daytrip – watertown october 28

小桥流水人家 To make your home by a small bridge and flowing water.

These words describe the idyllic scenery of Chinese villages, which people come from across continents to see, often seeking out the tourist canal towns around Shanghai. But we have such a quaint village right in our backyard around the Pearl River Delta. The irrigated towns and paddies of Guangzhou and Foshan are a prime but overlooked place to find a classic scene of Chinese life.

On this day trip, we’ll head to the outer villages of Shunde district, part of Foshan just to the west of Guangzhou.

In the water town of Fengjian, you can wander the shady streets of this village, catching glimpses of the local people’s relaxed life. Fishermen repair a net, two neighbors play chess along the river banks.

Shunde is also home to some of the most famous dishes of Cantonese cuisine, especially the popular desserts double skinned milk and ginger milk. We can taste these plus other snacks and sweets while lounging near the flowing river.

You can also take your family for a paddle in a traditional wooden boat along the length of the river. (Price not included in tour: small boats 150/up to 5 people, large boats 250/up to 10 people)

A lovely traditional place to escape just for a day away from the city.

Price: 330RMB per adult, 235RMB for kids between 1.2-1.5m (20RMB off for Shenzhen ABNet or SWIC member), kids under 1.2m get an additional discount – contact me.

Sunday, October 28
Depart 8:00AM, return Shenzhen 6:00PM

includes round trip private shuttle, access to two water towns, lunch and one Cantonese dessert per person, and tour

Minimum 8, maximum 14

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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

october holiday adventure – 5-8 days in yunnan

 

Looking for an adventure for your October holiday? We’re gathering a group of intrepid travelers to venture to one of my favorite places in China, the northwest region of Yunnan province. This is a five-day trip taking place during the golden week in October 2018, extendable to 8 days including an optional hike.

Yunnan is the China of your dreams, with blue skies, colorful clouds, cobblestone villages, and mountain vistas. I’ve designed the trip to get to some lesser known places and skip the most crowded days of the national holiday, so you don’t have to worry about the crowds.

Yunnan province is located in southwestern China, tucked between Tibet, Sichuan and Guangxi provinces, Myanmar, and Vietnam, and is one of the most diverse provinces in China, with dozens of ethnic minorities; flowers, mushrooms and other wildlife; and dramatic landscapes with the weather of eternal spring.

We will fly into Lijiang (丽江 elev. 7900ft/2400m) to start our adventuring. First we’ll travel down to the Dali (大理 elev. 6480ft/1975m) region near the famous Erhai Lake. The Bai minority are the most populous in this area, with elegant ladies in colorful headdress working the markets, restaurants featuring local vegetables and even the Bai people’s own kind of cheese, and of course narrow lanes made lively with hand painted entrances and distinctive tie dyed fabrics.

We’ll also visit nearby Xizhou (喜洲), another Bai town, known for its daily market, ornate courtyard homes, and well known embroidery shops.

On our third day we will venture up to the Shaxi (沙溪 elev. 6890ft/2100m) valley, where green rice paddies and blue hills encircle the special town of Shaxi. The preservation of its central opera stage, temple and other distinctive buildings won an award from UNESCO. We’ll arrive here on Friday in time to catch the action at its market, frequented by villagers who come down from the hills for their weekly supplies.

On the fourth day we’ll head northward ascending to Shuhe and Baisha (束河,白沙 elev. 7900ft/2400m), in the region of Lijiang. Shuhe and Lijiang were stops on the old Tea Horse Road, which connected Tibet to southern Yunnan and beyond, for centuries of trade of horses (from Tibet) and tea (from southern Yunnan). This area is the home of the Naxi minority, with their own writing system and religion. We’ll stay in the relatively quiet town of Baisha, which was the former capital of the Naxi kingdom.

If departing on the 5th day (October 7), we’ll visit the Tea Horse Road museum in Shuhe in the morning before your flight, to send you off dreaming of wildflowers, clear running streams and mountain adventures.

If your holiday schedule allows, what better way to finish off your time in Yunnan than with a stunning 2-day hike in the Tiger Leaping Gorge?  (虎跳峡 elev. 6230-8690-6890ft/1900-2650-2100m). This is one of the most renowned hikes in the world, following a deep gorge along the Jinsha River, which becomes the Yangtze River as it flows from here through Sichuan province. Every view is breathtaking, gazing up at snow mountains so close you think you could reach out and touch them.

After one tough day of hiking, we will stay overnight in a guesthouse on the trail, and wake up to silent mountains looking on outside our window. We will continue hiking through farming enclaves, waterfalls and vistas to reach our shuttle back to Lijiang.

Our final night will be spent in Baisha, before we fly back from Lijiang to Shenzhen.

After days dreaming in the heights amongst a rainbow of wildflowers and prayer flags, you will return to Shenzhen with a vision of paradise in your mind’s eye and a burning desire to come back to Yunnan province.

Day 1: Fly to Lijiang, travel to Dali, visit Dali old town
Day 2: Visit Xizhou, market and crafts
Day 3: Travel to Shaxi, Sideng market and hiking
Day 4: Travel to Baisha
Day 5: Fly Lijiang to Shenzhen, or visit Shuhe
(optional Day 6: Tiger Leaping Gorge
(optional Day 7: Tiger Leaping Gorge
(optional Day 8: Fly from Lijiang)

Group size: 6-10 people

(Note: Much of this trip is at high elevation – 7900ft/2400m and higher. Travelers will feel the effects of the elevation, but can usually adjust to normal activity level within 1-2 days. The Tiger Leaping Gorge hike has some steep inclines and is at high elevation. Hiking at this elevation is tough and incurs a real risk of altitude sickness. There are donkeys available on the trail for those who feel uncomfortable, for an additional fee. The trail is in good condition, and no special prior hiking experience is necessary. But this hike is best suited for those in good physical shape. Please notify us of any health conditions when booking. China Tea Leaves is not responsible for any injuries or accidents sustained during the trip.)

Announcement: This trip has already been launched in agile mode to accommodate a group early bookers! If you are interested in joining this trip, just contact me and I will do my best to add you to our group! Please note some exclusions in the price due to ongoing registration.

This trip is already confirmed, so registering will remain open until Thursday September 27

Price:

3800RMB per person for 5 days, 4800RMB per person for 8 days.
Contact me for current price

Does not include airfare or meals. Price includes hotels (double occupancy), private shuttle transportation for 5 days, travel insurance, and personal English speaking guide. Price based on hotels available at time of writing; please contact me for current price and inclusions.

Recommended flights: Oct 3: CZ8581 SZX-LJG, Oct 10: CZ8582 LJG-SJX. Approximately 3100RMB. If you need help booking your flight, just contact me. I can book it for you for a small fee.

discounts available for ABNet members or SWIC members

Single supplement: 500RMB for 5 days, 750RMB for 8 days option

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)

daytrip – watertown september 9

小桥流水人家 To make your home by a small bridge and flowing water.

These words describe the idyllic scenery of Chinese villages, which people come from across continents to see, often seeking out the tourist canal towns around Shanghai. But we have such a quaint village right in our backyard around the Pearl River Delta. The irrigated towns and paddies of Guangzhou and Foshan are a prime but overlooked place to find a classic scene of Chinese life.

On this day trip, we’ll head to the outer villages of Shunde district, part of Foshan just to the west of Guangzhou.

In the water town of Fengjian, you can wander the shady streets of this village, catching glimpses of the local people’s relaxed life. Fishermen repair a net, two neighbors play chess along the river banks.

Shunde is also home to some of the most famous dishes of Cantonese cuisine, especially the popular desserts double skinned milk and ginger milk. We can taste these plus other snacks and sweets while lounging near the flowing river.

You can also take your family for a paddle in a traditional wooden boat along the length of the river. (Price not included in tour: small boats 150/up to 5 people, large boats 250/up to 10 people)

A lovely traditional place to escape just for a day away from the city.

Price: 330RMB per adult, 235RMB for kids between 1.2-1.5m (20RMB off for Shenzhen ABNet or SWIC member), kids under 1.2m get an additional discount – contact me.

Sunday, September 9
Depart 8:00AM, return Shenzhen 6:00PM

includes round trip private shuttle, access to two water towns, lunch and one Cantonese dessert per person, and tour

Minimum 8

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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

daytrip – foshan september 29

Come on a day trip to see Foshan, the colorful hometown of Cantonese traditions! Enjoy a day out in the autumn weather, while you learn about kung fu, lion dancing, ancient ceramics and traditional culture.

Foshan city is part of the Pearl River Delta and the third largest city in Guangdong, with distinctive Cantonese cultural traditions and rich history. Its name means “Buddha mountain.”

On this day trip, first we will visit the Nanfeng Ancient Kiln. Here you can see a ceramics kiln that has been in continuous operation since the Ming dynasty, for over 500 years. There are also many charming sculptural alleyways and shops to find a wonderful ceramic souvenir.

From here, we’ll head to lunch in Lingnan Tiandi, a historic district developed with many restaurants and quaint cafes. Cost of lunch is on your own. I will recommend a few restaurants to choose from, and provide a suggested menu to order from. I will recommend that groups of 3-5 dine together, rather than our entire group together for efficiency at the restaurants.

After lunch, we will explore the Ancestral Temple (祖庙 zu miao), which has been a central part of Foshan people’s religion for centuries. In this well preserved temple, you can also learn about Ip Man and Wang Fei Hong, two major kung fu masters from Foshan. The elements of Cantonese opera are demonstrated at the temple’s own traditional stage, so you can hear the orchestra or singer practicing (few performances each day at select times.) And don’t miss the heart of the Ancestral Temple, the ornate halls of Beidi, the northern emperor god, to whom locals pray to watch over Foshan.

Price: 315RMB per adult, 225RMB for kids between 1.2-1.5m (15RMB off for Shenzhen ABNet or SWIC member), kids under 1.2m get an additional discount – contact me.

Saturday September 29
Depart 7:30AM, return Shenzhen 6:00PM

includes round trip private shuttle, entrance tickets, including kung fu and lion dance show, and tour

Minimum 7

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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

daytrip – baishuizhai waterfall september 2

 

Looking for a refreshing experience to break up your sweltering Shenzhen summer? Well, look no further than the treasure of northeastern Guangzhou, Baishuizhai waterfall in Zengcheng district.

Baishuizhai (白水寨瀑景区) is the tallest waterfall in mainland China, falling a total of 428.5 meters between two former volcanic peaks. These hills are covered in lush bamboo forests, as well as natural hot springs.

While hiking heroes opt to climb the 9999 steps to the peak of the mountain, kids and casual walkers can climb up the boardwalk skirting the waterfall itself. In several tiers going up, the waterfall is crossed back and forth, at some points close enough to touch and feel its spray. Our goal will be the lookout platform at around 3200 steps.

This is a truly refreshing experience, only 2 hours drive from Shenzhen.

Please pack a simple picnic lunch, that we will enjoy on our hike on the side of the waterfall.

Price: 350RMB for adults, 220 for kids (1.2m and up, through high school). Under 1.2m and can share a seat, free!
320RMB discounted partner price – available for ABNet members, SWIC members, and students of Purple Peony Studio
Includes round trip private shuttle, entrance to the scenic area, and guide

Journey to Zengcheng about 2 hours.

Sunday, September 2
8:30am departure
10:30am arrive at waterfall park
Hike plus lunch along the waterfall
4:00pm depart
6:00pm arrive Shenzhen

Pick up in Shekou, other pick ups available – just contact me.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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

day trip – macau july 10

 

Our neighbor across the Pearl River Delta, Macau, has an outsized reputation as the “Las Vegas of the East,” and a quick European mini-holiday. But beyond the glittering lights and tourist-flooded streets, you will discover another side of Macau. Ornate temples wafting with incense, traditional bakeries, craftsman’s studios, and chapels and shrines with curious history can be found if you take the time to explore the winding alleys. 


On this insider tour of Macau, we’ll see a relic of a Christian saint, a secret garden inside a public library, the most beautiful black-and-white mosaic street in Macau, and a temple dedicated to the snake goddess held to be creator of the Chinese universe. In the afternoon we’ll stop by a cozy wine bar for a glass of Portuguese wine. After the end of the tour, you can stay on in Macau to enjoy its nightlife and fine dining.

 

Price: 550RMB for adults, 280 for kids
525RMB discounted partner price – available for ABNet members, SWIC members, and students of Purple Peony Studio
includes round trip round trip ferry to Macau, tour, and glass of wine for adults
Ferry to Macau about 1 hour.

I will guide the group to restaurants in Macau, cost of lunch on your own.

Tuesday, July 10
8:45am Ferry from Shekou Ferry Terminal
9:45am Arrive Macau
Walking tour, lunch, wine bar stop
Free time in Macau
21:00 Ferry from Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal (last ferry will be booked; but can board earlier ferry if you wish and there are available seats)
22:00 Return to Shekou

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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

day trip – zengcheng july 7

  

Looking for a refreshing experience to break up your sweltering Shenzhen summer? Well, look no further than the treasure of northeastern Guangzhou, Baishuizhai waterfall in Zengcheng district.

Baishuizhai (白水寨瀑景区) is the tallest waterfall in mainland China, falling a total of 428.5 meters between two former volcanic peaks. These hills are covered in lush bamboo forests, as well as natural hot springs.

While hiking heroes opt to climb the 9999 steps to the peak of the mountain, kids and casual walkers can climb up the boardwalk skirting the waterfall itself. In several tiers going up, the waterfall is crossed back and forth, at some points close enough to touch and feel its spray. Our goal will be the lookout platform at around 3200 steps.

This is a truly refreshing experience, only 2 hours drive from Shenzhen.

Please pack a simple picnic lunch, that we will enjoy on our hike on the side of the waterfall.

Price: 290RMB for adults, 220 for kids
270RMB discounted partner price – available for ABNet members, SWIC members, and students of Purple Peony Studio
Includes round trip private shuttle, entrance to the scenic area, and guide

Journey to Zengcheng about 2 hours.

Saturday, July 7
8:30am departure
10:30am arrive at waterfall park
Hike plus lunch along the waterfall
4:00pm depart
6:00pm arrive Shenzhen

Pick up in Shekou, other pick ups available – just contact me.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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

best of colorful yunnan – 5 days

Are you dreaming of a land of blue skies, colorful clouds, people living a quiet traditional life? A place where you can stretch your legs, climb green mountains, wade amongst wildflowers, and discover temples, new friends and always a bit of adventure? Sounds like a fairy tale, some kind of Shangri-La, you say?

You would be right. And you can find your own paradise in the northwest corner of Yunnan province.

This is a condensed tour featuring the best of Lijiang and Shangri-La areas in 5 days. No extended hiking, so it’s great for families and kids!

Yunnan province is located in southwestern China, tucked between Tibet, Sichuan and Guangxi provinces, Myanmar, and Vietnam, and is one of the most diverse provinces in China, with dozens of ethnic minorities; flowers, mushrooms and other wildlife; and dramatic landscapes with the weather of eternal spring.

We will fly into Lijiang (丽江 elev. 7900ft/2400m), a major stop on the ancient Tea Horse Road in western China. Our home base will be the old town of Shuhe, a village on the old Tea Horse Road, which connected Tibet to southern Yunnan and beyond, for centuries of trade of horses (from Tibet) and tea (from southern Yunnan). We’ll also visit Baisha, the former capital of the Naxi kingdom.

On our third day, we will head north towards to Shangri-La (香格里拉 elev. 10,370ft/3160m), the center of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan province. You will really feel like we’re in Tibetan country, even though we won’t have crossed the border. Ladies in traditional pink headwear do their shopping and older folks grasp their prayer beads throughout the streets. We will visit a lively market, the old town of Dukezong, the largest prayer wheel in the world, and the Songzanlin monastery, which is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan.

We’ll come back down for our last night in Shuhe before flying out from Lijiang with colors and memories alive in our hearts.

Day 1: Fly to Lijiang, visit Shuhe
Day 2: Visit Baisha, former capital of Naxi kingdom
Day 3: Travel to Shangri-La, visit old town and prayer wheel
Day 4: Visit Songzanlin Tibetan Buddhist monastery, return to Shuhe
Day 5: Fly from Lijiang

Dates:

June 27 – July 1

or

July 2 – July 6

Stay tuned for available dates for this route in August and September.

 

Price:

3680RMB

3380RMB discounted partner price – available for ABNet members, SWIC members, and students of Purple Peony Studio

 

Includes:
3 nights in a high quality Naxi courtyard guesthouse, 1 night in a 5 star hotel in Shangri-La, (both double occupancy), private shuttle transportation, meals, entrance tickets, and travel insurance.
Not included:
Airfare (I can help book for a small booking fee)

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)

impressions inscribed by mountain and water

He walked up to peruse the sidewalk menu offerings, an American I guessed by the way he so casually started the conversation. Laoban, the older man said, to the young Indian man manning the restaurant, ni youmeiyou tandoori chicken? The “boss” laughed gently, tall, a little shy, wearing a soft linen shirt patterned with Chinese characters and some pastoral scenes, long hair in waves on the top of his head. Meitian wo mi lu, everyday I get lost, continued the American. He continued on down the street lined with German beer gardens and guesthouses, smiling in his lostness in the winding streets of Yangshuo.

We had spent four days getting lost in the hills of Yangshuo and Guilin, the two hometowns in China of rolling karst mountains, unique landscapes out of an ancient ink-and-wash scroll or some immortal’s daydream. These hills make for scenes you can’t find anywhere else in the world, not even elsewhere in China. The Chinese have a saying 桂林山水甲天下 – Guilin’s “shanshui” mountain-and-water scenes are the best in the world (which would get tagged by Chinese friends on every one of our social media posts about the region). Both Chinese and international travelers love these landscapes and visit in massive numbers every year. The region has built up a sophisticated system for moving tourists around in buses, trains, boats and rafts, and many lament the commercialism. This was one of the first places to be taken over by western backpackers in China, evidenced by the sandal-clad folks in German bars, the ukulele shops, and banana pancakes in all the guesthouses. But you can still find ancient brick villages and dirt paths winding amongst the green knobs of mountains where you can just be a lost man alone with your thoughts.

The first time you see the karst mountains of Yangshuo, it’s like nothing you have laid eyes on this planet before. How to describe them? An impossible shape of stone, sticking up out of the earth, vertical faces covered in vines and trees somehow rooted in rock, sometimes surmounted by a temple or pavilion perched on top. An even more impossibly, the horizon is a tangle of countless more of the same impossible mounds, extending in every direction. Soft peaks of meringue, dollops of whipped cream, a rumpled, hand-wrung hat, a falling-over windmill if you look at it long enough or crooked enough. And if you climb to one of the pavilions on top for a view, the hills spread out around you like a sea of clouds, stone clouds, frozen in place, and you are standing atop one as well, a calcium cumulus beneath your feet. Off into the distance a string of hills lies beyond another and another, an abstraction in shades of blue, just a wash of color giving the impression of distance and form, brushed by some unseen painter. Walking amongst them you are in a land before time, lush green not only covering the earth but rising up in canyon walls to your left and right. And day after day and evening after evening spent looking on these forms in the distance, the hills before you and behind you, reflected in windows and the water of the flowing river and the still rice paddy, inverting and warping their slumping shape. And even as you close your eyes in the afternoon sun, they make their mark in your mind’s eye, so that you cannot think of the land as simply a flat horizon any more but a sinuous curve in a constantly changing hue, from green and blue noon to peachy dusk to inky twilight. To be lost in Yangshuo’s shapes and colors is a happy reverie indeed.

 

       

 

 

   

   

day trip – dapeng april 22

Despite the capricious weather this past week, our southern China sun will be returning, and when it does, it will be high time to get ourselves to the seaside.

Shenzhen is bookended in history, with Dapeng Ancient Fortress holding down the eastern extremity. Dapeng Ancient Fortress is a fortified village that dates back to the Ming dynasty, predating the urbanization of Shenzhen, and was in charge of controlling pirates off the coast of China. Today it still retains many narrow alleys to walk, with people living a quiet life in the village and shops selling traditional foods and gifts.

Jiaochangwei is another former military village, still situated directly on the seaside. Now it takes the form of a young Chinese surf town, with many colorful hostels and restaurants for a weekend beach getaway.

 

Delve into local history while digging your toes into the sand in Dapeng and Jiaochangwei.

Sunday April 22
Adults: 180RMB
Kids 1.2-1.5m: 165RMB

SWIC or ABNet members receive a discount of 20RMB off each 

includes round trip private shuttle, entrance tickets, and guided tour by Greta. Lunch additional.

Departure: 8:30am
Return: 6:00pm

Private shuttle picks up from Shekou (for other pick ups contact me). Journey to Dapeng about 1.5 hours.

Minimum 10

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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