China 2000 Photos by Sue

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Photo Albums - Bali | China | Thailand | Vietnam | Greenland | Newfoundland and LabradorGreece and Turkey | Myanmar | Laos & Cambodia | India | 2007/08 Asia Trip |

With a preference for independent travel but only one month's vacation and a growing 'wish list' of place to visit, I  decided, somewhat reluctantly, to look for a suitable tour.  I knew I would hate a large group tour so searched the web for information on small group adventure tours.  It was my great good fortune to find Jasmine Zheng Behrens of 'Jasmine's China Adventure Tours'.  

Jasmine is a delightful traveling companion and generates an atmosphere of good will wherever she goes.  Her tours are so well organized that they appear to happen spontaneously.  Her groups are small and flexible enough to allow unscheduled visits to markets, villages and homes along the way.  Our groups ages ranged from 20's to 70's.

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China and it's people were a delightful surprise, I have been to Hong Kong several times and it's nothing like that!  The people were extrovert, friendly and welcoming. On our first night in Beijing, Barbara my best friend traveling companion, was dancing in the street with a smiling gentleman who couldn't speak a word of English.  The traffic in Beijing was awful but no worse than many other cities in Asia.  The pollution wasn't as bad as expected, (compared with Bangkok for example).  We didn't use the masks we had brought with us even in Xian and Chengdu where it was noticeably worse than Beijing.  The food was fabulous both in quality, quantity and variety. We never ate in tourist restaurants, in fact we were always the only westerners there.  The countryside particularly in Yunnan is spectacular by any standards.

When our trip with Jasmine was over Barbara and I stayed on for a week of independent travel.  Jasmine made the travel and hotel reservations for us.  Once on our own we realized just how special the tour had been. We didn't have a decent meal until we reached William Lindesay's farmhouse north of Beijing.  Getting any sort of information was more difficult and we were unable to meet and enjoy the company of local people to the same extent.

Although small group tours are more expensive than regular tours,  they can be worth every penny if you find the right one.  I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Jasmine to anyone wanting a great traveling experience in China.  

The  finale of our trip was a wonderful weekend at the farmhouse of Qi and William Lindesay.  They have a lovely property north of Beijing at the foot of a spectacular section of the Great Wall.  Being with them is like visiting friends in the country.  The food is great and the accommodation comfortable.  The chance to  walk the 'Wild Wall' with someone as dedicated to it's conservation as William is  a unique opportunity. 

Link to William Lindesay's website  www.wildwall.com 

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