When I was 23 and had just graduated from university my husband (then boyfriend) and I decided to take a year to go travelling. We moved in with my long suffering parents and spent 6 months working hard to save up.
On a cool rainy day in April 2007 we set off from my parents house. We each had a backpack of clothes and nothing else. I loved the freedom of having no belongings, no bills to pay and no set structure to each day. We travelled by train across Europe to Moscow where we took the Trans Siberian railway all the way to China.
The next 6 months were spent travelling around the country by bus and train. We didn’t take any organised tours preferring to make our way at our own pace. If we liked a place we stayed, if we didn’t we moved on.
The smallest everyday tasks became an adventure.
Each new village, town or city brought different sights, foods, history and people.
We finished our journey with a month in Vietnam.
I look back on this 6 months with such fondness. I completely fell in LOVE with China. It’s natural beauty, amazing food and lovely people.
Obviously I look back with rose tinted glasses! At times I was stressed by the language barrier, exhausted by the constant travelling and totally out of my comfort zone but, overall it was a once in a lifetime experience. For six months I woke up everyday with a child like excitement ready for a day of discovery and enjoyment of life.
I also developed a love of Chinese food (not the type you buy at your local take away). My husband and I are always hunting for genuine places in London which serve the type of food we had in China. Earlier this week he discovered this Chinese cooking programme called A Bite of China. It is so beautifully made and is to blame for my huge bout of nostalgia!