Gigi is very well-traveled and I had a lot of fun talking with her. Now, let's get to our discussion:
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- Starbucks closed its coffee shop in the Forbidden City in 2007. It had been open since 2000.
- Though simplified forms of Chinese characters have existed since ancient times, the first large-scale simplification of characters didn't take place until 1956. This was mainly done to increase literacy in agrarian China. A proposal to do away with the character system entirely in favor of using “Pinyin” (Roman letters) never gained much favor.
- Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in northern Iraq. Gigi talked about her visit there during our podcast.
- Unsurprisingly, US citizens need a visa to enter Iran, and there are a lot of additional restrictions and considerations listed on the State Department's website.
- I was very surprised to learn that US citizens don't need a visa to enter Iraqi Kurdistan.
Here are a few of my photos from the Forbidden City in Beijing:
And now for some photos from my trip across Australia on the Indian Pacific train: