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Today is Day 84!

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TravelDiabetes travelogues

Vast China

I secured an unusual 90-day visa for China, and made the most of it. Beginning in the ancient city of Xi’an and its Terracotta Army, my partner Masayo and I wound around the Chinese mainland, scaling sacred mountains, wandering into obscure hill villages, boating up the Yangtze River, and riding buses with locals into the wild Tibetan Plateau and to the edge of the Gobi Desert. Here’s how I handled food, insulin, and blood sugar supplies in this vast and fascinating country.

Articles: China

Day 87

Three days in Beijing without sightseeing

How is it possible to spend three days in Beijing and see NO tourist sites? It's easy when you learn you have to make sudden plans to get out of China.

Day 79

Sand dunes and street food in distant Dunhuang

How to visit the Gobi Desert for free and keep insulin cool while you're climbing among the huge dunes. This is Dunhuang, a distant but remarkable place.

Day 75

Through the desert to Dunhuang with special permission

With an Aliens' Travel Permit we took a bus through high desert from Golmud to Dunhuang, China, a trip that featured camels, snow, and (eventually) peeing.

Day 74

Golmud, dusty crossroads on the edge of nothing

We spent a few days in Golmud, a town in the middle of the Tibetan Plateau where we secured permission to continue through the rugged desert. How fun!

Day 72

Xining, the high and dry fulcrum of central China

Xining is an ancient crossroads on the Silk Road in central China, a high, arid city that acts as a gateway to the rowdy west: it readjusts your focus.

Day 68

I left my jaw in Chongqing's hotpot

Chongqing, a humongous urban area in central China, gave us the opportunity to rest up after the Yangtze River cruise. And, we ate food spicy enough to sear holes in the Earth's crust.

Day 64

Three nights on the smoggy, majestic Yangtze River

How we became the only English-speaking non-Chinese tourists on a three-day cruise up the famed Yangtze, which is as beautiful as its reputation.

Day 53

Eight days in a backpacker's oasis in Wuhan, China

A stay at a hostel on a wooded lot in Wuhan, China gave us the opportunity to rest up, book a Yangtze cruise, and engage in some fierce music wars.

Day 51

Overnight stay in Zhuzhou, a town I can't remember

Funny how some places you visit leave no impression on you whatsoever, like ghost towns of your memory. Zhuzhou, China was like that for me.

Day 49

Tea leaves and local families in Taxiacun

An extra day in tiny Taxiacun, China let us explore the town and even get a surprise invitation to a local family's house, where they gave us tea cake.

Day 47

Fujian tulou houses and the perfect kindness of strangers

After a bus ride to the famous tulou in China we found no facilities at all, and fell in with a group of Taiwanese cyclists who took us under their wing.

Day 46

Gulangyu, a Chinese community like no other

Quiet and relaxed Gulangyu is a peculiar island in south China that feels a lot more European than Asian. It's easy to forget time on "Piano Island".

Day 36

Shaoxing and the mysterious yin-yang of travel

There is a "yin-yang" aspect to travel: you see some things and you miss others. Shaoxing, China showed us that that is how it should be on the road.

Day 31

Lose yourself on "Old Street" in ancient Tunxi

Most people pass through Tunxi, China because they're on their way elsewhere. But here's what you find if you stick around and explore Tunxi instead.

Day 26

Struggling up China's sacred Huangshan mountains

Striking out on your own as we did on the Huangshan Mountains in China is much more rewarding than the comfort and stability of package tours.

Day 24

The secret misty mountain town of Tangkou, China

Tangkou, China is an obscure mountain town that feels like it was made just for you. Travel should mostly be remarkable destinations such as this.

Day 14

Laundry service plus vomit: The tale of Hefei

Hefei is a growing Chinese city that still feels old. We managed to find laundry service on a rural back street and I overcame a spell of throwing up.

Day 12

Saying "yes" to a Chinese tout was a good choice

About a tour of Kaifeng, China with a local named "Jason", a.k.a. Golden Phoenix, a great guy who showed us the city on his bicycle rickshaw.

Day 7

The amazing food stalls of Kaifeng

The food at Kaifeng, China's nightly market is so good we stayed a few extra days, just to eat more of the cheap, delicious dishes there.

Day 5

The ancient clay army and the small wild goose

How travel can show you places you'd only ever dreamed of visiting – like the Terra Cotta Army near Xi'an, China, a real trip across time.

Day 1

The big grey skies of Xi'an, China

The grimy air of China can actually enhance the distant, ancient feel of some of its modern cities. That's how we found magnificent Xi'an in central China.