Tibetan Temples in China

Visiting-a-MonasteryTibet to China is like Alaska is to the U.S.  A bit distant to get to and little (continued below the photos)

guidetibet-womanMonastery-0002Zhonglu-Village-Danba_07more expensive as well.  I usually ask clients for their reasons to go to Tibet as it adds a lot of cost to a China Tour.  Most say it is because it is mysterious or remote.   Others say they are interested in the Tibetan culture and religion.  Only 1/3rd of the Tibetan people live in Tibet now.  Many live in northern India and the rest in China.  One does not have to go to Tibet if just interested in their culture or religion.  There are many villages and towns in China that are Tibetan with beautiful Monasteries.  With good planning some can be worked into a China tour without needing to go to Tibet.  Zhongdian and the mountains of Sichuan are just two places.  On the plateaus of the Sichuan mountains are beautiful remote monasteries with some of them trimmed in 24 ct. gold which can be seen for miles.   For more information please let us hear from you.  My name is Dave here in Seattle and you can email me at  interlak@eskimo.com

Cave Homes in China

Cave HomeCave PeopleThere are thousands of cave homes in China mostly in the North.  Both warm in the winter and cool in the summer they make ideal homes for those that want to live in the ancient ways of their forefathers.  There are rural caves carved into a hill side and lined with waterproof materials to keep dry.  There are also urban cave dwellers who dig a large square hole in the ground and then dig caves off of it.  Kitchens, living areas, bedrooms all can be made for whole families.  I have been in these caves and find them very comfortable although a nice view from a window is not possible of course.  Normally when on a private tour your guide may know of a family that you might visit in their home.  Group tours seldom have such a tour as you can imagine hosting a large group of people.  For more information on where to visit these unique homes, email us at    interlak@eskimo.com    My name is Dave and I am always willing to share information on travel in China.

Over 400 Blog Entries Here

I have been writing my blog and updating the information frequently for several years.  My 55 trips to China over a span of 26 years has given me many insights regarding travel to China.   Please note the box to the right marked  “Search”.   Enter any information or title you wish and it will automatically bring up the blog entries on that subject.  If nothing comes up, please contact me by email and I will be more than happy to give you that information.  If I don’t have what you need, I have my Chinese partners in China to contact and supply that information for you.  You can email me at   interlak@eskimo.com    China is changing so fast that information of just one to three years ago may be old and not up to date.  That is why I must go back and up date my blog entries every year.   I hope you enjoy my blog.ChinaDaveChinaDave0002ChinaDave0003Tibetan-HomeWild-Goose-Pagoda-ParkDave-and-the-Pandas-03Silk-Road-TourFacing-Potala-Palace_07

Taking a Taxi in China

Getting around in the large cities is often very difficult unless you are on a tour either private or group.  You may have some spare time and want to visit some site that isn’t on your tour.  There are buses and subways but both of these are always crowded and few service people speak any English.  The best way actually is a TAXI which we have always considered a bit expensive.  In China they are very reasonable.  In the central area one can take a taxi for about $2 to $4 U.S.  Longer rides to the suburbs can run about $10 to $15.  Each is metered and the meter is actually built into the dashboard like a radio.  There is one drawback.  Taxi drivers seldom if ever speak English.  In my 26 years and over 60 trips I have only found two drivers that spoke English.  If you want to go some place, take some note paper in the hotel and write down where you want to go.  Then have someone at the front desk write it down in Chinese which you can hand to the driver.  Remember to take some hotel cards with you to give to a driver so you can also get back to the hotel.  Some hotels furnish cards with a list of sites written both in English and Chinese for you.  If you want to get a taxi while on the street, raise your hand as if to wave Goodbye which is the sign for a taxi to stop for you.  Raising your index finger is a “no-no”.  For more information on getting around, let me hear from you at   email:  interlak@eskimo.comOld-and-New-Chinapanda

Booking your International Air

Booking international air and from whom can be a difficult sometimes without all the information to make a good decision.  Most people go strictly by price and that isn’t all bad either as we all like to save money.  Great service can be over played sometimes as every airline will say they are the best.  Closer examination can be telling of why some are more than others.  Time of arrival at the destination should be one consideration.  Airlines pay landing fees at each airport and the later arrivals pay less than the convenient mid day or late afternoon landings.  For China arriving late say 10:00 to 11:00 p.m. is less costly for the airline, but less convenient for you too.  After a long day of flying it is difficult to get to sleep as it is day time at home and your body clock tells you to stay awake.  Arriving in the later afternoon you will have time to have a nice dinner and stay awake until at least 10:00 and wake up the next morning rested.  Non-stop flights are best and often take much less time than having several stops which might be less costly.  Seattle/Beijing is just 11 hours.  Check the number of hours the different airlines take too.  One airline gives a great price from Los Angeles to Beijing…but takes 22 hours.  L.A./Chicago/Beijing.  Good homework will help you make a good decision.  Tour operators who want to sell you a tour often have the lowest price on the air tickets in order to get you to book a tour with them.  ie. myself.  I hope this helps you in making a good decision on your flights.Image0001

Who is your Buddha?

You will have many times to laugh and enjoy the differences in our cultures.  Chinese people love to laugh and have a good time.  One time my Chinese friends took me to this rural Buddhist Temple.  It was fairly new and contained several hundred different Buddhas.  The temple had 4 doors to it.  You could enter any of the doors and go either right or left.  The idea was to pick your door and direction and then start counting Buddhas until you came to your age and that will be your Buddha.  As you see, my Buddha is a bit heavy…which reflects me to a tee although I am losing some weight these days.  My friends could only laugh and we enjoyed a good time that day.  I hope your visit to China will include many good times and some hearty laughs as well.Temple0003Temple0004

Tipping in China

Tipping was once considered Western bribery by the government and there were signs in English advising  “No Tipping Allowed”.  As China became more exposed to western customs in the 1990’s and later, those signs were taken down.  Tipping is still rare as service charges are included in hotel, restaurants and other establishments.  Bell hops however appreciate a very small tip however when taking your luggage to your room.  For a taxi, you just round off the meter to the next highest yuan is sufficient.  Highway tolls however are added to the meter reading.  If you are in most restaurants and the service you receive from a waiter or waitress is exceptional, even then any tip left must be turned into the restaurant  owner and not kept by the receiver.  There are very small value coins in China which they often call “Begger”  money and are often a nuisance to keep.  Although there are few beggers, I save these in my pocket for those special needs people you will see mostly in the larger cities.  If you are using a guide on a tour either group tour or private tour, they will expect tips as well as bus or private car drivers.  Drivers of group tour buses or private cars for tours seldom if ever speak English and are professional drivers which you will appreciate in China.  You tip guides and drivers at the end of your time with them usually at the airport or train stations.  Contact us at  email:  interlak@eskimo.com   for more information.Guides-and-TippingLocal-restarurants0001Daves-trip-2011-099

Chinese Money & Exchange

A tip on Chinese money is to wait until you get to China to exchange your money or obtain local money.  The rates charged outside the country are as much as 30% sometimes.  You may exchange money at the hotels for a very small exchange rate as a service to their customers.  There are Cash Machines and banks in the large cities available however in the lessor cities or countryside you must have Chinese Yuan.  Banks in the small cities or countryside do not exchange foreign currency or the hotels too. The largest bill is 100 yuan which is worth approximately $16.00 U.S. dollars.  When exchanging money be sure to ask for some smaller bills too as you will need them for small purchases.  Not all street vendors will have change for 100 yuan.  Cash is King in China as you will see.  Credit cards are accepted in department stores, hotels and government stores but not many other  places including most large restaurants.  For more information let us hear from you at   email:  interlak@eskimo.com   My name is Dave and I am always happy to answer any personal questions.Money