Category: Uncategorized

Super Advanced Sneak Peek!

Super Advanced Sneak Peek!

Hi everyone,

I haven’t made a post in a while, and as usual, that means I’ve been deep into a new writing project. Actually, I’m working on several writing projects. I am hoping to have another Qing Dynasty Mystery out soon and finish the Touching Time series this year.

But for those of you who are fans of Threads of Silk, I am planning to release a new stand-alone historical fiction book next year! Woohoo! I don’t want to reveal too much about it right now, but I can tell you that a lot of the setting is inspired by the aesthetics of where we live in Yangshuo.

The mountains, traditional architecture, and many minority groups who live in the area have given me a new view of the country we have called home for almost eight years. The Chinese countryside is a world away from Shenzhen, where we lived for the last four years. Country living has taken some getting used to, but we really love it here. We just never get tired of that view!

As a tribute to Yangshuo, the book cover for this super-secret book will feature original photos by my cover artist, Cherith Vaughan. She recently came to Yangshuo and took a lot of gorgeous pictures she is hoping to find some way to incorporate into her vision that best represents the book.

I can’t share her pictures, but here are a few I took that day, and even my amateur images look pretty amazing. If you ever wonder why we decided to pack up and move to the middle of nowhere, just refer back to this post.

 

Join the #SpringIsInTheAir Blog Hop for #Prizes #Giveaways #Romance #Fiction and #Fun

Join the #SpringIsInTheAir Blog Hop for #Prizes #Giveaways #Romance #Fiction and #Fun

Welcome to the Spring is in the Air Blog Hop



We have a great bunch of authors in this hop, and one amazing prize which will be mailed out to one lucky winner! 


Join me and the authors listed below to win a Kindle Fire!


HOW CAN YOU WIN?
 

Visit each author blog in the hop and comment on their blog hop post. You’ll receive one entry for every comment you leave. But, there’s a tiny catch. Instead of a quick drive-by “thanks for the chance” comment, we’d like to really hear from the readers and get to know their likes and dislikes. So, in order for your entry to count, you have to say one thing you like or don’t like about the author’s blog, book, or any other book related topic that directly relates to that author. Be honest, but also try to be kind. Authors genuinely appreciate what their readers have to say, and we want to hear from YOU!   

TIPS: 
  1. You’ll increase your chances of winning by the more blogs you visit and comment on. So, don’t hesitate to visit them all! 
  2. Please remember to leave an email address with your comment in case you are the lucky winner! 

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Google


a Rafflecopter giveaway

  1. Nicole Morgan https://nicolemorganauthor.blogspot.com/
  2. Krista Ames http://apassionforromance.blogspot.com
  3. Sensuous Promos http://sensuouspromos.blogspot.com
  4. The Book Pub https://thebookpub.blogspot.com/
  5. Viviana MacKade   http://www.viviana-mackade.blog
  6. D. Anne Paris  http://www.danneparis.com/winchester-mansion  
  7. Amanda Roberts  http://www.twoamericansinchina.com
  8. Leigh Anderson  http://leighandersonromance.com/blog
  9. Zoey Gong  http://zoeygong.com/blog/
  10. Nic’s Book Nook https://nicsbooknook.blogspot.com/
  11. Taylor Brooks https://authortaylorbrooks.blogspot.com/
  12. Seeing Stars https://nickiday.blogspot.com/
 
 

                         Happy Hopping…. 

Guest Post – How To Pack Your Life Into a Carry-on

Guest Post – How To Pack Your Life Into a Carry-on

The Numerous Suitcases

Many people are convinced they require at least three suitcases to take a weekend trip. They worry about having the perfect ensemble, shoes, toiletries, jackets for all seasons, etc. These individuals can overcomplicate the process of packing to such an extreme they begin to panic. It is possible to be extremely well prepared for any trip with just one carry-on. The secret is in the planning, and knowing exactly what to pack, and what should be left behind. There are some excellent tips below that should enable anyone to go from three or four suitcases to one carry-on. 

The Necessities Come First

The first step in packing a carry-on is to include the necessities first. These are items it would be impossible to live without including money, travel documents, medication, foreign power adapters, cell phone and undergarments. There may be variations for different people, but basics are basics. Nobody needs to pack a dozen pairs of shoes for a vacation.

Making the Most of the Basics

A classic pair of jeans and a T-shirt will work well for numerous occasions. They can be dressed up or down, and have numerous different looks. A pair of basic flat shoes, dress shoes and boots are all anyone really requires. Packing a neutral wardrobe will make it much easier to mix and match the different pieces. Anything outlandish should be left at home. Keeping the wardrobe basic will greatly reduce the amount of clothing necessary.

The Practical Approach

Although it may be tempting to include materials such as wools and silks, having clothing dry cleaned while away from home can be problematic. This is especially true in a foreign country. The best clothing to pack is easily washable, and does not require any ironing. The clothing should be placed on hangars as soon as the destination is reached to prevent any wrinkling. Just these first few steps should eliminate a large percentage of the wardrobe.

Do Not Pack Anything Irreplaceable

When traveling, luggage can be lost. When an individual travels from hotel to hotel, items can be lost as well. Any item considered irreplaceable should not be packed because there is a chance it will be forever lost. This includes items of sentimental as well as monetary value.

The Importance of the Weather

As obvious as it seems, many travelers fail to consider the weather. In addition to considering the expected temperature for the time of year, the traveler should always consider the possibility of rain. Packing a simple, lightweight, waterproof jacket will handle many situations. If the area is cold, and there is snowfall expected, include a pair of gloves in the case. Although it is always possible to purchase any missing items at the destination, nobody wants to have to spend money on items such as hats and gloves.

The Accessories

Accessories are small and can make the most of every outfit. Everything from inexpensive jewelry to a bandana can be packed, and requires very little room. A T-shirt takes on a whole new look when worn with a bandana, and those classic jeans come to life with just the right belt. By mixing and matching the different pieces of clothing with an assortment of accessories, a wide variety of outfits can be easily achieved. Extremely expensive jewelry should be left at home along with those irreplaceable items to ensure it remains safe.

The Toiletries

When traveling fairly close to home, bring any necessary toiletries along. For travel farther away, and especially abroad, it is much simpler to purchase basic items including shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant and lotion once arriving at the destination. The airlines have restrictions on any liquids including shampoo. It is easier, and safer to purchase the travel sized portions at a local store. For longer stays, larger bottles are readily available as well. There is also the risk of certain toiletries exploding due to the extreme change in air pressure. For any electrical items such a blow dryer or razor, remember to pack a foreign adapter to ensure the item can be used.

The Importance of the Weight

Once the individual has come to the realization that everything necessary will fit nicely into one carry-on, the weight factor must be considered. Baggage fees are incredibly expensive, and each airline has a maximum weight for a carry-on. Finding out what the weight is, and what the fees are if the weight limit is exceeded is highly advisable. This can be accomplished by simply weighing the carry-on using an average scale.

The Single Carry-On

The most important thing to remember is everything in the carry-on should be easily replaceable. If the luggage does become lost, it should not be catastrophic. It is also advisable to leave a little extra room in the bag because most people inevitable find a couple of items they want to purchase and bring home. Stay with smaller, lighter weight items and everything will fit perfectly.

Saleh Stevens has expertise in the fields of technology and travel. His skills are notable and include cryptocurrency, strategizing, blockchain, coding and investing. He makes improvements with blockchain technology in cases where the same programming has become stagnant from overuse. Saleh Stevens also considers travel as one of his favorite hobbies.

Guest Post – What To Consider If You’ve Had An Accident In China

Guest Post – What To Consider If You’ve Had An Accident In China

Disclaimer: the material presented in the article below should only be considered as a general overview regarding what to know if you get into an accident in China. Should you, or anyone you know, find yourself in this situation, it’s advisable that you should speak to an accident lawyer immediately. The lawyer can help you decide on what are the best legal actions you need to take.

Getting involved in an accident can be scary, especially if you’re in unfamiliar territory. You might be traumatized and afraid of what’s going to happen to you. You may not know how you will deal with the aftermaths of the crash, especially if the laws are new and strange to you. However, if you calm yourself and think wisely, you’ll be safer whether you’re in your home country or currently staying in a foreign country like China. So, in order to familiarize yourself with how to be safe on the road, we will provide you with different Chinese traffic laws and the things to consider if you’ve had an accident in China.

Traffic Laws in China

The fact that most drivers in China ignore the traffic rules should not make you forget that when you get caught, you’ll end up facing severe punishments. These punishments include instantly going to jail without a trial, license suspension, and paying heavy fines. This is why you should be familiar with the different traffic rules and regulations of China.

  • Drunk Driving There are two types of drunk-driving offenses in China. The first one is “driving while intoxicated,” which classifies people who get caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08. The second one is when you get caught with a BAC of 0.02 to 0.08, which is classified as “driving after drinking alcohol.”
  • Always Follow The Speed Limits
  • Seatbelts If you’re a front- seat passenger, you should fasten your seatbelt, or you’ll face a fine of 50 yuan ($6). And even if you’re not sitting in the front, you should still wear a seatbelt as it can help save your life.
  • Using Mobile Devices It’s illegal to use your mobile devices such as phone and tablet while driving.

If you’re foreign and not familiar with the Chinese language, it’s advisable that you should avoid driving. Most road signs are bilingual, but signs on some roads are not.

What You Should Know If You’ve Had an Accident in China

If you get involved in an accident in China, make sure to do the following:

  • You should wait for the police Never leave the scene of the accident and wait for the police to arrive. If you leave the area, you may end up looking guilty, especially if there’s someone injured or property/properties have been damaged.
  • You should talk to the police You should ensure that you inform the police of your account of the accident. They should interview you when they are making the police report. You should be entirely truthful when the police are questioning you.
  • You should keep your calm You should never lose your calm if you get involved in an accident. You should never argue with the other person involved in the crash. You may end up making them hostile, which can cause them to be uncooperative during the trial or when dealing with the insurance company.
  • You should never negotiate You should never negotiate with the other person involved in the accident. Some drivers will tell you that they’re sorry for the crash, but will later deny this when the police arrive. Wait for your lawyer’s advice before taking any action.
  • You should obtain the other person’s information To ensure that you can contact the other person involved in the accident, you should obtain his/her complete information.

You should never forget to write down:

  • Information on the other person involved – Name, home address, and phone number
  • Insurance details of the other person involved – Insurance company, insurance policy number, and name of insurance agent
  • Details of the other person’s vehicle – Type, make, and license plate of the vehicle

You should also give your information to the other person involved, so he/she can contact you when needed. If you’ve been injured and unable to write these things down, you can ask someone else to do it for you.

  • You should write down witnesses’ information You should never forget to look for possible witnesses and write down their information.

You should ask for:

  • Complete information – Names, home addresses, and phone numbers.
  • Their view of the accident – Ask them what they think happened, and if they’d be willing to give a statement to the police.

An accident can leave anyone, even with the most experienced drivers, disoriented. Things can be quite confusing, especially if you’re in unfamiliar territory. But with the right knowledge on how to correctly deal with the accident, you may be protected from any unnecessary worry. You may be confused right now, but this is not the time to lose your wits. Just remember to stay at the scene of the accident, talk to the police, never argue, never negotiate, and obtain information.

Joanne Reed has been writing about law and business for almost a decade, and is currently writing her next big law project. She is an avid sports fan and loves watching games if she has free time.

Guest Post – Why Every Traveler Needs To Invest In A Passport

Guest Post – Why Every Traveler Needs To Invest In A Passport

If you are on a fairly tight budget, paying for a passport might seem like an unnecessary expense. Statistics show that less than half of the US population holds a passport, for example. If you love to travel, don’t let the expense of getting your passport for the first time, or renewing it, hold you back. Here are seven reasons why you should invest in a passport today.

  1. It Costs Pennies A Day

Buying a passport for the first time will cost you 110 dollars for the booklet itself, and 25 dollars for an execution fee. Does $135 seem like a lot to you? Think about it this way. If you buy your passport when you are 16 years old or older, your passport will be good for ten years. When we do the math, we see that this comes out to just under four pennies a day (3.6 pennies, to be exact!) Doesn’t that seem more affordable?

  1. See New Places

If you want to travel abroad, you must have a passport to gain entry to foreign countries. Without a passport, you have very limited travel options. Though you may think that you enjoy traveling around the country that you live in more than you would like to travel abroad, consider the fact that without trying it, you’ll never know. A recent study found that one in five Americans traveled abroad over the course of a year, while many Americans traveled domestically. In fact, America dominated the domestic travel charts, and the average American took seven to eight trips per year.

When you have a passport, you can get out of your comfort zone. Expand your horizons and try something new. You might find that you love traveling abroad. You might learn about a new culture, language, and way of being. If you never leave the country that you were born in, you won’t have those experiences.

  1. Say Yes To Chance Opportunities

You might be putting off purchasing a passport because you think that you don’t have any international travel planned for the foreseeable future. Even if you don’t have a trip planned, you never know what might happen. The future is unpredictable. Money might be a factor that is holding you back from planning a trip to a foreign country, but that doesn’t mean that the trip won’t happen. For example, you might get a new job that includes the opportunity for paid travel. You may also win a vacation or get invited on a paid trip by a friend. When you have your passport ready, you will be able to say an enthusiastic ‘yes!’

  1. Don’t Pay Extra Fees

If you wait until the opportunity presents itself, and then need your passport right away, you will have to pay extra fees to have the process expedited. If you get your passport now, you won’t have to worry about paying extra money and biting your nails while you wait for the passport to be delivered in time for your departure date.

  1. Feel Limitless

In our modern age, it is easier than ever to hop on a plane and get off in an exotic location. The internet connects people from different parts of the globe and gives people the opportunity to invite one another for a visit. Innovative startup companies have figured out that people want to experience new places, but don’t necessarily want to pay big fees for accommodations. These startups have found ways to allow individuals to rent out private residences and house swap. These new opportunities are making international travel accessible to more people. It is no longer a luxury, but a reality that many middle-class people can achieve. With a passport, you have the understanding that if you want to travel, you can. In that way, you feel limitless. You are free to investigate the new and exciting modes of travel that appear in your life. Explore house swapping, Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com/), and home-stay options with the knowledge that if you find the right situation, you can capitalize on it.

  1. Have A Back-Up Form Of Identification

A very practical reason to invest in a passport is the fact that it can serve you as a backup form of identification, should you lose your driver license. Losing your drivers license can be a difficult and time-consuming situation to move through, but if you have a passport on hand you can speed up the process.

  1. Prove Your Identity

Sometimes, organizations that you are working with require two forms of identification. It is helpful to have a passport because it can easily become a second form of photo ID, in addition to your driver’s license. Whether you are applying for a new job, a post office box, a new apartment, or a loan from the bank, the passport will likely come in handy.

Before reading this, did you think that you were doing just fine without a passport? How do you feel now that you know how a passport will affect your life? You can invest in a passport for under four cents a day. It will give you the freedom to say ‘yes’ to exciting opportunities, see new and interesting places, and explore unique travel situations. It will also give you some logistical benefits, like replacing a lost or stolen license, and proving your identity to an employer or bank.

Saleh Stevens has expertise in the fields of technology and travel. His skills are notable and include cryptocurrency, strategizing, blockchain, coding and investing. He makes improvements with blockchain technology in cases where the same programming has become stagnant from overuse. Saleh Stevens also considers travel as one of his favorite hobbies.

Guest Post: 9 Things Foreign Travelers Can Learn from China

Guest Post: 9 Things Foreign Travelers Can Learn from China

Like it or not, as foreign travelers to 3rd-world countries, we have a tendency to look down upon the customs and cultures we’re visiting. “We’re a more advanced society” we unknowingly think to ourselves, a mindset that often keeps us from seeing everything we can learn while traveling abroad.

As an expat who has spent over a decade living and traveling around China, my eyes have slowly been opened to the ways in which certain Chinese customs or ways of doing things are, in fact, better than my American way.

It’s easy to bash China and find all the things that annoy us. For a moment, I want to step back to think through the lessons I’ve learned from China and hopefully give you an opportunity to reflect on your own experiences.

#1 Dessert isn’t Part of Every Meal

When I first arrived in China, I was surprised to learn that most restaurants don’t even carry a dessert menu! The only dessert-like menu item was a plate a fruit to end your meal.

This is a huge departure from my American upbringing, where desert was and still is a common tactic used by parents to encourage finishing my meal (“Eat all your broccoli and you’ll get dessert!”).

It’s easier for me to stay healthy while living in China, in part because I do more walking but also for reasons such as this: desserts are no longer an everyday part of my meal plan.

Thank you, China.

#2 Neither are Refillable Drinks

During my travels around China, I have not come across a single restaurant that offers refillable soft drinks or coffee. In fact, most restaurants I visit offer no other beverage options besides hot tea!

I have a friend who is a waiter back in the U.S. and he tells me of people who come in and drink 5 full glasses of Coke during a meal. Do you know how much sugar that is!?

Meanwhile, my biggest problem here in China is that I’m being served hot tea in the middle of the sweltering summer (because, you know, it’s “healthier”). Is it frustrating at times? Of course. But hey, I’m healthier and I don’t spend as much money on a meal.

#3 Personal Debt is not a Universal Concept

Did you know that according to the Federal Reserve’s 2017 numbers, the average American carried $16,883 in credit card debt and $50,626 in student loan debt? And that’s on top of any car loans and a mortgage!

We’re conditioned to carry a balance on our credit card, to “build our credit score”, and to appreciate the value of debt. What we often don’t realize is that from a global perspective, this isn’t normal.

When I first began making friends in China, I was shocked to learn that almost all of them didn’t have a credit card. They didn’t have student loans. In fact, many of them owned their home without a mortgage, and they weren’t yet 40 years old!

Unfortunately, times are changing in China: housing prices in the city are getting so high that most new homebuyers need a mortgage. China’s appetite for luxury import cars (which are taxed at an insane rate) means that many people are forced to get a car loan.

By and large, though, the average Chinese citizen carries little to no debt – and they live perfectly comfortable lives.

#4 “Dialects” and “Accents” are VERY Different

Various parts of the U.S. are known by their special accents: Louisiana, the northeast, the west coast and even my home – the great state of Texas. We may use different phrases or ways of saying something, but for the most part we all understand every word that the other says.

China is fascinating in that the country not only boasts a number of accents (i.e. Beijing accent) but also a number of very distinct dialects (i.e. Shanghai-ese, Guangdong Hua).

Unlike accents, these dialects are practically a different language. A Chinese person from another province likely won’t have a clue what a person speaking “Guangdong Hua” is saying. The Chinese characters are the same but the way it is spoken and the words that are used are very different.

I’ve heard people in the U.S. talk about that “crazy Texas dialect”. I understand what they mean, but China has taught me that there’s a huge difference between a “dialect” and an “accent”.

#5 Clean Air Takes Time

Expats often complain about China’s polluted air, and rightfully so. It’s dreadful.

China has enacted a number of changes in their environmental policy that are meant to improve the air quality all across the country, but they’ve warned that it will take close to a decade for these changes to make a difference.

The Clean Air Act was a policy in the United States that was enacted by Congress in December of 1963. At the time, the air quality in many U.S. cities was terrible. (just ask anybody who lived in Pittsburg over half a century ago)

We Americans benefit from the fact that such a policy was implemented over 50 years ago. It’s something that I’ve grown to appreciate now that I’ve watched China attempt to do the same thing here in the 21st century.

Changing the environment of any country takes time.

#6 Trains are an Extremely Efficient Mode of Transport

After having lived in China for a decade, I am extremely embarrassed at how poorly the U.S. has developed a train network. Unless you live in the northeast, chances are you haven’t taken a train in the U.S.

China, on the other hand, has developed the world’s largest and fastest-growing rail networks. Not only do they have more track than any other country, they also have more high-speed trains in operation than anybody else.

I’ve learned to love taking trains in China (I even wrote my own guide to taking a train in China!). In most cases, if it’s a choice between a train or an airplane – even if the travel time is longer – I’m often inclined to take the train.

#7 Squatty Potties are AMAZING

I find it quite humorous just how difficult it is for foreign travelers to use a squatty toilet. Many of us have a hard time squatting or are turned off by the generally bad smell of China toilets.

The frustration of it all makes it easy to overlook one of the biggest benefits of using a squatty toilet: your butt never shares a seat with anybody else’s butt.

Think about that for a moment. The way we do toilets in the west is nasty. I’m appalled that anybody in their right mind uses a public toilet at Wal-Mart!

Squatting may not be comfortable for us westerners, but in many ways its a cleaner way to take care of business.

#8 Being Old Doesn’t Mean Being Frail

When I get old, I want to be a Chinese old person. They are WAY cooler than the average old person in the U.S.

Don’t get me wrong: every country has elderly people who walk with a cane or who battle with chronic illnesses. We all have healthy elderly and unhealthy elderly.

But China just seems…different.

I remember the first time I went to a public park in China and saw a group of Chinese elderly using the exercise equipment. My jaw dropped to the ground.

I’ve seen elderly here in China who are more flexible and more daring than I am. My favorite was a gentleman who was swinging full 360 like an Olympic gymnast on a high bar. He was 65.

Like I said, I want to be a Chinese old person.

#9 Being a Truly Defensive Driver

I used to think that Chinese drivers were crazy.

Well…actually, I still think they’re a bit crazy. But I have to give them credit: they are some of the best defensive drivers in the world.

I remember when I got my first traffic ticket in the U.S. The best way to get the record expunged was to take a defensive driving class. The class was a joke. If you really want a lesson in defensive driving, go to China.

Insane as they are, Chinese drivers are constantly aware of what drivers all around them are doing. There is no expectation of “personal space” so they all drive around expecting other cars to cut them off or veer into their lane.

I am convinced that I am a much better driver thanks to my experience driving around in China.

Conclusion – Learning from China

As I said earlier, it’s incredibly easy to be a bitter expat who complains about every aspect of life in China. I’m quick to admit that there are plenty of things that annoy me about China, but one of the best ways I’ve found to combat this mindset is to reflect on the things that China has taught me.

I’m healthier, I have a better financial situation and I’m a better driver all thanks to my time living in China.

Do you have any other big lessons you’ve learned as you reflect on your time in China? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Author Bio: Josh is a travel writer and expat entrepreneur who has been living in China since 2006. In addition to writing about his China experience on his TravelChinaCheaper website, he also hosts The Expat Entrepreneur, a new podcast on his experience doing business overseas.

Guest Post – Guide to Fenghuang On A Budget

Guest Post – Guide to Fenghuang On A Budget

How much does a trip to Fenghuang cost? How to travel to Phoenix Ancient Town in the most economical way? Those may be the popular questions if you are planning for the journey to Fenghuang Town. In the following article, I will share with you some experiences to help you make this dream come true only with a limited budget. In my opinion, this trip is the most suitable for those who are between the ages of 18 to 26.

General information about Fenghuang

Fenghuang, or Phoenix, is the name of an ancient town in China (more than 1300 years old). It is located in Fenghuang district which is a county of Hunan Province under the administration of Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture. It is nearly 300km from Phoenix Ancient Town to Zhangjiajie city which is also a famous tourist destination in China. To come to Fenghuang Ancient Town, you have to go through Zhangjiajie first, therefore you can combine traveling to Zhangjiajie with the trip to Fenghuang.

The landscape of this wonderland is seemly taken from the historical dramas. There is a diversity of population structure because it is the residence of ethnic minorities, most of which are Miao, Han, and Tzu Gia groups. Fenghuang is also the economic, social and political center of the region. Next to the Da Giang River, the ancient town still retains many ancient citadels, streets, houses, manors, temples, and pagodas. Its age has made Phoenix Ancient Town become one of the living museums of ethnic cultures: 1300 years.

At night, the town seems to be more sparkling, more beautiful than the day. The lights from ancient bungalows down to the surface of the river create a fanciful and ancient scene for the town.

In general, the weather in here is quite comfortable and the best time to visit Phoenix Ancient Town is the spring. Based on my experience, you should avoid coming here in any Chinese national holiday, especially in the Independence Day of China, because on these occasions, Fenghuang will be more crowded.

To ensure the plan of working and studying, you can visit here in summer or any long holiday of the year because Fenghuang is beautiful all year round, not necessarily to go in the spring. In addition, you should go in a group to reduce travel expenses.

How to come to Fenghuang Ancient Town the most economical way

There are 3 ways going to Fenghuang as follow:

By plane

You will move from your location to Guangzhou and then from

Guangzhou to Zhangjiajie. After that, you catch the bus from Zhangjiajie to Phoenix Ancient Town (it is obliged because no other choice is available).

The airfares for these routes are quite expensive so you can refer 2 other ways to save the cost: by train and by bus.

By train

In Pingxiang, you do immigration procedures. When filling in the declaration form, in the part of Intended Address in China, you write “Nanning” to complete. After that, you buy the train ticket from Nanning to Jishou train station in Zhangjiajie. It takes nearly 15 hours. The train departs at 17:50 in Nanning and arrives at Zhangjiajie at 8:20 of the next day. You can book the train ticket in advance on travelchinaguide.com.

Finally, you move more than 50km more by bus to come to Phoenix Ancient Town.

By bus

At Youyi Guan international border gate, you have to pay about 0.5$ for the electric car and it will take you to the place of entry procedures.

As same as going by plane, they will give you a declaration of entry. The declaration is available at the table near the counter. You just take the pen and open the passport to copy information only. After that, you can walk or go by electric car (0,9$) to the bus station.

The bus from the border gate to Nanning train station departs at 12:30 and arrives at 16:00.

You can choose between the 2 following types depended on your budget and the number of people in your group:

  • 12-seat car: 17$/person or 68$ (renting the whole car).
  • Bus from Zhangjiajie (Jishou train station) -5 buses per day: It takes 3.5 hours and the ticket price is about 12$/person.

From the bus station of Phoenix Ancient Town to the center, you can move by taxi at the price of 3$.

Suggested summary schedule in 5 days

The 5-day trip is reasonable for you to visit Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang Ancient Town, including 2 days of moving, as follow:

  • Day 1: Nanning – Zhangjiajie
  • Day 2: Visit Tianmen Shan (200m from Zhangjiajie). In here, there is a famous glass road.
  • Day 3: Take the train from Zhangjiajie to Phoenix Ancient Town.
  • Day 4: Discover Fenghuang where there are a lot of beautiful landscapes to visit.
  • Day 5: Phoenix Ancient Town – Jishou – Nanning.  

 

Notes when traveling to Fenghuang

  • For the Chinese visa, you should apply 15 days before your trip.
  • Money: you should prepare about 2500-3000 yuan during the journey ($350-$450). In Fenghuang Town, ATM (automated teller machine) is not popular and the credit card is not accepted when you buy food or drink.
  • If going by train, you should prepare some snacks and water.
  • English is useless in here, so you should study some common Chinese sentences or buy a SIM card in the gas station or the airport to use Google translation tool. A SIM card costs about $7.5. Another way which may be helpful for you is setting up Pleco application (an online Chinese dictionary) on your phone.
  • Bring your coat or a thin blanket because at any time of the year, the weather in Fenghuang is bitter cold.
  • Spend at least 2-3 days to explore this ancient town. In the evening, along 2 river banks, there are many bars, coffee shops, and restaurants at the affordable prices.
  • Download Astrill to access Facebook and Viber because China blocks the international network.
  • Do not be ashamed when bargaining and you will definitely get a discount.
  • The food here is very delicious and cheap but also quite spicy. If you cannot eat the spicy dishes, tell the cook before he or she prepares the food for you.
  • The landscape here is incredibly wonderful, so you will take a lot of photos as well as shoot many videos. Therefore, remember to bring a rechargeable battery to not miss any beautiful moments.
  • In Phoenix Ancient Town, there are many hotels available. You can book in advance or find yourself a good place to stay after arriving. The room price is about 15$/day/twin room (not included meals).

I hope that the above information will be helpful for you. Have a nice trip!

My name is Jim, writer at Asia Marvels. I love traveling around Asia and share my stories & travel guidelines to my readers. I want people from all over the world to see the beauty of the landscape, people and culture of Asia.

 

Guest Post – 6 Best Natural Wonders to Explore in China

Guest Post – 6 Best Natural Wonders to Explore in China

Due its rich culture and plethora of natural wonders, China is among the most incredible travel destinations. It boasts a wide variety of landscape and places to visit, from sandstone pinnacles, to turquoise lakes, to white sand beaches. There’s truly something here to quenches everyone’s travel craving. Consider visiting these 6 arguably best natural wonders that China has to offer.

Jiuzhaigou

Imagine yourself sitting on the shore, gazing up in every direction at snow-capped mountains. You’re swept up by multicolored trees and bottomed by turquoise-infused waters. Take one look at this place for yourself and you’ll see why it tops the list of the best natural wonders in China. Situated in the northern-most area of the Sichuan province, Jiuzhaigou is a wonder of its own. When translated, Jiuzhaigou means “Valley of Nine Fortified Villages.” It’s no wonder that tourists and locals alike escape here from bigger cities to experience this unspoiled land. Unfortunately, the national park is closed due to the extensive damage of the earthquake in August 2017. But don’t fret, as it’s rumored to be opening back up sometime within the next year.

Li River, Guangxi

Whether you fancy a rustic bamboo raft or a luxury cruise ship, the Li River is an absolute must see for any wanderer traveling to China. Towering above the blue river, limestone mountains can be seen for miles and miles as they fade from a green jungle tint to a faded blue haze. Keep your camera handy as there are many unique natural land curvatures that you certainly don’t want to miss.

Reed Flute Cave

Calling all musicians and artists: this cave is more than just a natural wonder. Also known as “the Palace of Natural Arts,” the Reed Flute cave is a 787-foot-long, water-eroded cave that grows an abundant supply of reed used to make flutes. Once functioning as a bomb shelter, this cave was rediscovered by fleeing Japanese troops in the 1940s. Once inside, you can see the faint yet distinct petrified remains of jellyfish and snails interspersed around the cave’s floor. Although a natural work of art, artificial mood lighting has been placed throughout the cave to provide an even more immersive experience. Once finished with your tour, make sure to bring some spare cash to purchase a reed flute of your own!

Yellow Mountains

Dating back to 747 AD, the Yellow Mountains weren’t named for their color, but specifically because of the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di. With quite the variety of features, the Yellow Mountains are one of the most famous and popular mountainous regions of China. Its most well-known features are its hard-wood yet character-ridden pine trees, interestingly shaped rocks, “seas of cloud,” and hot springs. Located just 300 miles southwest of Shanghai, it’s just far enough away from the hustle of the city, yet close enough for an easy commute. With numerous attractions, hotels, and restaurants, plan to spend a little extra time to fully experience the rich culture and beauty of the Yellow Mountains. 

Stone Forest

Lying in the depths of China’s Yunnan Province sits the iconic Shilin. Carved by earthquakes and the elements, one could easily get lost among its giant pillars of limestone. With natural separations of caves, waterfalls, ponds, an underground river, and an even an island lake, make sure this place is on your itinerary. One famous legend tells of a beautiful maiden named Ashima who was kidnapped by the boy of an evil landlord. Against her will, she was put but in bondage and forced to marry him. Later, her true love, Ahei, came to her rescue with bows and arrows. He was too late as she drowned in a flood on the way home and transformed into what’s commonly known today as the Ashima rock. To the local Sani people, she’s seen as their protector. If possible, visit on June 24th where the Sanis hold a torch festival at Shilin to honor their many traditions. 

Longsheng Rice Terraces, Guangxi

Just when you thought China could not get any more diverse in its natural beauty, rice paddies (or rice terraces) can’t be left out. Although manmade, this perfectly chiseled landscape is unmatched in its beauty and craftsmanship. Over 700 years old, rice is still farmed on these lands by the local Yao and Zhuang villagers. Resembling almost perfectly carved steps, the ancient topography makes use of scarce resources such as flat land and limited water supply. If you happen to visit right after the rain, the terraces that the grandeur of this natural wonder up a notch. It’s no wonder this place is among the top stops for professional photographers and artists alike. And make sure to greet the extremely friendly and hospitable locals with “Nín hǎo” (hello) along the way!

Boasting the world’s greatest number and variety of world-class natural wonders, it’s nearly impossible to not fall in love with China. Whether you’re up for an adventure in the desert, mountains, beaches, forests, or even just interested in seeing incredibly unique sites, China’s natural wonders are bound to have something special for you.

Micah Trostle is an 18-year-old photographer, videographer, and travel writer for trekbible. Although he was born in the USA, his home is Papua New Guinea, where he enjoys adventure sports, camping, and loving on people! He is passionate about Papua New Guinea and hopes to move back in the near future to impact business development and help to expand communities.

Christmas With Chinese Characteristics

Christmas With Chinese Characteristics

Christmas Tree with HongbaoMulan Mushu Christmas OrnamentLast year at this time, we were only focused on bringing our little girl home, and we’ve never been big Christmas people, so we had just a pitiful little tree and bought some gifts for our little girl at the last minute. So this year I decided to put a lot more effort into the holiday to start making traditions for our growing family.

I’m calling our theme “Christmas with Chinese Characteristics.” For our tree, the main color is red and I included my Mulan and Mushu inspired ornaments that I got at Disney World when we were there this summer.

I have also hidden hongbao in the tree with different amounts of money in them. On Christmas day everyone will pick a hongbao and get either a little bit of money or a lot of bit of money.

I also used hongbao as tags on the gifts. I taped the flap to the boxes so you just flip them up to see who gets the box. I’m not the most crafty person, but I really like the hongbao gift tags. Of course, I buy my hongbao here in China, but You can find lots of hongbao on Amazon.

Hongbao Christmas Gift Tags

The pièce de résistance of the tree, though, is our Monkey King tree topper. He is actually a puppet that I got at Silver Dollar City many years ago. He is the protector of the tree, warding away destructive cats and kids.

Monkey King Christmas Tree Topper

After Christmas, I plan to keep the tree up and convert it into a Chinese New Year tree. I am going to replace a lot of the ornaments with little lanterns and hopefully find some small oranges I can attach to the tree. I’ll have to add a lot more hongbao as well.

So what do you think? Do you try to incorporate Chinese elements into your holiday celebrations? Let me what you do in the comments!

Who Writes History – Conversations With Jung Chang

Who Writes History – Conversations With Jung Chang

jung chang hk lit festAs exciting as it was to meet Amy Tan, I was actually more excited to meet Jung Chang at the Hong Kong Literary Festival. I am obsessed with her book Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China. I have been fascinated by Empress Cixi for years, and it was while I was researching for Threads of Silk, that her book was released. Empress Dowager Cixi became my research bible when it came to Cixi. I read many other books about her, including several contemporary accounts, but Jung Chang’s approach, bringing so many sources together in one place, was a godsend. I have read the book several times front to back and then have gone back and read and research certain chapters and passages more times than I can count. I was so happy that she was kind enough to sign my well-loved copy of Empress Dowager Cixi, but she also accepted a copy of Threads of Silk, which really made my heart soar.

I have written and spoken many times about how wonderful her book is, but I am often met with skepticism. Cixi has a reputation, in the East and the West, of being a controlling, manipulative, traditionalist who held China back and is blamed for many of China’s problems during the 19th century. Yet in Empress Dowager Cixi, Jung Chang paints a much more complicated picture of Cixi, one that gives her far more credit for China’s sudden leap into the modern age during her reign.

empress dowager cixi jung chang

She credited Cixi with everything modern that China has today, from the electricity to the railroad, to the iron used to build the buildings. She also talked about Cixi was, in many ways, a feminist. She set up China’s first schools for girls and outlawed footbinding (even though the practice stayed in vogue until the communist era). She was not perfect, but Cixi would be the first person to admit to that. Her role in the Boxer Rebellion is something that she cannot escape, but she never tried to. She apologized, formally, for her role in the rebellion, and did her best to learn from her mistakes. Her reign post-Boxer Rebellion were some of China’s most prosperous and peaceful years. In fact, the foreign powers welcomed her back to the Forbidden City after the Boxer Rebellion. Even though the Boxer Rebellion was specifically a rebellion against foreign influence, the Western powers wanted Cixi back on the throne.

Many have called Jung Chang’s book about Cixi “revisionist,” as if that is a bad thing, so I asked her, “What do you say to critics who call into doubt the version of Cixi that you present in the book?”

“What wrong with revisionism?” she asked. Indeed, if the history we have been fed is wrong, why should it just be accepted because it is old? Why shouldn’t it be revised? She went on to say that, “People who doubt what I have written here should keep an open mind.”

It was truly a joy to meet Jung Chang and get to hear what she personally thought about the empress and her book. She also hinted that her next book will be about China’s first elections, which were also arranged by Empress Cixi before her death, so I can’t wait to read that.

Have you read any of Jung Chang’s books? Let me know what you think of them in the comments.