Parks of China

For people interested in nature and parks there are many through out China each with their own attraction.   Juizhaigou  National Park in Sichuan province remains my favorite as it has been kept very pristine and only allows 5,000 people per day into the park.  The park nestled into the remote mountains is shaped like a wishbone so that you go up one side in the mourning and the other side in the afternoon.  What I especially like about it is that it gives you so many options.  Throughout the park are wooden walkways in order to keep the park pristine and natural.  There are many stations in the park short distances apart with natural gas green buses running very often that leave no exhaust.  You may get on and off as you please or can walk or hike as far as you want between stations. Very clean toilets that are self cleaning are also available everywhere.  The park was started back in the 1970’s and was started with keeping it pristine and natural from the start.  The pools of water are natural with their color from minerals in the ground.   There are many flights from Chengdu to Juizhaigou and several good hotels to choose from.  However you should contact a tour operator in advance to make sure you have tickets to get into the park.  The Park is extremely busy during the fall  months of September and October when the leaves are turning.  Oct. 1st is a National Holiday and Chinese have one week off so the park is booked full much in advance.  Prices are the highest at that time also.  For more information on Juizhaigou check the internet or also contact me for more specific information.  My name is Dave and you can contact me at  interlak@eskimo.com

              Click on the Photo for a Full Screen View

English/Chinese Language Problems

A question often asked is about the language problem.  There are two parts of that problem.  One is that some Chinese do not speak any English.  The other is the Chinese who  speak English often have an accent that is sometimes difficult to understand.  The reverse is true for the Chinese understanding our English which also has different accents or is a 2nd language for some tourists.  Taxi drivers almost always do not speak English.  Workers in many hotels, stores, sights, also do not speak any English.  Chinese learn British English in school so some of the words are different like “truck” is a “lorie” in British English and others.  They learn about 6  to 8 thousand words in English while we speak on average of about 12,000  words.  I could only laugh to myself the time that I had to translate a Southern Louisiana accent to their English speaking guide who could not understand them.   I had the same difficulty a few years ago while visiting the southern island of New Zealand.  I often had to repeat my question several times even though they spoke English with a very strong local British account.  It is important to speak Slowly and to use more common words than you usually would do.  Also you would be very surprised at how much slang we use in American English which you should try not to use in order to be better understood.  Language along the large eastern costal cities of China like Beijing and Shanghai is not as difficult as English is a second language in China and more often understood in those areas.  The further inland to the west it becomes more difficult even among some educated.  Those who have some understanding of Chinese often forget there are hundreds of dialects and 57 different  nationalities with their own language.  I started learning Chinese in Beijing but quickly realized that not only was my English spin on Chinese but my accent was very difficult.  I gave up after 5 years  trying.  All my business partners in China speak English although with most I still must speak slowly and kind of learn what words I must use with each of them to be better understood. Also for Chinese people it is a loss of face to ask a foreigner to repeat a  question to them.  I often have to watch their eyes which tells me if they do not understand.  I then rephrase the question.  It is impolite and very difficult for Chinese to say “No” to any request of them.  You will often get an answer like   “We will see if that can be done”   or  “I will see if that is possible”   That often means “No” without losing face for either party.   For any questions on Language or anything else please feel free to contact me anytime.  My name is Dave and I like to share my 26 years of experience of working in China on just about any subject.  Contact me at   interlak@eskimo.com

  Nothing more enjoyable than spending time learning about the Local People!

Hotels in China

When it comes to booking hotels in China I highly recommend that  you choose an agency or tour operator that KNOWS China well.  Actually the best is to have a Tour Operator like myself  🙂  who knows China very well and inspects hotels on a regular basis for the past 26 years.  Nothing worse than trying to plan your own tour and booking hotels and then being greatly disappointed in your hotel.  Fake reviews and claims are common on the internet.  Location is one of the things you  should consider most.  Being located out in the suburbs or poor locations to save a few $$ is not wise.  You will spend much of your time and money (taxis) going to the sights.  Your tour operator who knows China well, knows these areas and best value hotels.  For instance:  Wangfujing area in Beijing is the best.  Good hotels there but some to avoid too.  In Shanghai you need to be close to the Nanjing Road Mall.  Some well known hotels are across the river in Pudong and you will be taking a taxi every time you want to go some place and back.  Boutique hotels are becoming more common but also high prices especially for best locations.  Traditional style hotels are in demand and many are available with modern conveniences however prices are usually a bit higher also.  Hotels in China usually come with a large buffet breakfast included in the hotel cost.  If not listed as “included” the cost can often be $15 to $25 per person extra.  There is also a service charge of normally 15% added or included too as there are no tips in the hotels other than perhaps a bell boy.  The city tax is also included.  If none of these costs are listed as included, the quoted low cost on the internet can often be a surprise when you check out.  One former client wanted a hotel in Xian and he said it could be booked for $85 a night.  I knew the hotel well and had consulted with them.  That $85 room located in an older building on the first floor facing the inside is indeed $85 for a single.  No breakfast, service charge, tax etc. was quoted.  The room on check out then is $137. per night.  One should know there is usually 5 level of prices in each hotel depending on the room size and amendments.
For more information on hotels, please feel free to email me at   interlak@eskimo.com   My name is Dave and I will not try to sell you a tour if you are only interested on more hotel information.

A Bit More Humor!

People who read my blog seemed to like my last story on Humor in China so here is a bit more.  I was in the back country of rural China with my guide and driver.  We stopped at an outside café for lunch.  No western dishes but had a Chicken Soup that sounded good.  We ordered it and when it came the driver spooned through it and then got up and was yelling at the cook.  I asked my guide what the problem was and he shyly said, “The Driver said the cook left the best parts out and was cheating us”.  Knowing China well, I asked what the best parts were that they left out..  He said,
“the feet, head and guts”.  The cook left those out because he knew I was a foreigner and would not like those parts in the soup.  You will never get such food on any tour so do not worry about that.  Chinese food in China is the best.  Another time in Western China in a  remote small town there was only one restaurant for foreigners.  I asked to go to a local restaurant just to see what one was like and what they served.  Again with a guide and driver they had one menu in English.  Camel’s Paw was the first item on the menu and I knew I was in trouble.  I ordered egg soup which I like and told the guide to ask the driver what he would like not wanting to leave him out.  He wanted Donkey and Noodles!  One taste and I learned quickly that I didn’t like Donkey!  🙂   I have a thousand stories that I could tell but thought readers would enjoy these two on food.  You will never get these things on a tour unless of course you ask for them! Below you see a normal lunch.  Second one is a photo of me who likes to eat well with two waitresses in the countryside.  Third is a photo of my wife and I having a deluxe dinner in Chongqing.  Last photo is of friends who are celebrating their birthdays just like us with a birthday cake.  The assortment of food in China is unlimited and extremely good.

A Bit of Humor for You.

I have travelled all over China for the past 26 years.  There is always something to discover in China no matter where you go.  I have many friends in China and one day my friends wanted to take me to a new Temple that had just been built.  It was a large round building with 4 entrances.  Inside as you can see are many Buddhas below.

.  The object is to walk into any door you please and either turn left or right.  You then start counting Buddhas until you come to the one that matches your AGE.  We all had to laugh a bit since the photo above with the chubby Buddha resembles my build very closely.   I love to eat good food.  I have always said that China is not only extremely interesting, it is also very fun as you never know what you will find next.   Another time we were in the mountains and came upon men working and tearing down a 700 year old temple to make room for some construction.  They had a small fire going and had been taking down some of the wooden parts and burning them.  I rescued a wooden carved Monk about 12 inches high that had come from the temple and now have it home in a glass case with a small glass of water to keep it from deteriorating further.  As I said, you never know what you will find in China and I have many stories to tell of my travels too many to ever write them all down.   I hope I will be able to plan a special tour to your specific interests too.  Check out my web site at www.interlakechinatours.com

Ciqikou Old Town Near Chongqing

Many people take the Yangtze River Cruise which starts up stream at Chongqing and cruises down to YiChang.  Most Group Tours arrive in Chongqing in the late afternoon in time for dinner and boarding of the boats.  Chongqing although a very large city has it’s special places to visit if you arrive the night before the next day evening sailings or are just passing through Chongqing.  One of the special places I like my clients to visit is Ciqikou Ancient Town which was first built between the years 960 and 1279 only 17 kms. from central Chongqing.  The narrow walking alleys have no cars and you will find so many interesting sights of everyday Chinese living besides older homes such as the Zhong Family Courtyard home. Its owner Zhong Yanting worked for Empress Dowager Cixi who lived between 1835 and 1908.  Zhong was in charge of procuring rare treasures for the Empress which explains the compound being constructed on a very lavish scale.   Baolun Temple, Wenchang Taoist Temple, and the Imperial Academy are just a few of the other sights besides the old shops and traditional homes of the local inhabitants.  If you will be staying overnight in Chongqing, I like the 4 star Hongyadong Hotel which overlooks the river having wonderful roof top gardens to enjoy.  There are many restaurants within the complex nearby along with shops and many snacks and hand made candy being made.  If you are having a private custom tour (that’s what I do) be sure that if you are taking a Yangtze River Cruise that you include a day in Chongqing before leaving.   Check out our web site at www.interlakechinatours.com  Our 26th year of doingTours to China and Tibet. 

Which International Airline Should I Choose?

There are several airlines to choose from when planning a trip to China.  You should do the research to check and see which airline fits your wants and needs.  Price is a factor but shouldn’t always be first on your list.  Comfort and time of departure and arrival need to be considered also.  A Direct flight or flight that has a stop or plane change should be on your list.  A flight from Seattle to Beijing is listed with one airline very cheap.  I checked it out and it goes from Seattle to Chicago and then to Beijing.  Cheap but 22 hours of flying time and changing planes, going through an additional Security check etc. etc.  Is it worth the savings?   Maybe if time and comfort are not on your list.  I have represented Hainan Airlines from China as a wholesale tour operator since they arrived in Seattle several years ago. They fly from Seattle to Beijing in just 11 hours arriving in the late afternoon in time for dinner. They are owned by a corporation in China rather than the government.  Their service is tops with great food and an excellent Business class that rivals other airlines first class.  They fly the latest Boeing 787s. with seats that make into beds in Business class.   I have flown with them often and always appreciate their attention to details and comfort.  Hainan now has direct non-stop flights from Boston, Chicago, Seattle and soon San Jose and a Seattle/Shanghai direct flight.  There are  connecting flights from many other cities at code share prices too.  For more information and costs please contact us by email:  interlak@eskimo.com   We can do your complete tour from home and back with our 25 years experience in China and Tibet.  Check out our web site at :  www.interlakechinatours.com   Our BBB rating of A+ is the best rating so you can always be sure you are in Good Hands.   My friends call me ChinaDave and I will be glad to help you with any plans or questions on travel to China.       Email:   interlak@eskimo.com