09 Jul July 9 2015 K & C Global Private Travel Snapshot
We feel Shanghai to be a perfect metaphor for China’s future – young, dynamic, optimistic and supremely confident. No evidence of Communist dogma here – you get the feeling that they have thrown the Communist Manifesto out the window! The energy and drive of this exciting city is almost palpable. Shanghai seems to anticipate the future trends guiding many of China’s consumer and cultural attitudes.
July 9, 2015
Kipling and Clark
Global Private Travel Snapshot
Greetings friends, clients, and trusted global suppliers!
It has been quite some time since we featured China in our Global Private Travel Snapshots. Being Zen’s country of birth, China holds a special place among the Lynch family’s world travels. Despite the air/water pollution issues, as well as the country’s increasingly restrictive government policies, China remains one of the globe’s truly fascinating and enigmatic destinations. Please enjoy perusing our various China observations/images + Zen’s Journal.
Many thanks! + Safe travels/Godspeed to all.
Chengdu (Think Pandas!)
Panda Research Center, Chengdu
Our private panda experience in Chengdu may be among our most memorable China travel activities. The Giant Panda Breeding/Research Center is a 600 acre complex that is most impressive – a lush landscape with rolling hills mixed with the natural bamboo habitat for both the “giant panda” (more than 135 in total) and the interesting “red panda” (think of a raccoon mixed with a fox!).
Visiting at the 7:30AM opening is recommended to see the cubs in the Sunshine Nursery waking up, as well as the feeding time for relatively active adolescent giant pandas.
We always include a private audience with one of the center’s baby pandas – please be pre-warned that the baby pandas (8-10 months) weigh 30-50 lbs! The fundamental fact is that there exists no other place in the world where one can experience such personal encounters with giant pandas – only here in Chengdu. This is a must-visit for all serious panda lovers!
Yangzi Explorer River Cruise
Though we feel general (ocean) cruising is largely void of discovery and energy, we are big fans of picturesque/culturally compelling luxury river cruises (Yangzi River/Mekong/Irrawaddy). In China, we very much enjoyed our 3-night/4-day Yangzi Explorer river cruise. Though not so impressive from the outside, the 62-cabin Yangzi Explorer is undoubtedly the only legitimate luxury vessel plying the Yangi River. The downstream 3-night/4-day sailing is our favorite schedule.
With a capacity of only 124 passengers, the service here is much more personal and high-touch vs. the larger 4-Star Yangzi vessels. Among the services offered are a la carte dining, a 3,200 sq. ft. luxury spa, a two-floor theater and a small, yet nice, fitness center. Among our favorite things about our Yangzi Explorer cruise experience was the boat’s convenient 24-hour room service (!)
Lijiang, Old Town
Lijiang (approximately 7,000 ft. elevation) is home of the Naxi minority group. Numbering approximately 300,000, the Naxi are descendant from the ethnic Tibetan Qiang tribes. Most unique is the fact that the Naxi are a matriarchal society – women control the “guanxi” here! Measuring two kilometers by two kilometers, the rectangular enclosure of cobble lanes, stone, and timber houses that make up the Old Town of Lijiang ranks among the most picturesque and memorable city settings in all of China.
Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) dates to the 13th century when the Mongol forces of Kublai Khan swept southward through Yunnan province as they set out to consolidate their control over China. Naxi Kingdom at Baisha was moved to Dayan (today’s Lijiang) and since that time has remained the most distinctive example of Naxi culture.
As many of our clients know, AMAN is a Lynch family favorite. We’ve stayed at their various properties throughout Asia over the past several years. While Peninsula, Four Seasons, and Mandarin may rule the 5-Star deluxe hotel category, AMAN alone occupies the elite level; small, remarkably high-touch, singular, and personal.
Set on a hillside above the UNESCO-protected Old Town section of Lijiang, AMANDAYAN is made up of 35 traditional courtyard buildings/suites with terraces with views of the city and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Suites are decorated with materials and fabrics from the region, including Yunnan pine from Shangri-La, striking Naxi embroidery and elaborate Dongba wood carvings of flowers, birds and other nature motifs. The term Dongba refers to the priests of the Naxi people to whom harmony between man and nature is paramount.
We feel more stoic and perhaps less dynamic than free-wheeling Shanghai, Beijing boasts China’s major historical and cultural attractions, and, therefore, a required stop for any China private touring. Built from 1406, the Forbidden City was the China Imperial Palace from the Qing Dynasty. Taking at least two hours to walk through the sprawling grounds/compounds, the Forbidden City is a somewhat taxing and ponderous walk for all ages.
If you have an interest in Chinese modern art, Beijing’s funky art district, Factory 798, named after the military factory that formerly occupied the buildings, is a must visit. In addition to the many art galleries/exhibitions, the district also includes cool, hip cafes and bookstores. Timezone 8 is our favorite – the best Caesar salad in all of Beijing set in an artsy Soho ambience.
China’s Culturally Unique Foot Massage
Among our most relaxing (and popular!) activities while visiting the greater China area is a visit to a local foot massage parlor. During our last visit to Beijing we were quite surprised to see the large number of local businessmen and power brokers engaged in one-hour “power foot massages”. Beginning with the dunking of the feet into a wooden barrel containing Chinese herbal medicine, this is a nice way to mitigate your arrival jetlag!
Tobagan down the Great Wall at Mutianyue
Greetings Fellow Teen Travelers!
- CHINA: Well, what can I say about my country of birth? I may not be a huge fan of some aspects (the government, the really bad air and water pollution), but I do love the 5,000 years of Chinese culture!
- Those beautiful, but not so cuddly pandas! Having a personal panda holding experience was one of the best things I have ever done in China (Chengdu). I was really surprised that they weren’t soft and cuddly as I imagined – kind of like sticky cotten-candy (!)
- Tobagan down the Great Wall! Next to the pandas, taking the tobagan down The Great Wall at Mutianyue was most fun – down 5,000 ft. going slow and fast, depending how you use your throttle.
- Math Camp Coming to a Close! Hurray!! My Francis W. Parker math camp is ending tomorrow. After the final exam my summer will finally begin!