WildChina Blog

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In The News
The absolute latest updates in China travel information.

On the Road
Our tales from the trail and dispatches straight from the source.

Travel Tips
What to bring, where to go, and how to get around China.

Mei Zhang
WildChina founder, entrepreneur, mother.

Andrew Stein
Fulbright scholar exploring environment, agriculture, and tea.

March 8th, 2013

Chinese Treasures: A WildChina Original (Book by 3/31 for $200 off)

By: WildChina | Categories: Chinese Culture, Exclusive Access China, Zhang Mei

*BOOK CHINESE TREASURES BEFORE THE END OF MARCH TO RECEIVE $200 OFF THE PRICE. EMAIL US AT INFO@WILDCHINA.COM TO ENQUIRE)*

Back in 2000, when Mei Zhang first started WildChina, her clients were personal friends, family, and acquaintances. Because she knew these first customers well, Mei took special care to create a journey that she knew wasn’t available anywhere else–she created Chinese Treasures. Mei wanted to take her friends to the famous Chinese sites that they had heard about all their lives–the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, Shanghai’s colonial Bund–but also provide them with experiences that would take them off the beaten track, to see a very real side of China few travelers ever learned about.

The trip was a huge hit. Chinese Treasures is book-ended by China’s two most famous cities, allowing travelers an up close look at the imperial architecture of the past, the development of the future, and all the delicious dishes Beijing and Shanghai have to offer in between. Mei decided that after visiting China’s bustling metropolises, she would show her friends the place she knew best in the world–her home province of Yunnan.

In this southwestern, rural Chinese province, Mei’s friends would have the chance to break bread–or in this case noodles–with local people and take part in traditional banquets, songs, and dances. They would even get a little taste of nirvana with a trip to the heights of Shangri-La.

Upon their return Mei’s friends were euphoric. Mei’s initial success would inspire her to lay out the ethos of personal interaction and firsthand knowledge that would shape every journey created at WildChina since. Testament to her travel know-how and thoughtfulness for her travelers, Mei has been honored to be selected as a Condé Nast Top Travel Specialist for China an incredible three times since WildChina was founded. While Mei’s fingerprints are visible on every WildChina journey, Chinese Treasures is where it all started. If you are considering a trip to China, we can think of no better introduction than this; a journey of epic proportions planned and perfected by our founder.

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If you have questions about travel in China, send us an email at info@wildchina.com and we will be happy to assist you.

 


Tags: Chinese Treasures Condé Nast Traveler Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist Great Wall Mei Zhang Terracotta Warriors The Great Wall Top Travel Specialist wild China WildChina WildChina travel Zhang Mei .







July 27th, 2012

Why use a travel company?

By: WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Luxury China Travel, WildChina Travel Tips

Have you ever woken up on a plane to discover that your flight has been rerouted mid-air? Or arrived at your destination only to discover every single bag is missing? Everyone has at least one story, that nightmare travel experience where a series of disasters have conspired to wreck a vacation. Sometimes it is a storm, sometimes it is a mechanical problem, sometimes its another thing entirely. Whatever the problem, you know you are going to spend a long time standing in line, or on the phone, while your wait for “the next available customer service representative.” Cue annoying music.

This past weekend, China was hit with a particularly aggressive weather system. A record rain storm in Beijing and a typhoon that passed over Hong Kong wreaked havoc on flight plans all over the country. While WildChina could not keep the storm from coming, we were able to act as advocates for those who had booked travel with us. For those who wanted to let their families know they were alright, even in remote regions, we used their emergency numbers and called home on their behalf. For those who had children scared of the storm, our guides provided laughs. And for those whose flight plans were headed for a snarl, we provided a way out. This past weekend we had a group flying from Guilin to Lijiang via Kunming that had missed their connection as a result of delays. While these travelers were in the air, WildChina arranged for a guide to meet them at their connecting airport free of charge. Our booking department then reached out to the airlines to get our guests on the next available flight, and when that did not work, we turned to our network of contacts to find seats. In the end, the group was able to make it to Lijiang only a few hours later then originally planned.

Our goal when we plan a trip for you is for it to be as smooth as possible, from start to finish. Whether you are exploring the Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall, watching the sun rise on Mount Meili, or going on a trip to Pabongka Monastery in Tibet, we always prepare for the unexpected.

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Interested in joining us for a journey through China? Email us at info@wildchina.com and we will start working with you to create your perfect itinerary.

Photo of flight screen by Eye on Spain. Photo of fisherman by Michael Deng.


Tags: Beijing rainstorm Chinese Treasures Hong Kong Typhoon Huanghuacheng Mount Meili Pabongka Pabongka Monastery wild China WildChina WildChina travel Yunnan Travel .







July 2nd, 2012

WildChina’s Very Own Princeton-in-Asia Fellows

By: WildChina | Categories: On the Road, WildChina Experts

For the majority of seniors in college, finding employment post-graduation can be an intimidating experience. However, for those with an unwavering desire to dive into an unfamiliar environment before officially joining the workforce, the Princeton in Asia (PiA) Fellowship provides an exciting opportunity that is hard to turn down.

Founded on the mission of “promoting good will and understanding, and facilitating the free interchange of the best ideals of both the East and the West,” this non-profit organization helps talented young people obtain a yearlong job at various institutions throughout Asia. For the past few years, there have been one or two PiA fellows working at WildChina’s Beijing office every year. Each begins with an open-mind, a curiosity for the unknown and a relentless love for dim sum, and ends as a member of the Beijing bikeforce, with a better sense of the unknown, and a continued, and maybe even stronger, love for dim sum.

What sets the experience of PiA fellows at WildChina apart from those of their colleagues? Because WildChina is still a growing company, fellows are treated just like full-time employees in terms of the amount of responsibility, level of commitment, and the array of opportunities. However, though our fellows may all work for WildChina, each has a unique experience individual to his/her personal goals and particular interests.

For Anna Bosco, one of our current fellows, PiA offered the best of both worlds: the chance to improve her Mandarin and the opportunity to gain hands-on work experience. For the past year, the extensive networks of both the fellowship and WildChina itself have provided a nice support system both inside and outside the office:

“It was comforting to know that if need be, I could turn to previous PiA fellows at WildChina with questions about anything from housing to purchasing a bike. Having someone else’s experience to learn from helps you set realistic goals and expectations for your own fellowship.”

Looking back on her year, Anna reflects upon her most rewarding experience: “The first trip I ever went on with the company was also the most fulfilling. I was a tour leader for an educational trip we had in Chengde (just outside of Beijing) for a local international school. Having focused on the “behind-the-scenes” aspect of planning a trip, it was nice to interact with the clients themselves and witness first-hand the motivations behind our methods and why we at WildChina do the things the way we do. The realization that the little choices we [in Operations] make during trip-planning results in an overall, smoother trip, was very satisfying.”

WildChina’s Anna Bosco at a recent corporate event in Beijing

WildChina is unique in that several of its fellows have stayed to work at the company even post-fellowship, including Nancy Tan, a previous fellow and now full-time employee at WildChina, for whom the fellowship provided an opportunity that she could not bear to pass up: living and working in Beijing, the city that initially made her fall head over heels for the Middle Kingdom in the first place.

Working at WildChina has broadened her perspective:

“Before my arrival, I easily viewed China and its people as one-dimensional: a central government with a great big plan and a sea of black-haired heads preoccupied solely on economic progression. During these past two years, I have been lucky enough to travel with the company to the greater provinces, including Guizhou, Xinjiang, Yunnan, and meet a more diverse range of individuals with a variety of aspirations and challenges – the real China.”

The most rewarding part of working for WildChina is the people: “The leaders here have all been great mentors, and my colleagues make the work environment fun and challenging every day.”

WildChina’s Nancy makes a new friend on the streets of Kashgar Old Town

After having time to explore the Capital, Anna and Nancy tell us about some of their favorite sites and eateries. For Anna, Huanghuacheng, the less-restored section of the Great Wall where she went for guide training this past spring, “feels unique and so different from other sections of the Wall” and Da Dong, “has some of the best Beijing Duck (北京烤鸭) in town.”

Following a week of hard work, Nancy’s definition of a “perfect Saturday afternoon” would be one spent in Jingshan Park on a clear day followed by a delicious Manchurian feast at “那家小馆”, located behind the LG Twin Towers.

So what does WildChina as a company gain out of taking Princeton in Asia fellows? “A fresh perspective,” says Anna.

Recent graduates who become fellows are chosen for their creativity, flexibility, and adaptability. They are chosen because their self-motivation, enthusiasm, and open-mindedness will aid them in handling a range of situations, from corporate events to writing blogs.

In a way, WildChina and the PiA fellowship are quite similar, from their close-knit communities, extensive network of experts, and underlying goal of providing an opportunity for genuine cultural exchange between the East and the West.

The experience PiA fellows have with China prior to their fellowship parallels that of our clients – some may have studied abroad in China while others may never have even studied Chinese before. Both Princeton in Asia and WildChina are dedicated to providing their fellows and clients a transformative experience, the chance to understand the real China.

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Eager to join the Chinese bikeforce? Check out the Princeton in Asia fellowship website here for more information.

Interested in learning more about local Chinese culture? Contact WildChina about our “Chinese Treasures” trip where the China of the past, present and future can be experienced all in one.


Tags: Anna Bosco Chinese Treasures cultural exchange dim sum fellowship local culture Nancy Tan PiA Fellow Princeton in Asia wild China WildChina WildChina travel working in China .







June 21st, 2012

Need a change of scene for fall? WildChina has you covered.

By: WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, Environment, Luxury China Travel

Summer has just begun but you’re already dreading the end of it. The cure? Go on an adventure. Go somewhere you’ve never gone before. Embrace a change of scene. When you come back, you’ll be the one telling stories to envious relatives at Thanksgiving. Here are WildChina’s three recommendations for the fall:

Photo Expedition with Sean Gallagher – The Silk Road Through your Lens

This trip is a photographer’s dream. Not only will you travel to one of the most exciting regions in China, but you will do so with world renowned photographer Sean Gallagher at your side. Sean’s work has appeared in TIME Magazine, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, Der Spiegel and National Geographic China. By camel, car, and foot you will traverse and explore the western edge of China’s silk road. Xinjiang is an arid land whose dusty planes and colorful markets provide plenty of subjects for the expert and novice photographer alike. At the end of each day, Sean will sit down to discuss your shots with you and help push your work to the next level. Part of this adventure will involve sleeping under the stars in yurts, a tailor made opportunity to allow you practice working with exposures. This trip’s itinerary alone has us chomping at the bit, but if you are a photographer who loves to travel, this journey cannot be missed.

Guizhou Festivals:

If you’ve been to China’s major cities already or would simply prefer a look at China’s countryside, Guizhou is the answer. In addition to its breath-taking landscape of verdant mountains and misty lakes, Guizhou is also an exceptional cultural destination. In the Fall, the Miao people–a Chinese minority–hold a collection of festivals that will leave you awestruck. From buffalo fighting, to horse racing, to dancing you will see it all amidst shimmering head dresses and eye-popping colors. For those of you particularly fascinated by China’s minority populations, we will be happy to take you further south to explore the villages of the Dong and Zhuang people. And if you would like an even closer look at local life we can arrange a home stay. With a dynamite cuisine that rivals the spices of Sichuan,your journey will be as much an adventure for your mind as your palate. To time your visit with the Miao people’s Lusheng festivals we would recommend visiting either Nov. 9-11th or Nov. 10-12th.

Chinese Treasures:

If you do JUST one trip in China, this is the trip for you. Hand crafted by WildChina’s founder Zhang Mei, –within the firm we call this the Insider China trip– you are sure to experience everything that China’s cities and countryside have to offer. Additionally by coming in the fall, you will have the opportunity to experience a somewhat cooler China then the one you may know from the summer. In Beijing, you will marvel at the expansive courtyards of the Forbidden City and at the beauty of the Great Wall as it stretches out of sight. As you float down the Bund on a Shanghai evening you will admire the amalgamation of Western and Eastern architecture in a dazzling display of sparkling lights. In the countryside of Yunnan you will get a chance to see China’s lush forests up close in between a quiet morning with a minority shaman and dinner in Lijiang’s Old Town. By the time you are stepping onto the plane to head home you will have learned many things. But the real lesson will be that you cannot just do one trip to China.

 

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First photo by Sean Gallagher, other photos by WildChina.


Tags: Chinese Treasures Guizhou Festivals Insider China Sean Gallagher wild China WildChina WildChina travel ZhangMei .







June 12th, 2012

Chinese Treasures: Top Three Reasons Why

By: WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, Zhang Mei

Back in 2009, WildChina Founder Zhang Mei was approached by good friends who wanted to plan a trip to China. In addition to seeing the classic sites of Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall, they also wanted to get a taste of the more off the beaten path China. So Mei and her WildChina team got to work. What was the result?  Chinese Treasures, a 13-day trip that travels from Beijing, to Xi’an, over to Yunnan and completes in Shanghai. Since WildChina launched this product, clients seeking the classic adventure have found Chinese Treasures to be the perfect fit.

From where we sit, there are three clear reasons why we know that Chinese Treasures is our top-selling journey.

1) You will know China after you finish this trip. When people think of China, they see the Great Wall, pandas and tea.  But there is so much more. Chinese Treasures whisks you to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an– the must see classics– but travelers also get a taste of what China was like 50 years ago during their stay in Yunnan. You’ll enter ancient temples where the murmur or prayer and the aroma of incense will surround you. You’ll sit down with villagers to a feast of mouth watering delicacies, only to rise as they raucously ask you to join in their song and dance. You’ll marvel at the shimmering lights of Shanghai’s bund. And in the end, you’ll return to your home with intimate knowledge of a country you’d never even imagined.

2) Rave reviews: If you are the type of traveler that wants to hear what others before you thought of this trip, Chinese Treasures is a clear winner– this journey gets rave reviews time after time. WildChina travelers Gail & Ronald Denham, who joined us for Chinese treasures in 2010 raved about “the professional and complete nature of the trip.” However it was not only the content of this trip which caught the Denham’s eye.  They gushed about our staff as well: “Our tour guide, Fred He, has an exceptional talent for this kind of work.” Sitting here in our Beijing office, even we are swooning over this one.

3) Book now, and you’ll save:   If you book before July 1st , 2012, WildChina will take off $200 dollars from your Chinese Treasures trip.

———- Interested in learning more? Please get in touch at info@wildchina.com.


Tags: Chinese Treasures wild China WildChina WildChina guide WildChina travel Zhang Mei .








 

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