Prince Gong’s Home in Beijing

Prince Gong’s Residence  (Gongwang Fu) in Beijing is one of the largest private residences in Beijing.  Few if any Group Tours include this beautiful home of a former Prince of the Qing Dynasty.  I often put it in my tours because it is a classic example of a Chinese mansion of those days with the large park like setting within the busy city of Beijing.  Close by is also another smaller more recent mansion of the early 1900’s last lived in by Madame Song Qingling who was the wife of Sun Yat-Sen the founder of the Republic of China.  The home has not been changed since the day she died.  Another is Prince Li’s Garden Home which is now a classic Chinese Restaurant of the Qing Dynasty featuring food from the Qing Dynasty.  I often include it as a special evening dinner for my clients who love the atmosphere with the restaurant workers and waiters in traditional Qing Dynasty clothing.   There are many old mansions all across China and I have enjoyed seeing many of them myself and try to include some of them in my customized private tours.  For more information on Mansions of China contact us at  interlak@eskimo.com   www.interlakechinatours.com

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Cruising the Yangtze River

Cruising the Yangtze River is usually a once in a lifetime cruise.  I have been fortunate to cruise it 8 times over a 25 year period watching the progress of the Yangtze River Dam project.  Pictured here is the 5 Star Century Line with an all modern fleet of boats.  The number of passengers is far less than ocean going ships and you never feel like you are in a crowd as there are top decks, lounges, libraries, game

rooms, and wonderful roomy dining rooms.   There is a wide assortment of both western and Asian food to choose from and a Gala sit down and be served Captain’s Dinner with wonderful evening entertainment.  Each day there are off boat excursions and activities on the boat or you may just want to relax on deck watching the beautiful scenery and huge Gorges as you cruise up or down the river.  With new modern equipment you hardly know you are moving with little motion detected as you cruise through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.    You will note that prices vary between Lines from the low end $250 to $450 cruises to $800 and $1200 per person lines.  The lower end cruises are described in the blog entry following this one.  Until April 1st we are offering the Century Cruise Line at 50% off when combined with a private custom tour of an additional 10 days or more.  Please contact us for details at  interlak@eskimo.com

For itineraries see the Century web site at   www.centuryrivercruises.com    
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Yangtze River Boats

As a tour operator for the past 25 years to China I get questions regarding the Yangtze River cruise.   Prices vary from $250 to $1800 per person depending on the deck and cabin level.   I always tell people you should not pay less than $500 per person but expect to pay at least $800 to $1200 per person for an acceptable western comfort level.   There are many cruise companies on the Yangtze at a wide range of prices.  The boat photos you see here are on a boat that sells for $295 to $495 per person.  The $295 per person are for cabins with four bunk beds about the size of a train sleeper car with two uppers and two lowers.  Bathrooms down the hall etc. They do have two person cabins at the higher cost however.   So it is buyer beware!   You get what you pay for in China or any other place.  Once booked it is too late of course.
I sell and promote both the Victoria Line and the Century Line which are the two top cruise only lines on the Yangtze river.   www.victoriacruies.com   and   www.centuryrivercruises.com    For more information and special prices for early bookings contact us at  interlak@eskimo.com  Be sure to read the blog just above this one regarding cruise boats on the Yangtze.

     Click on the photos for full screen views!


Flower Markets of China

There are so many things to see in China and often so little time; but I really enjoy visiting a wholesale flower market as seen here.  This particular one is in Chengdu.   Flower markets are wholesale markets for the trade but sell to the public too.  Located usually in industrial areas or warehouses, it is a bee hive of activity of bulk flowers being delivered from all over Southeast Asia and from the local farmers in the area. The largest wholesale market is in Kunming.  If you go to Kunming be sure to ask your guide to stop and see it if it is not listed in your tour itinerary.   My wife bought two very nice glass vases for $3.00 each.  As we say “take time to stop and smell the roses” and that surely can be done here.
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Heavenly Lake

Heavenly lake I compare to Lake Louise in Canada.  It is one of the most beautiful lakes in China located 2 hours outside of Urumqi, Xinjiang China.  Xinjiang province is in the far Northwest part of China and the home of the Uygur people and made up of several nationalities other than Han Chinese.  You can take a boat ride on the lake or hike along it in view of the beautiful mountain range.  Near by are Yurts where you can stay overnight or just have a nice lunch featuring local food.   My wife and I enjoyed lunch here in a highly decorated yurt and loved the food.  Located on the Silk Road, it can be incorporated with just about any Silk Road Tour.  Check our web site for one of several packaged Silk Road Tours or have us create a private custom tour to your interests which has been our specialty for over 25 years.  Our web site is www.interlakechinatours.com   Click on the photos for a full screen view.