China Highlights

This item appears on page 18 of the August 2011 issue.
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My nephew, David, and I took a private tour of China, March 17-April 4, 2011, arranged by Karen Yang of China Highlights (No. 11 Binjiang Rd., Guilin, GX541002, P.R. China; phone toll-free, in China, 800/8793-007 or, in the US and Canada, 800/268-2918). It was a fantastic trip. The cost for all land arrangements, except for most dinners, was about $3,800 each.

The guide and driver in each city were excellent, meeting us at each airport. With only the two of us passengers, we were able to subtract gift shop stops and add points of interest that most tours don’t cover. At the “normal” sites (Great Wall, etc.), we weren’t rushed and were able to get all of our questions answered.

We are Jewish and were interested in seeing the synagogues in Harbin and Shanghai. These are now museums, but we found the history very interesting.

We wanted to bicycle on the wall at Xi’an, and we did. We visited a site I had read about, the Tomb of the Emperor Jingdi. It is divided into two sections: the museum and the excavations. So far, they have opened 21 pits, which contain half-size terra-cotta figures of people and animals, giving insight into their daily lives. The pits are covered by glass that you can walk on.

The night market in Guilin is huge and you can buy almost anything there. I would recommend taking the night cruise on the Li River and the four lakes. The whole area is lit up and really beautiful. At the end of the cruise you arrive at Yangshuo, a beautiful town.

We were able to cycle in the countryside around the town. The scenery was gorgeous — an unforgettable experience. During the ride we stopped at a farmer’s house. His family had lived in the house for 300 years. They were so hospitable.

While in Yangshuo, we went to see the show “Impression Liu Sanje,”* conceived and directed by Zhang Yimou, a Chinese actor and director and the man who created the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

The show had a cast of over 600 actors, singers and dancers. It was done mostly on bamboo boats on the water of the Li River. The lighting and special effects were incredible. We bought the best seats for about $100 each, but they had cheaper seats that would have been fine.

Also in Yangshuo, we took a cooking class (fun) and a calligraphy class (frustrating).

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has many towering karst formations. Cable cars and an elevator help you reach the top of a high cliff, but there is still a lot of hiking. While I just enjoyed the scenery, David went hiking all over with the guide. They saw a family of about 50 monkeys.

We did have one negative experience. I would highly recommend not taking the train anywhere in China. We booked the best cabin (we had to buy four beds for the two of us to get it). The beds were only marginally clean, and the restroom (hole in the floor) down the hall was beyond description.

Other than the train ride, the trip was flawless and went well beyond our expectations. I feel we saw much more than the average tourist for not too much more money. Feel free to e-mail me with questions c/o ITN.

JUDY FAITEK
San Diego, CA

*“Impression Liu Sanje” runs nightly 8 to 9:10 p.m. weekdays in winter and 7:40-8:50 and 9:20-10:30 weekends in summer. Tickets run RMB218-RMB680 (near $33-$103). Purchase at box office (Tian Yuan Rd., Yangshuo County, Guilin City, Guangxi Province, China; phone 0773 8811983) or online from China Discover (phone +86 20 22822049).

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My nephew, David, and I took a private tour of China, March 17-April 4, 2011, arranged by Karen Yang of China Highlights (No. 11 Binjiang Rd., Guilin, GX541002, P.R. China; phone toll-free, in China, 800/8793-007 or, in the US and Canada, 800/268-2918). It was a fantastic trip. The cost for all land arrangements, except for most dinners, was about $3,800 each.

The guide and driver in each city were excellent, meeting us at each airport. With only the two of us passengers, we were able to subtract gift shop stops and add points of interest that most tours don’t cover. At the “normal” sites (Great Wall, etc.), we weren’t rushed and were able to get all of our questions answered.

We are Jewish and were interested in seeing the synagogues in Harbin and Shanghai. These are now museums, but we found the history very interesting.

We wanted to bicycle on the wall at Xi’an, and we did. We visited a site I had read about, the Tomb of the Emperor Jingdi. It is divided into two sections: the museum and the excavations. So far, they have opened 21 pits, which contain half-size terra-cotta figures of people and animals, giving insight into their daily lives. The pits are covered by glass that you can walk on.

The night market in Guilin is huge and you can buy almost anything there. I would recommend taking the night cruise on the Li River and the four lakes. The whole area is lit up and really beautiful. At the end of the cruise you arrive at Yangshuo, a beautiful town.

We were able to cycle in the countryside around the town. The scenery was gorgeous — an unforgettable experience. During the ride we stopped at a farmer’s house. His family had lived in the house for 300 years. They were so hospitable.

While in Yangshuo, we went to see the show “Impression Liu Sanje,”* conceived and directed by Zhang Yimou, a Chinese actor and director and the man who created the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

The show had a cast of over 600 actors, singers and dancers. It was done mostly on bamboo boats on the water of the Li River. The lighting and special effects were incredible. We bought the best seats for about $100 each, but they had cheaper seats that would have been fine.

Also in Yangshuo, we took a cooking class (fun) and a calligraphy class (frustrating).

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has many towering karst formations. Cable cars and an elevator help you reach the top of a high cliff, but there is still a lot of hiking. While I just enjoyed the scenery, David went hiking all over with the guide. They saw a family of about 50 monkeys.

We did have one negative experience. I would highly recommend not taking the train anywhere in China. We booked the best cabin (we had to buy four beds for the two of us to get it). The beds were only marginally clean, and the restroom (hole in the floor) down the hall was beyond description.

Other than the train ride, the trip was flawless and went well beyond our expectations. I feel we saw much more than the average tourist for not too much more money. Feel free to e-mail me with questions c/o ITN.

JUDY FAITEK
San Diego, CA

*“Impression Liu Sanje” runs nightly 8 to 9:10 p.m. weekdays in winter and 7:40-8:50 and 9:20-10:30 weekends in summer. Tickets run RMB218-RMB680 (near $33-$103). Purchase at box office (Tian Yuan Rd., Yangshuo County, Guilin City, Guangxi Province, China; phone 0773 8811983) or online from China Discover (phone +86 20 22822049).