorU’s writing course. I’m waiting (like always) for the next paycheck and spring to finally break through the rainy gray Shanghai winterscape.

Crazily enough these two years have been entirely in Asia. Hard to believe but I have not made it back to the States in two years.Two years of being in places where English is not the main language. I miss everyone at home but I’m sure you guys are used to my absence by now. I ain’t coming back for a while yet, the earliest would be July 2013 for a trip to the DMV to renew my drivers license. So mark your calendars!

Now I’m off through yet another rainy Shanghai evening (it’s been almost 2 consecutive weeks of daily rain) however, today is the first thunderstorm day (woo hoo!)  to meet my girl and eat some frickin’ good frog legs. Keep it real everyone! Love from Asia!


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