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Report 802: Slow Travel in China

By Michael P from Maryland, Summer 2005

Trip Description: July-August 2005 A 3 1/2 week trip including big city experiences in Beijing and Hong Kong and more pastoral excursions in the countryside of Hunan Province.

Destinations: Countries - China

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Sightseeing; Walking/Hiking; Package Tour; Adults and Teens; Small Group: 5 to 9

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Page 1 of 23: The Orient Calls

photo by Michael Paskowsky

When I was a child and my mother got fed up with the world around her, the fantasy solution to her troubles was to “take a slow boat to China.” That exotic escape epitomized getting away from it all, meeting new people, and offered the prospect for starting afresh. I never expected to follow that advice until presented with an opportunity to visit two friends in Hong Kong. We met Sonali 18 years ago when she arrived from India to study at Hood College in our hometown of Frederick, Maryland. Over the years we kept in contact, attended her wedding, and watched her family grow. When she invited my wife, Jane, to serve as Godmother to her daughter, we jumped at the opportunity to visit Hong Kong for the ceremony. As added incentive, another set of friends, David and Santina, had recently moved to Hong Kong. The cosmos was sending an unmistakable signal that the orient was calling us.

Instead of a slow boat, we traveled from Dulles Airport to Hong Kong by fast jet in mid July, 2005. Even so, eighteen hours of trans-Pacific flying encourages you to extend your stay as long as possible and 3 ˝ weeks was the best we could manage. Our son, Peter, was to start college and this was the best time to include him.

We decided on using Hong Kong as our base and crafted two separate trips to provide contrasting perspectives of the Middle Kingdom. We like to be spontaneous independent travelers, but not being conversant in Mandarin, we were wary of language and navigation problems. We decided on a hotel/air package for our Beijing trip and located a small travel agency, Back Roads of China, ( ) for a visit to the interior. The contrast between city and country was most enjoyable and gave us a perspective that would have been missed on a standard tour.

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