China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wild Elephant Preserve in China

Most people have heard about the Wolong Panda Preserve that was destroyed during the latest earthquake but few know about the Wild Elephant Preserve. Located outside Jinghong in Xiahuangbanna district of southern Yunnan province of China, it is a preserve of the few remaining wild elephants in China. I have been to Xishuangbanna many times as it is semi-tropical with many minority peoples in colorful dress as well as tropical floral and palm tree preserves. Few foreigners go to this area and I do send many people there each year as part of my Tours to China business. The Wild Elephant Preserve has a tropical basic hotel and you can also stay in cottages set above the jungle as you see above if you desire. There is a walk way about 50 feet above the jungle floor where you can hike as well as a ski lift that goes for several miles above the jungle where you can hopefully see some of the elephants in their nature habitat. There is a daily show of tamed elephants in the village too. You do not have to stay overnight in the village but can return to Jinghong for the night. Most sites are outside of the city in the rural areas where you can visit many of the families in their homes and villages. I seldom see foreign tourists there. The area has over 20 different tribes all with their own cultures which is really interesting. One culture, the men do not work once they are married. The women controls the purse strings however. A marriage is broken by the tribe leader by just breaking a stick in half. It takes about 3 or 4 days to visit this area and there is an airport in this remote area with daily flights as it is in the middle of the jungle about 2 days by bus south of Kunming. Check my web site for more interesting places to visit in remote China.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Playing Games in China

As a Tour Operator to China, I am often requested to plan more culture interests for my clients. I try to put itineraries together for clients that give them opportunities to have personal contact with as many local people as possible. Chinese people are extremely friendly and outgoing. Just a few learned words of Chinese greetings etc. is received with smiling faces. Chinese people love to have tea in a park, play Marjon as you see above or play Chinese card games and Chinese chess. If you really want to have fun, learn some of these games and especially Marjon which everyone plays. You really do not have to speak Chinese and they love playing games with foreigners. Card games can be very exciting and fun as well as easy to learn. You can take your children to the parks or school yards and let them play with the local children who love being able to interact with foreign children. Many speak English these days as it is the #1 language that is taught starting in fourth grade. Basketball, soccer and other games are popular. On a private tour your guide will be more than happy to help you share these experiences. I often play games or shoot baskets with the local people and it builds wonderful memories. Check out my web site at wwww.interlakechinatours As a Tours to China and China Tour Operator I have had over 25 years experience in travel to China.

Food Street Vendors in China

As a Tour Operator to China for over 23 years, I am often asked about eating snacks and meals from the street vendors. Is it safe? Will I get sick? After 25 years of travel in China and 50+ trips I can say I have tried and done just about everything. The photo above is of the 'Night Market" as they call it in Beijing just off Wangfujing street. It is one of the best ones in China as others aren't so neat and tidy looking. The government made them clean it up as the Olympics were coming and they wanted to make a good impression. 9 out of 10 times I would say you are not going to have a problem. It's that 10th time you might get sick and then what? Meats and fish often are out of refrigeration for several hours even though they cook them in front of you. In all the times I have been in China I only got sick one time after eating in the countryside at a farmer's home. I carry antibiotics with me at all times which is a good practice no matter where you travel. I have eaten at road side restaurants and many other places without getting sick but I am careful that everything is well cooked and stay away from certain foods like sausages that often give me diarrhea and any dishes with a lot of sauces which give you constipation because of the MSG in them. I carry medications for those problems too. For more information emailed me at any time. My 25 years of travel in China and over 2500 clients that I have sent to China give me a good background on traveling in China. Check my web site at  Click on the photo for a full screen view.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Temples in China

Seeing temples in China is like trying to see all the churches in Europe. There are so very many that you can't see them all. Above is the Lama Temple in Beijing which is an active temple with many monks. It is famous because of the 5 story tall Buddha carved from one Sandalwood tree trunk. Located in the near north side of Beijing, I usually include it in my custom itineraries for my clients. It is a great example of an active monastery and temple. Mid to late afternoons it may be busier but that is the time you might catch the monks at prayer and chanting. No photographs are allowed but you can buy postcards like the one above of the Buddha.
Wherever there is a special temple or monastery in China depending on the client's interests, I try to include only the most interesting ones. In 25 years of travel through out China I have seen hundreds of temples and monasteries some of which are very good and others just ordinary. One has 8 door ways into it. There are hundreds of Buddhas within it. You go in your door of choice and go either left or right and then count the Buddhas until you get to the number of your age and that is suppose to be your Buddha. I am a bit on the large size and round in the middle and of course you know what Buddha came up for me....Round and laughing Buddha. Tours to China acting as a China Only Tour Operator, I do custom tours to your interests. It is a large country and so much to see so you might as well see what you are interested in. for details.

Monday, December 15, 2008

River Cruises in China

Touring in China is often very tiring sightseeing day after day especially over a two or three week period. I often recommend to my clients a Yangtze River Cruise for three days or as long as 7 days to relax a bit and recharge your batteries. From Chongqing to YiChang down river is the most popular however going up stream is one additional day against the current and costs the same. Or you can do both at a reduced price for a round trip. It can be as relaxing or as busy as you like. Each day you have an off boat experience as well as an up close tour of the largest dam locks in the world. I recommend Victoria Cruise Line and which is American owned and operated with 8 modern river boats. See their web site at with details. I discount the cruise when you book other tour arrangements with me at Interlake China Tours, Inc. Another not widely known cruise is the Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo which is a day cruise of about 4.5 hours through some of the most beautiful scenes in China. You can even stop at Crown Cave which is a fantastic cave tour during the cruise. When you go to China you might as well see what you are interested in rather than a stock off the shelf tour. I do custom private tours as a specialty with over 20 years experience as a Tours to China tour operator and planner. I work directly with Chinese suppliers who obtain local pricing by contract and you get my 25 years and over 50 trips to China experience and knowledge of China.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stone Works in China

Through out the countryside and in some small cities you will find beautiful stone work in buildings, paths, walls and homes. I started looking at it as art work rather than just stones neatly put together. The more I became interested in them the more I learned about it. In the old days little building materials were available so they had to use what was available in their areas. Where wood was available you can find wooden structures many built without nails using pegs and without electric tools even yet today. Where there was little wood, they used stones neatly fitted together. Clay bricks were used in many cases where there were no stones or wood. Many thousands today do still live in constructed caves in the ground (check an earlier blog story about cave people) I wondered what they used for a binding agent since they didn't have concrete and found that they often used sticky rice mixed with sand. During the years of little or no food, they often dug out the material and separated the rice from the sand for food. During the recent earthquakes it is easy to understand why so many lives were lost when these stone structures collapsed without reinforcements. I recently seen the same situation in Kona, Hawaii in the old churches there that remain unstable and some fallen down. Private Custom Tours to China is my business as well as being a China Travel Service. For more information check our web site at