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!

10 thoughts on “Around the World in 80 Days

  1. I loved RP’s photos and sorry to have missed yours…at least you have photos of NZ, whereas we have none of our honeymoon because of camera issues! Sounds like it was an amazing trip xxxx^^^^

  2. Wow, this would be amazing! I truly wish my wife and I could do this together! We love living and working abroad and getting to experience a lot of things- but man, this would be awesome!

  3. Those are fabulous memories. I truly wish I could have done more when I was younger. And I believe you when you say the sun set at midnight…I was there during those white nights at one point in my life.

  4. Got to your blog via a financial site link to the Apple store this morning. Of course I was enchanted and have been digging.

    I wish the trans-Siberian photos had captions! (Is that a mosque with all those minarets? Surrounding an onion dome?!)

    Thanks for being there… and for having the energy and interest to share your experiences.

    Bill M
    Vero Beach FL
    Roosevelt Island NY

  5. Those pictures are amazing (just like the rest of your blog, it’s very motivating to see you doing all this!). I was wondering how you went about buying your Trans-Siberian ticket and how much it cost, if you don’t mind me asking? I’m starting planning a round the world trip and I’m finding this bit quite difficult to research. Any advice would be hugely appreciated, although I can see you’re very busy!

    • Hi Jess! We bought all of our tickets in advance through the Russian Rail website ( – it’s all in Russian, but Google Translate is helpful. We printed out the receipts with bar codes and exchanged them all pretty easily at the long distance train station in Moscow – it was amazingly efficient! As I mentioned in this post, we got off at lots of stops – the fewer stops you make, the cheaper it is. I think it cost us US$600-odd per person all told.

      Start here for an explanation of the whole thing:

      Here’s a tip: Do not buy the Trans-Siberian Lonely Planet guide. It is crap.

  6. yes, right – never buy a lp – guidebook anymore – unless you want to meet the same people over and over in every place again. lp travellers are on aguided group trip but with the free joice of trabsport between 2 sights. its a lttle bit like wandertag…donot get me wrong, i used for years istill keep them, or even the rest of some. but once around leh i lost mine, in leh i got a map, i coul not read but show – hey i got a map …and sure everyone shows you something, in every direction, i started a kind of game, i always took the route of the most symphatic person, and i always got somewhere, and best, if you have nogoal, you cannot get lost;) everyone of you i wish awseome travelling trips, and stay healty…..

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