At this time next week, I will be in Hong Kong!
It’s been a few months since I’ve left the country and this trip has snuck up on me a bit. Running the Great Wall Marathon has been on my bucket list for years and when I started making plans to finally do it, it seemed soooo far away. Now it’s happening in less than two weeks!
Here is a brief look at my plans for Hong Kong and China:
Friday, May 13 – I leave the US on a late night flight.
Saturday – I have a long layover in Istanbul (flying Turkish Airlines) – even though I spent a week there in 2012, I have booked an airport transfer and walking tour of the old city during my layover.
Sunday – I arrive in Hong Kong!
Monday and Tuesday – free days in Hong Kong. My plan is to try to hit Victoria’s Peak, the Giant Buddha on Lantau Island and Cheung Chau Island before flying from Hong Kong to Beijing late Tuesday evening.
Wednesday – today is technically my arrival day for my Great Wall Marathon tour (everyone running the marathon is required to join a tour group). But really, I will have a totally free day to explore Beijing and hopefully find some gluten-free friendly restaurants recommended to me by fellow gluten-free travel bloggers.
Thursday – things get real today as we head out to the section of the Great Wall where we will be running the marathon two days later. We will get the lowdown on race logistics and have a chance to walk the part of the wall that we’ll be running. Then we’ll spend the night in Jixian, a town about an hour or so away.
Friday – today, we take a group tour to the Qing Tombs and then hopefully rest up for race day.
Saturday, May 21 – RACE DAY!! For more on my race preparation, check out this post. Since Beijing is 11-12 hours ahead of those of you in the US, I’ll actually be running Friday evening your time. If anyone feels so inclined to check out my progress, they will allegedly be posting results live on great-wall-marathon.com.
Sunday – assuming I can even move, I’ll be taking a tour (still with my marathon group) to the Beijing Zoo and Summer Palace. Sunday night will be the post-marathon party.
Monday – I head to Chengdu in the early afternoon, and then I’ll take a food tour with Lost Plate Tours Monday evening.
Tuesday – I’d like to think of today as my reward for finishing the Great Wall Marathon – spending a day volunteering at Dujiangyan Panda Center outside of Chengdu. Sooooo excited!! I am arranging this on my own rather than pay some ungodly amount to a tour company to take me, so I’ll need to take the train from Chengdu to Dujiangyan and then a taxi the rest of the way – hopefully I’ll make it!
Wednesday – I have one last day in Chengdu before flying on to Xi’an in the evening.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday – I will have almost three full days in Xi’an. Of course I’ll see the famous the Terracotta Warriors, but the rest of my time there is up in the air. I’ll head back to Beijing Saturday night.
Sunday – I’ll have one last long day to explore Beijing before starting my journey home late Sunday night.
Monday, May 30 – I have one more long layover in Istanbul on my way back to DC.
And there you have it – two full weeks in Hong Kong and China! I have to admit, this trip will be a challenge. It is probably the biggest language barrier I have faced on my travels and eating will likely be enormously difficult since wheat and soy sauce are so prevalent. It’s not likely I’ll be writing any posts about the food upon my return! If anything, I may be writing about how if you have celiac disease, don’t go to China!
I have also debated between going it solo on the days when I am not with the marathon tour group or scheduling some guided day tours. For now, I am going solo, although I do have the food tour in Chengdu planned (where I have been told I should be able to at eat at least some things!). I have heard I can get to the Terracotta Warriors on my own in Xi’an fairly easily and I’d rather be able to do that at my own pace rather than be hurried along by a tour group. On the other hand, I imagine getting around everywhere will be challenging, so I may find myself wishing I had planned more tours!
As you may know, China generally blocks sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google-based apps, but I am planning to try to use a VPN to get around that. So follow me on social media for real-time updates and stay tuned to the blog for posts after the trip!