February 27th, 2013
WildChina | Categories: WildChina Experts, Zhang Mei
Anna Bosco Christian Adams Claudia Pumarejo Devin Corrigan Elmer Chen Justin Ong Nellie Connolly wild China WildChina WildChina travel Zhang Mei .
Each year WildChina’s staff eagerly await Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), and the week-long government-mandated holiday that ensues because it means that we get a week off to do what we love most–TRAVEL!
This year was no exception. When we closed the doors to our Beijing office for the holiday earlier this month, we were scattered to the winds. From New York to Hawaii, the Philippines to Sri Lanka, from Singapore to Thailand to Sweden to Dubai, WildChina staff set a new office record for number of countries visited in a week. Of course, many of us also stayed in China, visiting family and exploring the Middle Kingdom. Whether traveling by plane, train, car, bike, surfboard, or rickshaw, there we were, notebook in hand, recording the best travel ideas we saw on the road. It’s how we stay inspired to keep our WildChina adventures fresh and new for our clients. Below are some snapshots from the WildChina family:
WildChina founder Zhang Mei‘s digs on her trip to Thailand with her family:
Our marketing director Nellie Connolly‘s photo of her favorite part of Sri Lanka: the tea fields.
Senior travel consultant Devin Corrigan on a six-day, 883km bike trip from Chengdu in southern Sichuan province to Xi’an in the north (he’s on the right, his friend Ben is on the left):
Senior travel consultant Claudia Pumarejo enjoying lunch at Capitol M in Beijing (somebody has to tend the office, even when we’re closed!):
Justin Ong, who does business development for our corporate services team, moseyed through the Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul, Korea:
Anna Bosco from our marketing department sleeping on the beach on the island of Palawan in the Philippines:
Leisure travel consultant Elmer Chen’s photo from his trip to Staten Island in New York City. Elmer said his favorite part about being in the Big Apple was going for a run on the high line.
Christian Adams from our marketing department surfing it up in Kauai, Hawaii:
If you have any questions about travel in China send us an email at email@example.com and we will be happy to assist you.
December 5th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Chinese Culture, WildChina Experts
Beijing luxury travelers Taichi taiqi wild China WildChina WildChina Guide Chris WildChina guide Stewart WildChina travel .
At the end of fall, two travel specialists from Argentina joined WildChina for an adventure through Beijing, Xi’an, Guilin, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. We hear some amazing stories and experiences from WildChina travelers–but it is particularly humbling to get great feedback from professionals in the travel industry. Read on to see what caught these travel specialists’ eye!
“Our guide in Beijing, Chris, was not only flexible and knowledgeable, but also very kind and polite.”
“The best experience we had with our guides was with Stewart [in Guilin]. He was accommodating and sympathetic, while also demonstrating excellent attention to our questions and requirements. He advised us how to take the best pictures and was always joyful and in a good mood.”
On WildChina expert access:
“The visit to the courtyard home of WildChina’s Director of Leisure to have dinner with her was a very important moment–not only because she made time for us in her busy schedule, but also because that day we were not tourists anymore. It was like being back in Buenos Aires sharing a good time with friends.”
Support during the journey:
“We also wanted to let you know how grateful we were that our trip operator was available to be reached throughout the entire journey.”
Thoughts on China:
“We think this is the new kind of luxury travelers seek. It offers authentic experiences that allow people to feel China is their own, even within a short period of time. This is hard to do for someone coming from the West as the food and customs are so different, but with activities like a taiji [tai-chi] class or a yo-yo lesson, clients can forget about their books and preconceptions. They can relax and stop feeling like an outsider in the country they’re visiting. This was our first China experience… and we’ve had such a blast!!”
If you are a travel agent and would like to learn more about our journeys, or just someone interested in joining one, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you.
Photos by Ana Checchi
November 16th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Exclusive Access China, WildChina Experts, Zhang Mei
Conde Nast Condé Nast Traveler Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist Top Travel Specialist wild China WildChina WildChina travel Zhang Mei .
WildChina is honored to announce that for the third year in a row WildChina founder Zhang Mei has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as a Top Travel Specialist.What is a Top Travel Specialist? The Condé Nast website says it best: “Offering an unbeatable combination of expertise, access, and good value, these select travel consultants are the pros to turn to for your next big vacation.” Mei was among a total of three specialists chosen for all of China with particular attention given to her expertise in her native Yunnan in addition to Guizhou and Sichuan.
Mei has said she is extremely honored to have received the award and notes “my attention is still on improving our customer satisfaction and overall experience–there’s no time to rest now.” Onward and upward! If you have traveled with us in the past, we hope your trip has been enjoyable. We are looking forward to continuing to help people Experience China Differently in 2013.
If you have questions about travel in China feel free to send us an email at email@example.com and we will be happy to assist you.
November 8th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, Educational Travel in China, WildChina Experts
Denali Foreign Policy Mt. McKinley Stefen Chow wild China WildChina WildChina travel .
Just last week, WildChina’s Beijing offices were pleased to welcome WildChina expert and renowned photographer and mountaineer Stefen Chow. Stefen has just returned from leading a group of students on a photography trip through Guizhou. After catching us up on what the students thought of the trip, Stefen took a moment to give us the inside scoop on his life adventures:
(Denali, or Mount McKinley, Alaska)
Stefen, who originally trained as an engineer, explained that he first fell in love with the mountains when he was 16 years old. But it wasn’t love at first sight. Instead of an inspiring story of breath-taking views, or the discovery of a zen-like solitude–which we admit, we were expecting–Stefen told us about an encounter with a pack of hornets. It goes something like this…
On a school trip to hike Mount Ophir, in Johor, Malaysia, Stefen and his classmates were assailed by a pack of hornets and were forced to retreat from the mountain.
What struck Stefen (other than an all-consuming panic) was how the chaos of the attack completely threw all preassigned roles and responsibilities out the window. The “leaders” of the trip were no longer in control of the situation–shy classmates stepped up to the plate and class clowns lost their voice and looked to others for direction.
Stefen says he was honestly taken aback by the people his classmates revealed themselves to be, in that moment. Stefen recognized how being in the wilderness can bring out the best and the worst in people, and really give you insight into a person’s character. He realized that out in the thin mountain air, you have the opportunity to see who people really are… and from that moment, he was hooked.
(The Poverty Line – China)
Since that trip, Stefen has hiked and back packed all over the world. Some of his favorite expeditions have been the ascents to Denali and Everest (which thankfully were not plagued by angry hornets!). One life-altering realization that did hit him on the mountainside a little more traditionally was his love for photography. Chosen as the impromptu photographer on his Everest adventure, Stefen realized that not only did he love the art of capturing his surroundings on film, but he also had enough material to launch a career.
(Portrait of Peking Opera. Collaboration with Ministry of Culture, China)
Trying to balance these two passions has proved tricky, and while Stefen continues to pursue as much time outdoors as possible, he is currently focusing his efforts on his career as a professional photographer. In addition to leading WildChina photography trips for students, Stefen’s work tackles a whole range of topics and subjects. Today his resume includes acting as the official photographer for the Miami Heat-LA Clippers tour in China, features in Foreign Policy magazine, and judge for Nikon’s 2012-2013 photo contest.
While Stefen’s career in photography has sapped some of the time he used to spend exploring the mountains of the world, he has not, he says with a smile, “officially retired” from mountaineering. In the (hopefully near) future, Stefen has plans for a five week Shelf to Shelf crossing of Greenland, where perhaps he will discover yet another piece about himself.
If you are interested in learning some tricks of the photography trade on your China travels, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you.
Photos by Stefen Chow
October 28th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Chinese Culture, WildChina Experts
Lijia Lijia Zhang Socialism is great wild China WildChina WildChina travel Yangtze River .
It isn’t everyone who drops out of high school to work in a rocket assembly line and then goes on to become a wildly successful journalist. But most people are not WildChina expert Lijia Zhang
. Born and raised in Nanjing, on the banks of the Yangtze River, Lijia managed to escape her job at the government rocket factory by teaching herself English. Lijia’s language skills enabled her to eventually move to England with a Scottish man (who would later become her husband) she had met at the Forbidden City.
In the British Isles, Lijia began what would become her professional passion: writing. Over the years, her work has been published in South China Morning Post
, Far Eastern Economic Review
, Japan Times
, The Independent, Washington Times and Newswee
k. The rest of her time, she has put towards writing books; Lijia’s most famous book, “Socialism is great!
” is a memoir of her time working in the rocket factory and has been translated into Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.
(A young Lijia)
Recently, Lijia has been concentrating her efforts on two books concerning prostitution in China. While she is only a couple months from putting the finishing touches on a work of fiction, she has yet to really dig in to her second book. This second book, a work of non-fiction, brings to light many realities of prostitution in China–an issue that has received relatively little attention. And as she notes, “the history of prostitution in contemporary China is a barometer of the country’s changes throughout the modern era.” For her book Lijia has interviewed multiple sex workers, but says that building relationships with them has been difficult. One day a girl will be available to talk, the next she will refuse. Sometimes girls disappear completely.
It has not all been bad news though. Some of the women Lijia has spoken with were able to escape their brothels and dedicate their time to educating other prostitutes about the dangers of sexually transmitted infections. Lijia always hopes her writing can lead to more such stories.
Lijia says that when she thinks about her writing, she sees it as pushing her towards her greater goal. As someone who grew up in China she has access and insight into local society, but also has the education that allows her to share the realities of Chinese life with the rest of the world. “My self-appointed mission in life is being the bridge, being the cultural bridge.” Lijia’s life goal is to increase global understanding. If that isn’t why we travel, what is?
If you have any questions about Lijia’s work, or are curious about meeting her on your next trip to China, send us an email at email@example.com
Photos courtesy of Lijia Zhang
October 12th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Chinese Culture, Exclusive Access China, WildChina Experts
Chan Dany Jagannath Panda Kimiko Yoshida L'Asie en Vogue Lavanya Mani Li Xiao feng Man Fung Yi Opposite House Pagoda Paris Peng wei Ran Hwang Tiffany Beres wild China WildChina WildChina travel .
Paris: Delicious food, incredible history, but Asian art? You bet. Thanks to the curatorial work of WildChina expert Tiffany Beres, the inaugural exhibition for the newly-renovated art gallery, Pagoda Paris, will be L’Asie en Vogue or “Asia in Style.” Drawing on pieces from eight different Asian artists, the show will seek to honor the original intention of the Pagoda and foster ties between east and west.
Situated in the famous 8th district of Paris, the Pagoda was originally purchased by Mr. Ching Tsai Loo, a connoisseur of Chinese and Far Eastern art and antiques. Tiffany’s show will feature works by Peng Wei, Man Fung Yi, Kimiko Yoshida, Ran Hwang, Jagannath Panda, Lavanya Mani, Chan Dany and Li Xiao Feng. With pieces that range from oil paintings, to pencil shaving tapestries, to multidimensional sculptures made of buttons, there is truly something for everyone. Those of you who have had a chance to visit Beijing’s Opposite House may have noticed the hotel’s attention to quality art–Li Xiao Feng’s ceramic haute couture exhibition was the belle of the ball here. If you are in Paris, you will have a chance to see it again along with the rest of a truly incredible collection that Tiffany has organized.
At present, Tiffany is in France supporting her exhibition, but when that wraps up in early November, she will be headed home to Beijing. In China’s capital Tiffany assists Chinese artists both in planning events and working with collectors to sell and purchase various works. Tiffany’s experience wheeling and dealing in the Chinese art scene makes her one of WildChina’s most coveted experts; in addition to leading fascinating tours for interested art students, she also offers up her expertise for the occasional art buff who wants an insider’s look at the Beijing art world. In a press release from the Pagoda Paris, Tiffany said, “it is an honor to organize such a groundbreaking exhibition.” It’s funny–we feel the same way about counting her as a member of the WildChina team.
If you are looking to get an in depth look at the art in Beijing with an expert send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you.
Bird Photo by Tiffany Beres; Opposite House Photo by Opposite House
August 23rd, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, Environment, Sustainable Travel, WildChina Experts
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Sean Gallagher Silk Road Photography trip wild China WildChina WildChina travel .
When was the last time you took a picture that could change the world? If your name is Sean Gallagher, then the answer could be “yesterday”. In addition to being a WildChina expert, Sean is also an award winning photographer and videographer. Sean’s work has appeared in publications including TIME Magazine, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, Der Spiegel and National Geographic China. At present, Sean has turned his talents to reporting on the environmental degradation of the Tibetan Plateau for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Recently, China has decided to pour considerable energy into the development of its hyrdo-power infrastructure, to the tune of 25,000 dams across the country. With camera in hand, and pen at the ready, Sean has tackled the task of reporting on the effects of this situation. Paragraph by paragraph, snapshot by snapshot Sean is sharing the story he is uncovering with the world. And it is a tragic story. In the midst of the zeal with which China has pursued hydro-power, the effect on the local population has been ignored. Houses, schools, and hospitals have all been completely submerged necessitating the complete reconstruction of some villages to other parts of the country. As communities have been destroyed, the local infrastructure has been crippled forcing young people to depart for the cities looking for work.
There are no easy solutions to the problems caused by China’s energy needs, but if it weren’t for Sean’s work few would even know what was happening. Would you like to get a taste of looking at the real side of China? This fall, Sean will be heading back to Beijing to lead his Silk Road Photography Trip with WildChina. His journey will traverse the Silk Road’s wind swept planes as he instructs participants on landscape, portrait, and time-lapse photography. Come join Sean in Xinjinag this fall and who knows, tomorrow your pictures may be changing the world.
Do you have questions about environmental travel in China? Interested in something else? Send us an email at email@example.com and we will be happy to assist you.
August 17th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Dining Experiences in China, Environment, Exclusive Access China, WildChina Experts
50 Tours of a Lifetime Jeff Fuchs National Geographic Travel Rob and Lynne Tea and Horse Caravan Tea and Horse Route wild China WildChina WildChina travel Xishuangbanna Yunnan .
Although WildChina is proud of all its itineraries, it is not every one that has a National Geographic award. One such lucky trip is WildChina’s Tea and Horse Caravan. Recognized in 2012 by National Geographic Traveler as one of 50 Tours of a Lifetime, the Tea and Horse route is truly spectacular. Led by intrepid explorer and WildChina expert Jeff Fuchs (pictured below), the trip’s course takes an uninhibited look at Yunnan province. Year in and year out, Jeff returns to lead this trip so we sat down with him to find out why. He gave us three reasons:
Unparalleled Access: The path that Jeff takes through Yunnan is one he is intimately familiar with. All along the route, Jeff has cultivated relationships, not only with the locals who live there now, but also with the remaining elders who he notes once “traveled, traded, and gave the ancient journey life.” Jeff has tailored this adventure to cross paths with these individuals, every one of whom is ready to share the oral traditions of their past. Guide books often discuss tired elements of a trip that have long since lost their bite, but Jeff’s ability to speak Tibetan, Mandarin, and Hani open the door for you to enjoy your own original experience. One of Jeff’s favorite aspects of this trip “is that there is still so much more to dig into, both from a physical sense and from a cultural perspective.”
Historical significance: The Tea and Horse Caravan route is not simply a trip to China’s countryside–it is a journey through living history. Jeff explains that, “The Tea and Horse Road opens up not only Yunnan’s minority regions, but specifically how those minorities are related to tea, the trade route itself, and how they relate to each other. The route follows a path that has been an ancient pilgrimage, trade, and migration route for over a millennium. As each of the layers of the story of this trade route are uncovered, we see one of the most daunting expeditions on the planet, linking Asia’s eternal green commodity, tea, across a huge width of the Himalayas and beyond.”
One of a kind landscape: As you are conversing with locals and and studying the history that surrounds you, what will the surroundings be like? Simply stunning. Jeff reveals a slight smile, and his eyes light up, when he tells us he “would happily wither away in a tea swoon in the tea forests of Xishuangbanna. It is there that a sub-tropical and mystical quality creates a slightly calmer pace that puts one in a pleasant state of bliss.” The mood changes considerably as you move into the Himalayas where “the air clears and becomes sharper, the winds start to buzz and thump, and there is a really tangible sense that one is leaving one sanctum and entering into the mountains’ playgrounds.” Lush forest followed by austere mountains set the scene for getting those “WOW” photos to share with friends and family back home.
If these three reasons are not enough, consider the reviews of two 2011 WildChina travelers Rob and Lynne. Following the expedition they stated, “Getting off the beaten track was number one for us. Jeff and the guides had a unique skill at getting local folk to open up and to share their world with complete strangers.” By the time you finish this trip you won’t feel like strangers, you will feel like you have been walking this route all your life, shoulder to shoulder with those you have met on your journey.
Interested in joining Jeff Fuchs on his next trip to Yunnan? Looking for something else? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will start working on the perfect itinerary for your adventure.
Photos by Jeff Fuchs and Paul Mooney.
August 14th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Chinese Culture, WildChina Experts
Ai Weiwei Ai Weiwei Never Sorry Aiweiwei Alison Klayman Chengdu earthquake Sichuan-Earthquake wild China WildChina WildChina travel .
Filmmaker and WildChina Expert Alison Klayman‘s documentary “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” was recently recognized by the New York Times as a critics’ pick. WildChina sat down with her to talk about what she learned from her experiences filming Ai Weiwei:
WildChina Travel: When did you first realize you were onto something special with Ai Weiwei?
Alison Klayman: The whole process of making the film, from beginning shooting in 2008 to finishing up the edit in time for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, was really a succession of those kinds of moments of realization. I think I really understood a lot of the themes of the movie as I was shaping the story in the edit, and certainly Ai Weiwei’s 81-day detention in 2011 during post-production just raised the stakes for the film even higher.
These realizations, that this was an important and worthy project, first started with getting to know Ai Weiwei in our early weeks together in December 2008. He was a charismatic, smart, and fun-loving individual who I thought could easily carry a 90-minute film. At the same time, he was saying things about China that were biting criticisms, and he was doing it not just for my camera, but also online and to other journalists. So I knew he was bold, and the work he was doing on an upcoming Sichuan earthquake campaign seemed like something to follow up on.
When I did catch up with the earthquake project in May 2009, Ai Weiwei had already published the names of over 5,000 children who had died in collapsed schools on his blog. The blog was soon “harmonized” (read: censored) for good, surveillance cameras were affixed outside Ai Weiwei’s studio, and plainclothes officers began following him regularly. That was when I knew the action had begun, and his assault at the hands of police in Chengdu in August 2009, and the subsequent emergency head surgery he had in Munich, were an affirmation that I had a very dramatic story on my hands, not just an engaging character.
WCT: What did you learn about Ai Weiwei that maybe you did not catch on film or felt you were not able to share in the movie?
AK: There were definitely plenty of great moments or artworks that either happened when the cameras were off or when I wasn’t with him that I wished I had been able to capture and share in the film, but ultimately I am really satisfied that the portrait of him in Never Sorry is a great in-depth introduction to who he is. He is so prolific and multifaceted that I knew there would always be many great stories that wouldn’t fit within 90 minutes.
WCT: What did you learn about China through the experience of filming that you did not know before?
AK: Spending so much time with Ai Weiwei was really a privilege for me, not just to get to know him, but because through his experiences I had a window into the incredible courage, creativity, and diversity of opinion among so many people in China, especially young people. I saw firsthand that there are lots of people who care about pushing their country and society towards more respect for individual free expression and the dignity of individual life, who believe transparency and rule of law are important. Also, these people were not necessarily artists or activists or people who studied/lived abroad, and that was powerful to be exposed to and see in action.
WCT: What is an area or topic in China that you are particularly interested in watching develop in the future?
AK: I think the Internet is enabling further communication and exposure to new ideas both domestic and global. I think the Internet is not only a forum for creative expression, but it is shaping the expectations of the next generation. The changes that China will undergo in the future will inevitably be deeply connected to and influenced by activities that take place online.
I am also very interested in following the development of increased collaborations between Hollywood and China’s own entertainment industry in film production and distribution. Hollywood has been eagerly rushing into the space, and I’m curious to see what the ultimate results will be in terms of the content that comes out of it, and what it will mean for audiences.
WCT: Is there another aspect of China that you would consider exploring in a documentary in the future? or through some other medium?
AK: The above issues are definitely on my radar in terms of looking for future film projects, as well as long-form journalism stories. I am also really interested in the implications of having an ever-increasing numbers of Chinese students who elect to do some of their education abroad. It’s just one more indication that the story of China’s future does not take place just within China’s borders.
“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” is currently showing in select theaters across the U.S. and will open in the United Kingdom September 18th. We recommend you check your local listings for showtimes.
Photos by Alison Klayman. Movie posters by IFC Films.
July 30th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Chinese Culture, Educational Travel in China, Environment, WildChina Experts
Abakh Khoja Mausoleum Id Kah Mosque Kashgar Mount Bogda Sean Gallagher Tuyog Village Uighur wild China WildChina WildChina travel Xinjiang Travel .
A trip to China’s western province of Xinjiang is a journey to a China that you will not recognize. Although it has a history thousands of years long, and a population of over 1.5 billion, China’s economic and urban development can cause one to overlook the variety of its landscape. When people think of China, they can readily imagine its bustling cities and lush southern rice patties, but they often forget the arid deserts and snowy mountains of China’s far west. To journey to Xinjiang is to step back in time. As you explore the province, you will see nomads driving herds of livestock to market, grapes drying on wooden frames, and bread cooking in open stoves. With so much to see where does one begin?
How about retracing the Great Silk Road? The highway of the ancient world, the Silk Road conjures images of camel trains packed with bolts of silk and bags of richly colored spices. And indeed, much of this remains. Join us for a trip on camel back through markets that have existed for centuries. Explore the inside of Abakh Khoja Mausoleum and Id Kah Mosque, and then pick your way through the remnants of Kashgar’s Old Town. Break bread with an Uighur family and then sit back and relax as they entertain you with the swirls and chants of their traditional song and dance.
Are you a photographer looking for a more technical experience? Join WildChina expert and professional photographer Sean Gallagher for a photography expedition on the Silk Road. In addition to having his work featured in TIME Magazine, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, Der Spiegel and National Geographic China, Sean also had the honor of serving as the official photographer for British Prime Minister, David Cameron’s 2010 visit to China. As you cross the desert with Sean, he will teach you techniques for landscape, portrait, and time-lapse photography.
If you are more interested in raw adventure, join us for a trek through the heights of the Heavenly Mountain: Mount Bogda. With snow capped peaks, and ruggedly hewn glaciers Mount Bogda offers a rare look at Xinjiang’s mountain terrain. Over the course of your hike, we will journey up to 13,350 feet above sea level then down again where we plunge into the Tuyog Village to visit with a local family and share our adventures. Go west with us, and discover a piece of China few even know exists.
These journeys are only starting points. We are happy to tailor to best suit your interests. Email us at email@example.com to begin building the perfect western adventure.
Photos by WildChina & Sean Gallagher