Fireworks test for Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremonies.It’s our last week in Qingdao, but with our goodbyes nicely spaced out and our final classes practically teaching themselves, we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves.  It’s hard not to, with the most travel-intensive month of our lives (to date) just around the corner.  And because of very specific limits on our time, we’ve mapped out just about the whole month ahead of time.  So I decided it would be fun to postpone further reflection and instead look ahead, by posting our basic itinerary for the next month (including our Olympic schedule) here on the blog.  I’m also hoping to post more frequently from the road, and especially from the Olympics.  So stay tuned!  Here’s a look at what’s to come:


Friday, August 1 – Saturday, August 2
After a morning of teaching, we’ll pack up our toothbrushes and drag our mountain of bags (the same one from January) back to Beijing late Friday night.  There we’ll crash with friends and spend Saturday retrieving our Olympic tickets (more on that later) from will-call.  Saturday evening we head to the airport to fly to Guilin, in Southern China’s Guangxi Province.


Sunday August 3 – Wednesday August 6
South China (Guilin and Yangshuo)
We plan to spend 3 ½ or 4 days in in Guilin and Yangshuo, two cities nestled along winding rivers in the iconic karst scenery of Guangxi province (think steep, conical mountains, twisting rivers and rice paddies, and hot, humid weather).  We hope to spend most of the time outside Yangshuo, biking to small villages, swimming and rafting in multiple rivers, and taking lots of pictures!  In the afternoon of August 6 we’ll take a bus to Shenzhen (a boomtown just across from Hong Kong) and from there catch a late-night flight to Bangkok.


Thursday August 7 – Saturday August 9
Cambodia (Siem Reap and Angkor Wat)
This (we hope) will be the most intense segment of our travels.  After getting into Bangkok well after midnight, we’ll get ourselves to the bus station and catch the first (4 a.m) bus to the border with Cambodia.  There we’ll get a tuk-tuk to immigration, deal with stamps and fees, and try to push our way past the touts to get a reasonably priced car on to Siem Reap.  In Siem Reap, we’ll plan to spend at least a day and a half exploring ancient temples, including the famous Angkor Wat.  At some point on Saturday, we’ll have to reverse the whole Thailand-Cambodia trip to get ourselves back to Bangkok Saturday evening.


Saturday August 9 – Sunday August 10
Thailand (Bangkok)
We should have just a bit over twenty-four hours to explore Bangkok, from a night of Pad Thai and a modest sample of the infamous nightlife to a day of rides on the river between palace-, temple- and market-hopping.  On Sunday night we’ll make our way to the train station for a first-class overnight ride to Krabi, an island in Southern Thailand.  Our private train compartment will have air-conditioning and its own bathroom, hopefully doubling as a comfortable, quietly rocking hotel!


Monday August 11 – Friday August 15
Thailand (Krabi)
Of course, our travels in the first half of the month had to end with – the beach!  We’re hoping for a couple sunny days (it will be rainy season) to enjoy the white beaches fringed by karst peaks, as well as some world-class sea kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving among innumerable and mysterious outlying islands.  Personally, I’m hoping to get some old-fashioned shady hammock time in as well, to take a breath after our travels.


Friday August 15 – Friday August 22
Beijing 2008 (The Olympics!)
After leaving the beach in the morning we should arrive in Beijing around dinnertime on August 15, thanks to a time change and the direct flights we treated ourselves to.  Thus will begin the Olympic leg of our travels.  We were incredible lucky to have applied so early for tickets (well over a year ago), so we’ll be seeing some great events.  In place a long-winded description, I’ll just post the schedule of what we’re going to see:

August 16, 6 p.m.
Football (Soccer), Worker’s Stadium
Men’s Quarterfinal Match: 1D vs. 2C (Group C includes Brazil and Group D includes Italy!)

August 17, 6 p.m.
Gymnastics, Olympic Green / National Indoor Stadium
Finals: M Floor Exercise; W Floor Exercise; M Pommel Horse; W Vault (all finals include medal ceremonies!)

August 19, 8 p.m.
Volleyball, Capital Indoor Stadium
Women’s Quarterfinals: 2 Matches TBD

August 21, 7 p.m.
Track and Field, Olympic Green / National Stadium (“The Bird’s Nest”)
W 1500m Semis; M Decathlon High Jump; W Javelin Throw Final; M 800m Semis; W 4x100m Relay 1st Rnd; M Triple Jump Final; M 4x100m Relay 1st Rnd; M 400m Final; W 200m Final; M 110m Hurdles Final; M Decathlon 400m

August 22, 7 p.m.
Diving, Olympic Green / National Aquatics Center (“The Water Cube”)
Prelims: M 10m Platform (the highest one!)

We feel so thrilled and lucky to be able to see these great events!  I will be doing my best to blog something every day, so hopefully updates will follow each event.  Look for us on TV!


Saturday August 23 – Monday September 1
Weddings, and Return
What better way to celebrate our return to the US than . . . going to more weddings!  We love going to friends’ weddings and are excited to be able to get to two of them on our way home.  The first is in San Francisco, where, thanks to the time change, we will arrive the same morning that we leave Beijing, just a few hours before the ceremony (also note that by pure accident, we’ll return to the US on August 23, the same day we left for Guatemala last year!).  We’ll also be spending time with several good friends and some of Lacey’s family in the Bay Area, before heading back east and winding up our journeys, fittingly, in Putney, Vermont, for another wedding celebration.  Also of note: by September 1 — exactly a month from when we left Qingdao — we should be back in Philadelphia, concluding what could be the most memorable August of our blessed and fortunate lives.

4 thoughts on “August: The Grand Finale

  • July 29, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Thanks, Ethan & Lacey, for sharing your adventures. Have fun in Thailand and at all those great Olympics events. I’ll look for your smiling faces on TV.

    I want to elaborate on an early comment I made about enjoying your cultural essays more than the one about teaching. It wasn’t until I read Peter Hessler’s Oracle Bones that I realized what bothered me about the teaching essay. Both Hessler and you shared with readers very interesting impressions and personal details concerning several students in your classes. As a retired professor, I am not quite comfortable with teacher/writers sharing so much personal detail about their students–even if those students have given permission for them to do so. My daughter, Amber, is visiting this week, and when I shared my concern with her, she said anthropologists (her academic field) have had to adopt fairly strong ethical guidelines about how scholars identify their subjects and what kind of stories they share. Just a cautionary thought…

    I have really enjoyed your essays and look forward to sharing the Olympic experience with you. Thanks for the chance to ride along! Dan

  • July 29, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for your comments, Dan; I appreciate the elaboration. Good thoughts on sharing stories about students. I did have this in mind as I wrote, and I hope I haven’t shared anything too personal about any of my students. One layer of protection for all involved is that almost none of the students use their real names in class. Many do not even remember each other’s English names! But your words of caution are good cause for reflection.

  • July 30, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I’m looking forward to hearing all of your stories in person, E. Enjoy every moment. I can’t wait for September 1.

  • August 2, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Ethan, it was incredible that you could be there in Iowa for our wedding last month. I can’t tell you the number of conversations I had that ended with “he must really love you guys” when people learned how far you traveled to make it. And Lacey, we were really sad not to have you along for the ride but it’s excellent you’ll both be there for the Putney party at the end of August.

    And what an awesome August you guys have squared up! Julie, Tom Noah and I were definitely blown away by our visit to Angkor Wat in 2001 and I doubt it will disappoint. I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures getting to and from all of these spots, and of course about the Olympics. We’ll be wearing our souvenir caps and watching for you on TV!


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