Easy hike and awesome view! What makes Kelimutu famous is the 3 summit crater lakes of varying colors. These lakes are very close to each other but each has a different color that changes throughout the years. In 2016, the colors of the lakes even changed 6 times!
I loved my time in Flores, Indonesia and I regret not spending more time on this island. This post is an island hopping guide to see a pink beach, komodo dragons, and more in Komodo National Park (Flores, Indonesia).
This post contains places that aren’t normally on first time visitors’ list of things to do in Bali. If you’ve been to Bali before, or maybe it is your first time here and you’re looking for something different to do in Bali, you should check these places out. It might make you fall in love with Bali (again).
So what’s traveling in Tibet like? The following are my random observations, tidbits of memories, and highlights of Tibet.
At 40 hours, the Beijing – Lhasa train is the longest train ride I’ve been on. I am now convinced that train journeys are way more romantic in books than in real life. Next time I’m going to Tibet, I’ll be flying.
The Great Wall and I have a long history
I wrote my first bucket list when I was in 2nd grade. It hung on my bedroom door for many years. It was written in cursive on 8.5×11 printer paper and decorated with stickers along the edge. It wasn’t a very long list. This was pre-Google and pre-Instagram after all and much of what I knew of the world came from children magazines and books.
I attempted to create THE ultimate bucket list multiple times ever since, but it never took. I guess I’m not much of a list person. But throughout the various versions, there were 2 things that constantly made it to the top of the lists: to see the Great Pyramids in Egypt and to stand on the Great Wall of China.
I still haven’t been to Egypt.
But I finally can say that I’ve crossed off one of the oldest bucket list items in my life. Woot!
I stood on the Great Wall of China!!
But now that I’m finally here in China, standing on the Great Wall just won’t cut it. Oh no.
I need to HIKE the Great Wall!
The not-so-fun way of hiking the Great Wall
The most common, and some say the best, section of the Great Wall to hike is between Jinshanling and Simatai. The drive from Beijing to Jinshanling trailhead took a little over 2 hours.
When we arrived the guide gave us a map and unceremoniously escorted us out of the bus with some parting wisdom, “Remember to turn left at the junction, not right. Ok, bye! Try not to get heatstroke!”
And off we go.
Did I mention it was 100 degrees out with 90% humidity? And there was no lick of shade?
I just arrived in Beijing 8 hours earlier. Between the heat and the jetlag, I didn’t quite realise how excited I should’ve been (thus the lack of pics of moi on the Wall – I was too busy surviving). I’d been dreaming of being on the Great Wall for so long but at the time all I felt was the sun beating on me and the sweat dripping down my back, my legs, and from my face to my camera.
Midway I strike a conversation with a German girl (whom I later met again in Xi’an), and that helped distract me. Misery loves company and all that.
And eventually I got used to the heat. I hit my stride, picked up the pace, and I practically ran the last mile of the wall. I can now say that not only did I hike the Great Wall of China, I ran it!
(Ok, it was more like a jog. Or a very quick walk. And it was towards the cold beer I knew was waiting at the end).
Between the huffing and puffing, I kept saying to myself, “I’m in China, I’m in China and I’m on the freaking Great Wall!”
It might’ve taken me some 25+ years to make a childhood dream happen, but I did. I gotta say, that was a pretty sweet feeling.
How to Hike the Great Wall of China
The Tour: I booked a Jinshanling to Simatai tour from Beijing Downtown Backpackers Hostel.
If I were to do it again, I’d have gone with a tour where the guide actually comes on the hike (like this one).
Hiking length: 6km (3.7miles), passing 22 towers with some parts in original condition.
Longer hike possible from Jiankou to Mutianyu
Getting supplies: There are stores selling hats and sunscreens, snacks (non-perishables like chips, crackers, etc) at the trailhead. There are people who sell cold drinks and instant noodle on the wall.
Things I wish I had brought: fresh fruit and wet wipes.
The Muslim Quarter, the City Wall, and more. I was ready to brush off Xian as a jumping point to some other destinations but ended up enjoying so much.
For me going to Japan was like having a part of my childhood come to life. I grew up reading mangas where I learned about eating taoyaki, going to onsen, and sitting around kotatsu before I knew there was a “Japan” beyond these stories, if you know what I mean.
Hakone is a perfect day trip destination from Tokyo. There are onsens, beautiful scenery, and easy access from Shinjuku. With Hakone Pass, it’s very easy to see all of Hakone attractions.
When I learned that my visit would coincide with one of Tokyo’s sumo grand tournament, watching a sumo match became one of the top things I wanted to do in Tokyo.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, as of right now, Sumba Island is still reserved for the most adventurous of travelers. The roads were bumpy and long. The lodgings were basic. The beaches were beautiful, but lacking in the most basic of infrastructure (no bathrooms, no cafes/restaurants, nothing but sand, water, and mangroves). I thought I’d been to deserted beaches before, but Sumba’s beaches took the phrase “deserted” beaches to a new level. But was it worth it? I think so. I’m so glad I went.
Instead of spending a bleary 10 hour layover in Taipei Airport, we had 4 days to relax, eat, and see Taiwan. Spoiler: we ate all the food.