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China Today: Hidden Villages, Contemporary Cities and Yangtze River

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Road Scholar
Program #16602RJ
22 Days | 21 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderately Challenging
While all of our learning adventures offer extraordinary value, our "Best Value" programs were rated by our participants themselves who thought their dollar went particularly far.
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Discussion Board

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Denise Liebawitz Sep 10, 2014 at 08:31 AM

So happy to have found this discussion group! This is our first RS trip and first time to China, so definitely feel like a newbie. Alex and I live in Washington, DC where it is still definitely summer. We too have been trying to keep our dynasties straight (challenging) and doing a bit of the reading. Just finished one of the recommendations, Factory Girls, which was riveting. Also thinking about the need (or not) of digital stuff. I doubt I will really need to make phone calls, but we would like to check email occasionally and wonder if we could access our NY Times online subscription. So nice to see that post from our group leader, Hui, and the explanation of Chinese names. For a host gift, I was thinking of a White House Christmas tree ornament, that is sold by the White House Historical Assoc. here. A little odd maybe, but it might be of interest.... what do others think.
Looking forward to meeting everyone, Denise Liebowitz

Karen Petras Mar 31, 2014 at 02:19 PM

Denise…I live in Rochester, NY, but your weather reminds me of our winter. I was just curious.

Denise Babb Mar 31, 2014 at 09:01 AM

Allo Karen, I'm in Montreal Quebec.... And you?
Melvyn Gelb Mar 31, 2014 at 01:41 PM

Ah, the snows of the Northeast, how I miss them…….Hmmmm….ok, reality check. I live in Silver City New Mexico, at 6,000 feet altitude. We do get winter, but snow only about 3-4 times and around 1-2 inches. This year has been toooooo warm; presently in the 60's, was in the 50's-60's during February. Therefor, NO MOISTURE, probably little snow melt from up higher this Spring and a fearful fire season to look forward to for the surrounding areas.
Karen Petras Apr 05, 2014 at 12:47 PM

I just saw your post of 3/31. Apparently, RS does not notify me of all posts? Don't quite understand? I have been getting travel things out of storage this AM. There will be clutter everywhere by evening! Hope all is smooth in your preparations and I'll see you and Ralph in Beijing! (Weather here still miserable…snow this morning accompanied by driving wind.)
Melvyn Gelb Apr 05, 2014 at 02:58 PM

If you are having miserable weather, then you will love this trip. It has been in the 70's to 80's throughout the areas we are traveling to. Only thing is, problems breathing! At least according to one friend who is presently visiting soeone in China (although the last couple of days has seen a drop in pollution in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai..probably just for us :) On another note. I sent an email asking how to properly address out group leader and other people we will interact with. Our group leader Xianghui was kind enough to reply to me. See my email answer below from her.
Melvyn Gelb Apr 05, 2014 at 02:58 PM

Dear Melvyn: Thanks for your email. This is Xianghui Liu, your Group Leader for your Road Scholar program in China, and I am happy to respond to your questions. 1) Liu is actually my last name and Xianghui is my given name. You can just call me Hui. And for Professor Xie Guihua and Yang Hongying, you can follow the way of “Surname + Title” to address them: Professor Xie: Xie Jiao Shou (Pinyin) Professor Yang: Yang Jiao Shou (Pinyin) While you are in China, you will mostly expect people to present themselves in the original order of their names which is Family name + Given name. As the same in the West, you can address someone respectfully by placing “Mr.” or “Ms.’ after the person’s family name (if you’re not sure about the person’s title). Similarly, as in the West, if we address another person by the person’s given name, this indicates familiarity and friendliness. Therefore you can also call me Xianghui as my colleagues and friends do. However I always ask our program participants to call me Hui as this is easier to pronounce and many of my office mates call me by that name. e.g. “Mr. Wang” in Chinese is “Wang Mr.” and pronounced as “Wang Xian Sheng (Pinyin)" “Ms. Li” is “Li Ms.” and pronounced as “Li Nu Shi (Pinyin)" Some popular family names in China: Wang, Li, Zhang, Liu, Ma, Yang, Zhao. 2) In reality, we use uncle/aunt to address friends of our father and mother and use grandfather/grandmother for whom our father/mother call uncle/aunt. You can simply follow the way of “Surname + Mr/Ms” and it will not go wrong. There’s still a way for Chinese to use someone’s family name and still show informality - to place the Chinese words “Lao” (lao) or “Xiao” (xiao). Lao means old and Xiao means little, and the choice depends on the relative age difference between the two persons involved in the communication. e.g. Lao Wang (lao wang). I hope you find this helpful. And no worries, I will always be around if you have any questions or concerns. Looking forward to seeing you in Beijing! Xianghui Liu
Karen Petras Apr 05, 2014 at 03:51 PM

That was very helpful! Thanks for the inquiry. Now if I can just remember (without referring to my notes)!

Denise Babb Mar 30, 2014 at 11:30 PM

Will follow through on your great idea to go to the art gallery for something representing our cultural environment . I may bring a few bags of maple sugar. The syrup is too heavy. Will check out the maple products when I go to our annual extended family outing to the sugar shack in a few weeks. For info about China , I have been simply googling the area, town or the visit in our itinerary and following links ,images or blogs that interest me. Gradually getting all the empires straightened out. Will be starting som tai Che after Easter .
Karen Petras Mar 31, 2014 at 08:30 AM

Do you by any chance live in Northern New York?

Denise Babb Mar 30, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Going on the October trip but have followed your posts with interest. Thanks, the three of you have answered most of my questions...laundry, immunization . Are you bringing thank you gifts for the village host
families ? I am writing in the midst of a snow storm, hopefully the last one. . There are three feet to four ft of snow in the back yard of my suburban home.and the snow plow has just dumped a thigh high snow bank behind my car which looks like a huge fluffy marshmallow. Looking forward to seeing your China pictures and reading your comments. happy packing ...BON VOYAGE!!!
Karen Petras Mar 30, 2014 at 12:14 PM

I'm glad you joined the conversation! Yes, I am bringing a gift…don't know what yet. I thought I'd go to the Art gallery I belong to and see if I can find something unique/special, small and will travel well. Any further thoughts from travelers?
Melvyn Gelb Mar 30, 2014 at 07:35 PM

Yes, definately a gift for the host families. In our case, something that represents our locality and culture - but light-weight, e.g. A dried chile verde/posole mix. Just needs water and then they can add veggies or meat or not as they wish.

Karen Petras Mar 30, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Here's some more info. on clothing. On my other international trips with RS, everyone was neat/clean, but very casual. Men wore jeans or light weight pants and a shirt. Women wore (you guessed it) pants and shirt. Even for our visit to the homes for dinner, I say just put on a clean shirt. If you want some inflatable hangers, there are several styles on Amazon. That's where I got mine. We got a foot of snow last night…our unending Winter!
Melvyn Gelb Mar 30, 2014 at 07:33 PM

Inflatable hangers…I will have to think about that. Usually my stuff goes on the back of chairs and shower bars!

Melvyn Gelb Mar 27, 2014 at 03:36 PM

Hello. I Know that Karen Petras, myself (Melvyn Gelb) and Ralph Gordon are going on the April 12th China, hidden villages trip. I also know there are 8 people signed up at this time. Anyone else out there paying attention to the message board? Would love to hear from you, and where you are from. I check the pollution and temperatures daily and it looks like the pollution remains bad, as of today, in the major cities we are visiting. However the temperatures are going to be lovely. 70'sF in Beijing and Xaian; possibly only in the 60's for Shanghai.
Karen Petras Mar 27, 2014 at 04:01 PM

Good to hear from you again! I went to passport Health yesterday and got a Polio booster, my second Hepetitis A and a Typhoid vaccine. None mandated, but all recommended. Everything else is up to date. I am already spreading things out on my dining room table! This will be fun!
Melvyn Gelb Mar 27, 2014 at 04:51 PM

Melvyn Gelb Mar 27, 2014 at 04:54 PM

Hi Karen….Yes, the time is definately getting closer. I see that they allow only 44 pounds together for the two pieces of luggage (11 pounds for the carry-on.) That is hilarious when I look at the suggested list for things to brings, plus the extra list of things suggested by previous travelers! We shall see; I may have to just wear all my clothes on the flight. :)
David Lewis Mar 27, 2014 at 05:58 PM

Melvyn, I took this trip last Sept. Stay with one suitcase of about 40 lbs since you will buy things. They won't hassle you on the weight. Also I carried two carryons, heavier than I'd like to admit. No hassles, but it was a bit too much for me to carry (computer plus cameras). Note that many hotels use cable connections for internet, and my Dell Mini was perfect, but my newer Surface would never do. Most hotels do have wireless at least in the lobby. Pictures are at Enjoy! This is a wonderful tour and was my 20th visit to China (others on business).
Melvyn Gelb Mar 29, 2014 at 01:18 PM

Hell David. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos with me, they were great, and make me even more excited to visit those smaller Chinese villages. I will keep in mind your advise on luggage weights; although I will try to take as little as possible to avoid problems for me….Perhaps I can just take one change of clothes and clothespins for my roommates nose!! Thanks again for sharing.. :)
Karen Petras Mar 29, 2014 at 03:50 PM

The pix were good, weren't they? When I went to Passport health
Karen Petras Mar 29, 2014 at 03:50 PM

The pix were good, weren't they? When I went to Passport health
Karen Petras Mar 29, 2014 at 03:54 PM

I'll continue…the nurse practioner talked me into a script of anr Antimalarial drug (which I haven't filled) Did either you or Ralph think that necessary?
Melvyn Gelb Mar 29, 2014 at 04:46 PM

I was concerned about it from some websites regarding Guizhou province. However, the people at Elderhostel I spoke with were emphatic that we are not going to malarial areas. Thus, it was neither required nor recommended and I decided to forget about it
Melvyn Gelb Mar 29, 2014 at 05:09 PM

Another note: In travel films I have been watching about Guizhou Province, nothing is said or seen about mosquito netting for beds/sleeping. This is another clue. Although I will bring DEET to keep mosquitos, in general, away from me in rural areas.
Karen Petras Mar 29, 2014 at 05:36 PM

Thanks for the advice. I have DEET and will bring it along.
David Lewis Mar 29, 2014 at 09:46 PM

I don't know about spring but we did not need mosquito stuff in the fall. Also, Melvyn, if you are an experienced traveler you should be able to bring lots of clothes and wash them in the sink, using inflatable hangers to dry shirts and underwear overnight.
Melvyn Gelb Mar 30, 2014 at 07:30 PM

Thank you David, your travel experience is coming in handy. :)

Denise Babb Mar 04, 2014 at 01:11 AM

hello Laura and Jerome. My friend Jenny and I will be on the same Oct 11 trip as you. We are both from the Montreal area and will be arriving in Bejing via Vancouver. This excursion is the realization of a long awaited dream! So many things to discover!!

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at no additional cost on this date ...
20 nights of accommodations
55 meals: 20 breakfasts, 17 lunches, 18 dinners
4 Expert-led lectures
26 Field trips
27 Hands-on experiences
6 Performances
4 Flights during the program


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