Thursday, 21 April 2011

Advanced planning

Most probably next time I write here I will do it from Japan already, so before I quit South Korea, where I have been truly living for more than one month, waiting for the situation in Japan to improve, I want to talk about my future travelling plans in Asia.

I will write about my life in South Korea on a next post.

I still firmly believe that I need to be very diligent in many little details at every point of the travelling in order to accomplish the tasks I impose to myself, and not to be driven by purposelessness or carelessness, that would deviate me from the path. But, needless to say, I am very flexible regarding the bigger outlines of the trip.

So that is why I keep all my things in order all the time, I know where every item I brought with me is, I am aware of the money I have with me, I try to keep my backpack safe, etc.

I am currently in Seoul, as I have been for the last three weeks, since I signed up for a Korean language course, while waiting for a chance to go to Japan before May.

Next week I will visit the very South of South Korea and inmediately after that I will take a ferry from Busan to Fukuoka (Kyushu island, Japan) with a French friend that I met in Seoul.

My intention is travelling thoroughly from South to North of Japan, avoiding of course Tohoku (the northern part of the main island Honshu, where all the catastrophes have taken place), and then back to Tokyo and spend some time there.

I will be going as far as Hokkaido, to hike in the Shiretoko National Park, and to get the chance to meet something of the Ainu indigenous culture.

When I was still in Europe I bought in Paris a three-weeks JR Railpass that allows me to take freely any train in Japan (including some bullet trains), but that was back on the 5th of February, and I have to activate it before the 5th of May.

So I will take this opportunity and I will be travelling non-stop in Japan for three weeks.

But then, I have been lately thinking about how the rest of my trip is going to be, now that I have delayed the whole plan a lot by staying longer in South Korea.

Right after Japan I will go to China, for I have a Chinese visa, double entry, that I can use for 60 days of travelling in this giant country.

And huge it is, this Middle Country (i.e. “China” in Chinese), so as I am travelling overland in Asia it is bound to be the Central Axis of the biggest part of my trip here.

I read carefully the guide, and thought about what I wanted to know and see in China, and came to the conclusion that I should divide the country in 4 stays of roughly 3 to 4 weeks length, so I will be able to get everywhere I want, inside China, and from one place to another in Asia.

Once I get to Southeast Asia I will have to get a new Chinese visa to re-enter it.

My "Journey to the West" in China.

1: First entrance, from Japan. Northeast China (including Beijing, Xian, Jilin, Harbin) Exit to Mongolia. June-July

2: Second entrance, from Mongolia. East and South Coastal China (including Shandong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong… but neither Hong Kong nor Macau). Exit to Thailand or Myanmar. July-August.

3: Third entrance, from Vietnam. Southern China (Yunnan, Guangxi, Guizou, Sichuan) and Tibet. Exit to Nepal-India. October?

4: Fourth entrance, from Nepal. Central China (Qinghai) and Xinjiang. Exit to Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan. December??

There could possibly be some problems there, especially when entering the Tibet.

Last week a fellow traveller (a Dutchman who had been travelling for 14 months in Asia) told me that the Chinese keep closed the inner border to Tibet to foreigners at times, so depending on the time of the year, it could be difficult to get inside.

And I know that I require a group visa to get from Nepal back to Tibet, but I don’t know if I will be able to travel outside Tibet then, to get to Xinjiang and exit to Central Asia.

I have also recently read that it is possible to cross from China to Myanmar, but not in the other direction. I wonder if I could then exit overland to Thailand from Myanmar, given that people already told me that it is not possible to get overland from Thailand to Myanmar (but maybe it is possible to exit it, who knows).

In any case, it is going to take a long time for all of this to happens, and it seems that my original travelling times are no longer valid, mainly due to Fukushima.

I am very excited about the prospect of all of these adventures and new countries, and I am not in a hurry at all.

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