Monday, June 22, 2009

China podcasts are available now!

We interrupt this series of blogs on how to travel cheaply to bring you this important announcement: the walking tours of Beijing I wrote for are now for sale!

I wrote and photographed a total of nine tours, with seven of them about Beijing and its environs. Right now they're available only as downloads to mobile devices, but they will be available on CD soon.

The tours are:
  • China's Great Wall: Walking on History. The Great Wall is undeniably one of China's top attractions. This tour visits several sites in the Beijing area.
  • Cuandixia: China's Village that Time Forgot. Cuandixia is a village about three hours by car from Beijing. In an effort at economic revitalization, it has turned itself into a living history museum. I've been there twice, and will go again.
  • Imperial Beijing: Tian'anmen, Forbidden City, Jingshan. This tour starts at Tian'anmen Square, the largest square in the world, and the heart and soul of China. It then crosses the street for a tour of the Forbidden City, once off limits to commoners but which is now toured by thousands of them every day. It ends at the north entrance to the Forbidden City where visitors climb to the top of Coal Hill in Jingshan Park for stunning views overlooking the Forbidden City. The park was a playground for China's royal families.
  • Beijing for Kids. This is a fun tour for kids of all ages, which provides ideas for different things to do such as visiting the world's largest inland aquarium, shopping for toys and taking pictures of silly signs.
  • A Walk Through Beijing's Past. This tour starts at Beihai Park with its landmark White Dagoba Temple. The park was a playground for China's imperial family. The photo above, of Chinese characters cut into bamboo, was taken there. The tour then goes on to explore the city's disappearing hutongs, a centuries' old style of housing that is unique to China and now giving way to 21st century modernization. The tour ends at the Soong Ching Ling House on the northeast shore of Houhai Lake. Soong Ching Line was the widow of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, first president of China, and so important in her own right she was referred to as "the mother of China."
  • Western Beijing: Boats, Blooms 'n Boots. This tour explores the Summer Palace, which is one of my favorite places to visit in Beijing. See the controversial Marble Boat, built by funds diverted from the Royal Navy. Grab a taxi to the Beijing Botanical Garden with its beautiful flower gardens and tropical conservatory; the Sleeping Buddha Temple is located inside the garden. Finally, end the day at Fragrant Hills Park which offers hiking and stunning views of the Beijing landscape from atop a hill.
  • Beijing: Finding Peace and Quiet. Beijing has millions of people and there will be times you feel like they're all visiting the Summer Palace at the same time you are. This tour provides ideas on places you can visit to escape the crowds.

The other two tours I've written are:

  • Maryhill Museum: Guarding the Columbia River Gorge. Maryhill is a fabulous little museum in southcentral Washington which overlooks the scenic Columbia River Gorge. It has the largest collection of Rodin works on the West Coast, a replica of Stonehenge which serves as a war memorial, and the first paved road in Washington State. The tour ends with a visit to Maryhill Winery with its outdoor amphitheatre for summer concerts.
  • Motorcycle Museums in Britain. Jon and I went to England in May where we visited England's top three motorcycle museums: National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, Sammy Miller Museum in New Milton near Southampton and the London Motorcycle Museum. We also visited a couple of lesser known museums which also had motorcycles. We saw everything from the earliest motorcycles which were simply bicycles with gas engines to the Triumph Bonneville Tom Cruise rode in Mission Impossible III.

Please see my website for more information about traveling in China.

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