World Flavor: Rachel and Jeff

Dynamic duo Rachel and Jeff left their home in the U.S. to spend a year in South Korea teaching English. This allowed them to save money while living abroad. Once their contract ended, they embarked on a year-long travel adventure starting in Mongolia. They are currently two months into their trip, and we caught up with them to find out more about their amazing journey and future plans.

Photo Friday: Beijing

Beijing is a masterpiece of human culture. We spent about two weeks in the city, fell in love with it, and watched the old mix with the new. Residents bike up and down the hutong alleyways while new cars zip along the wide boulevards past rising skyscrapers. We’ve all heard that China is growing at a phenomenal pace, but you have to see it in person to fully understand the transformation.

Here are some photos from our recent travels in this amazing city.

China on the Cheap

We arrived in China almost two weeks ago. The country has made a good impression so far. This is actually our second trip to China, our first being five years ago to the south (from Hong Kong to the Yunnan). After five years, this behemoth of a country is advancing in leaps and bounds. Economic growth can be witnessed everywhere. At the same time, ancient culture and personal experiences await around every corner.

After arriving in Beijing late in the evening, we found our hotel down one of Beijing’s many Hutong alleyways. These microcosms of Chinese culture, where locals live in close proximity to one another and share a tight-knit neighborhood, are slowly being torn apart and replaced with towering skyscrapers. Beijing as a whole is impressive. It’s huge and modern in some parts, but ancient and cultural in others. We visited Beihai park, where crowds perform Tai Chi in unison along the shore of an ancient lake with a modern skyline as a backdrop.

Photos from China

So far on our trip to China and Mongolia, we’ve been to Beijing, Mount Huangshan, and some small Houzhou villages. Here are a few photos to tempt you until we can post more stories of our adventure.

China: Our Packing List

Now that we’re about one week into our trip to China and Mongolia, we’ve ventured beyond Beijing, our first destination. For this two month trip, we’ve packed as lightly as possible. Instead of each of us taking our normal packs (around 80 liters in size) and also carrying additional smaller packs, we’re only carrying one medium sized pack (about 35 liters) and smaller backpacks. Also, one of the smaller bags is a camera/laptop bag.

Playing the Airfare Game

The other day, we finally purchased our plane tickets for our trip to China and Mongolia. We’ve been planning this trip for a while, but recent life events led us to actually settle on some specific dates for our trip. However, like any good traveler (and anyone who wants to save money), we’ve been monitoring the prices of tickets for quite some time in hopes to get the best bang for our buck. This ended up being a waste of time, because on many of the popular airline booking sites, the price they give you when you’re about to buy a ticket can be much different than the price you’re shown at the beginning of the process.

Let the following story be a warning to anyone trying to play this game.

3 Tips to Navigate China Without Speaking the Language

The superpower nation of China is big, not just in land mass, but in population as well. With about 1.4 billion people (that is 4 Chinese for every 1 American), and 12-24 hour train rides between each major city, the country is only recently trying to integrate on the world stage. Even with this recent push, certain traits have not been adapted to the world scale. One of these is the language barrier.