Friday, June 7, 2013

Silk Road Day 7 White Stone scenic area

Real Prayer Tower
One more day of touring on the silk road prior to the solar eclipse.  China Kindness Tours and Rana  take us to Karatoruk county through the Tianshan mountain and enjoy its gorgeous scenery, drive pass ancient beacon tower ruin.   We take a nice hike in the hot sun around the prayer tower.  Everyone is fretting the weather.

Denny's Prayer Tower
More Hami Melon


We visit White Stone scenic area, dipping irrigation system, Natural salt lake ,Tang Dynasty military garrison camps ruins.

Below are Uyghur women at our lunch spot.  A Uyghur home/museum near Hami, China. The Uyghur people look less Chinese and more white.

To the right is Robert photographing the underground irrigation tunnel from the White Stone Scenic area to the grape vineyards which we will visit in two days.

This China Silk Road Tour was organized by China Kindness Tours and marketed by Tropical Sails Corp in the USA.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Silk Road Day Six Hami, Xinjing, China

Mosque of Hami King
Uyghur Dancing
Hami King Mausoleum


The day began with an American Breakfast at our very nice three star hotel. We had a late start after yesterday's long ride in a Hami Melon stinking bus. Thanks to Mike.

We went shopping at a six story mall.  Every Mall in China is as big or bigger than Mall of America, so what is the fuss? I bought a tripod. All the prices are negotiable.   I told everyone to buy what you need to be happy for the silk road eclipse.  I found some sweet Chinese sparkling wine.  I knew I would need that after the eclipse. It is tradition after all.

After lunch with another Lazy Susan and too many green vegetables.  We are awaiting the horse or donkey meat this region serves.  Never happened. We did have plenty of mutton. We did not have a lazy Susan at dinner. Plenty of Uyghur music and dancing.

 Today we visited the Hami King Mausoleum ( built 16th century  with combination of Chinese Uighur architectural style building complex ), followed by the Hami Museum. We had a local  Uighur meal at a kindergarten where kids show their presentation of singing and dancing, also visited Hami Uighur classic embroidery family.

Our guide Rana was a very charming young lady.  I found out later that she is a Christian.  Many on the tour promised to return for a Uyghur wedding.  Well she is living in Paris now.

 This China Silk Road tour was organized by Tropical Sails Corp and run by China Kindness Tours of Kunming, Yunnan, China.

Silk Road Tour Dunhuang to Hami Day 5

Mogao Grottoes

We board our bus after breakfast to visit the Mogao Grottoes, commonly named Thousand-Buddha Caves located nearby in Dunhaung County.  These are the most famous grottoes in China carved out of the sandstone cliffs of  Mingsha Mountain. The Wall Street Journal published and article about the site shortly before our visit. They are known as "a glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road," part of the mountains extending some 1600m from south to north. Constructed in 10 dynasties from the fourth to the 14th century, its 45000 square meters of mural paintings and more than 2000 color statues are regarded as the greatest treasure-house of Buddhist art existing in the world.  We walk along the cliffs looking into each home with its' Budda.
Hami Melon
Now we board our bus onto Hami.  Hami. Oh don't you mean Hami Melons?  We had some for breakfast. Turns out that there are some huge number of varieties of what we call a cantaloupe in the USA.  Melon Man Mike was in his heyday. Not having enough for breakfast, he bought them at every stop on the way to Hami. Slicing them up on the bus giving the bus a new aroma as the juices dripped on the seats and carpet.
Hami, Xinjiang, China
On the way we repeated had rest stops.  When a Chinese bus leave as toll station, their ticket is time stamped.  If you arrive at the next toll station too early (you were speeding) now we have to wait until the toll taker lets you go.
We arrive in Hami. Our three star hotel next to a Chinese strip club is just fine.  We knew we would be there three nights, so we did laundry.  I, Daniel Oppliger, being the leader was greeted by a harem of Chinese ladies.  They were so happy to have us and went out of there way to make up happy.  They made us an American breakfast.  Somehow they knew Americans like their bacon crisp and eggs cooked.  They also had toast, pancakes and Mike's favorite, Hami melon.
The China Silk Road Tour was organized in the United States by Tropical Sails Corp and operated by China Kindness Tours.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sorry About That

  I finally figured out how to make sub-categories on this blog. I will now use this part of the blog to post some, I said some, of the specials that come to our email daily. Tropical Sails Corp, as a travel agency receives upwards of 50-100 emails a day.  Many of the offerings are available only through travel agents.
   We also have the ability to book hotels rooms without immediate payment.  Unfortunately this cannot be done online, but our offices can do it.
   Other parts of our blog will feature our China trips.  We have done three, Turkey tours, also three, Africa Safaris (one completed, one on the schedule) and sailing trips, Star Clippers Cruises, and Windjammer Tall Ship Cruises from Grenada.  On this page of this blog, we will post cruise specials, tours, specialty tours.


Daniel Oppliger
Tropical Sails Corp

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Silk Road Beijing to Lanzhou Day 2

In the morning we met our group for breakfast at the Qianmen Jianguo Hotel, the take flight from Beijing to Lanzhou.
We met the local guide and visited White Pagoda Hill, the mountain stands at the northern bank of the Yellow River and has its name after the white pagoda on top of it, the White Pagoda Hill Park is a large and nice place for strolling, with green forests, scattered pavilions, teahouses and, from its heights, some good views of both the churning river and the city beyond.
Zip Line down from White Pagoda
White Pagoda Hill
Zhongshan Bridge
The Pagoda Hill Park was a hit with a very long zip=line down the hill. Also they had a small water park used by the locals.
Iron Bridge China Yellow River
The nearby bridge, Zhongshan Bridge, was the old crossing point for travelers and merchants who were then to head north on the Silk Road.

Mother Statue of Yellow River
Mother Statue of Yellow River, a modern sculpture in Xihu Park. In  China, the Yellow River is also called Mother River, because so much Chinese civilization was born alongside it.
In the evening we dined on the famous Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup which included the tossing and pulling of noodles two meters long.  Later we took a soft sleeper train to Jiayuguan. There were so many people there we would not have made it without our guide arranged by China Kindness Tours.
Soft Sleeper Train China

Drink Service on Train

Lanzhou Train Station

Saturday, June 1, 2013

China Silk Road Tour 2008 Solar Eclipse Tour Report Part 1

Tropical Sails Corp a Surprise, AZ travel agency organized the tour up without any offerings in Beijing. Many figured they would return next year for the longer solar eclipse whose path was to follow the Yangtze River. This solar eclipse of 2008 was to end in northwestern China over the ancient Silk Road.
I arrived late evening at the Qianmen Jianguo Hotel in Beijing.  Getting to the hotel was an adventure for me.  I had the directions in English and Chinese with a map.  The first cab driver took me to a hotel with a similar name.  The concierge put me in another cab to the correct hotel.
I have a late night cocktail with my host Mr. Tony Deng of China Kindness Tours.  We discuss a little business and he apologizes for the "state of the hotel."  They were repainting parts of the lobby.  Cocktails ran about $7 US.  The lobby was very nice. The hotel was wonderful. I had internet from the newspaper across the street.

In the morning we met a few of the clients and ate our first Chinese breakfast.   Dum sum, congee, vegetables, rice, eggs and undercooked bacon.  Overall I liked the Qianmen Jianguo Hotel.

We had prearranged a trip to the Great Wall with some of the guests.  Here is a picture of Robert, Tristina, Ian and Dan on the Wall.  We had a small van and a delightful guide.  They took us to the Jade factory for lunch. I was not much interested in buying any of the stuff you can buy in Juarez, Mexico for a fraction of the price. Dr. Ralph Chou and Fred also came with us to the Great Wall.

Robert, Tristina, Ian and Dan on the Great Wall of China.