Our last stop before Australia was Singapore, the home of great airlines, delicious chicken rice and good Tiger beer. Our stop was short, which meant that we saw only a few things in the city. Walked around the colonial district and harbour, went to the movies during monsoon rain...

...and then we went to the zoo. It is mind-blowing, a large area and an incredible amount of species that I had never quite realised existed, such as white tigers and all different kinds of monkeys. We could have spent days there wondering around.

However, once we reached a section called "Australian outback" I started to think whether heading to Oz is such a great idea after all. How can one country be so poisonous? And the weirdest part: The most venomous snake in the world Taipan (lives only in Australia of course) is the tiniest thing! And here's another great thing: Apparently, if a snake bites you in Australia, it would be a good idea to kill the snake and bring it with you to the ER (if you make it that far). Yeah, right! I have no idea what is going to happen to us out there in the bush with a campervan, but I would just like to use this moment to wish you all a happy life and have a merry christmas.

Multicultural Kuala Lumpur

Originally we had a bit of a sceptic attitude towards Kuala Lumpur. We expected it to be just another big city, which we would try to leave as soon as possible once the practical things, such as laundry and band-aids for blisters were taken care of. However, we ended up staying extra as the hostel was superb and the city itself had a lot to offer.

Kuala Lumpur (or "KL" among friends) has a rare ethnic mixture of Malays, Chinese and Indian people and they all appear to be co-existing nicely. This kind of variety means that one can see mosques, hindu temples and chinese markets in the same city. Not to mention that one can eat seriously good food anywhere with ridiculously cheap prices. However, a word of warning: Do not eat durian fruit - it smells and tastes like fart. Lesson: Not all local delicacies are worth it.

We did nearly all the classic sights, such as Sky Tower and Petronas Towers (not bad at all!). One of the most interesting sights we visited were Batu Caves, about 13 km from Kuala Lumpur. These holy hindu caves witness an annual event called Thaipusam, where hundreds of people pierce their bodies with sharp objects - cheeks with long, shiny steel rods - often a metre long - and chests and backs with small, hook-like needles in penance. I was looking at the festival pictures and thought "I can't believe I was ever nervous about getting my first pair of earrings."

Some people that I've met have asked me about the jellyfish scar. I so wish I could tell them some kind of a Tarzan story, like "oh this little scratch? I got it while I was fighting with a crocodile, while giving CPR to my fellow divers". It is not nearly as cool to admit the truth - that I was hanging on to the anchor rope and beeping like a five-year-old. I wish the scar would vanish already.

No whale sharks, but marine life everywhere

So, we did not see any whale sharks, however, had a great time in the turtle island of Koh Tao. (ended up staying 11 days:)). I think it is time the locals change the name of the island to more of a dog island as every night at about 4am or so, the hauling and barking was crazy, it'll wake you up. (nothing a set of ear plugs won't fix though). Now seriously, if you love diving as I do and I think Jenni after her OW cert does as well (even though she got a nasty sting by a jelly fish - took it like a trooper - I did offer to pee on it) :), Koh Tao is the place to be. Come here for a month or so, rent a cottage and a motorbike and dive and dine away :).

During the stay, we were contemplating where to go next, either Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, straight to Kuala Lumpur or stick around here. Finally, we decided to go to a near by bigger island called Koh Samui (only about 2 hrs on a boat from Koh Tao) as Ko Phi Phi was a bit too expensive for us and Krabi was probably full of tourists during this time. After a long search and a few phone calls to expensive or disconnected phone numbers, we found the Green Villa bungalows. It is actually quite nice area about 100 m from beach and for a great price (400 baht). It is a bit weird as it is owned by French folks, so TV5 Monde station is on all day long :).

Koh Samui is a much larger and more touristy than Koh Tao, however, it does have its beauties as well. If you are not sunbathing at your hotel's pool, you can explore the inner jungle of the island on a motorbike. Start with a refreshing swim in plentiful waterfalls (very nice), or go elephant trekking (did not do, so sad to see the animals tied up), or go mini golfing (did do, good fun) or drive to a deserted beach south of Lamai beach and relax with the local fisherman and eat some great seafood.

Our next destination is Kuala Lumpur, so we are boarding a 24 hr VIP bus (as they call it here) tomorrow bright and early at 5:30. Next news from a brand new country.

From Bangkok to Koh Tao

After our short stint in Vietnam we have boarded luxurious airplane from Cathay Pacific (definitely a nice change after all the buses and trains) and made our way via HongKong to Bangkok. We didn't stay in the backpacker center around the Khaosan Road, however, were just a short water taxi ride away in on a Silom Road. Hotel was very cozy, but no warm shower :(. (but I guess that is Thailand for ya). After a cerveza and Mexican cuisine from a Phillipino cook, we were ready to hit the hay.

The next day we decided to head out to the Khaosan road to talk to a travel agent from the Buddha View diving school on Koh Tao. Very friendly folks set us up with a VIP bus + catamaran tickets to Koh Tao for the next day. As you can imagine, we didn't really sightsee too much in Bangkok, but it seems that most of the big temples (wats) can be seen from the water taxi, so we saw at least something :).

The trip to Koh Tao (a small island on the east coast, close to Chumphon) was quite pleasant except the very choppy ride on the Catamaran which made a lot of folks not feel too good :). Anyhow, we have arrived and the Buddha View diving school came to pick us up and took us to their headquarters where we sorted our accommodation (about 8 euro/day).

Now we have been here for a few days and can't get enough of this lovely small island, its dive sites, people, food (shakes and pad thais :). It is just wonderful here. You can breath diving here all you want. Unfortunately, we came about a day late for the full moon party, so there were a tons of folks hung over and ready to go home :). We are staying for a few more days, so hopefully we will see some whale sharks :).

Flooding and War history

The middle parts of Vietnam were seen in a more or less rainy weather. It was still warm, but the different shades of grey made us choose a quicker route to Saigon. From Hoi An we took a night bus to coastal Nha Trang, which we left for a mountain town Da Lat a few days later. With better weather we would have stayed longer in both places, but the rain restricts a lot of the main activities such as renting motorbikes or water sports, so through them we went! However, we saw enough to realise the potential for another great Vietnam holiday. Without typhoons next time eh?

Rainy weather is the perfect time to try one of the local massages. However, it's good to keep in mind that in this particular field there are several entrepreneurs out there, offering some "extra services". Professional masseuse might mean something else than an unattractive physiotherapist in ergonomic sandals and tracksuit, talking medical jibberish. So be warned! The good news is that there are some warning signs: If the place is decorated with blinking christmas lights, if you can see the underwear of the receptionist or if you are the only female customer among European middle-aged men, take it as a sign of choosing again.

Once we reached Saigon, the weather got very hot and humid. The city seems somehow wealthier than the capital Hanoi, neon lights and brands occupying the view. But then again, communism has had a firmer and longer grip on the Northern capital than on this Southern metropol.

We also visited some war history sights. We took a bus to underground tunnels of Cu Chi which Vietkong utilized as supply tunnels, hiding places, hospitals etc during the Vietnam War. The purpose of the tunnels seems almost impossible once you see the width and hight of them. I could hardly fit in, let alone Libor - not a chance.

We also visited the War history museum, twice actually. This place was quite disturbing, and I claim that it is impossible to leave the place unmoved in some way. Vietnam war was at its time very well documented and televized, and a lot of the picture material has been put into this museum. Pictures speak so much louder than words - if you were not frowning, you were outside the building getting some air to prevent nausea. And here is the most disturbing part: The texts and the justifications remind you of the rhetorics used today in connection with the Iraq war. How sad to realise how little we have learned.

3 suits later (Hoi An)

Now we have finally managed to catch up with the blog posts to our current position which is a small city in the middle of Vietnam, called Hoi An. This small old town is known for its plentiful tailor shops amongst other things. They seriously are everywhere, probably close to 100 in a town of 75,000 people. Obviously, we have not withstoond the pressure to purchase a made to fit clothes for quite cheap, so with the objective of buying a shirt or a suit, two days later we came out with 3 suits, 3 shirts, skirt, t-shirt, bikini and a tie. (Probably around 300 euro, so not too bad for custom made stuff). Definitely a worth while experience.

One day we decided to rent a small motorbike for one of the days we spent here and go north of Hoi An. After a few kilometers, we found out that honking at bikes/people we were passing was a must as they usually do not look into their rearview mirrors (so after enduring endless hours in buses that were constantly blarring their horns on passing vehicles, we finally experienced it first hand). Neverhtless, we survived and returned the motorbike in prestine condition :). A few km north of Hoi An is a bigger city called Danang where a famous China beach is present. Currently, the beach is not for swimming as the floods torturing the area during this time of the year are quite bad, so water is murky with a lot of debris everywhere. So instead of a dip, we managed to find a small hostel/pub near the beach where we stopped for a quick drink. The owner (Hoa), short, dark skinned fella, seemed to be an interesting character at a first site. After a lemonade and a tea, we have agreed that Hoa's place would be a wonderful site for a short holiday in the summer (he does rent out surfboards :)).

We actually had a good luck with the weather when visiting Hoi An. The rain here seemed to come as quickly as it left and usually only in the evenings. Neverthless, the water has risen a few more inches since we have gotten here, so it is time to move on. Hopefully, the rainy season will spare the locals as much as possible as I cannot even imagine how difficult flooding after flooding could be.

Today, we are waiting for an overnight bus (only seats) to our next destination Nha Trang.

Halong Bay

From Hanoi we did a 3 day trip to Halong Bay, which is recognized as a world heritage site with its 1969 islands and incredible scenery. As the Yangtze river cruise was still fresh in our mind, we expected the experience to be some kind of a mixture of smelly feet and a rubber boat. But it was amazing. I sound like a travel brochure but guys, this trip was pure superlatives all the way.

After a 4 hour bus ride to Halong City, we got on a cruise boat to Halong Bay with 8 other people. The weather was gorgeous! We ate well, saw a stalactite cave, went swimming and kayaking, we even had a chance to sing some vietnamese karaoke (maybe next time, need to work on the pronounciation still)! The first night we spent on the boat and the second night on Cat Ba island where we also did some trekking in one of Vietnam's national parks.

I still cannot believe that we got all this for 40 euros. All we needed to pay for ourselves were the drinks, otherwise it was all inclusive.

So far we have really enjoyed Vietnam. People are friendly, everything is cheap and - if you want to tickle your tastebuds, this is the perfect destination - the food is just incredible and you are likely to pay peanuts for your meal. I eat most of my Vietnamese meals smiling in silence, in a heavenly state of mind. By the way, we still have no clue why people told us that we would lose a lot of weight during this trip - seems like it's the other way around:)

After getting back to Hanoi, we discovered that the city is completely packed with tourists. And by 'packed' I mean that couples slept in one bed to give beds to other people and some people were sleeping in luggage rooms. This is due to the bad floods that are affecting the middle parts of the country - most tourists are waiting for better weather either in Hanoi or Saigon. Also some days ago some roads were blocked. Flooding is a common problem this time of year but the magnitude has been more serious than expected. However, tomorrow we'll try to get down south to Hoi An, the city of tailors. If it looks very bad, we try to get to Saigon as soon as possible.

The Russian Hainan

After our stint in Hongkong where English is the standard, we had to return back to the mainland, however, not for long as our destination happened to be city Sanya in Hainan, the most southern island in China. After 14 hour ride in a train (from a couple of hours is spent on a ferry locked in the train) we arrived to the sunny Sanya full of beaches and of course stalking taxi drivers who want you to catch a ride with them no matter what :).

To our surprise, it is tough to imagine that Sanya is part of China as all the shops and restaurants have signs in Russian. After a bit of investigation we found out that there is a direct flight from Moscow to Sanya and one major Russian travel agency has their office in Sanya. If you ask me, this is a hell of a marketing campaign to turn a Chinese city into Russian holiday destination. In any way, it was advantageous to us as Libor can read some Russian, so we knew what was around us. However, as it turned out, perhaps it is good there are majority of Russian tourists there as the English is not up to par yet :).

The idea here was to take it easy and rest up on the beach before we head to Vietnam. We did just that, so nothing much exciting going on. Just the usual skinny Russian wives and their chubby husbands :).

The trip to Vietnam had turned out to be a bit more hassle than we have bargained for, but on the other hand it went quite smoothly.

First, bus to Haikou (4 hrs), then overnight ferry to Beihai (12 hrs), after that bus to Nanning (4 hrs), after a night in a hotel, bus to Hanoi, Vietnam (10 hrs) with about 1.5 hrs at the border. Overall, it took us about 48 hrs to make it to Hanoi from Sanya, so if you are ever there and don't have this time, you should fly :). However, if you have time, the journey was not bad as far as the connections, so it is doable without major hassles.

Canton and Hong Kong

It was time to say goodbye to long underwear so we started to head down south to Canton. After another night on the train we said hello to brilliant sunshine and English signs in Canton.

It's actually quite funny how we have stopped assuming that people around us would speak English. Most of the time they don't so we have just stopped asking. This means that when we need to get something sorted with locals, we both start waving around like idiots using all the body language we can think of (and occasionally, the phrasebook). However, in Canton people watched our monkey-waving for a while and then asked in perfect English whether we need help. So life in Canton was nice and easy, we chilled out for a few days and forgot about the disappointment in Yangtze River.

From Canton (or Guangzhou, as it should be properly referred to) we also did a 2-day trip to Hong Kong. After almost 100 years of Great Britain rule, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. And one can really see this historical effect - Hong Kong is a completely different world from the China we have seen, a fascinating mixture of West and East. Mix Wallstreet, Earl Grey and traditional chinese culture and there you have it! A very good place to chill out for a day or two. We climbed to Victoria Peak, ate in Soho and wandered around in the streets of Kowloon. And suprisingly, there is quite a bit of trekking one can do in the surrounding islands of Hong Kong. Overall this place was more diverse than I expected, previously I had seen it as a business center, the promised land of suits, ties and stress medicine. Pleasantly surprised.

Next stop: Beach-life in Hainan island.

Cruising the Yangtze River

Despite all the magnificent stories we had heard about Yunnan county in South-West China, we decided to head to River Yangtze. We paid a handsome sum to the hostel for arranging a luxurious cruise in first class and I started to dream about a nice massage on the boat. I was all ready to be treated like a queen.

The morning started with a 5-hour bus-journey with smoking, spitting, farting and burping chinese men. During the break I went to pee in a hole in the ground. In our destination in Chongquing we waited for our turn at the ticket office and the woman in front of us exercised for a while, did some interesting stretching movements and then started to fart very loudly. After we got our tickets we came out in the street and a bunch of rats were running around in the street. This was the moment I started to realise that this cruise will probably not be what we thought it would be...

Ok, so no male servants feeding me grapes. Our cabin was a cold storage room underneath the Chinese karaoke-bar (wow these ladies can sing high!) and it was raining pretty much the whole time. But the biggest problem was the language barrier since nobody in the staff spoke English, unlike what was promised when the trip was booked. So we missed announcements such as "we are now passing the 3rd gorge, might be a good idea to come outside and take a look" and "this stop is NOT the famous temple, please don't leave the boat".

Luckily the scenery during our 4 day cruise was amazing, luckily we found other westerners to share a beer and a laugh about the whole ordeal, luckily we had packed long underwear with us!

Giant Panda's outdoor city

Already at first site, Chengdu seemed like a much better city than Xi'an. People here seemed very friendly and were not that surprised when they see foreigners. This capital city of Sichuan is the main hub for many travellers who are planning a trip to Tibet. Either they are waiting for their permits, train tickets or just recovering from the trip to Lhasa, which takes about 40 hrs on the local train.

Our hostel was a true backpacker's paradise with everything geared toward the needs of someone on the road. Also, Chengdu is full of outdoor stores with every possible piece of equipment. We have taken advantage of this and bought a pair of hiking boots for about 40 euro. (so when people tell you, don't worry about buying some stuff before you leave, you can get it there. They are mostly correct :)). Furthermore, if you like spicy food, this is the place to be. The local delicacy is called the hotpot and we of course had to try it (with the help of arms and legs we ordered one). It was a pot full of spicy pepers and one 5kg fish with all of its fins, even the head. To ease the burning pain of the spice, we were sipping a peanut butter milk which was quite tastey. It was only 100 snot filled napkins later we realised, we could have gotten half the pot non-spicy and half spicy :). Very good food though.

What is here to do? Well, there are a couple of mountains to hike on where temperatures go down to -1 degrees in October, so we decided against this as we weren't equipped for this. However, the main attraction seems to be the Giant Panda Breeding Research Center. Even though it sound a lot more natural than it actually is, the research there offers some good insights into pandas' lives. The facilities are pretty large and very zoo like which was quite disappointing. Everything is mainly geared towards tourists, so do not expect any tropical rain forests. On Sunday we have opted to take a local bus about 2 hrs to a nearby small village Leshan where the supposedly largest sitting buddha can be found. And what do you know, there he was overlooking the river and the city. Quite interesting to see a statue so large, but the weather was quite foggy, so the pictures are not great.

Chengdu was great, now onto our next destination, Chongquing and then river Yang Tze cruise through the Three Gorges.

Xi'an, city of warriors

It is hard to imagine that someone would tell you which sites on internet you can visit and which ones you cannot. Well, what do you know? :). Blogger is blocked in most internet cafes in China, so we had to wait until we found one that worked and this was in Guangzhou. I'll try to do my best to summarize our experience of the last two weeks in the next posts.

After 11 hour ride in a sleeper train, we have arrived to the city of Xi'an. Before I tell you a bit more about it, let's summarize Beijing a bit.

Required dose of polution is on everyone's agenda on daily basis :) in this city. I can hardly imagine running a marathon here in the 2008 Olympics. I guess we shall see if the city officials will make some changes (they are planned, but my guess would be, it is a bit late). On the other hand, Beijing has mastered the symbiosis of the new with the old architecture with a magnificent perfection. At one point, one can find himself walking in the biggest slums (with brand new Audi/Mercedes driving out of the tiny streets) and at the next corner a brand new shopping center with full western sortiment overlooks the Forbidden City (with old rikshas zipping by).

Back to Xi'an though. The train ride was quite ok since we really slept the whole time and the train was new. The hostel was unfortunately a bit further from the train station, so we have decided to get a local three wheeler taxi (riksha). The driver, sad looking old man, was showing us two fingers as far as the fare goes, so we have assumed it was going to cost 2 RMB and were happy it was cheap and were giving business to a local non-car taxi community. After arrival to our hostel the driver pulled out his Siemens cell phone and typed in 18 RMB as our charge. We were surprised, but could not really argue with him, so started to put together the money. Suddenly, some gentleman walking by started to talk to the driver in a raised voice and after a little bit, we have realized, he just caught this guy trying to stiff us on the fare. After a short shouting match between the driver and the guy, we ended up paying 10 RMB and were taken by one younger man to our hostel. So, there are nice people out there after all, but still not a good start to the Xi'an experience.

At the hotel we have booked a tour to go see the Terra-cotta warriors with English guide(as that is really the only reason we have came here). This sounds cheesy, but it is really the only way to get somewhere fast and hassle free. Other possibilities would be to organize some bus tickets ourselves, but that could take a while to do and no English subtitles would be present :). In the evening we have decided to go visit the muslim quarters of Xi'an, supposedly well known for their food. We got some courage and entered one of the local restaurants where obviously nobody spoke English, so with the help of pointing and our guide book, we have managed to order some rice, lamb, beer (yay) and noodles. No comments on Chinese cuisine, it is just plain delicious :).

Terra-cotta warriors were the highlight of our day on Wednesday, but it is still not what it is made out to be. Before you enter, guides will tell you there are over 6000 warriors in one of the tombs, however they fail to expand on the fact that 5500 of them are still burried, so you can't see them :) (so sort of a rip off in a way). Our tour also took us into so called "factory for terracotta warriors" (this was not on our itinerary). After about 5 min introduction about how they make them out of terra-cotta, then burn them etc, we were horded (with 100s of other tourists on similar tours) into a huge warehouse of antique furniture and statues which were of course for sale. The Chinese enterprenourship does not know boundaries :).

After 2 days in Xi'an, I'd have to say, we were guite happy to leave for our next destination in Chengdu, Sichuan. Unless, one is an archeological enthusiast, I'd not recommend to make it all the way to Xi'an just for the soldiers (looks better on TV :)).

Unknown insects on a stick in China

It didn't take long (1/2 a day) and we were faced with a few choices of gourmet foods in Beijing. Amongst the choices were scorpions, crickets, squid, some butterfly larvae (or at least they looked like it) and the insect as pictured below. It actually was not too bad with the taste being a bit salty and dry. As you can imagine, there is not much meat in these things, so a full dinner with chicken and rice (mee-fan) had to follow. :)

Beijing Duck and city dust

So we arrived in sunny Beijing on the 16th and started the trip in a jetlag-haze. The original plan was to sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed in the Beijing morning, ready for first adventure. But instead we fell onto our hostel beds and slept until afternoon. The jetlag-haze probably also explains the decision to have bugs of an unknown origin as dessert the same evening. Flavor? Crunchy with a weird after taste, but then again everything tastes like chicken, right?

Once our brain started to work again we headed for the main sights. This being the Forbidden City and the Tian'anmen Square. It was very impressive and astonishing, as all the books had promised. Oh and btw, beware of the english speaking "arts students" around the entrance - do not follow them to see their artwork, knowing that you are not going to buy any. We made our first enemy by the second day!

By this day it was also evident that blond hair will make some people stop and point at you, even take pictures (one pathetic scarf will not cover a thing!). One lady at Tiananmen square even brought her husband to me and asked us to pose for her familyalbum. I am hoping that they might mix me with some famous athlete, since I am constantly wearing sports clothes!

Yesterday we had arranged a trip to the Great Wall of China. There are many different ways to go to the wall and we picked the route from Jin Shan Lin to Si Ma Tai which is about a 10km stretch of a treaturous wall climbing. Hardcore step-up aerobics I tell ya, but absolutely worth it. The hike is further away, but with less tourists and gorgeous breathtaking views. It is also common to be accompanied by some souvenir sellers from Mongolia which will try to help hikers in more dangerous spots hoping for a sale at the end. Some people (the other one :)) get really annoyed by this, however, I figured that a stack of post cards for 70 cents was a small price to pay for 5km and a helping hand.

Today we went to a couple of local parks with temples and pagodas. The most famous being the Beihai park with the majestic White Pagoda overlooking the city. At the top of the pagoda, there is a beautiful view of the entire Forbidden City. However, the view gets even more magnificent from the neighboring park called Jingshan - you can really see the size of the Forbidden city and the contrast between history and the modern buildings around it! After all this walking we ended the day with the classic Beijing Duck meal at a local joint. I have to say, the Lonely Planet phrase book has saved us from several tricky situations - everything we have eaten so far has been recognisable:)

Since the language problems are tricky, our hostel helped us to arrange train tickets to Xi'an on Monday. Before that we still have a few more days in Beijing, hoping to see the Summer palace and The Temple of Heaven before we go. It's definitely not a problem trying to find things to see in this huge metropolis!

Australian Visa part 2

Well, it didn't take long and the first visa is here. I just got an email notifying me that I was granted the visa. This was about 4 days after filing the application, so not too shabby. I did try to check on he progress of it yesterday, however, the system was temporarily unavailable (at least that is what they said). The second visa application is going out this weekend, so wish us luck.

Australian Visa Application

Our first Aussie visa application was submitted online. Such a neat and comfortable way to file a visa application. If you are one of the few lucky countries, you can apply for so called ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) subclass 976 visa which is quite painless and there is only a processing fee of 20 AUD. Or you can also file the subclass e676 visa if you are part of EU which can still be done online. I wasn't part of the lucky countries, so had to file the 676 application. It takes about 1 hour to complete with tons of questions, but it is free :) and no hassle of standing in lines. One can also save the application with a unique ID and password at any time during the process, so that is quite convenient.

Some tips:

  • I am not sure if it works in Firefox as I got some problems.
  • Do not enter any special characters as they will be garbled. Stick to regular US alphabet.

It is suppose to take up to 2 weeks to receive, so we shall see if it goes smoothly. I have added our travel itinerary and bank statements to the application just in case, so unless there are any unforseen issues, we should be ok. The progress of the application can be checked here.

Chinese Visa

We have applied for Chinese double-entry visa in Dublin, Ireland. It took about 1 week to get it, which was quite surprising. However, the date of issue is the same date we have filed the application, so we probably could have picked it up earlier. It took just one application and 50 euro. We had bunch of paperwork ready such as flight tickets, hostel address, but the Chinese officer did not want it at all. So, I guess the Chinese government doesn't mind tourists too much :).

Flight Plan

So, we have started to plan our trip. We got our flight tickets for the major destinations as follows:

Perth-Alice Springs
Alice Springs-Cairns
Auckland-Santiago de Chile
Santiago de Chile-Lima
Lima-Santiago de Chile-Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires-Madrid

We have also arranged for our first hostel in China, so we don't run into any surprises. Now off to get some visas.