July 20th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Dining Experiences in China, On the Road, Sustainable Travel, WildChina Travel Tips
Bakery 88 Boailu Dali Granola bars Karine Kaffrell responsible travel wild China WildChina WildChina travel women entrepreneurship in China Yunnan .
Coffee, crumpets, and the chance to be cosseted by Karine Kafrell–chemical engineer, entrepreneur, and baker extraordinaire. This is what awaits customers at Bakery 88 in Dali, Yunnan.
A German bakery specializing in organic breads and jams made from locally sourced ingredients, Bakery 88 now resides at Foreigner Street Center 52 in Dali. Perhaps the bakery’s success and popularity were pre-destined when Karine scored big time with the original address at Yue’erxiaojie No. 88–the number 8 is a lucky number in China (much more so than the 7), and 88 is of course, twice as lucky. However, to believe this the sole reason for the bakery’s rave reviews is to do a disservice to Karine and her mission of empowerment.
Bakery 88's simple yet classy tables
Karine is German to the core–but also has the warm affection of an Italian mamma, enveloping her customers in hugs and smells of freshly baked bread. A chemical engineer by profession, she traded in her crucible for cookie sheets, and her formulas for recipes (but held on to her thermometer!) to start Bakery 88–simply because she loves to bake. At 14 years of age she declared herself a baker, but after years of baking solo she now employs a large staff and has customers clamoring at her door. Bakery 88 is a long-loved staple of the Dali food scene–a feel-good favorite of both locals and expats alike.
Bakery 88 is a home away from home for many of its customers
One of Karine’s aims in opening Bakery 88 was to employ local Yunnanese women who were, as far as the job market was concerned, skill-less. She teaches them to source, bake, and cook all kinds of recipes–including jam. In fact, one of Karine’s staff, after 3 years of working with Karine has succeeded in launching her own line of jam which Karine says is an ingenious combination of peaches, plums and pears–a gorgeous recipe she created on her own. Karine’s mission of female empowerment definitely has our applause at WildChina.
Deliciousness at Bakery 88
We love Bakery 88′s granola bars–a simple choice made with local Yunnan mulberries that just melt in your mouth. Here is to hoping my next journey leads me there sooner than later.
To truly treat your taste buds to Karine’s delicious baking, check out our trip Retracing the Ancient Tea & Horse Caravan Trail: Yunnan. Starting in Dali, this journey takes you along (you guessed it!) the 1,000 year-old Ancient Tea & Horse Caravan Trail.
July 19th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, Environment, WildChina Experts, WildChina Explorer Grant, WildChina Travel Tips, Zhang Mei
Gady Epstein Katherine Don Sean Gallagher Shanghua Zhang Travel Tips in China wild China WildChina WildChina Explorer Grant WildChina travel WildChina Travel Tips Zhang Mei .
This week, in addition to updating you on our adventures in Guizhou and Guangxi, WildChina has been concentrating on providing travel tips. If you have been following our blog, then you have seen our top five tips for easy China travel, as well as heard from our founder Zhang Mei about her essentials for running and hiking. In our final chapter of recommendations for this week, we turned to our team of specialists and advisers to provide us with their travel secrets. Below are recommendations from our experts which we think will appeal both for those excited by raw adventure and those more interested in the culture and history of China.
Zhang Mei: Although you did hear from WildChina Founder Zhang Mei only yesterday on her essentials for running and hiking, she also had a few recommendations for items she will not leave the house without when she is going traveling. Simple but crucial, Mei relies on her First Ascent EddieBauer raincoat, OFF! bug spray and Lindberg sunglasses. The raincoat is great if there is a quick shower in Yunnan, the bug spray perfect protection in Guizhou, and sunglasses block out the powerful sun in Xinjiang.
Katherine Don: Having made a career running galleries in Beijing and New York Katherine has spent plenty of time crossing the globe. Her recommendations? Dig into the community as quickly as possible. Use jet lag in your favor and explore the neighborhood when you are awake in the early morning. Discover an aspect of the local community that you would otherwise have missed. Another trick is to download local applications for current listings of restaurants and major attractions. As Katherine notes, “GPS is great, but if the network is down, it’s a basic lifesaver to handover a phone number to a driver and let the other end communicate with directions. If all else fails, ask a local for directions or recommendations.” She explains, “Guanxi -Chinese for ‘relationships’- is a point of pride for people living in China. People tend to go out of their way to help make connections. Just be aware of advice that is given when you have not asked for it!”
Shanghua Zhang: One of last year’s WildChina Explorer Grant winners, Shanghua recently completed an arduous trek through the Ganzi prefecture of Sichuan province. While in the back country, he found the two things he relied on the most were a good map and simply being polite. A map got him there, but Shanghua also found fostering good relations with the people he met in the mountains to be particularly important. In addition to sharing fascinating stories about their lives, newly made friends would sometimes offer Shanghua a soft bed and warm meals free of charge – a much appreciated change from his tent and diet of increasingly stale buns.
Sean Gallagher: When he is not giving lessons to WildChina travelers on the Silk Road, Sean is tramping around the world using photography to bring light to a host of environmental issues. Needless to say, Sean is used to schlepping a true assortment of equipment across a plethora of landscapes. Sean’s travel tip is simple, yet brilliant: bring plastic shopping bags. Sean says “Whenever I travel in the field on shoots, I always pack a bunch of regular supermarket plastic bags. They can serve a multitude of useful purposes from putting dirty shoes or clothes in, to acting as temporary waterproof housing for your equipment, separating foods or toiletries, and keeping your general rubbish in. You can even re-use them on multiple trips and since they are incredibly light, you won’t be lugging extra weight around.”
Gady Epstein: Since 2002, Gady has made a name for himself covering China and Asia for The Baltimore Sun, Forbes, and The Economist. During his time working for these periodicals, Gady has spent ample time in airports. His advice for getting through transportation hubs in one piece? Good noise-cancelling headphones and a book. As Gady writes, “Air travel has become the worst part of anyone’s China experience. At some point in your trip, you’ll find yourself waiting around in an airport and, worse, on an airplane sitting on the tarmac. You may even find your ears assaulted with the musical stylings of your captors, the worst kind of muzak playing on repeat, slowly chipping away at your sanity. Escape into your own music and a great book.”
We hope you find these tips helpful, if you have some of your own you would like to share feel free to post them on our Facebook page. As always if you have any questions about travel in China do not hesitate to be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
July 18th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: WildChina Travel Tips, Zhang Mei
Adidas adistar sneakers Burt's Bees lip balm Camelbak Erhai Lake Guizhou iPod nano L'Occitane hand cream Lady Gaga Longjing Green Tea Lululemon NorthFace raincoat REI Backpack travel in China Travel Tips in China wild China WildChina WildChina travel Yunnan Zhang Mei .
When she is not occupied with journeying around the world or updating her Weibo with the captivating sights she encounters on her travels, WildChina’s founder, Mei, thoroughly enjoys exploring the outskirts of greater China, whether it means running a marathon in Inner Mongolia or trekking up the boding hillsides of Guizhou. Traveling luxuriously is one thing, but traveling luxuriously in style is another. For us at WildChina, it is no surprise that Mei has effortlessly mastered both.
Whether she is racing along the Erhai Lake in Dali or simply on a treadmill at her local gym, Mei’s iPod nano is always by her side. Lightweight, durable, and reliable, this pink gadget has been her loyal companion on the most memorable runs through some of the most remarkable backdrops. So what are a few of the top hits on Mei’s track list? Not the predictable Mozart or Bach. As an avid fan of the latest chart-toppers, Mei’s eclectic taste in music ranges from Propellerhead’s jazzy beats to Adele’s crisp voice. Who says Lady Gaga is only for teenagers? Mei will be the first to admit that the country rock twist added to “Born This Way (Country Road Version),” along with the pop star’s strong vocals, are indispensable when running through nature’s most beguiling wonders. Besides, for those of you worried about getting lost amongst the monumental mountains of Abujee, the refrain will reassure you that you are in fact “on the right track.”
Not only does Mei have the perfect ‘pump-up’ track list for her run, she also looks très chic while doing so. From running shorts to racerback tanks and even socks, Mei is an avid fan of Lulu Lemon, an athletic apparel company whose lush lightweight fabrics ace the founder’s tests for functionality and durability. The racer back’s body-skimming fit is flattering and the top is so comfortable that you won’t ever want to take it off, even in exchange for your pajamas. With its loose fit, the featherweight “Light as Air” running shorts will help you “fly without taking off from the ground.” For the perfect amount of sun protection, Mei recommends the Adidas Adizero Sequence Hat, which, with its ClimaCool ventilation, will keep you cool, dry, and stylish all-in-one. For the winter months, check out a brightly-colored North Face Goretex Jacket to keep warm. Windproof and waterproof, nothing will ever get in your way from exploring Mother Nature ever again. Whoever said workout gear wasn’t fashionable?
An ardent runner, Mei knows from personal experience that the key to a great run is all in the sneakers. She loves the functionality of her Adidas Adistar Salvaation 3 , which helped her spring to the finish line in a recent marathon in Inner Mongolia. With its reliable support and cushioning, these sneakers are comfort and durability at their finest. With such a great pair of shoes, you are bound to get compliments while running in style. For hiking, Mei recommends Asolo’s indestructible hiking boots, which are perfect for trekking along the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan in either rain or shine.
Want to give your lips a whole lot of love? Mei recommends Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm, which will hydrate and revitalize your thirsty lips with antioxidant-rich pomegranate oil. Best of all, it smells absolutely delicious! L’Occitane’s best-selling crème is a classic, one of Mei’s go-to items. Even after an adventurous day exploring the high mountaintops of Gaoligong in Yunnan, this buttery cream makes her hands feel soft and luxurious.
What are some other necessities that Mei always keeps in her bright red, versatile REI Flash 18 Pack? Weighing in at almost nothing, this affordable and durable daypack is ideal for short hikes away from camp. It comfortably fits all of Mei’s essentials, from her impact resistant Camelbak water bottle to her handy dandy travel-size Purell Hand Sanitizer, which Mei admits, has collected as many mileage points as she has. Regardless of whether or not she is traveling by herself or with her kids, sunscreen is a must on Mei’s checklist. She loves the one from Shisedo, which not only boasts an SPF of 60+, but is also non-greasy and odor-free. To reenergize, Mei recently discovered the Dali Bar at Salvadore’s Cafe in Kunming, each and every one hand-made by locals. Consisting of a mixture of sunflower seeds, honey dates, oats, and walnuts, this bar is not only delectable, but also, full of nutrients. Who ever said healthy couldn’t taste good?
Whether it be luxury travel in China, chart-topping music, or the latest fashions, WildChina’s founder Mei is on top of it all. How does she pamper herself post-travel? Mei loves to relax while taking a bath using some aromatic Hongjintian Bath Salt with a cup of her favorite Longjing Green Tea by her side. With a fashionista as its founder, WildChina is not only a front-runner in simply luxury travel, but rather, luxury travel in style. Even Harper’s Bazaar is impressed!
Check out Mei’s Weibo (@yunnanzhangmei) and Twitter for some more travel trips from the best of the best and like us on Facebook for constant updates on the latest travels news in China.
July 16th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, Environment, WildChina Travel Tips
Trip it Uber wild China WildChina WildChina travel .
We’ve all been there. You have been working the whole year, and finally you take a vacation. You arrive at your destination–usually somewhere well-removed from you office–only to discover your bags did not make the trip with you. This is but one of a number of things guaranteed to put a damper on your vacation. Limiting your exposure to these kinds of inconveniences will greatly increase the chances that your next vacation is actually a vacation. Here are WildChina’s top 5 travel tips to make getting to China a breeze:
1.) Whenever possible do not check a back: We realize sometimes that’s not feasible, but right now the only thing more egregious than the fees many airlines charge for checking bags is the rate at which they misplace, delay, or lose them. Avoid these problems and simply carry on. Eagle Creek has some great options.
2)Save space: When you are packing you can save a lot of space by keeping two great tips from the New York Times in mind. The first is that if you mix and match the items you are bringing, you can create more outfits. For example, two shirts and two pairs of pants will leave you with four different looks. The second is to limit the larger items. Thick sweaters and jackets can take up a lot of room, so limit the number you bring. If you have a spring itinerary that will bring you to the relatively chilly Beijing, and the relatively warm Guangxi, layering is the key. A wind breaker and a thin sweater together will keep you warm in Beijing, while each on its own will be comfortable in Guangxi.
3) Prepare for Security: If you empty your pockets in a rush, it is really easy to lose your most important valuables. To make sure this does not happen and get through the check point as quickly as possible, have your belongings ready to place on the conveyor belt. Put all your metallic items in your carry-on and have your shoes loose and your computer out.
4) Book a car service to meet you when you come home: If you have been stuck waiting in the rain at the cab line, then you can appreciate how nice it is to have a car waiting for you when you land in your home country. If you are returning the U.S., WildChina feels Uber is a great option. Simply send them a text once you are allowed to use your phone, and their car will be waiting for you when you walk out of baggage claim.
5) Keep track of the details: Sometimes you can rack your brain when you are going to the airport but you cannot remember your confirmation number. An easy way to keep all your departures and reservation numbers straight? Trip it. This website combines all your itineraries into one easy to view location for you and those who wish to follow your journey through the middle kingdom.
If you want more tips on travel in China or are interested a trip with WildChina, send us an email at email@example.com
Photo credit: Photo of the bag is from Eagle Creek, and cab line is from d.think
July 12th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, Dining Experiences in China, Educational Travel in China, Luxury China Travel, WildChina Travel Tips
Anna Bosco char siu baau Four Seasons Hong Kong Sago Mango Samantha Woods wild China WildChina WildChina Hong Kong WildChina travel .
Having just received recognition from the Economist as the best city in the world, we thought it would be an appropriate time to express our own fondness for Hong Kong. We sat down with two of WildChina’s native Hongkies Anna Bosco and Samantha Woods to learn the secrets about what makes this city so great:
Frequently referred to as the “New York of Asia,” a comment that no doubt will rankle the chain of anyone who hails from the big apple, Hong Kong is a leading cultural and financial center in the world. As Samantha describes it, “Hong Kong has the best of East and West, city and countryside, history and modernity.” A true mixing bowl of culture and landscape the city is not to be missed.
Any tour of Hong Kong where you did not make food a focal point of your visit would be a tragedy. In Hong Kong, Dim Sum is a specialty, and if you want the very best, Anna recommends a trip to the Four Seasons. Prepared immaculately, the dishes run the gambit, offering rare delicacies side by side with the sinful treats you would find on the street. Hot and exhausted while shopping? Anna recommends an icy Sago Mango. This luscious drink combines mango juice with pieces of mango and pomelo to create the perfect mid-day break.
But food is not the only reward in this bastion of culture. As noted in the economist article, and confirmed by Anna and Samantha, part of Hong Kong’s allure rests in its layout. Hong Kong is essentially divided into sections that contain either towering buildings or the rich green of tropical parks. As Samantha explains, “One of my favorite things is that I can take a bus from Central and in 20 minutes be relaxing on a quiet beach.” What’s not to love? If moving to Hong Kong is too big a commitment, simply add a few days here to your next trip with us, and by the end you too may be saying it is the best city in the world.
For most travelers, we have found that 2-3 days in Hong Kong is sufficient over the course of 10-13 day journey. Should you be interested in making Hong Kong a larger piece of your travels, we would be happy to arrange that as well. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can begin planning your own adventure.
Photo Credit Hunter Holt and Karen Goodman.
July 9th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, WildChina Travel Tips
wild China WildChina WildChina travel WildChina Travel Tips .
Traveling in China, in our opinion, is one of the best ways a person can spend their time. Whether you’re walking through the incense laden air of an ancient temple, touching the well worn steps of the Great Wall, or enjoying the sweetness of local tea in Yunnan, you’re sure to be learning something. However, in the midst of your adventures, you may suddenly realize you need to get in touch with a loved one back home. Maybe it’s business, maybe it’s a birthday, or maybe you just want to gush about the Peking Duck you had for lunch. Whatever the case, your first question will be: “Can I call home from here?”
As with any other aspect of a WildChina trip, we can tailor your communication options according to your needs. In major cities, calling is easy, but for some very rural areas this isn’t the case. While the cost of having a satellite phone for a week can run over $700, it is something we are happy to provide if you need to remain in constant contact. If you need to make local calls while traveling in China, WildChina can also arrange for you to have a temporary phone during your stay. This is significantly cheaper and will make getting around easier if you choose to go exploring on your own.
However we also realize that many of the best travel experiences come when one fully removes themselves from home and engages in the new environment they find themselves in. For many of our student trips, part of the fun is being out of contact with home and having a chance to be independent. Of course, parents need not fear, if they wish to contact our guides to check on their children they are only a phone call away.
Should the unexpected occur, do not worry, WildChina will be there to assist you. We once had a client who lost his wallet when he was in China. Because this gentleman had lost all his money, he could not buy a calling card to cancel his credit cards back in the states. Our guide stepped in and let the man use the guide’s personal phone to call the U.S.
As we said before, we believe there is no finer use of time than traveling in China, and we hope you’ll come join us soon. After all, your next fall adventure could be just around the corner.
In our opinion, enjoying a vacation means leaving all your worries behind. We hope this post will put any concerns you have about communication at rest but if you still have more don’t hesitate to be in touch at email@example.com
July 5th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: WildChina Travel Tips
Baozi cheap eateries kakatei lanxincanting mango mojito ritz-carlton shanghai pudong shanghai cuisine Shanghai fried dumplings Shanghai street food teppanyaki travel in China wild China WildChina WildChina travel yang's fried dumplings .
Beijing’s rival, Shanghai, is known for three things: the breathtaking Bund, mouthwatering street food, and…more food. WildChina provides some recommendations for fantastic eateries to check out while in the “Paris of the Orient” to dine on some of Shanghai’s finest cuisine without putting a hole in your wallet:
Breakfast – Yang’s Fried Dumpling (小扬生煎) (10~20 元/person)
What better way to energize for a long day exploring the streets of Shanghai than with a hearty plate of baozi (生煎包)? There is no better place to dine on this Southern Chinese specialty than at Yang’s Fried Dumpling. Wherever you may be, chances are you will find a joint of this chain somewhere in your vicinity. Similar to an American diner, this restaurant has been around for the past 18 years, serving up some of Shanghai’s best fried dumplings. Although they offer a range of soups and other small bites, the lines of hungry eaters diligently waiting outside are all because of its baozi, which hands down, is some of the best fried dumplings you will ever try. The slightly sweet meat filling is a fantastic complement to the partially crunchy, partially chewy doughy outer cover. Dipped in some vinegar, these small doughy treats are little pieces of heaven inside your mouth. Don’t be surprised if these miniature dough balls of meaty goodness start to disappear right before your eyes. We secretly hope that Yang’s Fried Dumpling will soon open up a branch in Beijing. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
Lunch – Kakatei (100~250 元/person)
For lunch, mix things up by indulging in some of the best teppanyaki in town. Kakatei serves some of the finest Japanese specialties and although these scrumptious dishes along with the restaurant’s simple, yet elegant ambiance does come with a hefty price tag, Kakatei offers lunch set specials at reasonable pricess, ranging from 80 to 200 kuai per person. We recommend you try the teppanyaki sets, which include a variety of cuisine, including sashimi, steak, fish, and vegetables. The premium seafood tastes fresh and the red meat is soft and velvety, as each piece melts inside your mouth. Trust us when we say that this will be some of the best teppanyaki you will ever try!
Dinner - Blue Heart Restaurant (兰心餐厅)(50~80 元／person)
Shanghai cuisine is famous for its particularly sweet and savory dishes. Lan Xin Restaurant (兰心餐厅), a favorite amongst locals, is a gem hidden within Shanghai’s alleyways. Started by an elderly couple, walking into this restaurant, which consists solely of five tables, will make you feel as though you have been transported to your grandmother’s home. The owner herself comes out to take your order and the close-knit, unadorned interior only enhances its overall charm. The 红烧肉(braised pork in soy sauce) slowly melts inside your mouth as all of its intense flavors envelop your taste buds, while the 油爆虾 (stir-fried shrimp) adds a nice crunchy contrast to the buttery pork. For the adventurous food lover, we recommend the 炒猪肝 (fried pork liver with soy sauce), which with its perfect blend of savory and sweet will not make you regret taking a ride on the wild side. Just a heads up – make sure you arrive right at five, because chances are, the line will be out the door!
红烧肉(Braised Pork in Soy Sauce)
Drinks – Aura at the Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai Pudong (100 元/person)
When in Shanghai, you have to see the Bund at night, especially with its breathtaking lights. If you are in the
mood for a drink following a long day filled with adventure, head to Aura, located on the 52nd floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pudong. Not only do you get a front-seat view of the mesmerizing cityscape across the Huangpu River, but you also get to enjoy a fantastic drink as well. This bar is elegant sophistication at its finest and amongst its extensive list of delicious cocktails, we recommend the fruity Mango Mojito, which actually tastes like a mango smoothie turned into a fancy drink. What better way to end your night?
Interested in visiting the “Paris of the Orient” for some of Yang’s delectable fried dumplings? Check out WildChina’s journey “Oriental Decadence: An Affair with Shanghai’s Past” and land yourself right into baozi heaven.
Photo Credit of Kakatei: City Weekend
July 4th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Exclusive Access China, WildChina Announcements, WildChina Travel Tips
wild China WildChina WildChina travel Zierer Visa Service .
International relations are different between every country in the world. Consequently, the process for obtaining the appropriate visa to a country varies considerably depending on where you are from and where you are going. While getting some visas can be as easy as buying a postage stamp, for others it is as difficult as writing a college thesis.
For an American or a European seeking a tourist visa in China the process is somewhere in between. Recently, China has been cracking down on issuing foreign visas because of the number of illegal workers in the country. This recent attention has forced all visa applications to undergo greater scrutiny. While Americans are expected to list the full names and job titles of their immediate family members, some Europeans may be asked to supply an original insurance policy with a seal, a work certificate from their country, and sometimes even their bank statements.
With few exceptions all visitors to China will need to obtain a tourist visa. In order to do this travelers must go to their local Chinese embassy or consulate. Depending on where you live these locations can be quite far away. Thankfully one also has the option of having a third party apply for a visa on their behalf. WildChina has found Visa Central (formerly known as Zierer Visa Service) to be a very good resource in this regard. Applications and instructions can be downloaded online, or you can call them directly at 1-866-788-1100 . If you will be joining us on a WildChina Trip email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a code for preferred pricing. Though the process of getting a visa to come to China may be cumbersome, we assure you it is worth the effort, and when you have your first look at the dazzling lights of Shanghai’s Bund, we’re sure you’ll agree.
If you have further questions on any topic of travel in China, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com
June 25th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: WildChina Travel Tips
Alia Malik Caravan Breakfast coffee Dhondupling Monastery earthly paradise food Jenny Lou's Karma Cafe lamasery Napahai Lake Shangri-la Shangri-La Farms Somewhere Else Cafe Tara Gallery wild China WildChina WildChina travel yak steak Yunnan .
Imagine waking up each morning to the comforting smell of sweet Caravan Breakfast coffee, enjoying a buttery scone with a spoonful of flavorful honeysuckle honey while admiring the mystical valleys of Shangri-la, and ending your day with a relaxing bath using some freshly-made rose magnolia soap. This is the daily routine of Alia Malik, co-founder of Shangri-la Farms, a company founded on promoting an organic and healthy lifestyle.
Alia, her sister Sahra, and brother Safi founded the company with the hopes of helping to improve the quality of life for the rural farmers of Shangri-la, a city located in Yunnan province, which, though rich in biodiversity, is China’s second-poorest region. With a rapidly growing loyal fan base, Shangri-la Farms provides an outlet for these farmers to “connect with the outside world to sell their products,” which include coffee, honey, and a variety of body products.
WildChina is excited to share Alia’s “Perfect Day in Shangri-la”, including her favorite local sites and eateries in this “earthly paradise”:
On a perfect June weekend with the temperature in the low-30° C, (around 86° F) a cool breeze runs through the mountains and a clear blue covers the sky, both of which are harder to find in the more cosmopolitan Beijing. My first impression of the city is embodied in the word “special.” There is no other place in China, and maybe even in the world, like Shangri-la. This beautiful city is unique in that it holds a lot of “feeling”, and although it is occupied by multiple minority groups, there is still a strong sense of community, a unified identity. Local cuisine is delicious and unlike food in the cities, you are mainly eating what has been farmed very nearby and therefore, is less chemically heavy. My personal favorite has to be mian pian, a noodle soup that consists of a locally-flavored broth filled with flat square noodle pieces. With its culturally Tibetan traditions, fantastic eateries, and sensational views, Shangri-la provides an experience that is unavailable in the better-known metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai.
As I wake up in the morning, I breathe in the fresh crisp air and get ready to start off my day with some Western-style comfort food at Somewhere Else Café, whose scrumptious homemade granola and yogurt are both to die for. With some nicely brewed coffee, this is the ultimate breakfast, the best way to energize for a busy day. Then, I enjoy taking a nice walk with my dog up the hill behind my house, from the top of which you can see most of the Shangri-la Valley and sometimes even all the way to the next valley over. I take a moment to fully take in this pristine view and almost always end up having to pinch myself to remind myself that I’m not dreaming. Shangri-la is filled with amazing sites that highlight nature’s beauty, such as the lush green grasslands surrounding the clear water of Napahai Lake.
After running some quick errands and getting some work done for the upcoming bottled drinks we have planned for Shangri-la Farms, I head to Karma Café to meet up with a few friends for lunch. The perfect place to catch up with old friends, this eatery, not located in the well-known Old Town, but rather, on a more off-beaten path, embodies the one-of-a-kind atmosphere of Shangri-la. Serving locally-inspired European food with a modern twist, including delicious salads with local walnuts and even yak steak, Karma Café is quickly creating a name for itself not only for its mouth-watering dishes, but wonderful ambiance. After parting with my friends, I head to a local monastery, a must-see when visiting Shangri-la. I personally enjoy the Songstam Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist lamasery in China and a vibrant center of prayer and study. Here, you have the opportunity to first-handedly experience the local culture as you observe monks going about their daily routine. I would then head to the Yunnan Mountain Handicrafts Center to check out some crafts, all of which are locally made and beautifully crafted. I am always up for some shopping!
Tara Gallery Cafe
After an adventurous day of exploring Shangri-la, I am famished and ready to enjoy a tantalizing mix of Indian, Himalayan, and Yunnan food at Tara Gallery, including flavorful dishes such as cucumber and three veggie salad, eggplant mousse, and Tibetan dumplings. The personally crafted cuisine at Tara Gallery contains both local Yunnan and Indian flavors and best of all, it’s healthy! So no feeling guilty after indulging in these savory delicacies. Another great option is Arro Khampa, renowned for their French twist on Tibetan cuisine. Not only are their dishes très fantastique, Arro Khampa has great hospitality and is simply a lovely place to while away the evening.
At the end of a long day of exploration, relaxation, and consumption of some of the best Chinese food around, I am exhausted and ready for bed.
Photo credit: Cartier Woman’s Initiative and Chinatravel.net
Are you a diehard java lover interested in trying out Shangri-la Farm’s Caravan Breakfast coffee? Check out a variety of organic, fair trade quality products on their website.
Interested in trying yak steak? Contact WildChina for more information on traveling to Shangri-la.
June 5th, 2012
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, WildChina Travel Tips
Tibet travel 2012 updated Tibet travel restrictions Western Sichuan travel wild China WildChina WildChina travel Zhongdian .
Earlier today, WildChina received more finalized news that Tibet is temporary closed off to foreign travelers during the month of June. At present, local authorities are not issuing permits for foreign travelers to visit, although this could change at any moment.
Blossoming flowers outside of Lhasa, Tibet
As many of you may know, in late May WildChina issued a statement
explaining the updated regulations– that in order to travel to Tibet a traveler must be in a group of five and all must be same nationality. However, with today’s latest update, WildChina has canceled all Tibet travel for June 2012. According to our local team in Lhasa, we could possibly learn more about the updated situation for July/August/September by the end of the week. Stay tuned here
to learn more.
Paint pots for Thangka painting
For many who had planned a once in a lifetime trip to Tibet this summer, not all is lost. For those interested in Tibetan culture as well as stunning– and arguably more remote regions– we are recommending clients to consider Across the Wild Frontier: Western Sichuan to Yunnan
. Head of Leisure Veronique d’Antras says, “This overland expedition goes through some of the most beautiful and rugged Tibetan plateau landscapes: evergreen forests, crystal clear rivers, transparent lakes, glaciated peaks, grasslands with yaks, remote monasteries, horse festivals and Khampa Tibetan traditional culture are found along the road. Take your time to explore.” Explore China’s most dynamic wild west frontier. The Sichuan-Yunnan corridor is one of western China’s most difficult and seldom-traveled passages, but also offers its most inspiring natural scenery. Trek through high mountain passes, hike in alpine forests and along glacial lakes, and watch the sun rise above holy Tibetan Buddhist mountains.
On this journey, we travel from Sichuan’s provincial capital, Chengdu, to the Tibetan town of Shangri-La (Zhongdian) in the northwestern corner of Yunnan province. We push deep into the remote mountains of Sichuan’s western region to view some of its most inspiring natural scenery, from the sun rising above holy mountains to the alpine majesties of Yading nature reserve. Along the way, we meet with a living Buddha, trek with local Tibetans and visit many of the largest and most renowned Buddhist monasteries outside of Tibet.
Interested in learning more about travel updates for summer 2012? Stay tuned at WildChina’s blog for the latest news. If you are keen to hear more about Across the Wild Frontier, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.