Category Archives: India

Explore China with Wild China

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Wild China is an exceptional travel company that offers amazing trips of a lifetime in China and southeast Asia. Over the years, Wild China has received numerous awards, including NatGeo’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime and Travel + Leisure’s Trips of a Lifetime. It has also been named one of NatGeo’s Best Adventure Travel Companies (On Earth).

Wild China was conceived by founder and Yunnan local Mei Zhang during a 56km pilgrimage in the Himalayas. During her grueling hike, she had no guide, lodgings or transport. Her challenges inspired her to pioneer a service for other travelers to enjoy China’s stunning cultural and natural landmarks with expertise and comfort.

For those exploring China for the first time, their escorted itineraries take guests to Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, and other familiar marks on the map. Experience China with an experience team of travel professionals, with just your family or in a small group of 12 like-minded individuals.

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For seasoned travelers, Wild China offers personalized adventures in unique locations, such as the rugged Xinjiang Province or the Tibetan Plateau. Their team of expert adventurers will take you on unforgettable journey through the rich landscape that is East Asia.

Trips are offered as private tours (fully flexible) or small group tours (with scheduled departures). They also lead education tours designed to empower young people to make a difference in local communities.

Upcoming Trips Include: 

4-Day Beijing’s Past & Future

5-Day Escape to Lhasa

10-Day Ancient Tea and Horse Road with adventurer Jeff Fuchs

13-Day Gastronomic Tour of China with food writer Fuchsia Dunlop

and many more!

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Call your agent at Wittravel to learn more about these awesome trips—503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Pam’s Trip to India: Part Three — Mysore to Alleppey

This past April, Pam was invited on a guided tour through Southern India. Today we continue with Mysore, Calicut, Kochi, and Alleppey. In case you missed her notes on Bangalore and Coorg, check out Wednesday’s post.

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In Mysore, we visited the Maharaj Palace dating back to the early 1900s, where the royal family still resides. It was a magical evening viewing the Palace when it was lit by thousands of little lights outlining the building. On special days they light up the palace at night – we were lucky to be there for that time, so wandered around the outside in the evening with thousands of little lights outlining the building. It was a festive atmosphere, with lots of local families also out to enjoy the display.   Also went to the Chamundi Temple at the top of a large hill – this was a Hindu temple. Because cows are considered sacred and can’t be harmed (there are severe penalties for hitting a cow with a vehicle, and they are everywhere in India), there were lots of cows around the temple.

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The next day was one of the longest drives of the trip – 5 hours from Mysore to Calicut in the northern part of the state of Kerala. Much of it was through mountains and a national park. Stopped at an eco-resort for lunch – this was another interesting stop because we were there on the day that Kerala celebrates new year. We were served a vegetarian feast, served on banana leaves and eaten with our hands. I couldn’t really get the trick of eating rice with my fingers so I made a giant mess, but it was delicious! The resort was beautiful, with cabins scattered along a creek. It was the beginning of the monsoon season, though, so this was the place we encountered a lot of rain.

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Continued down the coast the next day to Cochin (Kochi), about 4 hours. Kochi is a lovely city with some unique sights. Stayed in a historic hotel called the Bruton Boatyard – this was an old boat building business transformed into a hotel. My balcony overlooked the sea, and it was really beautiful. The next morning went to the waterfront where they fish with Chinese fishing nets – these are large nets attached to a fixed platform, like a pier jutting out into the sea. Then several men raise and lower the nets, catching whatever happens to be swimming by at the time. These aren’t used anywhere else in the world except Kochi and in China. Kochi was a city where there were lots of influences, so we visited a Dutch Palace, the Episcopal Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral (where Vasco da Gama the Portuguese trader is buried). That evening attended a Kathakali dance, a unique costumed dance style native to Kerala.

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The next day was spent traveling south from Kochi to Alleppey where we boarded a house boat and had a day trip on the backwaters. These are canals that come in from the sea, lined with houses and lots of little boats. You can stay on some of the boats for an overnight. The last night was at the coconut Lagoon Hotel—this was very nice, out on an island with individual cottages with outdoor showers.

It was interesting going back to India after not having been there in 20 plus years. It has changed drastically – there are signs everywhere of an improving economy–the infrastructure is much improved, and there is clearly a rising middle class.  However, there is still a lot of litter and garbage everywhere, and we still did see people farming with ox-drawn plows.

I found Southern India fascinating and so different from Delhi and the North, it seemed like a separate country. The thing I like about India is the variety – there are so many religions, languages, and landscapes (everything from high mountains to deserts to tropics) that you could visit lots of different areas there without seeing the same thing.

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For more photos from Pam’s amazing trip, check out the gallery: https://wittravel.wordpress.com/gallery/india/

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Pam’s Trip to India: Part Two — Bangalore to Coorg

This past April, Pam was invited on a guided tour through Southern India. Her route included Bangalore, Coorg, Mysore, Calicut, Kochi, and Alleppey. Here’s her feedback:

The first afternoon in Bangalore (Bengaluru) we toured the Lal Bagh Gardens there. This is a large botanical garden with trees and plants imported from around the world, then continued to the Bull Temple which had a huge, carved bull in black stone.

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The next morning we left for about a 4 hour drive to Hassan, visiting a Jain temple called Shravanabelagola along the way. This temple was at the top of a huge granite outcrop, and you had to climb 712 hand-carved stairs to get to it. This is one I had to miss because I just couldn’t make it. You had to go barefoot or in socks, the rocks were slick, and there were all those stairs!

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We also stopped at the Hoysalesvara Temple at Helebid, which is a star-shaped temple, covered with beautiful carvings of Hindu gods, animals and birds. There was a temple festival going on while we were there, and this was a highlight of things to see – families were out in their best clothes, bringing flower offerings and offerings of coconuts, which were handed to priests who then smashed them open – quite a mess with coconut water and shells everywhere.

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Continuing on the road, the driver just stopped by the side of the road at a random village and told us that we could get out and wander through. Again everybody who lived there was surprised to see us and the one person who spoke English asked us why we were stopping, but then proceeded to give us an impromptu tour of the town, including a visit to his own house and showing off his newborn calf.

Coorg (Kodagu) is in the hills and much cooler than lower elevations, so many resorts have been built there and Indian families go there for vacations. We stayed at the Heritage Resort which one of a chain of hotels owned by Indo-Asia Tours. It was very comfortable with individual cabanas stretching up a hill – at the top of the hill was the restaurant and pool, with fantastic views over the mountains. That evening I went to visit a different hotel – the Orange County Hotel which was exquisite. They were built in a coffee plantation, with individual villas with plunge pools, gorgeous landscaping, 3 or 4 restaurants.

On our drive from Coorg to Mysore, we stopped at the Namdroling Monastery, the largest Tibetan settlement in India. The Indian government has given the Tibetan refugees some land to government autonomously – you pass over a border, go through some farmland, and come to a very large and active Tibetan monastery. It has been there since the 1950’s when the refugees left Tibet.

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More photos can be viewed here. Stay Tuned Until Friday for her comments on Mysore to Alleppey!

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Pam’s Trip to India: Part One – Photos

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This past April, Willamette Intl Travel Agent Pam was invited to attend a 3-day conference on tourism in Delhi, followed by a tour through Southern India. After the Delhi conference, she flew up to Bangalore, the center of “high-tech” industry in India, where she spent one night before continuing on through the region. Her route through Coorg, Mysore, Calicut, Kochi, and Alleppey included a tour of beautiful botanical gardens, famous and less famous temples, privately-owned coffee plantation and several villages.

On Wednesday we will share some of her firsthand feedback, but for now check out her photos from the trip: https://wittravel.wordpress.com/gallery/india/

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Reading List: India

Read before you go! Willamette Intl Travel agents share their favorite fiction from India.

William Dalrymple. City of Djinns. A sparkling account of Delhi’s history, with a collection of memorable characters from Moguls to eunuchs.

Rudyard Kipling. Indian Stories. A collection of short stories set in India from one of the our favorite expats.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Heat and Dust. The story of a bored English colonial wife in the 1920s who is drawn inexorably into the political intrigues of an Indian prince.

Jhumpa Lahiri. The Namesake: A Novel. The story of a family that moves from a traditional life in Calcutta to Massachusetts.

Rudyard Kipling. Kim. The classic tale of an orphan who is involved in a secret mission for the British. 

Aravind Adiga. The White Tiger: A Novel. A poor Indian villager’s ambition leads him deep into the world of Bangalore business culture.

Jawaharlal Nehru. The Discovery of India. Written by one of India’s most famous statesman.

Arundhati Roy. The God of Small Things. The story of an affluent Indian family that is at once a powerful family saga, political drama, and forbidden romance.

E.M. Forster. A Passage to India. Colonialism and the clash of culture in British India.

Rohinton Mistry. A Fine Balance. A magnificent novel of corruption and heroism in 1975 India.

Interested in booking a trip to India? Call us for more details, 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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