What People Say of Regent China Tour

SCENES FROM OUR CHINA 2000 TOUR

Hi everybody. I hope fall finds you feeling in the flow, in the know, and not stuck with too much Halloween candy. We had a Wonderfully unusual trip to China, and here are some of the pieces that still stick in my mind, sort of like gummi bears on my teeth.

SCENES FROM OUR 2000 CHINA TOUR

....The young hotel assistant manager in Beijing, Yan Kai, who spoke excellent English and told me that the English name he chose for himself was Nathan. I thought that was an amusing choice, and asked him why "Nathan?" He said it was in honor of the great American patriot, Nathan Hale, whom he studied in school. He said it is a good choice for him, because all Americans know how important Nathan Hale was! (I didn't have the heart to tell him how many of us probably couldn't say exactly why Nathan Hale is remembered, including me. I had to look it up when I got home).....

.....Our Beijing guide, Winston, at our Peking Duck dinner, who casually took the head of a duck and started pulling it apart and eating it, while telling us that whatever part of the duck you eat makes that part of you stronger. Therefore eating this duck head would make him smarter. Unless of course it was a dumb duck....

.....Standing on the Great Wall in a misty drizzle, looking at it winding like a snake over the mountains and into the clouds. Such a different scene from the year before, when we were there on a sunny day.

Thinking about how many thousands of people must have toiled how many millions of hours to build this structure so big and so long (6,000 miles) and so long ago (over 2,000 years). Mind boggling.....

.....A sign in English on a storefront in the town of Kunming that said, "Chinese Massage Performed by Blind Chinese Masseurs.....

.....Listening to Winston in the Forbidden City as he told us about Mr. Johnston, the English tutor of the Last Emperor, who did at least one very history-changing thing for China in 1907: he introduced the bicycle. Beijing has 13 million people and 8 million bicycles. (I wonder who counts them?).....

.....Winding through the small, narrow streets of Xinhua Village with the leader of the Bai people who live there and make beautiful things out of silver and copper. At one home he stopped and pulled out a magnificent telescoping copper horn that extended out to 12 feet or more, which they craft for monasteries in Tibet. He then blew into it, producing a faint horn sound. So I asked to try and was surprised at how hard it was. I couldn't even make a little toot. Then a 20 year old college student in our group stepped up to the horn, took a breath, and casually blew Taps, loud and clear, to the delight of everyone around. Later I found out she plays trombone in a band.....

.....The impromptu concert we gave the Bai people in Xinhua Village--we held hands with them and sang folk songs, Beatles tunes, the Peace song, and even some old standards to their astonished faces. This was obviously not something that happened to them every day.....

.....Stopping by a storefront in Guilin displaying cages of rabbits, ducks, chickens, snakes, and something like a possum. One woman in our group remarked what a nice pet store it was. Then she looked up at the sign and saw it was a restaurant.....

.....Sitting in the front row of a theater watching a very young female acrobat do a spellbinding 10-minute routine of upside down balancing postures, supporting herself the entire time on only one hand......

.....The winding streets of 800 year old Old Town Lijiang where we could wander for hours and get lost exploring all the tiny streets and shops. A couple of us found a tea house and gratefully sat down for some tea. The beautifully dressed girl there poured it for us with a delicate grace. Then she poured us some more. And then more, and each time a different kind. Then finally we got it--this was a tea SHOP, not a cafe, and she was giving us samples! To her great relief we finally bought some.....

.....Sitting in a cushy armchair with my feet up getting an incredibly soothing foot massage by a young girl who had studied at foot
reflexology school for two years. This lasted a full hour and included washing, soaking, and massage all the way up to the top of the leg. She even did my head and shoulders, and all for about ten dollars. Needless to say, this was the deal of the century for foot-weary tourists, and it became enormously popular with our group. Pretty soon it seemed like every night half of us were making a beeline for the massage parlors. I started calling it the Foot Massage Tour.....

.....Sitting on top of a yak in the middle of the rushing White River in full Naxi (pronounced "Nah-shee" regalia, pretending to have a
swordfight with another man in our group who was all dressed up on his own yak. And yes, yaks do have a distinct aroma....

.....Teaching our group the "Heart of the Mother" chant on the steps of a temple in Black Dragon Pool Park, and watching the local Chinese girls and women trying to sing along with us as they slowly learned the words. Their attempt was charming, and the scene was funny because we were being videotaped the whole time by some Japanese tourists.....

.....Hiking to the top of a mountain overlooking Lijiang with one other man in our group, and winding up behind a very large, very sturdy Chinese hiker on the same trail. Every hundred yards or so he would stop to let out a tree-rattling yell, something like a battle cry, or a Tarzan call. So after a few of these, we got into the spirit and yelled right along with him. He seemed pleased by this, and although we couldn't speak his language, nor he ours, he showed us another way down the mountain, yelling all the way.....

.....A concert of local Naxi music in the Old Town concert hall, with a band featuring 5 musicians over 80 years old. One of the oldest men, near 90, sang a solo in a clear, strong voice. The ancient instruments and costumes were fascinating......

.....Bargaining in Old Town one night for a jade and silver bowl, and feeling very proud of myself for getting the price down to the Chinese equivalent of $20. Then being offered the same bowl the next day by another woman for $5....

.....Watching giant water buffalo bathing in the Li River, along with oxen, cormorants, fishermen, small villages, and old boats slowly
floating by as we sat on our open deck cruise-boat. Behind them and all around us were the steep, mystical-looking mountains of the famous limestone Karst topography.....

.....Being served dinner, tea, and strong homemade corn whiskey in the courtyard of a Naxi family home by an obviously proud three-generation family, and then being treated by local singers and dancers to a show of ethnic dances and songs. When we sang for them in return, we were could tell they were surprised and touched......

.....Walking through the Naxi cultural museum, marveling at the fascinating similarity of Naxi pictographs to Egyptian heiroglyphics. Learning how National Geographic articles in the 1920s and '30s about this beautiful, peaceful Lijiang area helped inspire the novel "Shangri- La....

.....The teeming Central Market in Hong Kong, which sprawls for blocks and is so tightly packed it makes New York City seem roomy, with an awesome variety of things to buy and to eat. One guide told us the Chinese will eat anything with four legs except a table, and anything with two wings except an airplane.....

.....The sampan cruise around Hong Kong harbor where we saw up close the waterborne life of people who live on these ancient-style boats all their lives.....

.....The beautiful Chinese prayer that was once again read to us every morning on the bus by our guide, which had the wonderful effect of centering, calming, and focusing us in a most positive way, and reminding us why we were there.....

CHINESE PRAYER

Let all things be healthy,
Let all things be peaceful.
Be sure to count your blessings at least once a day.
Forgive those who have hurt you,
And those who have offended you,
But forgive yourself for what you have done,
And what you have failed to do.
That which is done there is no need to speak of,
That which is past there is no need to blame.
Have control, self knowledge, self respect,
The courage to dare.
Be tranquil, the light of intelligence will shine.
Strive to make a spot where you stand beautiful.
Then the beauty and harmony will follow you in
All your ways and through all your days
On this splendid land of China.

Regent China Tours USA office
Flora
Florayanf@gmail.com
Phone: 813-907-5051


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