Friday, August 23, 2013

Lightweight Backpacking

It’s possible to travel with a 40L backpack. It’s just small enough to take with you as a carry-on at the airport and large enough to take most of your essentials with you. Admittedly, you can’t fit everything you want into a 40L backpack but you may find out that you don’t need everything to survive.

Downsides of light travel:
  • You can't take everything you want with you (like an external monitor)

Upsides of light travel:
  • Easier on your body
  • No need to check in your backpack at the airport where it can get damaged or lost
  • No need to (but you may want to) put your backpack into the underside luggage compartments when riding a long-distance bus where it can get damaged or stolen
  • Less stuff to worry about losing
Here's what I was able to fit inside a 40L backpack:
  • Wear: 4 shirts, 4 boxers, 3 pairs of socks, 2 shorts, 2 long pants, fleece long-sleeve shirt, swim trunks, belt, contacts, glasses, sunglasses, lightweight shoes, hat
  • Electronics: 11" laptop, smartphone, e-reader, mirrorless camera, large external battery, adapters for the electronics
  • Toiletries: shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, contact solution, eye drops, microfiber towel, sunscreen, razer, Purell, toilet paper
  • Safety: traveler's diarrhea medication, Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol tablets, UV water purifier
  • Other: 3L Camelbak, portable pillow, sleeping bag liner, mosquito net, 2 locks, ear plugs, notebook, pen

Note: If you will be buying gifts for yourself or others while traveling, allow extra space in your backpack or realize you may need to carry a separate bag for gifts.


While traveling through China, you may have the opportunity to meet people from different parts of the world. It’s not everyday you’ll be sitting at a table having drinks and talking with a woman from New Zealand, a woman from Trinidad, a British man, a Dutch man, an Israeli, a student from Australia, and a smatter of Chinese students on summer holiday from different parts of China. However, if you’re hosteling through China, this could happen quite often.

At this point, I’ve learned a number of basic Chinese words and phrases. However, trying to understand what Chinese people are saying to me is still near impossible. If I’m lucky, I can make out a word or two like “nǎlǐ” (meaning where) or “jiào” (meaning call), or some numbers. If I hear “ nǎlǐ,” I'm usually being asked where I’m from or where I want to go. If I hear “jiào,” I'm usually being asked what I’m called (i.e., my name). Context usually tells me how I should attempt to respond. Hopefully, my listening skills will improve over time.

Here's a quick rundown of the places I saw after Yuányáng:


I stayed here for two nights. To be honest, I didn't really do anything except walk around the surrounding area near Green Lake and talk to people at the hostel (at Upland).


I also stayed here for two nights. The number of hiking opportunities here surprised me. There are paved roads with railings through most parts of the trails high up in the surrounding hillside around Cángshān. For who's benefit, I don't know because I rarely saw anyone on the trail. I spent about 11 hours on one of the days hiking around Cángshān and the place where I saw the most people was near the cable car drop off point near the top of the mountain. Actual, there are several cable cars running (some may be out of service) through the mountain and I would actually recommend riding them as they offer some of the best views of the surrounding area as well as the nearby lake, ěrhǎi.

View of ěrhǎi lake from hiking around Cángshān

Besides the hiking, I went to a popular bar called "Bad Monkey." There, a small fight broke out between a foreigner and a Chinese guy. It looked serious when, a few minutes later, a few Chinese guys came out of nowhere holding bats behind their backs. Fortunately, nothing further happened.


I only spent 1 night here. If you don't mind the crowds, I would say it's fun for a day.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

According to Lonely Planet, "The gorge trek is not to be taken lightly...even for those in good physical shape, it's a workout." Let me just say that if I can do it, pretty much anyone can. Still, you should keep your wits about you as there are some parts where a steep fall can be quite easy to accomplish. As Lonely Planet also points out, I would recommend doing the hike from Jane's Guesthouse to Tina's Guesthouse over two days of hiking. You can leave most of your stuff at Jane's Guesthouse for ¥5 per item. Then, after you reach Tina's, you can take an afternoon bus back to Jane's. However, you should do the hike down to the gorge near Tina's before you leave.

Going down to the gorge near Tina's Guesthouse


After Tiger Leaping Gorge, I took a minivan from Jane's Guesthouse to Shangri-la. It was quite chilly sitting around 3200 meters above sea level. Altitude sickness can be a real concern here but I didn't seem to feel anything. I ate some form of yak meat with every meal I had here and it was all delicious.

View of the giant prayer wheel in Shangri-la which can be spun (with the help of many)

No comments:

Post a Comment