Around the World in 80 Days

The past three months have been a whirl of activity and travel – we actually traveled around the globe in about 80 days – and now we find ourselves back in Kunming for a last burst of activity.

Although we’re now into Year 3 of living in China, we’re fast closing in on the end of our time here: my fellowship is done, I’m dashing off my applications for nurse-midwifery school, RP is finishing up his fieldwork. We have to leave our apartment a little over two months from now, and then we’ll be homeless or itinerant (depending on your view of it) for six months or so, before probably ending up back in the US in the late spring.

But before we get to next spring, let’s start with this one: the end of April and May were spent in the US, moving from place to place as RP promoted his (BRILLIANT! CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED!) book, and checking in with family. From there it was off to Berlin and then St. Petersburg for me, and London for him, finally rendezvousing in Moscow for our Great Trans-Siberian Adventure.

We spent a few weeks traveling across Russia by way of the Trans-Siberian: alighting in eight cities of Siberia and the Far East, eating smoked fish, watching the steppe and then the taiga pass by the window, stumbling through conversations in Russian, sharing tea and biscuits with fellow train travelers, sitting with our thoughts for hours.

All 600 photos I took were lost with my camera, so you will just have to believe me when I say that I saw the sun set at midnight in St. Petersburg, stood and looked out at the Gulf of Finland, put my feet in the freezing, clear waters of Lake Baikal, and took in the Pacific Ocean from the top of a funicular in gritty Vladivostok, where we finally landed. My favorite few minutes of the whole trip happened during twilight leaving Irkutsk for the east, when the train sailed right along the edge of Baikal and I felt as though I were staring out at the edge of the planet.

9,909 km – 6,157 miles – from end to end. An epic journey through a vast stretch of land unlike any other I’ve seen. I’m a lucky one, for sure.

Russia is so enormous that a map showing the basic route we took across that one country alone can’t be displayed on this blog in its entirety…so I decided to make a map showing the entire route that we took around the world and each of the stops we made; by plane, train, bus, van and ferry; from Kunming to Beijing, up over the Arctic Circle to America; through Europe to Russia; and across Eurasia back to Beijing and Kunming. Click “View Larger Map” below to see the whole thing.

And while you’re at it, here are the photos that RP took on the Trans-Siberian journey. Click photo below to see full album.

In Kazan, Going into a Church

We made the last episode of A New York Yid in Khine from Birobidzhan (…not Khine…whatever) that will give you a feeling for what the trip across Russia was actually like, even better than the photos do. Stay tuned for that shortly!