China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where Is The Best Section of the Great Wall?

As a Tour Operator and Planner to China and Tibet only, I am asked many times about going to the Great Wall. There are several sections of the Great Wall outside of Beijing. The closest is Badaling where all the Group Tours go because of the freeway and large parking lot besides being close to the Ming Tombs and a shopping stop at the Cloisonne Workshop. My choise for the average person is Mutianyu which is a bit further but on a good country two lane road with more scenery and few if any buses in the smaller parking lot. There is also a cable car there to take you up onto the Wall with little walking needed. There are other sections of the Wall also for those who want a challenging hike but also further out and takes the whole day to get there and back. Mutainyu takes about 2/3rds of a day depending on how much you want to hike or walk on the Wall with enough time to maybe stop at the Lama Temple on the way back. If you think the Great Wall is an easy hike, see the photos above. The distant photo showing the almost verticle climb is at Mutianyu but is about one mile out from the entrance and at that point begins where there is a section left as it was found not repaired. Other shots show you sections that have a very steep incline for those who are looking for more of a climb than a walk. For more information check my web site. Private and Customized Tours to China are my expertise for the past 25 years.  Click on the photos for a full screen view.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shaolin Temple Monks at Wushu Temple

Kungfu enthusiasts all know about the Shaolin Monks of China. Wushu Temple and Monastery is located between the cities of Luoyang and Zhengzhou in Henan province of China. You can go there by flying into Zhengzhou or by train from Xian. Although many tourists now go there it is still the meca for Kungfu classes and students of Kungfu. The web site is the largest school with over 7000 students. During the day there is a performance put on by the monks as you can see above. I visited there just a couple years ago and was the only foreigner attending that day. When one of the monks came out with the bowl being held in by his stomach muscle, he challenged anyone to try and remove it telling us all that only one time it had ever been removed. The audience all called for me to give it a try since I was the only foreigner there. I saw that his skin was moist from previous activities and thought if I twisted it, I may be able to get some air inside and it would come off. It did almost too easy. I thought the crowd would cheer but the monk had lost "face" and the crowd was silent. After the show the monk came out and asked the crowd to remain seated and called me up on stage and bowed presenting me with the bowl as a sign of humility. I accepted it gracefully and still have it yet today as a rememberance of my time at Wushu Temple. If you would like to visit the Shaolin Monks, I do private custom tours to China at I do Tours to China Only as China Tour Operator and China Travel Agency

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Friend Shi Mao Ting or Sherry in China

After 25 years of travel throughout China one meets many people and some remain friends. Here is my friend, Mao Ting or Sherry as my wife and I call her. I met Sherry when she was but 4 years old in the remote small village of Yellow Creek Village near Chengdu in Sichuan province. I took pictures of her on a cold winter morning as she was standing in the street outside her home holding an orange in her hand and covered with a hand made orange colored cape. She is almost 17 here as you see her with me during my visit with her family. A very bright student when she was in primary school, she is now at boarding school in one of the best high schools and will be taking her entrance exams this coming hear for the University. We are very proud of her. Dad died two years ago and her Mom and Grandmother have a very small shop in which they support themselves working 14 hours a day 7 days a week. Sherry has classes from 7:20 in the morning until 5:30 and then from 7:00 P.M. until 9:00 P.M. each day. She has classes on Saturday morning from 9:00 until 12:00 and then comes home 30 miles until Sunday afternoon as she has classes on Sunday evening from 6:00 until 9:00 p.m. also. I have followed her life for almost 14 years and hear from her via email or letters between visits each year. Having known many Chinese in this way, I have many personal insights to China which I often share when I teach a class at area Universities and colleges on Travel to China. Check my web site at I do Tours to China only and have for 25 years. Up date 2015:  I wrote this in 2009.   Sherry now graduated and is a teacher.

New Luggage Policy in China

A luggage policy issued in May of 2008 has to do with carry on luggage. The policy for checked luggage is the same, 44 lbs maximum per bag limited to 2 bags in First Class and one bag in coach class. They have become very strict with this and I was 10 lbs over in one airport and was charged a $14 penalty. Some airports let it go through however including international flights. Carry on luggage is suppose to be limited to 2 pieces in first class and one piece in coach class not to exceed 11 lbs and size limit about the size of a good sized brief case. My trip this fall I noticed that the carry on limits were not adheared to and people continue to take everything but the kitchen sink onto the planes and in the overheads. Alcahol of any kind is still not allowed in the carry on baggage and should be packed in your checked luggage. A book I recommend to all of my clients that you will find very helpful before going to China is "Encountering the Chinese" A Guide for Americans 2nd. Edition by Mr. Hu Wenzhong and Cornelius Grove. Most good book stores or should have it. You might want to sign up to receive my Blogs on Tips on Travel in China to receive new information as I usually write each week. As a China Only Travel Agent with Tours to China, my 25 years experience in travelling to China with over 50+ trips will help you in planning your tour. Check out my web site at Happy Travels

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dr. Ho and Son of Traditional Medicine Fame

I visited my old friend Dr. Ho of Chinese traditional medicine fame at his small clinic where he is retired in Baishan Village near Lijiang in Yunnan Province. In this small village surrounded by beautiful mountains, Dr. Ho continues the work of his father at age 90 along with his son and daughter in law who are both Doctors too. He sees patients and visitors almost daily in his make shift clinic always having the time to spend chatting with everyone that comes to see him. National Geographic and 60 Minutes both have visited him this year as his popularity continues wtih his wide spread following around the world. His son has built a museum as a legacy to his father's work and it will soon be ready to view by everyone coming to see him. Never charging for "office calls" Dr. Ho is generous with his time and his talents to all of those who come. Now and then his wife pops in from their home right behind the small clinic. Be sure to take a guide with you as the clinic is small and often walked past if you do not know where it is. Check my web site for more information about touring China and the many unique and wonderful places to visit. Let my 25 years experience be of assistance to you in planning your tour to China. Check the web site at