China: Make Good Choices


china night stBefore I traveled to China, I was worried about so many things. Would I find anything to eat? Would the bathrooms be clean? Would we be able to find the right bus? I had carried a wordless book with colorful images in hopes that when I could not communicate, I could point. On the street our first night in Kunming, I was trying to find out what food some men were cooking.

“I showed the vendors the animal page with a cow, pig, and sheep and pointed to the kebabs. The man pointed to sheep and said, “Chuggah.” I thought to myself, “Great. We learned a word in Chinese. Chuggah means sheep.” At a mini-mart around the corner, I confidently used the wordless book, pointing to a picture of ice. The lady looked at me and asked, “Chuggah?” I thought, “How odd. Sheep do not look like ice. Sheep and ice are the same word with the tones?” (from Traveling in Sin)

A nice man we met in the store named Jackie explained that “Chuggah” did not mean sheep or ice. It simply meant “This one.” I realized traveling in China would be very different from being an independent traveler in Thailand or New Zealand.

Learning about the history and culture in China was a highlight of our year trip away. I loved staying in a 1000-year-old hotel in Lang Zhong and learning about Chinese New Year. I recently discovered an app that discovers what your Chinese New Year Horoscope is and tells you what vacation spot is a match for you!

The Thomas Cook Chinese New Year Horoscope Finder

xian The sights in China were truly amazing. I loved our bus trip to Shilin to see the Stone Forest. After a few weeks, we realized there was so much to see and chose to extend our visa and stay six weeks instead of four. During our travels by bus and boat, we saw many famous sights and UNESCO highlights. I highly recommend you visit this amazing country.

Although at first I was concerned that I would not find food or a way around, I realized that it was possible to travel independently in China. I just had to put in more effort. My whole life I had waited to see Xi’an and the terracotta warriors. The day we visited, I was so excited I was jumping up and down when we saw the first horse. I will never forget seeing all the soldiers and exploring the excavations.

I hope that wherever you dream to travel you make your wish come true this year. As they say at La Rev, “Life is Short. Make Good Choices.”

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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