Where we’re headed in 2013

We wish you a very blessed new year from our home here in Tianjin, China.

We hope you had a joyous and safe time celebrating the start of this exciting new year.

We’ve enjoyed a brief break from blogging while exploring the beautiful, but still somewhat mysterious country of Myanmar, where we celebrated the arrival of the new year.

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As you probably know, we moved to China in September and that (plus a compensation package from Justin’s company that includes 3 R&R trips!) positions us perfectly to explore some of the other spectacular parts of Asia while we’re working here.

Many people have been asking where we plan to visit, so we thought we would share with you our travel plans for the new year.

Although we regret that we do not have endless time and money to travel all throughout China and the rest of Asia while we’re here, we have somehow managed to narrow down our options to the places we would like to visit the most.

Do you remember a few months ago when I said the way we travel was about to change? Well, we weren’t kidding. Although we’ll certainly be doing some typical “touristy” activities this year, our choices in destinations and types of trips reflect our commitment to give back to the communities we visit through volunteering, spend time traveling with our family and friends, and incorporate more active adventures into our travels. We hope our travels this year inspire you to plan your own adventures and share them with the important people in your life! 

Here’s where we’re headed in 2013:

Early February:
We’ll head to Xi’an, China to celebrate Chinese New Year and visit the famous Terra Cotta Army, the thousands of life-sized clay sculptures created to guard the tomb of Emporer Xi Huangdi.

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We’ll also stop by the fortified city of Pingyao to explore the city’s walls and to visit together the special place where Justin bought the box he bought me (his future wife) to give to me for our engagement — three years before we met and five years before we got engaged! I always knew I wanted to marry someone who planned ahead!

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We’ll spend about a week and a half exploring two countries in Southeast Asia we’ve wanted to visit for a long time: Cambodia and Vietnam

In Cambodia, we’ll finally make it to the temples at Angkor Wat. We’ve been talking about visiting there since before we were married and are so excited to finally have the chance to explore them in person. I know there’s so much more to see and experience in Cambodia than the temples at Angkor, but because we’ll be traveling on such a tight time-frame, we may not be able to fit in much more on this particular trip.

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Next, we’ll venture across the border into southern Vietnam, where we’ll explore the villages along the Mekong Delta and hopefully get to check out some Viet Cong tunnels. It’s amazing to think that our parents generation was sent to fight a war in this country and now we are eager to explore it as tourists.

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April & May:
I’m super excited that my parents will be coming out to visit us in China this Spring. For my mom, this will be her first trip outside of the United States! While they’re here, I’ll be playing tour guide, helping them to experience some of the highlights of northern China.

Early June:
Now this one is exciting! While most people would make a mad dash to the nearest, quaintest Bed & Breakfast — not us! We’ll celebrate our 3 year wedding anniversary by spending a week trekking with friends in the mountains of southwestern China’s Yunnan Province. Romantic, eh? Leave it to us to choose something unconventional.

A highlight of this trip will include the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge.

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We also plan to stop by the temples at Shangri La.

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Forget fireworks and hot dogs! We’ll celebrate America’s birthday on the other side of the world in Japan! We’ll meet up with some friends from the States in Osaka, where from there we’ll head to Mt. Fuji. We plan to climb the mountain and spend the night at the top so we can catch the sunrise before heading back down the following day.

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 After conquering Fuji, it’s on to Kyoto to explore the beautiful gardens and the bamboo forests.

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Wow, that’s a lot of traveling! I hope we’re not so exhausted that we are unable to fully enjoy it!

Beyond July, we will have to wait and see if our assignment in China is extended.  As of now, we’re scheduled to move back to the U.S. in September. If it is extended, we will head back to the United States in the Fall to see family and take care of logistical issues (since we’re only prepared to spend a year here). If we stay in China longer, we’ll probably spend that time exploring the rest of China, including Sichuan Province (a great place to hike!), Guilin (where you’ll find some of the most stunning landscapes in China), and, if possible, Tibet (can you think of a more incredible adventure than hiking the Tibetan wilderness for a week?!).  But, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds before making plans for next year.

This will certainly be a busy year, but we don’t know if we’ll ever have another opportunity like this, especially if we want to start settling down and having kids soon (which we do!). Whatever the future holds, we’re certainly grateful to have such an incredible opportunity. We look forward to sharing this year with you!

Where will you be traveling this year? Share below!



  1. it seems like it’s gonna be an awesome year for you! cheers to that! Even if I didn’t like all that much my stay in China Pingyao was one of the few places I really enjoyed! I especially loved it early in the morning and late in the afternoon when there were no crowds around. And backstreets were so beautifully empty… Enjoy your travels!

  2. China!! That sounds awesome. A country that’s both intimidating (it’s so huge!) and alluring (for me at least). Looks like you’re going to have an amazing time in 2013.

  3. I can’t wait to read all about your travels and adventures this year, especially since you are visiting a few places that I want to go to as well! I would especially love to hear how or what mode of transportation you use to travel within China.


  4. Wow, what an incredible year is ahead of you! We’ve been to Cambodia and Japan last year and we absolutely looved both of them. Prepare to have your hearts broken by the kids selling bracelets at Angkor Wat though. I almost took one of the little girls back home with me.

  5. Ali

    Wow, sounds like it’ll be an amazing year of travel! I can’t believe your mom’s first trip outside of the US will be to China. I’ve been to almost 40 countries and I’m not even sure I can handle China yet! As for me, our plans are still a little up in the air, but I hope this year will be packed with new travel adventures!

  6. Exciting year to come exploring parts of Asia! I’ve always been fascinated with the Terra-cotta army. I’ll be heading into SE Asia around July, so maybe if I’m in or around your parts we’ll need to meet up! Japan sounds amazing as well, can’t wait to check it out through your blog :)

    I really appreciate how the locations you chose aren’t just a blitz, but places that mean a lot to visit.

  7. I just solidified plans today to visit Machu Picchu and Panama in November! While in Peru I also hope to see some other cool stuff in Lima and Cusco; and on the way back to New York I’ll be stopping for a few days in Panama City, from which I plan to make an excursion to the Panama Canal.

    Otherwise, the highlight of the year for me will be my epic trip in May to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, and Chisinau. Also looking forward to hitting Anchorage, Alaska in July, and to making my annual visit to Las Vegas in August. And I’m attending the North American TBEX meet-up in Toronto at the beginning of June.

    • Ellen

      That’s quite a bit of traveling, good for you! We did the Peru trip a few years ago and loved it. Your Russia trip does sound epic. That’ll be incredible, I’m sure!

      • I think your own travels for this year look pretty amazing! Angkor Wat, Xian, and Vietnam in particular are all places I want to see myself someday! I did see an exhibit of some of the terra cotta warriors (and related objects) in NYC this past summer. And Kyoto was my favourite part of Japan (last week I used a picture from there as my featured Friday photo on my website — I’ll link to it below!).

        When you say that Justin’s compensation package includes “3 R&R trips,” what does that mean exactly?

  8. Wow – what an exciting year to look forward to! We only have a rough idea of where this year will take us, with one place we know we want to return to – Turkey! But we can’t make any promises on anything at the moment. Enjoy!

  9. Wow that is a lot of planning.
    A week and a half does not seem like anywhere near enough to see Cambodia and Vietnam. Or was that 1,5 weeks each?

    Cool that your parents’ first trip out of the US is to China.

    Japan is pretty high on my list. Looking forward to hearing how you like it.

    • Ellen

      It’s nowhere near enough time in Cambodia and Vietnam! You could spend a month in each and barely skim the surface, I’m sure. But unfortunately, even though we get to take quite a few trips while we’re in Asia, they are limited. Looks like the Cambodia and Vietnam trip will end up being two weeks, but still, nowhere near enough. I’ll let you know my thoughts on Japan for sure!

  10. Pingback: 7 places I never thought I’d want to visit in Asia (but I do!) - The Time-Crunched Traveler

  11. Wow – aren’t you super organized? I’m still thinking where am I going to go next week.. My travel plans for 2013 are still very much blurry, but I’m sure last minute I’ll make my mind up, as usual 😉 Wish you a great year ahead!

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