China By The Numbers

Although only one thumb is shown here (as the other was working the camera), this trip gets two thumbs up.
Although only one thumb is shown here (as the other was working the camera), this trip gets two thumbs up.

On my travels throughout China I was constantly reminded by people I met about the luck of certain numbers. This first came to light in Dalian where several weddings were being performed on the 6th of July. More recently I learned that the Forbidden City of Beijing contains 9999 rooms – 9 being a rather lucky number1, 2.

Being a numbers person (although a different kind of numbers person), this got me thinking, how did my trip stack up numerically?

So here goes:

  • Distance travelled (by plane or train): 25404.64 km – or approximately 63% the circumference of earth.
  • Travel time (by plane or train): about 40 hours.
  • Distance travelled by foot: no clue.
  • Distance travelled by bicycle: about 14km around the old city walls of Xi’an.
  • Days away: 33 – June 29 through July 31 (a little more than 9% of the year).
  • Cities visited: 5 – Dalian, Xi’an, Hua Shan, Shanghai, and Beijing.
  • Total population of those cities: approximately 60 million, with Shanghai and Beijing being home to about 45 million people combined.
  • Spur of the moment travel decisions: at least 3 – extended stay in Xi’an with Peter so we could climb Huashan, extended stay in Shanghai after Sass and Andrew returned to the hostel from their canceled flight, and cancellation of my flights from Beijing to Dalian due to delays at the airport.
  • Mountains climbed: 2 – Hua Shan and the Black Mountain of Dalian.
  • Temples explored: Too many to count.
  • Photos knowingly taken with strangers: Too many to count.
  • Instagram photos/videos posted (so far): about 440 – or approximately 14 per day.
  • Blog posts (to date, including this one, but excluding those about China that were written prior to leaving on the 29th): 21 – although there will be a few more because I have a few other things I need to write about.
  • Warmest temperature: 39 Celsius (not including humidity).
  • Coolest temperature: 25 Celsius (not including humidity).
  • Countries represented during the trip: 8 – Britain, Ireland, United States, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Canada, and China.
  • Local dishes sampled: at least 4 (not including the oddities listed below) – Peking duck, hot-pot, dumplings, and noodles.
  • Silkworm pupae eaten: 4
  • Snakes eaten: 2
  • Scorpions eaten: 1
  • Starfish eaten: 1
  • Spiders eaten: 1

While I don’t necessarily believe that any of these numbers are lucky – because we all know that only pi has that characteristic – I do know that I am very lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to explore China for these past 30+ days. I’ve had an amazing time here, and I’ve met so many amazing people. It really has been an incredible and unique experience.

I’ve also realized that 30+ days is too short a time to really capture China, which means I’m just going to have to return. Perhaps next year. Perhaps for 60+ days. And perhaps including some of the neighbouring countries. Because let’s be honest, a trip that ends without further wanderlusting just wouldn’t be a successful trip in my books.

1 The number of rooms in the imperial palace is also in reverence to god whose home was believed to contain 10000 rooms. Apparently the emperor didn’t want to piss off god by presuming to have the same number of rooms in his house. Probably a wise move.

2 According to Wiki, the exact number of rooms might not actually be 9999. Whatever.


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