Tagged summer

a gourmet tour of yunnan – july 24-28

Lofty mountains and flowing waters, a wildflower for your hair and a mushroom for your umbrella. Yunnan in summer is wet with dew and rain, but it is the perfect playground to discover all the wonderful things coming to life in fields and mountainsides! Come along with China Tea Leaves on this unique Yunnan tour, Summer of Mushrooms edition!

This five day tour celebrates the mighty mushroom, and all the many varieties which can be found in Yunnan province. Yunnan is wonderfully biodiverse, with microclimates, forests, and mountains harboring thousands of flora and fauna not found anywhere else on earth, including many, many varieties of mushrooms. Actually, epicureans from around the world source their funghi from Yunnan, including as much as 2,000 tons of matsutake which make their way to Japan every year (in China called 松茸 song rong).

We will fly from Shenzhen direct to Lijiang (丽江 elev. 7900ft/2400m). There we will be picked up by private shuttle to head to Shaxi (沙溪 elev. 6890ft/2100m), a pristine valley with a well preserved Bai minority village and world class historical sites. Our hotel for two nights will be the Old Theatre Inn, located right inside a temple/theatre that served entertainment for the gods of the Bai people. Here we will be treated to a tour by a local guide to pick wild mushrooms, and for lunch we will cook a few dishes based on local produce and our own foraged mushrooms. We can also visit the famous Sideng market in the village, where your eyes can savor a rainbow of edibles, teas, herbs, as well as the diverse minorities of the region.

From Shaxi we will head back to Shuhe (束河 elev. 8000ft/2440m) near Lijiang, an old town located on the ancient Tea Horse Road. We will continue to eat our way through Yunnan, savoring mushroom hot pot with the summer’s bounty, fresh fruit, local walnuts and more. We can shop the markets of Shuhe and Lijiang for matsutake and black truffles to bring to friends and family back home. We’ll take a short hike on the Tea Horse Road itself, peeking in on wildflowers and mushrooms growing along our path. At last, mushrooming complete, we can lay back and relax in our courtyard home, sipping tea and letting the mesmerizing guqin take us on a mind-bending journey.

Wednesday, July 24: Morning flight Shenzhen to Lijiang, shuttle to Shaxi
Thursday, July 25: Local mushroom tour in Shaxi
Friday, July 26: Visit Sideng market in Shaxi, shuttle to Shuhe
Saturday, July 27: Tea Horse road hike in Shuhe, visit market in Lijiang (or Shuhe as weather alternate)
Sunday, July 28: Afternoon flight Lijiang to Shenzhen

Price: 3808 per adult (double occupancy), child price on request

Price includes: Local ground transportation in Yunnan, four nights (double occupancy) at quality courtyard hotels, meals, local guide fee, entrance tickets, travel insurance, and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves. Does not include airfare to Lijiang. Contact me for current airfare and booking info.

Payment: by cash, WeChat or Alipay. Deposit of 1800 due at time of booking.

Reserve by July 5 and get a free limited edition Summer of Mushrooms t-shirt!

Minimum 5 people, maximum 8

Note: On this trip we are only picking and eating safe mushrooms, nothing hallucinogenic or dangerous. Puns are for literary purposes only. 🙂 Please pay attention to our local guide in Shaxi, who will advise us which mushrooms are safe to pick and consume.

Note: Much of this trip is at high elevation – 6890ft/2100m and higher. Travelers may feel effects of the elevation, but can usually adjust to normal activity level within 1-2 days. This itinerary does not include intensive hiking, but please notify us of any health conditions when booking. China Tea Leaves is not responsible for any injuries or accidents sustained during the trip.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Yunnan in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – zhuhai bridge & tai o july 9

Take a day out to experience the Pearl River and Hong Kong, from the cutting edge to the traditional, a snapshot of China in one seaside adventure.

One of the main features of this trip will be to cross the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. This mega structure is 55 kilometers in total length, crossing the Pearl River Delta at its wide mouth of the South China Sea and connecting the two special administrative regions of China by a land link for the first time in history. The HZM Bridge is now the longest sea crossing in the world, made up of three cable-stayed bridges, four artificial islands, and a 4.8 km undersea tunnel. This is one of the greatest engineering feats of our time, and it is right in our backyard!

We will start our sea adventure by taking the ferry from Shekou Port to Zhuhai. Then, we will make our way to the crossing point to board the shuttle that will cross the mega bridge, whisking us to Hong Kong in just 40 minutes. The massive structures built for this project will leave you in awe, and as you buckle in to cross the bay, you know you are on a space age adventure. After viewing the bridge from a distance on the ferry earlier in the day, enjoy the quick and smooth ride across the stunning bridge over the delta’s turquoise waters. 

After we arrive in Tung Chung Hong Kong, we will journey on to Tai O, the quintessential fishing village of Hong Kong. Scarcely a kilometer away from the modern marvel of the HZM Bridge lies this quiet port, where life in many corners has not changed for centuries. Fishermen untangle their nets, felines wait to steal some of the day’s catch, houses teeter on stilts over the inlet’s waters. We’ll have time to enjoy the ambience of the quiet village. Plenty of local foods are available to sample, from sweet doughnuts to local fish and XO paste. We will also take a short cruise to get a closer look at the stilt houses and venture out into the bay in search of the famous pink dolphins of this side of Hong Kong. 

As the sun lowers, you are free to stay on in Tai O or Tung Chung for dinner or shopping. I can help book a return ferry or train back to Hong Kong (return fare not included; small booking fee if I book). (The high speed train from Kowloon to Futian is another of China’s modern wonders!) This package as quoted below will get you back to Tung Chung. Contact me for more information about getting back to Shenzhen.

Date: Tuesday July 9, leave Shenzhen 8:30 AM, finish at Tung Chung Hong Kong approximately 6-7:00 PM

Price: 458RMB per adult, 328RMB per child (1.2-1.5m) under 1.2m ask me. 
SWIC or ABNet receive a discounted price of 428RMB per adult, 308RMB per child.
Maximum 12, minimum 6 people.

Includes ferry to Zhuhai, cross bridge shuttle, local transportation links in Zhuhai and Hong Kong, Tai O dolphin cruise, tour.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Tai O in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

two amazing pools in hong kong and macau

Southern China in the summer is “blessed” with hot, humid weather, a non-stop sauna for us here in Shenzhen and the surrounding Pearl River Delta. Luckily, nearby Hong Kong and Macau are also blessed with stunning scenery and some amazing hotels for a quick summer getaway.

Here are two fantastic pools for slowing the pace and plunging into cooler temps when traveling through China’s Special Administrative Regions.

The Island Shangri-La is one of the top hotels in Hong Kong, and one of the Asian luxury hotel chain’s flagship properties. One of two in Hong Kong, its Island location is set in the middle of Hong Kong Island’s towering urban jungle. Its outdoor pool has surreal views of IM Pei’s Bank of China tower and the rest of Admiralty.

 

A ferry trip across the Pearl River Delta, you can find yourself an ocean or two away, in the port of Macau with its continental tastes and slower pace. The Sofitel sits in the old town of Macau, away from the glitz of the casinos down yellow stucco streets accented with azulejo tiles and streaming fountains. Two outdoor pools are decorated in French fashion, one especially reserved for the suites of the mansion wing.

 

Get a splash of luxury in one of these pools as part of your summer travel in China.

summer’s extreme

nam van lake
the dragon boat race on nam van lake in macau

This past weekend China celebrated Dragon Boat Festival, a colorful festival which kicks off the heart of the summer, with racing traditionally decorated boats, seasonal snacks and three days off from work. In Chinese, the festival is known as 端午节 (duan wu jie), or the festival of the extremity of noon or the overhead meridian. It is determined by the lunar calendar, the fifth day of the fifth month to be exact, so from year to year it floats around the months of May and June. This year, it happened to nearly coincide with the actual summer solstice, coming on June 20 just a few days before the sun would be at its extreme on the 22nd. We headed across the Pearl River Delta to Macau to observe the holiday and the proper start of summer.

dragon boat
an antique dragon boat outside the a ma temple

Dragon Boat Festival remembers the life of an ancient poet and statesman, Qu Yuan (屈原), who lived during the Warring States period of ancient China, in about the third century BC. Tradition holds that in protest of the corruption of the government of the time, he threw himself into a river and drowned. Fellow villagers were moved to prevent the decay of his body, and so threw dumplings of sticky rice into the water to distract the fish. Others took off in boats with the head of the dragon to ward off bad spirits and find his body. And two Dragon Boat Festival traditions originated—eating of sticky rice zongzi (粽子), and the racing of dragon boats. Dropping the bundled zongzi to bob in a pot of boiling water, I always think of the ancient story, marveling that battling corruption has origins so ancient and poetic.

An ancient poem attributed to Qu Yuan laments the downfall of his country, with devastating and moving imagery.

After the boat race in Macau, we wandered the village streets, coming upon stalls of dried fish and make shift temples with fists of red incense burning to the local gods. The major A Ma temple at the southern tip of the peninsula of Macau is dedicated to Mazu (妈祖), the ancestral mother of the waters, who protects all those who set sail on the sea. Inside and out, the temple is decorated with the motifs of the sea, carved into outcroppings of stone, and festooned with brilliant flags of local clans. Macau’s maritime roots are a palpable sea spray on this ancient holiday.

a carved stone inside the temple