Passion Passport: China

I recently had some good news, which is that I won a trip to China! The contest was sponsored by Cathay Pacific and organized by Passion Passport on Instagram.

The contest was pretty straightforward; it asked entrants to “share a photo from your travels where you visited a lesser-known or a less-frequented destination. When did you ignore the hotspots to veer off the beaten path?”

I thought of a trip I took through the Midwest in 2015, on my way to a photo exhibit in Ohio. I posted this photo and caption:

I love traveling with family and friends; when you’re visiting someplace new, it’s great to do it with a loved one, so you can share the highs (and lows) of the adventure together. But I also love traveling alone, and when I do, things happen at a very different pace. When I’m by myself, I slow down and let serendipity guide me, optimistic that I’ll find something beautiful just around the corner.

That’s what happened in the photo above; I was on a solo road trip in rural Indiana. I had gotten off the freeway and was driving on the National Road, when I saw a cool tree in the distance. I drove down some small roads, turning left and right between the farm fields, until I came to this gravel road that bisected this symmetrical-looking little hill. I got out and made a few photos, including this self-portrait, and then drove on. I doubt I could even find this place again—the route I took there was so circuitous—and because of that, the photo feels even more special to me.

If I were to travel to China, I’d love to visit some of its most famous cities to shoot the architecture and people. But I’d also love to have time to meander and explore, finding some small, out-of-the way places that aren’t landmarks, but are still beautiful in their own way. Places like this end up being the most special because instead of reading about them in a guide book, you stumble upon them on your own. And while I definitely want to follow in the footsteps of many before me, seeing some of the iconic places in China, like the West Lake in Hangzhou, I also want my own spirit of discovery to bring me to a place I didn’t know I needed to be until I got there.

I was shocked (and delighted) when I got the email letting me know I’d won! I’m going for two weeks in April. I only have the big pieces of the itinerary figured out right now; all the details will come in time:

March 30 – April 4: Hong Kong
April 4 – April 9: Shanghai & area
April 9 – April 13: Beijing & area

I’m looking forward to connecting with some long-time Instagram friends in China, and seeing part of the world I’ve never been to before. Thanks, Passion Passport and Cathay Pacific!