RETURN TO CHINA (Feb 17 – Jun 30)
We’re headed back to China! In February, 2012, my wife, Char, and I spent five months in China. Char taught English in a school in Hangzhou and I worked remotely for my company. What an experience! Now we will return. Char will again be teaching in Hangzhou. But this time, I will be freelancing. I’m planning to write about the rich experiences we are bound to have during our time there. Looking forward to it. We made many friends when we were in China in 2012, some to whom we could speak and others to whom we could not communicate by language. I am most anxious to see whether the shop keepers in the places we regularly visited remember us when we show up again.
THE SILK ROAD (Aug 5 – Oct 23)
And then—the Silk Road. Yes, we plan an 80-day overland adventure across central Asia. We will be traveling by truck. According to the overland travel company, our group will not be larger than 20 people. It’s quite a trek. We will be visiting the following countries, in order of appearance: China (of course), Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. We cross the Caspian Sea on a ferry to get from Azerbaijan to Georgia.
This is the land of djinn (genies) and charmed artifacts and flying carpets. It is the place where the global economy began, where raw materials, finished goods, religions, and ideas passed back and forth from 200 BCE to the mid 1400s.
I first became interested in this part of the world when I read a book, The Amulet of Samarkand, the first book of a trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, about a 5,000-year-old djinn. The name Samarkand fascinated me and I wanted to see the city. One of the principal cities of the Silk Road, Samarkand today lies in Uzbekistan. One thing led to another. I discovered the Dragoman overland travel company. I wanted to make this journey when my wife and I were in China in 2012, but, alas, I could not take three months off. But now, having freed myself of corporate work, we will repeat our Chinese experience of two years ago and then set off for Samarkand and the rest of the Silk Road.
RUN AMOK IN CHINA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA (Jul 1 – Aug 4)
We will have the month of July to travel around China and southeast Asia unrestricted by any schedules (school). I would like to see Suzhou, as it was the second favorite city of Marco Polo. Hangzhou was his first love, and I am happy to spend so much time there. Xi’an is the home of the Terra Cotta Warriors, and I would like to go there. We need to go to Beijing to get one of our visas, and to Shanghai to get another. I have long had an interest in Angkor Wat in Cambodia and I would love to go to Vietnam. Even though I never served in the military, the Vietnam war was the war of my generation, and I would like to see the country. So we will try to do some freelance traveling during July and see what serendipity brings us.