Election Day

Today is Election Day in the UK and we face a stark choice. I have avoided allowing this blog to make political comment, but on this one occasion I feel driven to break that rule. We all have our own opinions on Brexit, Social Welfare, the NHS and just about everything else. These are all …

More Panda Please

My last Tour was to China. As many of you may be aware, Great Rail Journeys have a commercial arrangement with the Australian Holiday Company, APT Travel Marvel. On many of my Tours half of my clients are from Australia or New Zealand, which makes for a fun mix of people. One of my clients …

Steam and Christmas Markets in the Harz Mountains and Saxony

So... A few days rest and then I'm off again on the 30th November. I've been busy being Chinese and Christmas has kind of snuck up on me all of a sudden. It's going to do so even more suddenly when I pitch up in Germany to do this little beauty of a Tour. As …

The Bund and the Fastest Train in the World

So, we made it to Shanghai and after a good sleep we did a next day city tour. We started with a visit to a Buddhist Monastery, the site of the largest Jade Buddha in the world (no photos allowed!). It’s an interesting contrast, with the ultra modern city rubbing shoulders with such an old …

Shankers & Honkers

I’m sorry for the slow updates to this blog. It’s quite difficult when you get into bed at 10 at night to sign up the energy to write a blog post. I’m currently in Shanghai, ready to face the last day of the tour tomorrow when we have a guided tour. I’m just going to …

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Panda day today. This is always the day that as a Tour Manager I am the most nervous. I’m always worried that I will wake everybody up early, drag them to the Panda Park and then discover that the bloody things have decided that today is the day for a lie-in indoors! Fortunately, my furry …

Foot Massage

I just went for a foot massage. It’s a uniquely Chinese experience. Foot massage is my secret guilty pleasure on tours to China. I genuinely believe that it helps you to sleep. It was a habit I picked up when I was flying to Hong Kong regularly with Air New Zealand. So what’s different about …

China Life

Today we had a day in Chengdu for a city tour. I wanted to give our clients a taste of how a typical day might look for Chinese people of their age i.e. for those who don’t have to spend all day slaving away at work. We started with a visit to a flower market. …

My favourite Jade Buddha

Another travel day today, but we got to do some fun stuff as well as the train journey. The day started with a visit to a jade carving factory and showroom. We learned about the importance of Jade in Chinese culture and also how to spot what is good Jade, and what is the cheap …

Warriors

Today was our day for visiting the terracotta warriors in Xi'An. Constructed by the Emperor as his defence against pretty much everything after death, they were long forgotten and buried. And then one day some random Chinese Farmer decided to dig a well on his property, and dug up rather more than he was expecting! …

The Hutong and a train

Today we woke up and made a short Excursion to the old quarter of Beijing known as the Hutong. We travelled there by tricycle rickshaw. I always love walking through old Beijing with its courtyard houses and the morning activity as people wake up and begin the day. We noticed some rather exciting doggies out …

Wall Day

Today was one of our big-ticket items. A visit to the Great Wall of China, at Mutianyu. We stopped on the way for a demonstration of what is no one here as Cloisonné. (Think Ming vases and you're in the right place). I've been admiring these two rather splendid dragon lion things for some time. …

Beijing Day

So, we've arrived. We spent the first day recovering from the flight and I got through the welcome meeting without falling asleep and talking rubbish, always a good start I feel; or possibly not. Maybe I dreamedthe whole thing! Yesterday we visited the primary Beijing sites. It doesn't matter how much I try to explain …

Turning Chinese Again

For the final time this year I'm off to China on tour. I quite like doing this complicated tour repeatedly. I don't have to worry so much about the logistics since I know how to make the tour work; that means I can concentrate more on the people. I've phoned ahead to make sure that …

An Italian Adventure

It's been only six days since I got back from China, but I'm off and running again! Like much of the Travel & Tourism Industry, the work of a Tour Manager is highly seasonal. Apart from an occasional flurry around Christmas, the Winter months from November to April are usually pretty quiet - there may …

National Day in China

On 01st October 1949, Seventy years ago today, Chairman Mao Zedong announced the birth of the PRC after the Communist Party of China defeated the ruling Kuomintang. https://youtu.be/UvgLUGRhuwU The last Tour that I took was to China (just got back on Thursday, so still a tiny bit jet-lagged) and the rehearsals and preparations for the …

Shanghai and Home

I've been busy again. We had a rapid Tour of Shanghai and then the flight home, from where I'm writing this! (Tired but conscious) We started the day in Shanghai with a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple. I love this place because it contrasts the old and new Shanghai, while being a small lake …

16 Sons

I'm sorry to be so slow getting things out. Connectivity is a real issue on a ship in a river gorge and since we have finished our cruise we have been on the move continuously. As I write, I'm sitting in a Shanghai hotel room with not much time before I meet the clients, so …

Random China Things

So much has happened during the last couple of days that I thought I would just throw up some photos as we go along and explain them one by one. I'm now on a ship on the Yangtze River, cruising from Chonqing to Yichang so bandwidth is rather limited for uploading Blog Posts. I thought …

A Day In Chengdu

Thought I'd put up some random photos to give an idea of day-to-day life in a Chinese city. Let's start with road traffic, which can best be described as anarchic. Stop lights are purely advisory and traffic can travel in both directions on the same side of the road. There are an awful lot of …