First Half of 2013

January

Freezing In Harbin

For the third (and most likely the last) time, Sasha visited Harbin in northeast China.  Rachel and Pip were there, too, as we celebrated Pip’s birthday in (Gangnam) style with trips to the Ice and Snow World and Sun Island Snow Sculpture Park.  We also got wild in a KTV and Harbin’s only bar.

February

It’s More Fun in the Philippines

Once again, we went from the bitter cold of Harbin to tropical SE Asia.  This time we hit the Philippines, where we spent a few days in Cebu city before taking the boat over to Bohol.  We visited historic sites, beach bummed, saw the world’s tiniest primate, did some insane zip-lining and canyon swinging, and obviously did substantial raging.

March-May

Three Chinese Holidays, Three Chinese Trips

Three short Chinese holidays gave us the chance to take three more short trips in China.  First, we visited Datong in Shanxi province, home to the Yungang Buddhist Grottoes, the Hanging Monastery, and Mt. Heng.  We mixed sightseeing with raging, capping the night off in our own private KTV party.  Next up was a short trip to the coastal city of Dalian, which we found to be clean and boring.  We experienced a miserable Chinese tour, but came out on top in the end.  Finally we made the trek to Changbai Mountain on the border of China and North Korea.  On the way there, we got silly and shirtless with random Chinese guys, and then we spent a few days taking in the beautiful scenery and relaxing in a fancy hot spring hotel.

June

Tons of Great Wall Fun

In June, we celebrated four years together by going back out to the same eco-retreat we had visited in 2010.  This time, we got upgraded to the Chairman’s Suite, a room that usually costs about $800 a night.  We also checked something off Rachel’s bucket list by camping out on the Gubeikou section of the Great Wall.

July was our last month of teaching and living in Beijing.  After three years, many ups and downs, a few different jobs and apartments, dozens of trips, and countless nights raging in Beijing, we decided to say goodbye and begin a new chapter in our lives.

Keep reading to see how we started off our gap year with a 3-month coast-to-coast trip back in the US.

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