Although we had planned to stay in SE Asia for a while longer, cheap flights and Phish tour dates pulled us back to the States for the summertime. We also took an epic trip overland from Hong Kong-Kunming and did some travels in our new home of Yunnan province.
From Indonesia we headed home for some R&R and time with family. Our favorite band Phish was playing in Detroit, Sasha’s hometown. That gave us just a little bit of motivation. We rented a party bus for the occasion. Other highlights from these five weeks include a Phish concert in Charlotte, NC, the Gathering of the Vibes music festival in Connecticut and watching the Tigers vs. Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
We headed back to the Middle Kingdom to move to our new home of Kunming but there were some other places we wanted to see along the way. We started in Hong Kong and crossed to Shenzhen to visit friends. Next up was Fujian province to chill in Xiamen and visit the Tulou villages, the traditional, circular, fortified village of the Hakka minority group. Finally we crossed into Guangxi province, home to the famous town of Yangshuo, the Longji Rice Terraces and of course Guilin rice noodles. From Guilin we took the overnight train to our new home, Kunming, Yunnan.
Once in Kunming we moved into an apartment and Rachel got to work on finding a job. After not working for fourteen months and paying six month’s rent we were a little poor. Before starting work, we went to the ancient town of Lijiang and snuck into the famous Black Dragon Pool park, hiked the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge trail, relaxed in Haba village, cycled 40 kms around the lake near Shangrila and took in the beautiful scenery around the old village of Shaxi.
The fall was much less busy for the Gypsies, as a 14-month trip left us broke and tired. Rachel focused on teaching full time and Sasha spent 10 days studying Thai in Bangkok, in addition to running several language blogs. Of course, we did manage to do some local exploring, as we got out for plenty of hikes, temples, parks, and more in and around our new home of Kunming.
What started out as an idiotic, drunken idea one night in a bar turned into quite possibly the dumbest trip ever as Sasha dressed up like Santa and rode the train across China on the way to the annual Santa Con event in Beijing. He ate pig’s feet, danced with local ladies, and got wasted with locals along the way and ended up making a pretty hilarious video about the whole thing.
When they announced that Phish was returning to Miami for their New Year’s shows we knew we couldn’t miss it. We booked trips home and we were both able to spend Christmas with our families and then rage in Miami. Sasha had some tricks up his sleeve though. He totally surprised Rachel by proposing just after the midnight countdown!