Ugar Family on the Silk Road

The Silk Road is kind of like the Last Frontier of China in the far Northwest part of the country.  For many years it was almost ignored by Tourists for not having good accommodations.  Today that has all changed with new hotels, the fast trains, historical sights of all kinds and of course the diversity of having several different cultures.  The main culture are the Ugars now mixed with many other cultures from near by countries.  The family of Ugars pictured here are just north of Urumqi which is the largest city in northwest China.  Once you leave the city, you go back hundreds of years as many Ugars and others live like their ancestors did centuries ago.  You will find them very friendly although few speak English.  That is why it is good to have a Ugar guide who speaks their local dialect and language.  The beauty of the Silk Road which extends from Xian to the border of western China  has much to offer in sights, history and culture besides the beauty of mountains and desert.  We have several private packaged tours of this wonderful area that include desert as well as mountain areas.  See our web site at and click on Packaged Tours and then Silk Road Tours for examples.  We also do customized private tours to your specific interests too.

Hand Embroidery in China

Although these pieces look like beautiful paintings, they are actually hand made embroidery.  This is just a small sample which you can find in museum like stores in many parts of the country.  The three at the top came from one of the museum shops in Chengdu.  The bottom one I purchased in a small village outside of LiJiang in the mountains north of Kunming.  The woman took 3.5 months to do it and it was her own design.  I have several others in our home.  Hand made embroidery has been made usually by women in the countryside to bring money in for the family.  In past days one could find these beautiful pieces very inexpensive.  My wife  found some antique pieces in a remote village where the family was selling items from their mother who had passed.  One was from the mid 1800’s.  One needs to be very careful when purchasing embroidery as many are now made by computer in work shops these days.  Close examination will tell you which are hand made and which are machine made.  If they are very cheap, you can realize that they are probably machine made.  Silk threads of many colors often hand dyed are used to embroider the shading and with light on them they will come almost live.   Private customized tours can take you to these places without pressure to buy so that you may admire the work and yes if interested you can also purchase them.  For more information, please contact me at   My name is Dave.


My China Photo Album of 25 Years

After 25 years of travel in China and posting photos on many web sights, my photo album has become quite large.  Google picks up these photos that I use and adds them to my photo web site.  You can find it at    It shows several albums but one has over 800 photos in it.  Some are duplicates.  I have always enjoyed photography and China is a fantastic country with so much variety that it is difficult not to take good photos.  I always refer to it as a photographers paradise.  I always carry a camera with me but one time I missed a shot that I still kick myself about.  I had left my camera in the car when we went to an outdoor café in the countryside.  A bus came by with cages of geese on top of the whole bus.  The geese all had their necks sticking out of the cages facing forward as if on tour.  All 200 of them.  Over the years I have missed other opportunities but also have gotten some great shots too.  I have had a few clients who are professional photographers and they have said that China is a great area for photography especially of rice terraces and their national parks for scenery.  Please enjoy looking at my albums.

               They Call Me “ChinaDave”  with 25 Years of Travel in China!

China Visa Is Needed

It has just been announced that a visa to China which formally was only for one year for a multiple entry visa, a 10 year visa will now be available.   You will be able to enter China multiple times in a 10 year period without needing to apply each time.  Cost is still the same about $200 per visa through a Visa Service.   Your passport must be valid at least 1 year to obtain a 10 year visa.  If valid less than a year, then a 6 months visa will be issued.   If you would like a visa kit emailed to you, just advise me and I will have it emailed to you.  I just need to know which state you are located in as there are several Consulate Districts.. The new forms are now available reflecting the 10 year visa.  Visas either need to be applied for in person at one of the Chinese Consulates or sent to a visa service which will do it for you.   It is suggested that you  apply at least 4 to 6 weeks in advance of your departure.  If in the  future your passport expires having a 10 year visa in it that has not expired  you may summit your old passport with the new passport to keep the 10 year unexpired time of the visa.   Let me know if you would like a visa application emailed to you.  You can then apply for your visa directly yourself through a visa application service.  IF you have any questions on visas please let me know.  My email address is   My name is Dave and better known to my friends as ChinaDave.

One Expense We Forget

One expense most people forget about is laundry.  Most hotels in the cities have laundry service.  Leave it in the morning and it is back by night. On my recent trip I collected laundry lists from several hotels.  I chose a 4 star hotel in Shanghai as the best example.  3 star hotels are a bit less and 5 star hotels a bit more.  Laundry does not always include Pressing in many hotels.  That is extra.   Here is an average cost:   Man’s Shirt  $6  pressing $4.    Pair of Men’s Jeans.  $7.00 and $4 for pressing.    For women as example, a blouse is $6 and $4 for pressing if needed.  A dress is $9 and $6 for pressing.  Ladies slacks are $6 and $5 for pressing.  This is in the larger cities of course and less costly in the smaller or remote areas.  In the remote mountain areas however it may take more than one day as most hotels do not have dryers and clothes are hung out to dry. As you can see during a two or three week’s trip that cost can add up.  My wife and I have polyester/nylon shirts and pants when we travel.  These can be washed by hand in your hotel room.  You flatten them out on a bath towel and then roll it up.  You then squeeze the tube to get some of the water out.  Then leave it for about 2 hours to let the water soak into the towel.  You then hang them on the string across the bathtub in all hotels and they usually dry over night.  Cotton clothing dries very slowly and usually takes a couple of days.  For more tips on travel in China, email us at     My Name is Dave and I am always glad to answer your questions without expecting your tour business.  You might enjoy viewing my photo album of China  and web site at


Prices in China – Fall of 2014

Many people think that the Orient and China in particular is inexpensive.  As a Tour Operator, my clients receive a questionnaire when they return home asking about their tour.  One of the questions is:  Did you find China   More Expensive   Less Expensive  or   About what you thought.   3/4th of them this past year ticked  More Expensive.   I just returned in late Nov. 2014 from my 55th trip to China.  I have seen all the fantastic growth that must be seen and not read about.  Prices have increased as their economy has flourished.  Some tour operators have cheapened their tours by cutting out some services, using less expensive hotels in not so convenient locations and putting in Buffets rather than sit down and be served meals.  As a custom private tour operator I know how to save money and at the same time offer great tours with my Chinese partners.  We never cut the quality of our tours and still put our clients in well located hotels where it is easy and safe to be able to walk around in the evenings or day time on free days without worry. There are a wide range of prices in China and one needs to work with a tour operator that knows China and has the connections to obtain the best prices making your tour one to always remember.  A bargain tour is not a bargain if you are unhappy and just have to stick it out until you return home.  A well planned tour is long remembered after the cost is forgotten.  Bargain shopping is still available in some areas but one needs to be aware of the quality too.  For more information contact me at  View my web sites at and Photo Album at