Independent Exploration in China?

 

china night stIndependent Exploration in China? 

During our first sabbatical year, George and I traveled to several places I had always wanted to see like the Xi’an Warriors in China. After college in 1990, I studied ceramics for several years and learned to throw pots in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. I took class on Tuesday mornings with an incredible group of artists and grandmothers. They adopted me and at lunch often would discuss my latest date, job decision or other issue in my family. Dottie took me to her tailor when my dress for my sister’s wedding arrived but did not fit. She also taught me about Chinese brush painting and the Xi’an warriors.

Traveling in China independently in 2009 led to several language problems. We carried a wordless book with us and attempted to learn to speak. In Kunming, a man was cooking meat kabobs on the street and we pointed to our pictures of a cow, pig and lamb. He pointed to lamb and said “Chuggah.” So we went happily on our way believing we had learned a new word.

We entered a local store to buy ice and sodas. We could not find ice so we pointed to the photo of ice and the lady said “Chuggah.” That did not seem quite right. How could “Chuggah” mean lamb and ice? A kind gentleman intervened and explained that the store did not sell ice and “chuggah” means “this one.” We had many other humorous moments during our six weeks of travel as well as discovering many fantastic sites like The Great Wall and Three Gorges.

I can highly recommend travel in China and would understand that many feel the language barrier is too much for independent travel.  My friends who live in Beijing have recommended Wendy Wu China Holidays as a great tour operator. We noticed that many Chinese travel in groups in their own country. I found that surprising since they understand the language!

xianAs for the Xi’an warriors, when we arrived I was so excited to have my dream come true of seeing them that I simply jumped up and down! George remembers:

“The visual highlight was Pit 1. Nonetheless, the actual story behind the terracotta warriors was even more intriguing. Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China, had an army of life-size warriors fabricated to battle with him in the afterlife.  These artifacts, produced around 210 BC, were not discovered until 1974; local peasants who were searching for a new well site accidently unearthed the archaeological site. The terracotta warriors varied in height depending on rank, generals being the tallest. Since the excavations had commenced, warriors, chariots, and horses had been uncovered. The estimated quantity of warriors in the three pits amounts to eight thousand soldiers, one hundred and thirty chariots, and five hundred and twenty horses. Inconceivably, the majority of these estimates still lay below ground. In fact, Pit 1 was impressive because of the massive quantity of warriors that had already been uncovered. Pit 3, in contrast, was relatively small. Pit 2, although massive in size, was only excavated in one small section. Only in Pit 1 were hundreds of terracotta warriors visually lined up and prepared for battle.” Excerpt from Traveling in Sin, our memoir of our first sabbatical in Asia.

If you travel with Wendy Wu China Tours, you will be able to see many of the sites we discovered but might not have as many funny language stories! I hope that as 2013 comes to a close you are happy with your year of risks and adventures and if you have yet to see your dream site in person, you plan a trip for 2014!

 

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.6 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. 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 times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.6 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

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