China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shortest Route to China

I taught a class on "Tips on Travel to China" at Community Colleges here in Seattle. People often ask me for recommendations on flights to China and when I tell them right here from Seattle they chuckle a bit. Note the map above or look at a globe. Los Angeles and San Francisco are further away than Seattle. There is a non-stop flight from Seattle up along the Canadian coast, past Alaska, over the Bering Sea for a short distance and then across Siberia and into Beijing. Shanghai and Hong Kong are a few hours longer. The flight from Seattle to Beijing non-stop is about 11 hours. In my over 60 trips to Asia I have flown many different airlines and with many different stops taking much longer. Hainan Airlines from China has a direct non-stop flights  from Seattle to Beijing with free return from Shanghai through Beijing if desired or low cost connection from Hong Kong with a stop in Beijing allowed. There are now direct non-stop flights from Chicago, Boston, and San Jose to Beijing too.  They have very low U.S. connection prices to Chicago and Seattle in connection with the international air tickets with free air from California and Oregon to Seattle for their international flight. New Direct flight to Shanghai from Seattle and San Jose direct flight to Beijing  Contact us for a quote from your city at  Click on the map for full screen view!

Rice Terraces

China is famous not only for rice but rice terraces. Some of the terraces date back over 600 to 700 years old. The ones pictured above are from three different areas of China. One of my clients only wanted to take photos of rice terraces for a book he was going to produce on Rice Terraces of the world. Some of the best ones I found in south eastern Yunnan province but takes two days by car to get there. The famous Red Hat people there inhabit the mountains and raise mostly rice on their terraces. The terraces pictured with water are from that area. The terraces pictured with tent like stocks are from Guizhou province and the other photo is from Longsheng area outside of Guilin which are the easiest to view and also hike the "Dragon's Back" hike along the ridges. Nice hotel there too with wonderful views of the terraces. I have spent 21 years traveling through out China and love discovering new places and new things to write about. I will be writing about my next trip this fall which will cover the Silk Road, the Earthquake areas to see how the rebuilding is coming along, the famous Jiujiagou Valley and National Park, Cruising the Yangtze, the wonders of Shangrila and LiJiang areas in the mountains with fun times in Shanghai. Tours to China is my business but learning about the complicated Chinese culture is my passion.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Catholic Church in China

Being Catholic myself, I have been interested in the church in China and always take the time to inform myself wherever I go. It isn't often you find a newly built church in China since for years new churches were forbidden. The church above in Guizhou province was falling apart from old age and neglect having been poorly built many years ago. This is a very poor area and the provincial government stepped in and built the new church you see above next to the old one which was built by missionaries in the 1800's. Priests come from the capital city of Guiyang each week to say mass. I was not able to enter the new church as it was not finished yet and doors were locked; but I visited with some of the local people at the old church and they gave me the background of what was being done. The government told them that they could have any materials from the old church if they tore it down themselves so anything that could be salvaged was being used. The people planned on making a beautiful garden on the old site once it was tore down. In Beijing all the churches are full each mass with standing room only usually so the church is active and alive in China. For more information or tips on travel to China please contact me at My friends call me..."ChinaDave"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Ingenious Chinese People

The Chinese people are known for many inventions and processes from ancient days that are still used today like gun powder etc. Traveling through China for 21 years when I think I have seen everything....I find that I learn and observe new things almost daily. The man above building his house with no nails and all hand tools although he has electricity available. His ancient fathers built their homes in the same manner so he does too. The fisherman fishing with birds catches far more fish and larger ones than I ever did sitting in a boat with all my fancy gear and costly bait. Note the ancient rain coat he is wearing made from reeds and a hat made from straw. The other is a photo of me checking out one of the beautiful buildings made with local stones and what I thought was concrete hand put together. My friend said the houses and walls were built before concrete was available and in the old days they used sticky rice mixed with sand to hold the stones together. Many of the homes and walls were over 200 years old. I noticed that much of the sticky rice and sand had probably fallen out over time. Our local guide said that during the "hard times" when his ancestors were starving, they dug out the rice and sand, separated them and cooked the rice so they wouldn't starve. I had to chock back tears thinking about that. Much to see and observe in China if you have a sharp eye and are curious.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hi, I am ChinaDave

I am Dave Bruels or you can call me "ChinaDave as many of my friends call me. I am owner of Interlake China Tours, Inc. of Seattle, Washington. I have been traveling all through China and Tibet for 24 years and started the tour company 22 years ago. Over 2,500 tourists have used my services as I plan and deliver custom private tours to people's interests and needs. Take a look at my web site at and my photo album at
I will be leaving this fall on my 54th trip to China where I work with my Chinese partners checking hotels, new sites and old ones to have the latest up to date information for my clients. We will be taking a Yangtze
River Cruise again this year on the "Legend" a new boat just being launched by Century Cruises which we represent.  We will be working around Chengdu in Sichuan province checking hotels and some new sights that are very interesting as well as some ancient villages with few tourists yet.  We will be checking in with our Associate Partners in both Beijing and Chengdu to meet with the objective of always improving our tours and checking out new sights that have opened up this past year such as Zharu Valley in Juizhaigou National
Park.  For more information contact us at   Happy Travels!

Visiting A Silk Factory

As a Tour Operator to China, I often receive many requests for specific places or things to see and visit by clients. The Silk Factory shown above is one that most clients seem to enjoy. This particular factory outside Shanghai in Suzhou known as the capital of the Silk industry with 27 factories is open for tourists. Cocoons are brought in from the farms which still have a live worm in them. You will see how these cocoons are unwound and made into silk hanks. Two worm cocoons like a two yoked egg can not be unwound so they are made into large webs that are stretched out on tables layer after layer to make Silk Comforters. They are fantastic and we have them on all of our beds at home. Warm yet very light almost like you have nothing over you. There is a wonderful fashion show put on daily that lasts about 15 minutes with the latest styles in silk wear by live models. The Show room has silk fashions from all 27 factories as well as yard goods that can be bought. Ask for Silk Cream for your hands. Best in the world for soft hands Visiting craft factories where you can see crafts made can be worked into your tours that are of interest rather than retail stores that some Group Tours take you to. For more information email us at Tours to China is our business for over 18 years having served over 2500 tourists for Private Custom Tours to China and Tibet. For continuing information sign up to have my blog sent to you whenever I write another story.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Children of China

When you are in China you will find the children very friendly and out going. Mostly they are curious about you and often say a few words of English that they have learned from T.V. or at school. Children start taking English lessons at about 9 years of age in school and they pick it up very quickly. British English is taught in the schools however American English is becoming very popular especially learning some American slang which they hear on t.v. I always carry some American made wrapped candy with me for special cases but it is not advisable to just pass it around to children wherever you go. In the large cities foreigners are all too common but in the countryside you will have encounters with many children who will yell out "Hello" to you. As you will see children are children the world over and respond well to recognition or a smile. If you have children with you while touring, take them to a city park and they will soon find new friends to play with and share in some Chinese games. A visit to a Children's Palace is extremely interesting. Chinese children go there after school to learn the arts, computer, dance, painting, music and many other after school activities. Prior arrangements need to be made and your tour operator can do this for you. The Athletic Schools in the large city often offer opportunities for kids to play sports after school as well. As a Tour Operator to China I often make these arrangements for my clients.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How Do I Choose a Tour Company?

I have been teaching a class on the Ins and Outs of Travel in China at Community colleges and the University of Washington for the past three years for Adult Education. It's a 1/2 day class and I ask people to bring questions with them. The number one question is HOW DO I PICK A CHINA TOUR FROM SO MANY SOURCES? I spend one half hour talking about Group Tours, Packaged and Custom Private Tours on how to do just that. I just completed two news articles for travel magazines and newspapers. One is "How Do I Select a Good GROUP Tour to China" and the other on "Custom and Packaged Tours to China" and what is the difference. I will be glad to email both articles to you with no obligations or follow-up on my part unless you request it.
With the world wide economy being as it is, my Chinese associate partners tell me there is much cheating and fraud going on in the travel industry. It is important to be working with reliable and honest Tour Operators. Once you are in China and you bought a poor tour it is too late and you have to just tough it out. Ask for references of past customers. If they can not furnish them or make excuses forget them. In China as elsewhere you get what you pay for. China is a fascinating country to visit with warm and friendly people. You may email me in Seattle at 18 years Experience in doing Tours to China "ChinaDave"

Nature Tours New in 2010

We have been doing Tours to China for over 18 years expanding into the countryside as people continue to want to see more of China than the basic major sites. We have been doing a few remote Ecological China tours and find the demand to be more than expected. So now we will be introducing several short Nature Tours of 3 to 6 days each that can be taken as extension tours or linked together taking several of them at one time. We work directly with long time Chinese friends and associates who are knowledgeable about Ecological and Nature tours so we will be launching these in 2010on our web site in December. For an advance look there is a DVD available called "Wild China" available from It is the best we have seen and put together by the BBC. Our Ecological and Nature Tours will be going to many of the places that are shown on that DVD. I love Bonsai and above is a 500 year old Bonsai in a fantastic park in Guizhou province in a very remote area next to the largest waterfall in China. Another great Bonsai park is in Wuhan for any of you who chance to go there. For more information either continue to read my blog, check my web site or email me at

Best Touring Time in China

As a Tour Operator to China for the past 25 years, one of the questions I get asked, is "When is the best time to tour China?" High season is April/May and Sept/Oct. Prices are the highest at these times for hotels but it is also the best weather. Summer months of June, July and August are next and winter months of November through March are the least expensive but colder in the north. Summer months are hot all over China except perhaps in the mountain areas such as cities in North Yunnan and Sichuan province as well as Tibet. The Silk Road area is best seen in late August and through September. By October it gets cold and even snow in some areas of Xinjiang province. Summer months are hot but most is air conditioned and cities like LiJiang, Kunming, Dali, Zhongdian, Lhasa and other mountain cities are cooler and can be included in a summer tour. If your tour includes mountain areas such as Sichuan province in the remote areas these are best seen from mid July through the end of September. By October it is snowing already which I experienced first hand as you can see above. Local people were still selling snacks at this mountain area in Sichuan province although I was the only person there that day. For more information on Travel To China contact me at