So, having spent a little over a year traveling around Asia and South America, what to do, where to go next? Of course! The one country that still legally requires an invitation to enter, is millions of miles wide and we can't even read the signs. I am speaking of course, of Russia.
But if we are going to Russia, why not do the whole Transiberian thing and train down through Mongolia to China? I mean, it's right there! And its not like any more people speak english in those countries! So it is set. We are going to spend mid June to mid August meandering from Russia to Mongolia to China.
I am not completely phased by the complete inability to communicate, let alone but, ok, yes, it is a little daunting not to be able to translate a menus or a street sign. So when I saw our local mainline school night was offering a beginning Russian class I signed up hoping I could teach myself to decipher the cyrillic code. This should help not only in Russia but also in Mongolia which uses the same alphabet. Mandarin? Forget about it. I'm just assuming that since we will be mostly in or near Beijing, we will find enough english speakers to give us a break.
So now to the planning stages. I've bought the guidebooks and have roughed out the direction we want to go - from west to east. We want to end up in China because then, maybe, my son will deign to join us after he has had his mandatory, not to be tampered with stint in his beloved summer camp. This means I will be traveling through Russia and Mongolia with just the girls. Possibly just the youngest since my oldest daughter may be holding down a summer job. My only chance of convincing the dear boy to travel with us is to tempt him with Chinese food which he loves. Russian borscht would definitely not do the trick. Anyway it will be nice to end with a bang on the Great Wall.
OK, baby steps, have to start researching plane tickets, visa requirements for Russia and China and maybe, try to find someone out there who has had a good experience buying train tickets on the ground as they went around instead of in advance. All aboard!