China, Baby! 中国, 宝貝儿!


Photo by Chas Pope

Tomorrow morning, I leave for a five week trip to China.  I will focus on two major destinations: Beijing (北京) and XinJiang (新疆).  My original plan was to visit Mongolia from Beijing, but scrapped that plan due to recent visa restrictions imposed by the Chinese government for double entries.  “Sweet, I get to see XinJiang!” I thought.

Here’s my plan so far:

  • Travel: Seattle – Beijing
  • Beijing – 4 Days
  • Travel: Beijing -Ürümqi
  • Side trip to TianChi – 2 Days
  • Travel: Ürümqi -Kashgar
  • Kashgar – 10 Days
  • Travel: Kashgar – Beijing
  • Beijing -15 Days
  • Travel: Beijing to Seattle

Coincidentally and independently, two of my friends from Seattle (Ravi and Jeremy), and fellow blogger friend Nathalie will also be in Beijing for business during parts of my stay.  Plus, my parents will also be visiting Beijing around the same time, so it’ll be a party. I feel pretty lucky right now!

My photographer friend Jeremy will be joining me for the XinJiang route, my Yoga-Teacher friend Ravi will meet us in Beijing, and hopefully we’ll get to see Nathalie.

XinJiang – 新疆

I’ve always been fascinated by XinJiang, a relatively foreign region within China.  What attracts me to it are the vast cultural diversities. Did you know that XinJiang is home to 19 distinct ethnic groups?  Wow!  As a little girl in Beijing, my association with XinJiang people was that they were the kabob sellers who wore exquisite decorative square hats, with tanned skin and Caucasian features.  I’m about to learn more…

XinJiang borders all the “estan” countries: Kazakhstan (Borat!), Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It also borders: Mongolia, Russia and India.   The majority of the population is Muslim. Urghur (pronounced “We-ger”), a Turkic language, is the common tongue.  I heard that Mandarin is frowned upon, so I’m all geared up with a handy Central Asia phrasebook, ready to bust out some Urghur.

Most of my XinJiang time will be spent in Kashgar.  I actually laughed out loud when I saw it on a map, it’s waaaaaay on the west end of China.  Initially, my plan was to travel by train from Beijing in an attempt to save some money. But learning that trains will take around 72 hours, I jumped at the faster alternative – by plane.

I’m all ready, armed with a dozen rolls of film and several digital cameras.  It will be a photojournalist’s dream.

Beijing – 北京

I was born and raised in Beijing until age 10 (English was my second language). I was there during the Tiananmen Square Massacre (六四) and recall seeing tanks along the main road on my way to school each morning.  The last time I was back was ten years ago, and I’m really excited to see the results of Beijing’s massive modernization.

My focus in Beijing is mostly for visiting family and to test out how well I can work remotely. (*fingers crossed*)

Get Packin’

I will do my best to keep up with ThinkSimpleNow, but I anticipate that reliable internet access will be challenging, especially in XinJiang.  We shall see.

I will be spending most of my time roaming around each town, taking photos, contemplating, writing, listening to music and reading.  I’ve loaded my iPod with all of Steve Pavlina’s podcasts, videos from Oprah’s Soul Series and a ton of music.  That should keep me busy. :)

If you’re curious, I’ll be bringing the following books:

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StumbledUpon Save to Digg it! Comments (17)

17 Responses (14 Comments, 3 Trackbacks ):


  1. 1

    Your trip sounds wonderful!
    I’m spending time in Buenos Aires at the moment. Travel makes me more creative and clears my mind of daily clutter.
    Go well, Tina!

  2. 2

    Cool Tina!

    I grew up in India when I was young, and similarly enjoy visiting and seeing how different it is now than it was in those days.

    If you need someone to help you moderate your comments or anything while you’re gone, I would be happy to.

    You might also enjoy the Psych Files podcast. I wish I could say this was self promotion, but no, it’s not my podcast – just one that I enjoy a lot. The tag line is psychology in everyday life, and it’s the only psychology one I enjoy – many of the others are very academic and I find them dull.

  3. 3

    I’m so glad of the synchronicities going on here. I’m looking forward to meeting up with you in BeiJing! :)

    Have a great time in Kashgar and good luck with the new languages. I’m sure you will be able to pick them up without too much trouble. ;) And see you on the other side of the world!

  4. 4

    Have a great trip Tina!

    It’s been 8 years since I’ve visitied China (Shanghai and Beijing) and I am so looking forward to going back! I met some extraordianry individuals and found it mind blowing that I could meet people on the other side of the world that are so like me despite our cultural differences and upbringings, WOW!! I left the country with a feeling of appreciation and deep gratitude for all that I have as the people I met had very little but were a million times happier.

    What a coincidence as I have been spending my days at work catching up on Oprah’s Soul Series :) My favorite thus far is her interview with Wayne Dyer. What a remarkable human being. I can’t wait to dig into more of his books.

    Be safe! Look forward to seeing your photos which I’m sure will be absolutely breathtaking.

    Oh and if memory serves me correct there was an abundance of internet cafes in Beijing. Oh and there was a Dairy Queen out there…yum :)

  5. PeaceLoveJoyBliss


    What a wonderful, wonderful opportunity! Have fun, Tina!

  6. 6

    Hey Tina,

    That sounds like an exciting trip!

    What a pity I’ve not even visited Beijing yet though I’ve had a taste of Shanghai and Guangzhou…

    From what I know, there’s abundance of broadband in hotel rooms there as well as internet cafes so keep writing ON… it’s inspiring, to say the least!


  7. 7

    I learn.
    she says this is important.
    i learn from the inadequacy expressed enclosed in the words of discovery
    I learn mostly from the crisis of identity i am witnessing.
    but as we all know:
    i learn
    she learns
    and THAT is most important

  8. 8

    Hey, You write simple and powerful. I liked your site

  9. 9

    Hi Tina,

    That sounds exciting. Coincidently I was reading about XinJiang recently, it’s cool to see you’ll be visiting the place.

    All the best, and I’m looking forward to the photos reading about your experiences!

  10. 10

    I am Iranian. I know that if i was Irish, German, English or of the Scandinavian people I would feel at home with hamburgers, steaks, milk and cheese and hundreds and millions of other signs and symbols of cultures that had in history the tribes Angles, Saxons, Frisian, Viking and Normans I would feel extremely at home on the North American soil, maybe even more than the American Indian.

    but if I were Chinese and laundries, railroads and dim sum were not representing me i would have to go back to my home territory to feel that, despite all the words effused from the New Age Sponges, I had my place and that place was important among the people of the world.

    and so I do.

    Go home.

    Away from all…and I mean all, like this girl would like to say, from you


  11. 11

    Hey Tina,

    Have a happy trip to China! I didn’t know that you grew up in Beijing in your early years. I was there on a vacation like 3-4 years back and had a great time, taking in the ancient sights.

    I’d be glad to read about your travels and view your pictures taken!

    Take care!

  12. 12

    Hey Tina

    Steve Pavlina’s audios and Oprah’s soul series combined with that awesome trip sounds very tempting…

    I had no idea you were there at the time of massacre Tina, that must have been a very scary time .. things sure have changed since then, hope you have great time there.. will look forward to hearing all about it


  13. Meaningless


    Life is death. We live only to die. The thought escapes everyone for a fleeting moment. We avoid the idea out of fear or unfamiliarity. Until we are ready to accept it, there can be no life.

    Don’t let your trip be another escape. It will catch up with you, too.

  14. 14

    Sorry I got to this late but have an awesome trip!

    It must be nice to go back home :)

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