Testing Out the Backpacker’s Lifestyle

Testing Out the Backpacker’s Lifestyle

John’s friend Jay dropped in to town in late July with his girlfriend Jill. Shanghai was on the tail end of their 2-month journey beginning in St. Petersburg and ending in Beijing. We were glad to have some visitors, and as they are both seasoned backpackers, John and I seized this opportunity to test out the low-key travel style. Within a day of their arrival, we had sketched out five stops in eight days. Then, off we were. I had my qualms about not having lodging booked ahead of time and about visiting so many locations in just a few days, but this was our chance to wing it all.

We returned yesterday afternoon, and I am wiped. We rode every kind of transportation possible– mini-buses, taxis, normal trains, sleeper trains, sleeper buses, tuk-tuks, you name it. For the most part, we had good weather: Typhoon Matsa created some cooling winds (but also some drenching downpours). And we saw some pretty awesome spots. But we defintely underestimated the difficulties involved with getting from one place to another. In conclusion, the lessons we learned were:

1) Don’t cram too many cities in to one trip. (We plan to revisit three of the places we stopped: we just didn’t spend enough time this first time around
2) Use hostels (what a great find!).
3) Avoid winging it on trips shorter than two weeks. I’ve come a long way from my former Type A neurotic self. Still, I feel very strongly now about planning ahead. You see, NOT planning ahead only results in more stress and inefficiency during the trip. In other words, you end up wasting valuable “relaxation” time trying to flush out transportation details, ticket purchaes, and lodging.

Overall, we had a good time. John uploaded our best pix here. We hit some great places to knock off our China list. But I’m glad to be home, reunited with the pups.

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