More Doorways of Possibility have opened! An idea tinkled its crystalline wind chime in my mind, catching my attention. I delved further and learned more and voila! New avenues paved in yellow-brick brighten before my eyes; an Emerald City of Opportunity and Adventure beckons! I answer, "Yes!".
I shouldn't be surprised at the number of opportunities awaiting me online, but I am. I come across blog and after blog of writers living the life I have vicariously sought out. Then I discover estate management, pet sitting, house sitting ... the hurdle of finding long-term, affordable lodging while I travel and write is bounded over with joy and relief and renewed excitement! There are less than half-a-dozen reputable websites serving as contact exchange between home/pet caretakers and those seeking such service, but they have shown me a very real way to partially fund my writing endeavors! I can choose almost any location in the world for a duration of one weekend or more than several months. I have the option of dog-sitting in Hong Kong to bird-and cat-sitting in Queensland, AUS. I can work as paid employ in estate management or trade my caretaking service for lodging in a luxury villa on a palm tree-lined, white-sand beach.
This feeds my hungry dream to focus on writing and publishing. It becomes a simple matter of timing. How and where do I fit this in to my trek? Should I even return to China? (Yes, all of my belongings will be stored here, and yes, I still want to trek through Kham!) The timeline is perplexing me because in between the trek and travels and Chinese tourist visa procurement (atotalbeeyotch of a process), I want to get some freelance copy-editing work. I will also need time to establish an online professional portfolio for estate management and caretaking service.
...And then there's the entire Get Published Universe I am barreling through, with Monetizing My Blog To-Do Lists asteroiding through this I-Need-More-Time-Zero-Gravity-Vacuum while Freelance Opportunity Dwarf Stars expand and contract in their brightness, miniature Galaxies of Copy-editing and Proofing Jobs blur past me beyond the porthole as a Podcast Wormhole leads me toward the Time Suckage Black Hole that is the minutiae of this National Ginagraphic Digital Nomad Start Up. I really need to hire some of this out to a Social Media Tesserac Assistant who can complete the drudgery of photo uploads, SEO activities, and online promotion -- propelling me past the mundane so I can remain grounded on my Authentic Creative Production Effort Planet of Ginaness.
The creation of this particular missive is purely to work through the options, rolling them around, testing New Flavors of Serendipity on my tongue. My thoughts flow into The Plan. Phase 1 includes flying to Hong Kong to acquire my tourist visa (2-4 days). From there, Phase 2 begins. I will take a train northwest to Kunming and Dali, hole up for a week to dayhike, relax, and write. Then, remaining mindful of sleeping elevation gains (which affect AMS - altitude sickness), I will make my way north to Bathang and Lithang, to begin my trek. All destinations and times are variable and flexible dependent upon discovery of Yunnan and its trekking options, elevation, and increasing fitness level. Adhering to my budget, one month or so later I will embark upon Phase 3: caretaking/petsitting in some amazing ocean or mountain setting with plenty of time to realize the goals below. The logistics of transporting trekking gear and a small carry-on for Base Camp Activities (holing up at a guesthouse for an extended period to write and work) are still unfolding. The Prep Phase has already begun: packing up the household for storage, planning my trip to Hong Kong, and planning the UltimateKhamTrek2019.
The timeline of all the above is flexible since although my school contract ends July 21, I can stay in my apartment through the 31st. Also helpful is the Humanitarian (H) Visa I will get, allowing me to remain in China after my resident permit expires, extending my stay through July 31. I can either wrap everything up in Chengdu the weekend of July 21st, head to Hong Kong and then back into China to begin my trek in Yunnan, or return to Chengdu to finalize packing and depart for Kangding to begin my trek, which has been the original plan all along. I do want to have the household packed and ready by the 14th -- or 19th at the latest, just in case I experience visa issues. Expats in China don't just have to jump hoops to gain entrance into this Communist, tightly government-controlled country, we have to leap talleffingbuildings in a single screaming bound -- while the building is on fire. Yes, that is an apropos metaphor for getting a Chinese visa.
As today is June 30, I have a few more weeks until my original work permit expires. It will then be transferred to H visa status, allowing me to remain in China 30 days from application, expiring July 31st. As soon as school ends, I will fly to Hong Kong for a Tourist Visa. Considering that I will have an additional 11 days before I have to leave the country (between work permit expiry and H visa expiry), the dates for my trip to HK may change, depending on what happens over the next few weeks while waiting for the H Visa. I'll have to research and compare the costs of returning to Chengdu and heading west to Kangding, versus going straight to Yunnan from Hong Kong. At least I have options and flexibility when my work permit expires. The school doesn't tell its overseas staff that we even have the option of the H Visa --- most think they have to leave the country immediately upon work permit expiration. I am lucky to have learned about this from a coworker who lived in China previously! Last year, teachers scrambled stressfully to get packed and prepped to leave the country, while still working up to the day of their departure! It's really a horrible game if you don't know the rules; a shame that this legal right of legally-employed expats is kept secret by our school (I have no idea if other employers do the same, but our school is reputed as one of the better and more upstanding schools for whom to work. Some foreigners have gotten completely screwed by their employers, so I guess we are lucky).
Back to organizing and packing! I will decide this week when to visit Hong Kong, and start making reservations for Phase 1. As I pack and organize, I will also plan logistics for all the options available to me, and perhaps get a head start on applying to publishing companies for freelance copy-editing positions. Thank you Goddess Serendip!
Click "Read More" below the image to discover my goals for both the KhamTrek2019 and career transition to published writer!
If you think this is bad, you should read their requirements for the visa application. People are currently turned down if they have a Pakistani or Turkish stamp in their passport. For the photo, I can't wear white or jewelry; if my hair covers my eyebrows or ears it will also be rejected. And don't smile!
My departure date is set for the weekend of July 20, although the school is having difficulty extending my work permit by one week (my contract ends July 12, one week before my class' graduation event). See my post about Chinese Visa Hassles: https://www.gallivantinggoddess.com/steps-and-required-documents-to-move-to-china/chinese-visa-step-by-step. I also want to give myself a week to relax and not have a huge, terrifying To Do List -- I use a similar MO for exam studies: I study like crazy up until the day prior to an exam, then take the last day off to rest my mind and body, unwinding and integrating the information in a relaxed state. I normally aced exams and didn't experience excessive pre-test anxiety because I was prepped and rested! Same model in current time: I will get everything prepped and then take it easy the last week for mental and physical rest for my upcoming trip (ironically, my TREK is meant for mental, physical, and emotional rest).
WEEK 1 TO DO LIST July 24-30
1. Get acupuncture/massage 2x week
2. Mindfulness practice: reading in AM, practice in PM
3. Decathlon: buy new trek boots, return unwanted items
4. Visit Tibetan outdoor stores for gear
6. Buy chromebook
7. Walk on treadmill 30 mins/day
8. Climb stairs 2x/day
9. Confirm moving company/storage
10. Order remainder of trekking gear from Baopals and Taobao.
11. Confirm work end dates and apartment closing, etc.
12. Make reservations for visa trip to Hong Kong
13. Buy moving boxes/tape
MINDFULNESS PRACTICE AT 7am and 8pm!!!
Route options. Starting point of Route 1: the Chinese name is Moduoxiang, but I am hoping to learn the accurate and true name of this village, which is Tibetan. This village is on the main road from Lithang to Bathangand is 267 km to Derge. Route 2 follows the Yangtze and begins in Bathang, following the "new" border of forcefuly colonized Tibet.
The beginning: 3D satellite image of roads and paths along proposed route #1. There is a main paved road that winds through the mountains and zig-zags up and down steep passes, unpaved roads that follow the course of the river and tend to be on the opposite banks of the villages, and the ridgetop paths that disappear into trees and grasslands.
I've been spending hours of research online to determine what I'll need for this trek, along with learning about the topography and geographic area. It's so fun! All of this has led me to multiple websites and books about the history and culture of Tibet and Kham, which I find fascinating to the point of addiction! Yesterday, I spent 8 straight hours reading and searching online--not just for the trek, but for geographic and cultural data on Eastern Tibet, the area in which I will spend most of my time.
With Google Maps, https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Moduoxiang,+Batang,+Garze,+Sichuan,+China,+627652/Baiyu,+Garze,+Sichuan,+Chinaemail@example.com,99.2150887,2292a,35y,357.66h,46.74t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x371c0ac07d5b0601:0x600249cb0e252d59!2m2!1d99.21119!2d30.18658!1m5!1m1!1s0x371b3617fef50557:0x4f91ad95c0e886bc!2m2!1d98.824182!2d31.209913!3e0
I get a bird's eye view of the terrain and actual paths I will be trodding! It's so awesome! This helps me determine which route to take, of which there are two so far that are of interest! The first route may take me through more rugged hinterlands, with sparsely laid villages. The alternate will be at slightly lower elevation of 3000-3500m, along the Yangtse River (according to Lobsang, my dependable and knowledgeable resource who writes https://www.thelandofsnows.com/ and heads up the Himalayan guide company, https://www.thelandofsnows.com/. In fact, Lobsang's wisdom and expertise in traveling Tibet and Kham, which he shares so generously on his websites, are what enabled me to travel through Kham last summer, and what led me to decide on a solo trek in Eastern Tibet in July! I trust the information he offers, quite literally, with my life! Much gratitude to you, Tibet Trekking Guru and mountain friend!)
The topo map allows me to fly over the mountain ridges and river valleys where can determine if my paths shall follow paved main roads, unpaved side roads, or top-of-ridge-maybe-it's-a-road-and-maybe-it's-not-a-road roads! I can locate water sources along the way as well, although I plan to stay near river tributaries on Route 1, and Route 2 parallels the Yangtze the entire trek. The main concern I have is not having a reliable map (yet) or Tibetan village names. I won't have wifi access on the trek, and of course, Big Red Brother renamed everything when it "peacefully liberated" (that's just a LIE!) the Tibetan people from their already peaceful and free lives, and illegally and immorally redrew borders, which I refuse to honor due to their forced occupation and colonization of the area. That is another topic I will address another time! I will need the local Khampa names of these towns and villages, so that if I take the wrong pass, I will be able to figure out where I am (yes, of course I will have a compass!) It won't be that terribly difficult to find a village or locate nomads if I get lost; I will be pretty much heading due north. If I veer off course, I'll either end up further in Western Tibet - Chamdo-- or in Kandze. I can hike along the ridgelines when I want more adventure, higher elevations and a view. I can overnight in the valleys next to the river if the winds are high or if I need additional water. I still have to check out https://www.freemaptools.com/elevation-finder.htm to determine elevations of the peaks and river valleys along the two routes.
What's most important; however, is that I stay safe and warm and "hike my own hike": go at my own pace, stay hydrated, keep warm at night, prevent injury, and avoid dogs. I don't need to worry about wild animals or crazy, violent people, which is a relief. Currently, my main concerns are getting all my gear in time, breaking in my boots, and increasing my physical conditioning to be able to hike 5-15 miles in rugged, backcountry mountain terrain, every day for 2-3 weeks!
I can't wait!!!
Click read more to the right!