Whew, after 30 hours of flights, delays, layovers, and running to terminals, I made it to Kunming, The Spring City.
I can’t forget that I made some friends along the way. I had a 4 hour delay in Chicago, which meant I would completely miss my flight in Shanghai. Luckily, there were some determined American Airline workers who helped me out. At first it seemed futile to find a new flight. No one answered the numbers I called and the flights looked full on the China Eastern website, so I just sulked away with my food voucher and ate some chips with guacamole. At the restaurant, I made a friend named Mike who was on route to his sister’s elopement in Hawaii. We made small talk and luckily he heard my name being called over the airport intercom, “Molly O’Connor, please return to terminal 3, Gate K14. You left a belonging at the gate.” I bid him farewell and while I was walking back to the gate with both my bags, I was wondering what I could’ve forgotten. Well, the two female workers who helped me before had huge smiles on their faces. I went up to the counter and they told me that “I had forgotten my ticket at the counter.” I pulled my ticket out of my pocket and then looked at the ticket they gave me. I realized then that everything was identical, except for my new flight number to Kunming. I was so relieved. I gave them both really tight hugs and asked how they did it, but all they said was “we just had to pull a few strings.” On that note, I took my 14 hour flight to Shanghai.

I mostly read Game of Thrones during the flight. I also, watched Argo (which was very good by the way, you guys should see it). Lastly, I sat next to a Chinese man who helped me with some vocab and he also let me use his phone to call my sis from Shanghai. He’s a keeper.

Landed in Shanghai and got through customs very quickly. Got my flight changed easily enough (thanks to the nice ladies in Chicago and thanks to my sister’s mandarin advice). Met an Australian named Peter. Nice guy, he also let me use his international phone to call my sis at the gate, just to let her know there were no delays.

My last friend I made during my flight was named Kenny. He is a chainsaw artist. Right before entering the plane I saw him on the platform. Sadly, he seemed worse for wear because he barely slept on his earlier flight. I let him borrow my neck pillow and he let me know after that he slept like a baby. He also had no RMB on him AND knew no Chinese, so we gave him some cash and Colleen told the taxi where to take him. I’m planning on meeting up with him in Kunming to see his art studio and to get be reimbursed.

Well, since the flight, I have spent a whole day in Kunming. Colleen gave me a short tour. She brought me to the Bird and Flower District.

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Lot’s of things to see. Especially all the Spring Festival garb and decoration!

ImageJust a small part of the flower market. It smelled amazing!

After walking around the market we played with some puppies that were being sold down the street, we sat and listened to the birds at the bird market (people also brought their own pet birds to socialize), and then we chilled at a cafe. Colleen drew and I read some more of my book. At around 6:30pm, Colleen introduced me to her friend James and they brought me to a Dai minority restaurant. It was very tasty, especially the grilled pork and sour mashed potatoes (oh and the fried bananas, yuuuum).

I pretty much passed out on Colleen’s bed after that.

What an exciting 48 hours. ;)

best,

-Molly

Well, here I am writing my last post in the U.S. Yep, that’s right. On Sunday morning (tomorrow) I’ll be flying to Chicago, then to Shanghai, and then to Kunming! At my final destination, Colleen will welcome me with open arms at the airport. We chatted last night and I am already excited for our first adventure to Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Gorge)!

I’ve been preparing for the last 5 months and now I think I am as ready as I’ll ever be. This last week has been full of spending time with friends, picking up last minute supplies, and organizing everything. Here’s a list of all the things I’m bringing!

What Molly is bringing on her trip:

Packs:

60L Granite Gear Pack, REI 18L Flash Pack , 2 Granite gear packing separators (one for summer/winter clothes, one for meds(first aid kit)/sunscreen/bug stuff), waterproof bag for electronics (adaptors, memory cards, batteries), and a mesh bag for laundry.

Med KitThis is what is in my medicine bag. I took an REI first aid kit and added bunches more stuff inside it (hopefully I won’t need to use it too much)

My packs

Clothes:

A lite-down Patagonia jacket, 1 Mountain Hardwear thermal pants, 1 tech long sleeve shirt, 3 socks (1 thick wool, 1 thin wool, 1 synthetic sock), 2 sports bras, 6 pairs of underwear, 1 tech tank, 2 pants (1 hiking pant, 1 cargo/short zip off pant), 1 gym short, 4 t-shirts (2 tech, 1 nice, 1 in between nice and tech), Keen hiking/walking shoes, sandals, a bandana, and 1 skirt.

my clothes

Electronics and other:

A frisbee, Handycam video camera, Canon powershoot, Gorilla tripod, quick dry towel, my iPhone, Chinese phrasebook, and a Kindle.

I also have presents for my twin sista in there! But, that will be kept a secret. ;)

I weighed my Granite Gear pack and it’s about 16.5 pounds (Probably more around 15 pounds without Colleen’s presents) and my goal in filling it up only halfway is a success! Overall, I’m pleased with my final product. I did have to sacrifice nice things, like a computer, cute clothes, and other fun things, but I know it’ll be worth it in the end.

Well, I should probably get off my computer and spend the rest of the evening with my family. Maybe I’ll make my brothers play Settler’s of Catan with me or I’ll watch a movie with my Mom and Dad (or both!?).

Either way, thanks for reading and I’ll update my China adventures in the near future.

Best,

-Molly

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Me with my pack and ready to go on my trip around the world :)

Preparation: 6 days till China

Hey Everyone, Molly here. This will be where you’ll find my stories, photos, and videos of my trip!

I’m sure some of you don’t know where or what I am doing, so here is a quick run down.

I’ll be flying to China this Sunday morning to spend 1 month with my twin sister, Colleen, in the Yunnan Province. She is on break for the Spring Festival, so we’re going on a 10 day excursion somewhere (Guilin? Shibaoshan Mountain?!). Then I’ll be traveling around Yunnan and spending time in Kunming for the rest of the month. I’m hoping to see the Stone Forest, hike parts of the Himalayas,  meet interesting people, and experience China in a whole different way. I’ll be taking some footage in China, but not as much as I will be later on in my travels. 

Then in early March, I’ll fly to Japan. Since I don’t need a visa for 90 days, I’ll take some time to sight see and visit friends who are living in Japan! I’ll probably travel for 1 to 1.5 months and then I’m hoping to do some research in Southern Japan. There are lots of scientists in the rainforest found on Ogasawara Islands and the Nansei Shoto Archipelago. This is where I’ll do lots of my filming, maybe I can even document some of the scientists work?

After Japan, I’ll be flying to Mongolia. Ever since I read about the Mongols for a research paper in middle school, It has been a dream of mine to visit this country. Every part of Mongolia fascinates me. The Gobi Desert to the south with its migrating camels, Mongolia’s world renowned horses, the volcanoes and sand dunes to the East, pristine lakes in the mountains to the West, and the famous herders and nomads that live all throughout. I still don’t know exactly where I’ll be, but I’m planning on visiting a friend who is doing Peace Corps. And as you can tell, I’ll have fun wherever I go. I’m planning on doing a lot of filming in Mongolia.

After Mongolia, I will either take the Trans-Siberian Railway to Moscow (I really want to do this) or fly to Europe. I have a flight out of Dublin on August 12th. So, by the time I make it to Europe, I’ll putz around for a month and slowly but surely make it to Ireland. I have friends in Amsterdam, France, England, and possibly Germany. So, I’ll probably stop by those countries to say hello and sight see.

Well, that’s my plan. I think it sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to see and experience these new places. All I’ll have is a 60 liter Granite Gear pack and my REI Flash bag. I’ll post what I’m putting into my bag later this week. First I’ve gotta figure out what I’m actually going to pack!

Thanks for reading.

-Molly

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