This is part of a series of interviews with inspiring travelers. Today’s interview comes from Nicole about her G Adventures China tour. See more about tours and traveling with purpose here. All photos are by Nicole except Pinterest image and first image.
Tell us about yourself and your travel experience.
I’m Nicole and I’m a serial expat. I’ve lived in Scotland, England, Japan and New Zealand. I’ve been in New Zealand for the last 12 years and I have been travelling the world for the last 20 years. I’ve visited 100 countries and I’m halfway to my goal of visiting every country in the world.
Where did you go on your tour and how long was it?
I went on a 12 day tour of China. We visited Beijing, Xian, Suzhou, and Shanghai. It was an express tour that I was trying out to see how I enjoyed China and see if there were areas I would want to visit again. I called this tour my ‘taster of China’.
What tour company did you use and why?
I used G Adventures. I had a credit with them from another trip I wasn’t able to go on and I wanted to use it up. Also, when I compared the tour with Intrepid I preferred the G Adventures one because they flew between Beijing and Xian instead of taking an overnight train and it was the same price.
Why did you choose a tour to China instead of traveling independently?
China is a difficult country to travel in but I know some people have been able to do it. I didn’t have the time to research everything and I was looking for an efficient use of my time there. I also like how the groups eat their meals together and we were able to try more Chinese dishes. Yum!
What did you like about the G Adventures China tour? What was your favorite part?
I loved the no hassle tour and the food! Everything was already planned out for us with enough free time to explore yourself. And I already mentioned the food but we had some amazing family style meals and when you have 20 different dishes compared to the one or two you would have on your own its a lot of fun to be able to try all those different things.
What was the most memorable or eventful part of your trip?
That’s a tie between the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army. The Terracotta Army was high on my list and when I was looking at tours I ensured I picked one that went to Xian. They were so impressive and detailed. Each one is unique down to their facial expressions and hairstyle and clothing. It is really amazing.
The Great Wall of China surprised me. It is a top tourist destination but we were lucky to go to the Mutianyu area and see the beautiful scenery as well. It’s hard to realise just how big it is and then to realise how long ago it was built is mind blowing.
>>Check out how to see the Great Wall of China without the crowds.
Was there anything you didn’t like about the G Adventures China tour?
We ended up at a lot of Starbucks in China and anyone who knows me knows I like good coffee, not Starbucks. I called it our Starbucks tour of China. But let me explain. It is very hard to pick a place to meet in China as the writing is in Chinese characters. You also cannot say the red sign with the yellow writing because that is every sign. Its very hard to differentiate so Starbucks is a good option. And they are EVERYWHERE. And they have western toilets with toilet paper and soap. I can’t complain too much!
Did you eat anything amazing on your trip?
Yes! Considering two of my answers have revolved around food already! There are some top dishes for me. I waited an hour in a line for Soup dumplings in Shanghai. So worth it. I went to a hot pot restaurant where you cook all of your food in hot pots at your table. And of course the dumplings, pan fried or steamed. I had dumplings daily. I actually went to a cooking school in Beijing and we had the most amazing Black Sesame Ice Cream with toffee bananas. I dream about that dessert.
What inspired you to take this China Express tour or travel to China?
As I live and work in New Zealand I was trying to figure out if I could take more trips during the year instead of taking off all the time at once. China is one of the places that you can fly direct to from New Zealand so I thought it would make a good place to go for two weeks. I have to admit I’ve always been a bit intimidated by China and I think that lead me to taking a tour. It was the right choice too because I was extremely busy at work and unable to plan the trip how I would have wanted to.
Would you recommend this G Adventures China tour? Would you change anything about it?
I would highly recommend this tour for anyone who is wanted to get a taste of China. I also asked my guide all sorts of questions about other areas, some of the most popular tours and where they go and how to get around on your own. All good info for my next trip. When I go back to China I want to explore another area, most likely the Tian Mountains
Do you think this tour would be good for a new traveler?
Absolutely. This tour was so well organised and efficient. You really get to experience China and have people to experience it with along the way. The tour really hits the highlights of the major cities in China and the famous landmarks.
Author bio: Nicole LaBarge got her first taste for travel when she was 16 years old. Ever since then she has been hooked and calls herself a travel-holic. She believes you can travel and have a career and she is halfway to her goal of visiting every country in the world. She is a serial expat, has lived in five different countries to date and is currently based in Wellington. She loves travelling and is currently planning a trip to visit all 12 countries in South America. Check out the Travelgal Nicole Website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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