Tag Archives: china

Happy Year of the Rooster!

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Chinese populations all over the world will be celebrating lunar New Year’s Festival, from this Saturday, 28 January, and continuing for two weeks. Dozens of countries, and countless Chinese communities across the globe, come together to lion-dance, explode fireworks, and be merry. On the 15th day of the New Year—this year on February 11—is the pinnacle of festivities, the beautiful Lantern Festival. Lucky for you if you’re in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, or Vietnam during this fortnight!

According to the Chinese zodiac, it’s the Year of the Rooster—so don’t be surprised if you see images of brilliant yellow and red roosters all over.

Traditionally, families get together and munch on specially prepared dumplings. They clean the house, sweeping away ill fortune and making way for incoming good luck. Relatives exchange red paper arts, light firecrackers and gift money to children. You may catch a dragon dance on the street or a martial arts performance. It’s a great time to visit China and its neighbors!
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Popular Greetings:
1. 新年好 / 新年好 (Xīnnián hǎo) ‘New Year goodness!’
/sshin-nyen haoww/
2. 恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財 (Gōngxǐ fācái) ‘Happiness and prosperity!’
/gong-sshee faa-tseye/
3. 步步高升 / 步步高陞 (Bùbù gāoshēng)  A steady rise to high places! — “on the up and up”
/boo-boo gaoww-shnng /

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Read more from around the Web:
How to Celebrate Chinese New Year
Non-Touristy Ways to See the Great Wall of China
China’s massive Lunar New Year rush

Interested in a Vacation to China or Taiwan but not sure where to start? Give our agents a ring! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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5 Great Destinations to Fly in a Balloon (that aren’t Cappadocia)

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Photo by WIT Owner Christina, in Namibia

Have you ever flown in a Hot Air Balloon? Imagine drifting at a languid pace, above a breathless landscape, slowly transforming before your eyes with the sunrise. the crisp, open-air and the adrenaline from the height keep your senses alert. It’s an exhilarating experience like no other.

One of the more popular activities in Turkey is riding a hot air balloon above the rock chimneys of Cappadocia. The arid landscape, full of green vineyards and surreal limestone peaks, draws thousands of visitors each year. But what if you’re not in Turkey? Here are five of our recommended places around the world to hop in a hot air balloon.

1. Jaipur, India.

Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan province in northern India, is known for its historic forts, pink palaces and ornate, fanciful architecture. A hot air balloon provides a bird’s eye view of the Palace of the Winds and the Amber Fort. Sunrise is always the best time to watch the colors unfold around you, from vast deserts to Rajasthani villages, and the majestic Aravali Mountain range beyond.

2. Australia.

Australia is a treasure-trove for hot balloon locations, with its miles of open, unexplored landscape. The Red Center is the country’s outback, home to the fiery monolith of Uluru, hopping kangaroos and surreal rock formations. Further south along the coast, the Yarra Valley also makes for some rich balloon scenery, with acres of blooming vineyards and orchards.

3. Yang Shuo, China.

Dramatic karst formations and green rivers make Yang Shuo a perfect destination for balloons. Located just northwest of Hong Kong, Yang Shuo is known for its outdoor adventures. Float slowly above peaks more than a kilometer high, above paddy fields, bamboo thickets, water buffalos and orchards of mandarins. The best time for views of the emerald landscape is the first two hours after sunrise.

4. Namibia.

This past autumn WIT Owners Christina and John guided a group out into the red deserts of Namibia. Their hot air experience remains one of the more memorable ones from the trip! Admire the desert world as the sun rises of pink sand dunes in Sossusvlei, over the rock formations of Naukluft Mountain. Marvel at the constantly changing kaleidoscope of colors, accentuated by big, bold shadows of cliff faces.

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5. Bagan, Burma.

The ancient city of Bagan is home to more than 2,000 pagodas, stupas and temples with a 26-square mile zone—a dizzying display of Buddhist piety. The “gilded city,” as Marco Polo called it, was once home to 13,000 temples in its 11th century heyday. The iconic landscape of stupas stretching out above banyan branches, and the mist-covered Irrawaddy River, is all the more gorgeous from the heights. But be aware that the balloon season is seasonal; due to strong winds, hot air balloons only ride from November to March.

Have a Destination you Recommend for Hot Air Ballooning? Let us know in the comments!

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Travel News: Alaska Airlines’ New Premium Class

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Alaska Airlines’ New Premium Class Section Now Available For Purchase
Upgrades start at $15, starting in January fliers will enjoy a seat with extra legroom and additional perks. The airline will debut its Premium Class section for travel on select routes beginning Jan. 5, 2017, as it continues a significant retrofit of its all-Boeing fleet. You can now purchase seats with up to four more inches of space between rows. In addition to four extra inches of legroom, passengers seated in Premium Class will enjoy early boarding, snacks and complimentary drinks. Alaska Mileage Plan MVP, Gold and Gold 75K members will be eligible for complimentary upgrades into Premium Class at the time of booking, or up to 24 hours in advance of travel, depending on status and the fare purchased. With the addition of Premium Class, Alaska’s most loyal customers who aren’t able to upgrade into First Class will see a significantly increased likelihood of getting a seat with more legroom near the front of the cabin. For more information around upgrades for elites see the Alaska Airlines blog: Treat yourself: Alaska Airlines launches new Premium Class. Initial prices for Premium Class seats range from $15 to $79 in addition to base fares and are based on the length of the flight. Seats in the new section can be purchased at the time of booking through alaskaair.com or Alaska’s mobile apps, during check-in, and at the airport.

Chinese Visa Scanning on the United App

On October 20 United Airlines introduced new functionality in their mobile app that makes travel to China easier than ever. Customers can use their iPhone, iPad or Android device to scan their Chinese visa to complete check-in through the United app. This new functionality delivers a convenient channel to provide visa information during the 24-hour check-in window prior to departure. 

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Icelandair Adds New US Destinations And Extra Flights

Icelandair is to increase its seat capacity by 11.5% next year as it continues to build up its network linking Europe and North America. The carrier is adding two new destinations in the US next year, Philadelphia and Tampa, which will take its number of North American routes up to 18 flying through its Reykjavik hub. Icelandair will begin flying to Philadelphia on May 30, 2017 and the service will initially run as a summer-only route which will operate until September 20, 2017. If it is successful, the route may eventually become year-round. Tampa will be added as a new destination from September 7, 2017, operating twice per week, and will complement the existing Orlando route, which runs five times per week. Both services will operate year-round from next September when there will be a daily service from Iceland to Florida. The airline also serves 26 destinations in Europe including five UK airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. Sister carrier Air Iceland also flies from Reykjavik to Aberdeen. 

Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival Set For 2017

In 2017 Canada marks its 150th birthday, with holiday-makers invited to join in the countrywide, year-long celebrations. The main focus for national events will be the capital city Ottawa, where 12 epic months of big, bold, immersive and moving experiences will be on offer. The first major ‘National Partner Event’ of the Ottawa 2017 calendar will be a special edition of the annual Winterlude festival, which will wow visitors over three fun-filled weekends, 3 – 20 February. Next years’ will be the 39th edition of Winterlude, when Ottawa will be transformed into an enchanting city of all things snowy and frozen. Organizers are promising a festival that will be bigger and better than ever, with some 600,000 revelers expected to descend on the capital. The bumper sized celebrations will be centered in and around three downtown locations, all of which will be free of charge to the public.

US Preclearance Expanding To Stockholm In 2019

The United States and Sweden signed an agreement on Friday to expand the preclearance to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport. There are other airports wishing to join the program from number of countries. The Swedish government said it hopes the increased ease of travel will have positive consequences in making Sweden a more attractive place for international companies to base their headquarters in. The goal of the so-called Preclearance program is to extend security and thwart the arrival of unwelcome visitors before they reach the US but the advantage for all travelers is to clear Customs before getting aboard the plane, and to avoid long lines upon arrival. The airports embarking on the process to join the program include Bogota, Buenos Aires, Edinburgh, Kansai, Milan, Reykjavik, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, and Saint Martin. More than 10 million travelers fly to the U.S. from those airports each year. The program already screens about 18 million travelers per year arriving from 15 airports mostly in Canada, the Caribbean and Ireland.

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Stockholm at Night

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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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Happy Chinese New Year from Willamette Intl Travel!

photo by screaming_monkey, Creative Commons

新年快乐! Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Happy Chinese New Year from Willamette Intl Travel! January 31 marks the beginning of the Year of the Horse! The official Chinese spring festival launches off with the New Year and ends on the Lantern Festival, February 14!

The Year of the Horse is traditionally forecast to be the year of adventure and romance! Where are YOU going to travel to in 2014? Share with us in the comments!

Planning a trip to China? WIT Agents Barb and Pam have both traveled on land and river through China in the past two years—highlights incluedd the Yangtze Cruise, Suzhou, Shanghai, Xi’an and the Forbidden City in Beijing! We can recommend options for independent travel, or discuss the best guides for an escorted tour! Call 503-224-0180 today to speak with more of our specialists.

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photo by WIT Agent Barb Baumer

In Portland, Oregon? Ring in the New Year at Lan Su Chinese Garden downtown. This weekend there are lion dances, calligraphy demonstrations, shaolin demonstrations and opportunities to make your own new year card!

Check out more of our posts on China:

Barb’s Adventures in China
Barb’s Photos
Pam’s Cruise on the Yangtze River with Viking Cruises
The Silk Road, Art Tours with Amy Osaki
Celebrating Chinese New Year around the World

Here’s to another Great Year of Adventure!

photo by photo_gratis, Creative Commons

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On the Ground in China!

Considering a guided trip to China but can’t visualize your day to day? Step into our On the Ground with WIT Agent Barb Baumer. Barb traveled to China in March 2013 with one of our favorite small group tour organizers, General Tours.

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We stayed at the Sofitel in Beijing, a very nice hotel in a good location, not too far from Tiananmen Square. In the morning we had a walking tour of the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven. In the afternoon we visited we visited the Great Wall. There are now two locations most frequented by visitors, General Tours goes to this newer location called Ju Yong Guan, as it is less crowded with visitors.

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After one day in Beijing, we flew to Xian for an experience unique to General Tours—GT partners up with the Antiquity museum and allowed us to examine and handle ancient artifacts thousands of years old, all of which have been recently excavated from archaeological sites all across China.

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We also visited the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian. It’s an amazing place, much larger than I expected. IT’s hard to comprehend the enormity of the area and the amount of artifacts that have been uncovered. They are still working to rebuild many broken statues!DSC01028

We then flew to Chongqing to start our Yangtze River Cruise on the Yangtze Explorer. This ship has large rooms, all with balconies and lots of storage space, very substantial buffets for breakfast and lunch, with multiple a la carte choices for dinner. We stopped at the village Fengdu and sailed through the Three Gorges.

In Shanghai we spent time walking along the Bund and Pudong. General Tours took us to a small silk factory where we were educated on the production of silk fabric. We also spent time at the Shanghai Museum, which has great collections of Chinese artifacts, sculptures, paintings and ceramics from many different eras.

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We also were set up for a private guided trip to Suzhou, Portland’s Sister City—the city has so many gardens—it was early spring and things were just starting to bloom. We took a high speed train and met a guide in Hangzhou, a beautiful city on a lake surrounded by green hills. We visited a Buddhist temple in the hills and a tea farm—a nice respite from the bustling Shanghai.

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WIT Agent Barb would love to share with you more of her firsthand tips from China! Call Barb at 503-224-0180 for more information on China and/or General Tours.

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WIT Agent Barb heads over to China!

This week WIT Agent Barbara is heading out to the land of Dragons and Emperors! She is traveling with General Tours in China!

General Tours is renowned for its small group tours, with a maximum of 16 passengers that can book. Founded in 1947, GT is one of America’s oldest tour companies and has been lauded by Frommer’s, Travle + Leisure, and the New York Times. The tours are fully escorted, and each includes private transportation, insightful tour guides, entrance fees, most meals, internal flights and taxes. Remember agent Linda’s terrific trip to Colombia last summer? It was organized by General Tours!

Escorted by GT’s sales manager Judy Ruffini, Barb will be venturing through some major highlights of China—Beijing, Xian, the Three Gorges, and Shanghai. Here’s a sneak peek to her itinerary:

March 18-19 – Beijing. With her guide and compatriots, Barb will check out the age-old city of Beijing. She’ll explore the historic Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, and the inner courtyards of the Forbidden City. Her accommodations are pre-arranged at the Sofitel Wanda—a 5-star hotel with Sino-French influences. Centrally located with easy access to the city square, the hotel also features 4 restaurants, ballroom, and spa.

March 20-21 – Xi’an. Next, Barb will head to China’s elusive ancient capital, Xi’an. She will come face to face with the terra cotta army and learn about dance and music of the T’ang Dynasty via a live performance. She and her group will overnight at the Hilton Hotel Xian, a contemporary hotel located downtown with décor inspired by T’ang Dynasty artwork.

March 22 – Fengdu. Barb will explore the “Ghost City” of Fengdu and its lovely, historic temples.

March 23-24 – The Mighty Three Gorges and Shennong Stream. Barb and the rest of the GT gang will hop on a river boat up the Yangtze and take in the scenery of the coastline and mountain peaks. She’ll visit the mighty Three Gorges Dam and learn about its ecological and economic impacts.

March 25 – Shanghai. Finally, Barb will land in Shanghai, where she has the day to explore this cosmopolitan city and its fascinating Bazaar, tranquil Yu Yuan Garden, and hip Tianzifang district. Her accommodations are located in the center of Shanghai, opposite the People’s Square. The 5-star Le Meridien Hotel has luxurious rooms that are equipped with wall to wall windows, 42” plasma TVs, 10 restaurants, and views of the Bund, river, or Shanghai’s skyline.

Call Wittravel to discuss whether GT is right for you. We can advise you of your travel options, make reservations and shape the perfect itinerary for your preferences! We put our clients first and work hard to ensure you have a terrific trip.

Extend your trip with an add-on in Japan or South Korea! Want to splurge for a night or two? Think about the new Club Med’s resort in Guilin! For reservations or general information, give us a call.

And that’s not all! General Tours always seems to have sales and offers going on:

–         Pay in Full 2013: Save $600 or more per couple on any of our 2013 Small Group, Private Tours or Small Ship journeys when you pay-in-full at time of booking by August 30, 2013.

–         Family and Friends: Pay in Full and refer a friend or family member and save even more on your booking. Save $50 per person when 3 guests go, save $100 more per person with 4, $150 more per person with 5, $200 more per person with 6+!

WIT Agents Linda, Christina, Pam and Wailana have all been to China. Linda recently traveled to Colombia on a small group itinerary with General Tours. Call us for more details! 800.821.0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Asia, China, General Tours, Our Travel Agents, SALES, Vendors, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?