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Up Close and Personal Tour Article

Note:  This article is an interview excerpt between Kimberlie Meyer, newsletter editor and Louie Yi, expedition specialist. Questions are noted as KM for Kimberlie Meyer and LY for Louie Yi’s answers.   

KM: For this new tour, we wanted to take a look “behind the scenes” of how the tour was developed, so I spoke to Louie Yi, our expedition specialist who put this tour together.    For details on this new tour option, click here: http://www.lotustours.net/heritage/china/affordable.shtml

KM:  Two things are immediately obvious about this tour, 1) The price is great for a homeland trip; and 2) the lodging is at a “Home Inn” motel in every city.  What’s the story behind the development of this tour? 

LY:  Well, knowing many families still want to take a homeland trip, even during economically challenging times, so I decided to put together a new option.  Instead of the typical homeland trip where you can stay at 4-star or above hotels, I thought about travel for a typical “middle class” Chinese traveler.  I personally visited the Home Inn hotel chain and looked at the rooms, checked the beds, and inspected everything.  I was very pleased with the cleanliness and the features such as internet. This hotel came out great on all these factors making it a typical place where a Chinese middle class family would stay as a tourist. It is also very popular with the “white collar” business travelers in China.  Generally, the average Chinese national cannot afford a 4-star Western style hotel, making the Home Inn chain very popular.  The floors are usually wood or other hard surface, and the cleanliness exceeds many American motels or equivalent.

KM:  Well, what chain would the Home Inn be equivalent to in America? 

LY:  It may be similar or better to Day’s Inn, Super 8, or something in that category of a place to stay. 

KM:  As you know, Louie, I think many North. American families feel a bit pampered during an adoption trip, usually staying in 4 or 5 star hotels.  Are we losing some of the “pampering” on this type of trip?
LY:  Yes, families won’t have a fancy lobby or swimming pool if they choose the “Up Close” tour and the Home Inn will not have a restaurant in the facility. However, they will gain some insight into what the typical Chinese traveler does and will experience and have the opportunity to “rub shoulders” with typical Chinese persons during their stay there.

KM:  My Mandarin language skills are not very good. Would I have a problem on this tour?  
LY:  That is no problem.  The tour guide will still handle all check in procedures and secure the family’s needs for the evening prior to departing for the evening.  If some need should arise that the family needs help with, whether language or other things, the guide always gives the family their cell phone number to reach.  It’s no problem. The guides are trained to be available to assist as needed.

KM: Well, this tour also has adoptive families visiting a farmer’s home in Hu Country and staying overnight. Can you tell us about that?  
LY:  Sure, this is an opportunity for families to try their own hand and learn a bit about a painting technique that is famous throughout the world.  We also have discussed that some families may appreciate an opportunity to stay in the home of a Chinese family.  And, we worked to develop this opportunity for our families to experience more of the daily life in China.  The guide will stay in the home of the farmer as well.  If there is any difficulty in communicating, the guide is right there to assist.  It’s an unforgettable experience and well suited to families who would like to learn more about China than just the main tourist sites, such as the Great Wall.  I think it is an opportunity to have a wonderful time for adoptive families. 

KM: It sounds like you have put a lot of thought into this making this tour a truly unique experience for families.  Are there any last thoughts you would like to share about the tour?
LY: Yes.  We did put a lot of thought into what families would want in a tour experience if they are returning for a second tour, or a first time trip for those that want to be a little more adventurous.  The 4-star hotel experience may seems too predictable and become old and stale for them.  This tour is perfect for the family experienced with travel, who camps or backpacks, and are a little more used to “roughing it.” Not that a Days Inn experience is roughing it, but it’s also not the White Swan Hotel.  This tour will give families an opportunity to rub shoulders with the typical Chinese family, and give them an opportunity to walk down the path their children might have walked down had they grown up in China. We understand families, we understand culture, this is a trip for families that want to dig a little deeper about what authentic daily life is like in China.   We hope it will be a rich and rewarding experience for the whole family. 

KM: Thank you Louie for taking time to talk with me regarding this new tour.  It sounds like an exciting opportunity for families to experience a homeland tour as a “local.” 
LY:  I am glad to take the time.  Lotus Travel is always looking for ways to provide innovative opportunities for families to return to China for a heritage homeland tour.