China Rail System Goes Hi-Tech


China announced that they are embarking on the greatest expansion of their rail system ever with new High Speed Trains. Similar to the U.S. interstate highway system expansion of the 1950’s and ’60’s and Japan’s 20th Century Shinkansen Bullet train system or the high speed trains of Europe, the Chinese now have  multiple unit high speed trains pictured above. Called the “Harmony” series they will reach speeds of 185 miles per hour.The train from Beijing to Tianjin ferried  passengers in just 30 minutes which use to take over 2.5 hours by highway bus. From Beijing to Shanghai and reverse there is a train leaving every 20 minutes from 07:00 to 19:00 taking just 5 hours time. In the coming 3 years China has ear marked U.S. $300 billion dollars for railroad expansion including 13,000 kilometers of special lines for high speed trains which can run 185 miles per hour or more. For more information on the Trains of China contact us at interlak@eskimo.com We are China Tour Operators in Seattle doing Tours to China and Tibet only for over 25 years for individuals as well as Groups who come to us with special interests or special needs for their Travel to China.  Check out our web site at  www.interlakechinatours.com

The Tea Horse Road

The  National Geographic had an article on the ancient Tea Horse Road that leads from Sichuan province to Lhasa. As late as 1946 porters hauled up to 300 lb. bales of tea on their backs 140 miles through the mountains to a station where pack horses then took it the rest of the way to Lhasa. Tea was worth more than gold to the Tibetans who traded much needed horses to the Chinese. Porters got paid one pound of rice for one pound of tea carried from YaAn to Kangding where it was transferred to the pack horses. In 2002 the Tea Horse Road was paved with asphalt and I and my Chinese partners were one of the first to drive this road from Chengdu to Danba, Bamei, Kangding, Yaan and back to Chengdu. A second trip we mapped out an itinerary to take tourists through this fantastic mountain area to small towns and villages that seldom see western people. Please check our web site under Sichuan Mountan Tour to see the complete itinerary to this remote area inhabited by Tibetan people who are fairly self reliant and very friendly opening up their homes to visitors. Tours to China is our business for over 25 years and my 50 plus trips to China checking out new places and experiences to provide the best tours to China as a China only Tour Operator since 1992.  Check out our web site at  www.interlakechinatours.com   

Tiananmen Square in Beijing

Everyone has heard of Tiananmen Square and all the Tour Companies take you there to walk the Square and then over to see the Forbidden City. Many people overlook some great sites on the Square that can be viewed during some free days or free time later. Mao’s Tomb is located at the south end of the Square where his body can be viewed through a glass coffin on display at irregular times. Usually there is a fast moving line leading up to it if it is open. To the west of the Square is the Great Hall of the People where the Party Congress meets each year. The auditorium holds 10,000 seats and there is some wonderful reception rooms decorated for each Province in the country that may be viewed through glass windows. You may even have lunch in the ball room if you like. To the east of the Square is a wonderful Museum on the history of the revolution which many people overlook. Across the street of course is the Forbidden City and for an extra cost you can go up on the Entrance Gate above Mao’s large picture for a great view of the whole Square where I took this photo from.  Before and after October 1st the Square is decorated in millions of flower pots with a different theme each year to commemorate the Revolution. Local people often fly kites on the Square and is a great place to mingle with the local people who often go for walks in the evenings or tourists during the day too.  Click on the photo for a full screen view!  (photo taken in 1993)

China A 3rd. World Country?

As a China Tour Operator, many people come to me with the idea that China is a poor 3rd world country and their expectations of touring there should be very inexpensive. Most people are shocked when they arrive in Shanghai or Beijing and find that that China is much more up to date than they had perceived. Above you see just one example of modern name brand stores which are available in China. Chinese people have money and they like luxury spending. 1.6 million households have an income in excess of $80,000 U.S. dollars a year which is expected to grow to 4.4 million households by 2015. In 2009, Chinese people purchased $9.4 Billion dollars in luxury goods and is expected to hit U.S. $14.6 Billion topping all other countries in the world with their 1.3 billion people. China has now surpassed the U.S. in luxury purchases and is only second to Japan as the largest consumer of high-end goods. Peking University is now offering a class on Fashion Luxuries Management and that class alone the tuition is U.S. $15,600 per student for the program. Young career working women often spend up to 25% of their income on brand name cosmetics alone in Shanghai as another example of their ever changing economy and culture. This past fall 2014 I saw over 1000 people standing in line at the Nike store in Shanghai just to order the new Air Jordan 6 basketball shoes at $150. a pair.  Still yet there are bargains to be had as China is a classic Old and New culture growing together side by side. Bargain stores still exist where you can buy either Knock-offs or over runs of brand name clothing and other goods.  For questions, email me at  interlak@eskimo.com