September 3, 2014 to September 13, 2014

A unique travel experience for those interested in exotic destinations and complementary health care.

Day One - Wednesday, 9/3 - USA to Beijing
Depart from Boise for Beijing. On this day you will cross the International Dateline on your way to the People’s Republic of China. Once on board, change your watch to China time: 14 hours ahead of Mountain Standard Time. (Noon in Boise is 2AM TOMORROW, China time!) All of China is on one time zone. . .Beijing Time Zone.

Day Two - Thursday, 9/4 - Arrive Beijing
You will be met at the Beijing Capital Airport and transferred to the hotel in the heart of Beijing. Following hotel check-in, and a time to freshen up, we can explore the Wangfujing Walking Street area.Local Beijing-style food is readily available... if you are hungry. There are lots of things to try! We can walk, gawk, and enjoy the central shopping area of Beijing. It’s fun to absorb the pace of the people and the feeling of the city! You are in the friendliest city in China, and perhaps, the world!


Day Three - Friday, 9/5 - Beijing
Sleep in a bit, and meet for breakfast at 0800.
Enjoy breakfast in the hotel restaurant. There are lots of things to chose from... both Western and Asian foods.
Fruit, juices, cereal, eggs, tea, coffee and assorted breads are always available.
Following breakfast we will walk to Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world, about ¼ mile from our hotel.
At over 108 acres, Tiananmen Square can accommodate more than 1 million people.
We will cross the Square, viewing the elaborate Soviet-style statues dedicated to the heroes of the revolution, and the mausoleum of Chairman Mao.

While we remember Tiananmen Square for the student democracy demonstrations and associated deaths in 1989, the Chinese People remember it as the birthplace of the PRC, the People’s Republic of China.

Looking north, we will see an enormous portrait of Chairman Mao, above Tiananmen (The Gate of Heavenly Peace), the entrance to the Forbidden City. In 1949, Mao declared the start of the PRC from the balcony above this gate.

In 1966, from this same venue, he set the students and Red Guards on the path to Communist reform, starting the Cultural Revolution in the PRC. Ten years of absolute chaos, death and destruction followed. We will cross Chang An (Everlasting Peace) Boulevard, and enter the Forbidden City through Tiananmen Gate.

The Forbidden City, the central landmark in Beijing, is a double walled structure, officially known as the Former Imperial Palace, or Gu Gong.

We will enter by the south gate and traverse the length (3,150 feet) viewing the relics and 9,999 buildings within this 183-acre cultural treasure.

Gu Gong was home to twenty-four emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, from 1407 to 1911.

We will exit through the North Gate (Gate of Divine Might), and walk to the nearest subway station, where you will get an introduction to mass transit in Beijing. Use of the subway is amazingly easy, cheap and safe. Expect it to be crowded, but not uncomfortably so. Following lunch at a famous vegetarian restaurant, we will visit Yonghegong Lama Temple.

This Tibetan Buddhist temple is Beijing's most visited religious site. Its five main halls and numerous galleries are hung with finely detailed thangkhas (painted cloth scrolls) and decorated with carved or cast Buddha images - - all guarded by young lamas (monks).

Originally a palace for Prince Yongzheng, it was transformed into a temple after he became the Qing's third emperor in 1723. The temple flourished under Yongzheng's successor, Emperor Qianlong, housing some 500 resident monks.

Unlike most "feudal" sites in Beijing, the Lama Temple survived the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution mostly unscathed. Premier Zhou Enlai is credited with saving not only Yonghegong, but also Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou during this tumultuous period! (We will visit Lingyin Temple while we are in Hangzhou!). While the reason remains a mystery as to why the Premier would want to save a religious site, personal speculation is that his mother may have been a devout Buddhist. Be sure your camera battery is well charged!  This is a fantastic place for candid shots. Our evening destination is the Peking Opera. Peking Opera is quite different than western opera, in that it is one part singing, one part acting, and one part acrobatics/martial arts (kung fu). English subtitles are provided on adjacent screens. After a while, the subtitles become less important, as you start to understand the plot of the opera and characters. It is true Chinese culture. Since Peking Opera is basically a People’s event, there is no need to dress formally. Business casual dress will do just fine.

Day Four - Saturday, 9/6 - Beijing- Huanghua Great Wall This morning, we will eat breakfast early at the hotel and then travel to Huanghua Great Wall of China, 40 miles north of Beijing. Huanghua is off the usual tourist route and represents a fine example of the un-restored Great Wall of China. Builtin the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Huanghua (Yellow Flower in Chinese) has a colorful history to match its name. When summer comes, the entire village under the Huanghua Great Wall is immersed in a sea of yellow wild flowers, hence the name.
  • On a cliff by the Huanghua Great Wall are two big Chinese characters 'jin tang' which means being very firm and strong. There is a legend about the origin of these characters. In the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor ordered a general named Cai Kai to build the Great Wall here. But it took many years to accomplish the construction. The slow pace of construction angered the Emperor greatly. At the same time, a treacherous official falsely reported that Cai Kai had spent too much money in building Huanghua and that the work was shoddy. As a result, Cai Kai was called before the Emperor and beheaded.
  • Later, the Emperor asked his ministers to check the construction. They found that Huanghua Great Wall was well built, strongly fortified and extremely steep. The Emperor realized that he had treated Cai Kai unjustly and ordered craftsman to carve these two Chinese characters. Today, Huanghua Great Wall is also called the Jintang Great Wall; the lake under it is Jintang Lake.
Many portions are quite steep, with some approaching 75 degrees. Footing can be treacherous in spots. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots and bring a knapsack with some food and plenty of water. A broad brimmed hat (any color but green - we will explain fully once we are in China!), sunglasses and sunscreen are a must. We will be well above Beijing in altitude. The weather at Huanghua is unpredictable. It can be sunny one hour and raining or snowing the next. It is generally windy and cool, but can be scorching under mid-day sun, due to reflection from the stone. Our destination, the uppermost watch tower, affords a spectacular 360 degree view of the surrounding area. You can see the Great Wall climb high up adjacent mountain ridges and disappear into the distance. Birds soar above and fresh breezes blow freely. If you are so inclined, we can practice yoga, qigong or taiji at this ancient scenic spot. Following our climb, we will eat at a peasant restaurant beside the Wall. The owner is quite gracious, and cooks wonderful roasted fresh fish, and assorted vegetable dishes. Her preparation of eggplant is exquisite. We can relax there, and watch the world go by.We will return to our hotel and rest for awhile. Following dinner, we will enjoy a TCM foot soak and therapeutic foot massage to soothe those tired feet. Multiple forms of Chinese full-body massage are also available at reasonable prices.

Day Five - Sunday, 9/7 - Beijing
Today will begin early with a full day introduction to Qigong, Chinese Nutrition and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with Alex Tan, TCM physician and Qigong Master.
  • You will travel early in the morning to Di Tan Park where you will receive individual instruction in the breathing techniques, movements and theory of Qigong.
  • While enjoying a traditional Chinese breakfast, you will learn what, when and how you eat flows into every part of your life.
  • Following breakfast, you will receive 2 hours of instruction on the theory and philosophy behind Asian health and longevity practices, known as TCM.
  • During lunch, you will learn the art of how Chinese order food; balancing textures, cooking styles, rich and bland foods, and the importance of soups.
  • You will return to a Traditional Courtyard Home, where Alex,your personal TCM Practitioner, will diagnose and outline your key imbalances from a TCM perspective.
  • He will conduct an individualized TCM treatment (acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, gua-sha, etc. ), helping you understand your imbalances and showing you what you can do about them, using TCM diet therapy, Qigong, positive psychology and daily rhythms.
  • Finally, you will experience a traditional foot massage, and learn how this TCM modality works, and why it is so important for digestion and sleep.
After return to our hotel for some rest and relaxation, we will go to the famous Quanjude Peking Duck Restaurant for our farewell-to-Beijing banquet.

Day Six - Monday, 9/8 - Beijing to Hangzhou
This morning we must check out of our hotel before 9 AM. The Concierge at the hotel will hold our luggage while we travel to The Hutong for a Chinese cooking class. We plan to be back at the hotel no later than 2:00 PM, since we must arrive at the Beijing Train Station more than 1 hour before departure. At 4:55, we take the overnight train to Hangzhou. Our accommodations will be in a Soft Sleeper Cabin. If you desire, for an additional charge, you can upgrade to a Luxury Soft Sleeper Cabin, if available. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee Luxury Soft Sleeper upgrades, since there are a limited number on each train.
  • Each Soft Sleeper compartment has four bunks, with quality bedding. Luxury Soft Sleeper compartments contain two bunks. Facilities such as thermos, tray for litter, rubbish bin, temperature control, reading lamp, and slippers are available in either compartment.
  • On selected trains, the luxury soft sleeper compartment may contain a private toilet, equipped with wash-basin, mirror, seat-type toilet, and toilet paper(!). Please note: We are not able to guarantee the presence of the private toilet in all Luxury Soft Sleeper Compartments, since each train apparently has different facilities.
Day Seven - Tuesday, 9/9 - Hangzhou
We arrive in Hangzhou at 0830, and will transport to our hotel near West Lake.Hangzhou has long been known as one of the most beautiful cities in all of China. In the late 13th Century, Marco Polo marveled at its beauty. In fact, there is an old Chinese saying: ????????,“shàng y?u ti?n táng, xià y?u S? Háng”: “In heaven there is paradise, on earth, there is Suzhou and Hangzhou. ”The West Lake is undoubtedly the most renowned feature of Hangzhou, noted for the scenic beauty that blends naturally with many famous historical and cultural sites. Our hotel is quite near West Lake, so we can walk and enjoy the beautiful view of this historic landmark. Hangzhou has numerous bicycles for rent, located at self service kiosks. We will provide you with a rental card, so you can use bicycles for transportation while in Hangzhou.

Evening activities are open. We could visit the famous Hefeng Walking Street. There are numerous small shops to explore. Of particular interest are the TCM Pharmacy and the adjacent museum.
  • Hangzhou is also known for the fragrant, locally grown, Long Jing (Dragon Well) tea. Tea houses are plentiful; many of which overlook West Lake. We can stop for a few cups of this tasty green tea, relax and watch the world go by.
  • One of the most important parts of traveling is tasting the local delicacies. Hangzhou dishes are noted for their elaborate preparation, sophisticated cooking and refreshing taste. Many local specialties will be sure to make your trip a cultural experience. We recommend that you try Beggar's Chicken (a chicken baked in clay), West Lake Vinegar Fish (fish fresh caught from the lake coated with a sweet-sour vinegar sauce), Dongpo Pork (braised pork) and tiny Crystal Shrimp cooked with Long Jing Tea.
Day Eight- Wednesday, 9/10 - Hangzhou
This day is devoted to exploring the historic areas surrounding West Lake and getting some exercise. Located north-west of West Lake, Lingyin Si (Temple of the Soul’s Retreat) is one of the ten most significant ancient temples of Zen Buddhism in China.
  • Lingyin Temple was built in 328 AD, and has a history of over 1685 years. Destroyed and rebuilt no less than 16 times, the present Temple reflects late Qing Dynasty design.On August 26, 1966, a portion of the Red Guards of Hangzhou in the name of sweeping away the Four Olds, (old culture, customs, habits and traditional beliefs) targeted Lingyin Temple and threatened to dismantle the temple and destroy all the Buddhist statues. On that day, thousands of workers, farmers and students automatically gathered and remained at the front gate and the rear gate of Lingyin Temple to protect it from The Red Guards’ destruction. Fierce debates and armed conflict ensued between opposing factions.Urgent appeals were made to Premier Zhou Enlai to save this sacred site from the impending destruction. He eventually closed down Lingyin Temple by governmental order. While Lingyin Temple was protected successfully, it did sustain defacement of some easily accessible carvings.
  • During this crisis, the monks of the temple, despite capture, humiliation and persecution, made great efforts to protect the Temple and its contents. On the one hand, these monks publicized the announcement of the State Council, and on the other hand, bought portraits of Chairman Mao and pasted them on the Buddhist statues to protect them from destruction by the Red Guards. Few foreigners realize how many died to protect this and other sacred sites in China.
Located directly in front of Lingyin Temple is Fei Lai Feng (Peak Flown from Afar). The peak is so-named because it is made of limestone, giving it a craggy appearance; very different geologically  from the surrounding sandstone mountains.
  • Legend holds that the peak was originally fromIndia but flew toHangzhouovernight as a demonstration of the omnipotence of the Buddha.The caves of this mountain shelter about 330 stone statues dating from the 10th to the 14th centuries. The statues appear in a variety of poses ranging from standing, to sitting, to sleeping. A favorite may be the Laughing Buddha, sitting on the cliff beside the stream with exposed breast and belly. If you wonder why he has such a big belly, there is a famous couplet that states: “His big belly contains all that cannot be bore in the world; He laughs at the man who deserves to be laughed at on the earth. ”
  • This life-like statue is the largest one of all the statues on Fei Lai Feng, and the earliest Laughing Buddha carved in China.
Day Nine-Thursday, 9/11 - Hangzhou
Today, you will travel to a TCM hospital to observe the TCM modality known as Tuina. (literally: “push grasp”)
  • Dating back to 1700 BCE, Tuina is a combination of specific massage techniques and manipulation of joints, similar to chiropractic.Tuina does not simply work on the muscles, bones, and joints. It works with the energy of the body at a deeper level. As the practitioner senses the client's body with her hands, she is able to assess the distribution of energy and affect its flow.
  • Tuina is part of basic TCM education in every TCM medical school in China.
Day Ten - Friday, 9/12 - Hangzhou to Shanghai
Around noon, we will catch the high speed train to Shanghai.This train reaches speeds of greater than 300 kph (185 mph). The time to drive to Shanghai from Hangzhou is more than 3 hours. We will make the trip in one hour!Shanghai, a city of more than 23.9 million people, is the second largest city in China. (Chongqing is the largest, with more than 32 million!)  With a rich history of international trading, Shanghai is truly a modern city. Our hotel is walking distance from the Bund; an area with dozens of historical buildings, lining the Huangpu River.
  • At the end of the 19th century, the Bund housed numerous banks and trading houses from theUnited Kingdom,France, US,Italy,Russia,Germany,Japan, NetherlandsandBelgium, as well as the consulates of Russiaand Britain.
  • Today, it is the hub of tourism in Shanghai. The wide walkway on the Huangpu River offers spectacular views of modern Shanghai architecture and the busy river traffic.
Skyscrapers dominate the horizon, with the Oriental Pearl Tower capturing the eye of every visitor.
  • At a height of 1,535 feet, the Tower is home to the local TV and radio stations. There are fifteen observation levels; the highest at 1,148 ft. There is a revolving restaurant at the 876 ft level. The Tower also contains exhibition facilities, restaurants and a shopping mall. There is also a 20-room hotel called the Space Hotel between the two large spheres.
  • At night, the exterior lights change in color and design, creating a sight unmatched anywhere.
In the evening, we will take a cruise on the Huangpu River, to enjoy the splendor that is Shanghai at night.   Our hotel is also walking distance to Nanjing Road, the neon splendored walking street that rivals the Ginza in Tokyo. It is “shopping heaven” with numerous upscale shops and restaurants. It is also a great place for people watching.

Day Eleven- Saturday - 9/13 - Shanghai to USA
Following an early breakfast and check out, we will depart for Shanghai Pu Dong Airport (PVG). In moderate traffic, PVG is a one hour drive. Plan to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours ahead of departure time.Once again, you will cross the International Dateline on your journey back home. This time, you will GAIN a day. In fact, you may land in the USA the same day, before you departed Shanghai. It’s Groundhog Day all over again!

Important Background Information

Tuina MassageTuina massage is an age old part of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) which is still used today to treat ailments and as a preventative therapy. It utilizes a "push, grasp" technique to remove blockages along the meridians of the body. This stimulates the flow of energy (qi) and blood to relieve stress throughout the body; including imbalances in the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems. Techniques can include light, feathery strokes to deep tissue work depending on the client. It is a holistic approach that treats, first and foremost,the entire personand not just symptoms or conditions.Tuina massage aims to balance the 8 Principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine: cold and heat, exterior and interior, deficiency and excess; yin and yang. During our tour, we will learn the theory, principles and techniques used in Tuina massage at the Zhejiang Provincial Acupuncture and Tuina Hospital in Hangzhou.Your instructor will be Dr. Chu Hailin; a TCM Physician, Professor at Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, and retired Tuina Department Chairman at Zhejiang Provincial Acupuncture and Tuina Hospital.

The word yoga derives from the Sanskrit word "yuj"meaning "union" or "yoke. " Hatha yoga (Ha means "sun" and tha means "moon") is a physical form of yoga that helps to bring the body and mind into alignment and harmony. Itpromotes balance, connection andhealing into today's alienating, fragmented and frenetic world. Just as with other Asian modalities (India is considered part of Asia) it aims at freeing the flow of energy through the bodyto heal and nurture not only the individual but the world surrounding all of us. We willlearn and practice yoga as time, location and desire permit.

Qigong means "energy cultivation. " It is the basis of all martial arts training and works to align breath, movement and awareness. It works through all 8 meridians of the body andis an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The practice of qigong is over 4,000 years old. Its origin traces back to  Taoist philosophy, which is the indigenous belief system of China. When Buddhism came to China from India, early in the first century A.D. some of the meditation and physical practices of yoga were assimilated into the qigong tradition.The 8 Pieces of Brocade or 8 Silken Movementsare a form of medical qigong meant to maintain and improve health. The 8Pieces of  Brocade form is attributed to Chinese folk hero General Yue Fei (1103-1142). General Yue used it to keep his soldiers strong and to rehabilitate injured and sick soldiers as his forces helped repel Mongolian invaders from the north.The tomb of General Yue Fei is located near West Lake in Hangzhou. We can easily visit the memorial to this famous Chinese hero, while we are in Hangzhou.During our tour wewill receive instruction in qigong both in Beijing and Hangzhou. In Beijing, your instructor will be Dr. Alex Tan; a TCM physician and Qigong Master.Throughout the tour, we will continue to learn and practice both the sitting and standing forms of the 8 Pieces of Brocade. Your instructor will be Christina Linane, LMT;  certified massage therapist, qigong instructorand Boise State University yoga instructor. Your study of Qigong will serve as a lasting reminder and benefit of our time together in China.

We sincerely hope that your trip to China will not be your last. Upon reflection of the many sights, sounds and smells that you experienced in China, we are sure that you will return again and again.We welcome your feedback concerning your trip and suggestions for future Explorations.If you enjoyed your trip: Tell your friends.If you didn’t enjoy it: TELL US!

If you can dream it, you can do it in China with:Explore! TCM Tours

Be well, and zài jiàn