Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day 67. A walk through France, and reflections over the Trans-Siberian

The day is once again gorgeous, so I have to get out. I think I will go to France. So, I took the bus D to the border, and walked into the little town of St. Julien in France. Cute, in a modern sense, with most of its charm being in the surrounding snow-clad mountains.

I always had the impression that France was an expensive country, but in comparison with Switzerland it is actually cheap. I bought a baguette and some pate for under three dollars, had a very nice European lunch, and on the way back I bought a whole leg of jamón Serrano espaňol (Spanish prosciutto ham), which now hangs in the cellar for our future enjoyment.

Back at home I had the necessary energy to write one more chapter before getting distracted by the internet about the Trans-Siberian leg of the trip in late June and early July. The Trans-Siberian is the longest railway line in the world, crossing more than 8,000 km (about 6,000 miles) from Saint Petersburg to Beijing. My plan, as it stands right now, is to arrive in St. Petersburg on June 26, spend a couple of days in St. Petersburg (1 in the map), and then start on the route St. Petersburg (1) – Moscow (2) –Irkutsk/Lake Baikal (3) -Mount Khentii (Mongolia) - Ulanbaatar (Mongolia, 4) – Beijing (5). At each of these stops I would have a couple of days to visit (the train only runs every other day). From Beijing (around July 18) I would like to travel to Guangzhou (6), in southern China, to spend four or five days with my friend Klaus before going to Hong Kong (also 6) to fly to Taipei (around July 25) to visit Yinru for a couple of days, then Hilo in Hawaii, and finally Mexico City (around August 4).

A concern at this time are visas. Russia, Mongolia, and China don’t take very well to the free-spirit traveler, and Klaus has warned me that the Chinese are particularly tough at this time due to the Olympic Games. I need to address the visa issue ASAP.

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