Our journey will begin with the remnants of Imperial China, Beijing, and travel to the mysterious mountains of Yunnan tribal villages. In these remote rural areas, through ethnic minority regions, you will experience unique cultures, meet mythical people and witness fantastic scenery.
Depart the U.S.
Upon arrival in Beijing, you will be met by your guide as you exit customs. You will transfer to your hotel. After check in and some refreshements, you will be free for the evening. (Light Meal)
The day begins with a full-body and foot massage delivered by a reflexology master. After a relaxed morning, stroll a few blocks and you will find yourself at the door step of The Forbidden City, which served as home and audience hall of the Ming and Qing emperors. In the afternoon, experience the ancient art of Chinese kite making (and build your own). Our master instructor is the 4th generation of the Imperial kite making family, and winner of many international awards. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner BLD
This morning brings you to the Temple of Heaven. Built in the 15th century, it was where Ming and Qing emperors offered sacrifices to their Gods and prayed for good harvests. As you venture further from the temple among ancient juniper, cedar, and pine trees, the sounds of chirping birds will lead you to a unique group of individuals who raise birds to speak in Chinese. You may practice your Chinese with them or venture deeper into the park and join in with a local Taiji group; deep breaths, combined with controlled movements, leave you feeling grounded and centered. Proceeding through the park, you will observe a multitude of ethnic practices from street calligraphy to amateur opera.
Later, a rickshaw ride through Hutong area reveals the flavor of old Beijing, and a meeting with the director of the China Heritage Protection Center will leave you with a better understanding of Hutongs. As dusk nears, your guide will escort you to the Laoshe Tea House, where you will enjoy a variety of entertainment ranging from erhu, pipa, and harp music to comedies and acrobats. BLD
Today, you will visit the Great Wall of China at Mu Tian Yu: a symbol of Chinese civilization. The Wall stretches over 6,350 km, from Jianyuguan Pass in the west and to Shanhaiguan Pass in the east. We will eat a picnic lunch on the Wall, where ancient warriors patrolled and protected their dynasty. After lunch, careen down an Olympic-like bobsled course, maneuvering from the top of the wall to the base below. In the afternoon, immerse in the art of pottery painting under the careful guidance of one of Beijing’s artistic masters. BLD
Depart Beijing for Simao, Yunnan Province, the home town of Puer tea. Puer is one of the 6 famous teas of China, with a very long history. Presently, it is mostly celebrated for its health benefits. Puer is also the starting point of the ancient Tea and Horses Road. Upon arrival in Simao, you will be introduced to a cultural expert who has undertaken thorough studies within the different ethnic villages of the Puer region for more than 10 years. He will join us for the rest of the trip to help us gain a better understanding of the ethnic peoples and their unique cultures.
In the afternoon, we will visit to a 10,000-acre Tea Garden; with a basket on your back, and all the tea bushes around you. You will pick the top leaves and throw them over your shoulder into the basket behind you, which is the tea farmers common practice. Later, we will visit the Tea Museum, followed by an evening of relaxation at a local tea shop. As we sip tea for a taste of Puer, the owner, who is a scholar himself, will relate the history of the region, the Puer, and tell the story of the thousand year old tea tree beside the shop, which he has continued to nurture. BLD
In the morning, we will drive from Simao to the Mountain tribes, stopping en-route to observe a thousand year old tea tree, and allow the spirit of the tree to inspire you. There are not many such trees left in the world, and few people who will have the opportunity to observe them.
We will arrive at the Aini tribe in the late afternoon. From afar, you might see a group of women walking a straight line, wearing beautiful colorful costumes, with baskets attached to their heads and hanging behind their backs; while walking, they roll and thin cotton string with both hands. They call themselves Aka, a group of softly spoken, softly walking, peaceful, and kind people.
You will be greeted by friendly smiles from all corners, and also by the head of the village, who is highly respected, as well as the one who keeps a close relationship with the Communist Party. We will camp in specially prepared tents inside the village, next to the Aka’s straw huts. A fantastic ancient culture will unfold slowly before you. Beginning with a soft welcoming massage, which is a common
practice given by Aka women to their honored guests. An evening conversation with the village’s young men will reveal their life, happiness, and loves. Be prepared for astonishing stories and mysterious practices. BLD
Today will bring new cultural experiences. You will join the villagers’ daily routine, visit a family and see their craft, home life, and walk in the woods to their crop field. We have also arranged a meeting with the village shaman, the spiritual leader of the tribe. You will be honored guests for the evening bon fire prepared by the villagers; this is a unique opportunity to experience Aini dances, songs, and social activities. BLD
In the morning we will visit a Little Wa ethnic tribe. The hour-long hike is not far, but the Wa culture is substantially different from that of the Aka. Though these two tribes live in close proximity and are on friendly terms, they never intermarry. We will return to the Aini village in the afternoon. BLD
Today we will drive to a Da Wa ethnic village. The Da Wa follow similar traditions to those of the Little Wa, but their appearance is quite different. A Zudu Wa village exhibits its legacy of a security-conscious past. The village is quite large, with 100 families still living in traditional huts built of bamboo, wood, and thatch. Wa were warriors and the only people in Yunnan who practiced the head-hunting tradition until the mid-twentieth century. The women are beautiful, with long black hair, colorfully decorated. Their hair dance is spectacular to watch. BLD
We continue to engage and experience the Wa culture, taking on daily tasks of our tribal host. Throughout, assistance and interpretation will be provided by our cultural specialist. A dinner party will be with Wa families. BLD
In the morning we bid farewell to the Wa and return to Simao. You will have the opportunity to refresh at the best hotel in the city and have free time to explore local shops. BLD
We will fly to Beijing in the morning, with plenty of time for connecting flights to the U.S. BL
Approximate cost of the trip based on double occupancy: $7,500 per family (2 persons), from Beijing.