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Spirit of the Middle Kingdom
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Spirit of the Middle Kingdom

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 13 day(s)
Group Size: 5 - 16 people
Destination(s): China  
Specialty Categories: Photography and Videography   Festival Tours  
Season: February
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 4950 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 4950 US Dollar (USD)

Tour Dates: February 15 - 28.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival Day in Kunming. Upon your arrival this day into Kunming, a Linden Center staff member will meet you at the airport and transport you to the centrally-located New Era Hotel. After you have had a chance to check in and wash up, we will tour the local Bird and Flower market - Kunming's original central market-place, which sells a variety of items ranging from exotic fruits and snacks, books, antiques, artwork and handicrafts-items from Yunnan's 26 ethnic groups. We will help you negotiate for any treasures that catch your eye. We will dine in a restored courtyard mansion and learn more about Yunnan and the upcoming adventures over dinner and tea.

Day 2: Yuanyang. After a buffet breakfast in the hotel's penthouse restaurant, we will travel south by a private, comfortable motor coach towards the rice terraces of Yuanyang. The trip will take approximately 6 hours, and we will be making several stops along the way to enjoy the scenery and photograph the timeless ethnic villages. Lunch will be in Jianshui, home to China’s second largest Confucian temple and an intact old town. Our home for the night will be in the mountain top village of Xinjie. Dinner will include a lecture on the cultural history of the unique ethnic peoples from this region - one of Asia's Wonders of the World and a future World Heritage Site.

Day 3: Yuanyang. Today’s venture into the recently-flooded rice fields will be preceded by a session on landscape photography by Doug Beasley. The rice fields are an amazing feat of engineering and beauty and stretch across the mountains and valleys for over one hundred miles. We will drive and hike to the most scenic spots, timing our visits to coincide with the best lighting including a breath-taking sunset.

Day 4: Xishuangbanna. After an early morning tackling the rice terraces, we will enjoy a village breakfast and have an early lecture by Doug. We will drive south through the Red River valley to enter the Mekong River watershed in subtropical Xishuangbanna - “Land of 10,000 rice fields”. Throughout the day, we will pass elegant tea plantations and colorful ethnic villages. Stops will be made for spontaneous, unforgettable photos. Dinner will include a variety of vegetables and fruits indigenous to this tropic paradise.

Day 5: Mekong. We will spend the day in Jinghong, the ancient capital of the old Tai kingdom of Xishuangbanna. There are three botanical gardens and parks, including numerous water elements. Doug will hold morning and evening classes, interspersed by a visit to a village along the Mekong River - one of Asia’s most storied waterways.

Day 6: The Himalayas - Linden Center. After breakfast, we will take a short, forty-five minute flight north to Dali. We will transfer to the Linden Center and explore the ancient city of Xizhou - your home for the remainder of the trip. After a short orientation meeting during lunch, Doug will present a lecture, followed by a personal escort around the village with glimpses into the local lives of our good friends. We will hold an after-dinner reception with local wines, teas and coffees on our rooftop terrace overlooking the 14,000 foot Azure Mountains and surrounding wheat fields. Optional therapeutic massages will be available in your room throughout the stay (average cost: $18/hour massage).

Day 7: Our first full day of Linden Center activities will include Western and/or Chinese breakfast followed by a visit to the morning markets of Xizhou for interaction with the local villagers, including a lot of photo opportunities. You will have a chance to choose the vegetables, meats and fruits for the day’s meals. After lunch at the Center, Doug will present a workshop about photographing people. He and the Lindens will discuss how to best interact with some of the local villagers for planned shots, and Doug will give all guests the first of their daily exercises. Later in the afternoon we will travel to the old walled city of Dali. Dinner will be held in Dali's finest local restaurant and will include a brief introduction to Marco Polo's visit to this region 700 years ago.

Day 8: Today we will focus on the spiritual traditions of the region. We will visit local monasteries, including Gantong temple, and take a cable car up the slopes of the Azure Mountains for a short walk on the Cloud Path. This paved trail is situated at 8,500 feet and offers spectacular views of the Dali valley. In the afternoon, we will visit a rural kindergarten and share tea with village elders in a Taoist temple. The Lindens will introduce the region's unique blend of Taoism, Buddhism and hero worship. We will take a horse cart ride to the shores of the Lake Er to watch the sunset.

Day 9: We will take a photographic journey to the Buddhist Mountain, Jizu Shan, for an all day trip. Today will include some longer periods of hiking, punctuated by stops at the numerous ancient temples and monasteries that surround the ‘Golden Peak’. Jizushan is one of the most important sacred mountains in southwest China. Legend claims that one of the historical Buddha’s main disciples came to Jizushan from India and entered into a hidden gate on the cliff side where he has been ever since in enlightened contemplation. We will eat lunch on the mountain, and return via comfortable bus in the evening for a late dinner and photographic storytelling at the Center.

Day 10: Zhoucheng. This morning we will explore the historic village of Zhoucheng to photograph its renowned tie-dye, cloth-making tradition. We will trace the process from the picking of the indigo leaves to the designing and tying of these works of art. Zhoucheng’s picturesque town square has a Qing Dynasty performance stage and is shaded by a massive canopied Banyan tree. We will have ample time to capture the colors of the lively marketplace that unfolds in this timeless setting. In the afternoon, Doug will conduct workshops in the Center, and you will have a few hours to relax or explore the village on your own. The Center's café and library are open all day, so you can enjoy any type of drinks within the courtyard. Dinner will include a memorable music performance by our local Bai folk music group.

Day 11: Today we join the Chinese in welcoming in the Year of the Tiger! The most exciting day of the year in China, New Year’s Day includes dragon dances, fireworks, temple ceremonies and endless food, drinks and laughter! Today will provide us with some of the most enjoyable photo opportunities. We will celebrate alongside villagers in a manner passed down for centuries. We will have a chance to work with our chefs to make our own “Long Life” noodles - a traditional meal to help ensure continued success in the coming year.

Day 12: The First Day of Spring Festival. Today we will work with Doug to finish our assignments. You can accompany some of us as we take a horse cart to the surrounding temples to participate in the day’s special ceremonies. Others can return to Dali to do some last-minute shopping. You are also welcome to take off on our bicycles and explore the many pathways leading through the surrounding rice and wheat fields. We will conclude the day with a special dinner and a photo slide show of the works taken throughout the trip.

Day 13: After breakfast, we will accompany you to the Dali Airport in time for your flight to Kunming and beyond.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- All domestic travel after arrival in Kunming
- Accommodations
- Most meals
- All activities and cultural services
- International airfare to Kunming from LAX.

Price Excludes:
- Medical travel insurance
- Your own Chinese visa
- Alcoholic drinks
- Beverages not included in regular meals
- Laundry, personal items and souvenirs
- Long distance telephone calls
- Trip interruption and cancellation insurance.

Note: Single Supplement is an extra $ 500.

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