Gillybean in China: What a Trip!

“Is it alright if we join you?” said the tallest of three lanky guys in their early 20s.

“Er, uh, yes, of course,” I stuttered, exhausted after an exhilarating day touring Shanghai with California college students I had accompanied on a three-week study abroad journey. I sat in our hotel bar, enjoying the opportunity to recharge with a Chinese beer. My students were upstairs in their rooms, giving their professor a break.

“Thank you,” the young man said as he and his two buddies sat with me in chairs around the low-profile table. “What a day!”

To heck with recharging. I was curious. “Tell me about it.”

I ordered three beers and leaned forward to hear their story. The Norwegians had flown the previous day to Germany, where they looked up at the departures board for a place to go. They found three seats on an overnight flight to Shanghai and off they went, without reservations. They had grabbed the last room in the downtown hotel and, as we sipped our beers, they picked my brain for ideas for their weeklong adventure.

When she turned 60, Scottish native Gill Puckridge planned to leave her life in South Africa for three months in Central America, but got sidetracked by a cheap flight to China. Three months later, her experiences had exceeded her expectations and she left China a changed person and traveler. She has been on the road ever since (for six years) and I eagerly await her next book.

Her story is Gillybean Goes to China: The Adventures of a Wandering Sexagenarian. The book often made me wonder, “Could I do that?” as I read about her daily adventures, accommodations, social life, and much more.

Gill Puckridge did not share the youth of my three fellow beer drinkers in Shanghai. And she was alone in a country that can intimidate even the most worldly traveler. But she packed courage and a thirst for new experiences in her seventh decade of life.

Her story is captivating. Like the Norwegians, she embraced China as a place full of opportunity while she employed her natural charm and curiosity.

If Marvel were to create characters who performed superhero feats across the world’s waters, Glen and Julie Bradley could be models.

For seven years, the early retirees defy death more times than cats, always landing, sometimes barely, on their feet. Piloting a French-made Amel Super Maramu, one of the world’s greatest sailing vessels, they visit 63 countries, including Bequia in Saint Vincent, Niue, and the far-from-ordinary Colombia. 

In a pair of enthralling books, author Julie Bradley takes readers on a journey that rarely includes the usual paths of world travelers. They experience adventures that bring pleasure and terror, sometimes on the same day. Between the two extremes, they overcome unpredictable hardships that must make them proud today.

You need no sailing experience to follow the adventures in Escape from the Ordinary and Crossing Pirate Waters. But you will marvel at the exploits of these two American mortals. 

 

Couple Sails Around the World Like Superheroes

Blimey! Look What Arrived in the Post

I haven’t been so excited about a delivery since the births of my three sons. My heart raced as the DHL driver climbed the steps to my home and rang the doorbell.

I peeled open the envelope and pulled out the wallet-sized booklet with a firm cover and back.

“I am a Brit!” I refrained–barely–from yelling my excitement to the neighborhood.

Earlier this year, I discovered that I was (and always have been) a British citizen due to my father’s birth in Birmingham, England. But I wanted to be able to prove it.

So, I sent my dad’s birth certificate, my parents’ marriage certificate, my birth certificate and my American passport to Her Majesty’s passport office. Oh, and I also sent a passport photograph of a stern-looking old man (me, that is).

If only my parents had lived to see me join them as British citizens.

Brexit may devalue my British passport as a vehicle for travel and living in the European Union, but nothing can diminish my new passport’s place in my heart.