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Win a FREE trip to China

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

CNReviews has just announced a contest which will  give away a free trip to China. The trip has a cool name: China 2.0 Tour which includes stops at Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou from Nov. 10 – 17. Within one week, you can see the top 3 big cities which will be in very different flavor in China.

CNReviews and The China Business Network have a seed idea of bringing western bloggers to China to create more understanding and dialogue btw the West and China early this year. Now the idea is going to be realized. The contest is sponsored by VituralVC. Find more details on Mashable and CNReviews.

Hurry up, the contest is ended on Oct. 28, 2008.

Ceramic Water Cube of Beijing Olympic Game

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Water Cube of Beijing Olympic Game

Water Cube of Beijing Olympic Game

Want to bring one home while you are in China?

19 Years’ Ago on Today

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Thanks to elliottng for his post of  Memories of Hong Kong in June of ‘89 on CNReviews, he reminded me the important day (today) in 19 years’ ago 1989. It may be the most historical event in my life so far although I was too young to fully understand what and why every thing have happened.  Even today, I still don’t fully understand the cause and result.

But, I was lucky enough that when I went to graduate school in Hong Kong in 2001, I was able to access all kinds of information (texts, images, video) from Internet and learned as many as I can about this historical event. Student Union of my college in Hong Kong has special memorial events on this day. They have been doing the similar thing for more than 10 years when I first experienced it. I know local Hong Kong people may get used to it (as they have been staying at the campus for 1-4 years). But people like me, from Mainland China, I felt more respectful to Hong Kong  for its openness and tolerance.

I have asked my couson who is born in 1992 if he ever knows about this. He doesn’t, as this historical event is not yet in History class; and in really life, he doesn’t have any channel to learn a word about it: TV, newspaper, Internet. No media is pushing this to readers or audience unless you are driven by strong curiousity and dig online + you can understand at least one language besides Mandarin. I’ve aslo asked my interns (all in colleges now) who are born in 1985 or 1986. Only one of them knows it.


Thank SDVC for the image.

Are you ready for Chinese tourists, US travel agents?

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Last December, China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) added the United State into the official tourism destination list reported by XinhuaNet. Early this month, CNTA head Qiwei Shao (邵琪伟) and U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez announced that Chinese citizens will be able to travel to US in tours from June. 17 2008. Travel agents from Beijing (北京), Tianjin (天津), Shanghai (上海), Jiangsu(江苏), Zhejiang(浙江), Hunan(湖南), Hubei(湖北), Heibei(河北) and Guangdong(广东) are in the first list that eligible to send tours to the States. These tours will be the “legitimated” tourists for the first time. Before U.S. become a travel destination, most of the tourists applied for business visa (B1 or B2) to get into the States.

According to data of US commerce department, there were more than 320,000 leisure visitors to US in 2006. These visitors were said to “have spent trememdous amount of money in US”. Let’s do an easy math problem: suppose the number of visitor to US increases by 25% compared to 2006, it will be 400,000 in 2008. According to travel agent, the average cost for a typical tour package per person is 25,000 RMB (apprx. $3, 570 USD). If eachvisitor spends 1,000 USD in the States besides the “all-inclusive” tour cost in shopping or casino, the Chinese visitor will spend total 1.8 billion in the States this year.

But I have to say the estimation of “1,000 USD for shopping” is very very conservative. Last year, Chinese spent $8 billion on luxury goods last year, accounting for 18% of the world’s total, the World Luxury Association says. Russell Flannery from Forbes didn’t say how much this 8 billion USD was spend outside of China where brand luxury goods are relative cheaper oversea.

Although 2 billion USD seems not like a big pie in the 90+ billion online travel industry, when you see the number by travel destinations by city, it is something. According to GNS Travel & Tour, a travel agent that is running tours for Chinese visitor in US, most of the visitors are going to visit East Coast: New York, Washington D.C. , Philidelpihia, West Coast: San Francisco, Los Angeles (things to do), Las Vegas (things to do), and islands of Hawaii (Honolulu Things to Do). It is estimated that by 2011, over 580,000 Chinese tourists will visit US annually.

But in 2006, there are already 1.9 million Chinese visited Europ. The most popular country is England in Chinese visitor. The most popular travel information website Go2EU in Chinese provides practical travel tips and guides such as how to get a visa, how to book hotels in London, what are the attractions for independent travelers. The most popular tags are “Rome” and “Paris” for cities and “Italy”, “England”, “Gemany”, “France” for countries. US is less popular than “Span”. The everage cost for a Europe tour is 1,500-2,000 USD per person. The bottleneck of China outbound travel to US is visa application which involves a long lead time interview appointment and high reject rate. But there are good enough of number of Chinese want to see US regardless of the complicated procedure.

So US travel agents, are you ready for Chinese visitors?

Data from the post are from this report in Chinese


An image of Jiuzhaigou I took last Oct. Hope this “heaven on earth” can be accessed again soon!


Vacation Search Engine Launched

Thursday, May 15th, 2008 launched its public beta version on May 14. Users can search “hotel” and “things to do” with a theme-based filter, such as family friendly, pet friendly and even girls getaway. It is a travel planning service. Budget Travel called it “a clever twist on travel planning”. Read Write Web has a very detailed description on how this Semantic Travel Search Engine works from algorithm level. The exmaple Ontology can give you an idea about how the a “kid friendly hotel” is determined from 400,000 hotels in the largest database Uptake has.

I just tried the new launched “girls getaway things to do ” in Las Vegas. Four of the top five results it recommended are Museums. Hmm… it is interesting. If I take a vacation in Las Vegas with my husband, I don’t think we will go to more than one museum. But with my girl friends, It is very likely that we will go from museum to museum. I want to check out Guggenheim Hermitage Museum next time.

Uptake is formerly named Kango. Due to a name dispute with a classifield site called Kaango, it has to change from Kango to Uptake. It launched a private beta in Dec 2007. Now, user can try the product out without a password required.

First Image from Wenchuan after earthquake, and help needed.

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

This is the first image sent from the 5.12 Sichuan earthquake center Wenchuan by a Xinhua reporter at 12pm May 14 2008. Kids are expecting…

Relief for Wenchuan Earthquake Needed: 

CN Reviews has an up-to-date list of more than 24 charities that involved in helping Sichuan earthquake. Choose the way you are most comfortable to help it.

Reschedule your trip to Sichuan, Yunnan, Shanxi and Gansu in China

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

A terrible tragedy- a 7.8 earthquake happend in Wenchuan, Sichuan province China at 2:38pm on May 12 2008. More than 9000 death have been reported on May 13 2008 7am. More than 60,000 people were trapped and disconnected. China national TV station CCTV news channel broadcasts the after-tragedy rescue live. We watched TV for about 3 hours last night.

The center of the earthquake Wenchuan (汶川) is the home to lovely Grand Pandas. It is also a popular travel destination. It is reported that the roads to the best attraction of the province – Jiuzhaigou are seriously damaged in the earthquake. Jiuzhaigou is about 450 km away from Chengdu and around 300 km away from Wenchuan.

The neighborhood provinces: Yunnan (云南), Shanxi (陕西) and Gansu(甘肃) recorded death in this earthquake. Railways, freeways, power plants, telecom signal towers were damaged. More than 2,800 cellphone signal towers in Sichuan province collaped. Quite some cities and towns near the earthquake center lost electricity. Weather forcast says it will rain in the coming 3 days. So bad.

I would recommend you to change your travel plan to west China in the coming week.

sichuan earthquake, china

The scene of a high school after earthquake in Doujiangyan (都江堰) which is famous for a dam built in 2000+ years ago. 100 km away from Chendu.

sichuan earthquake, china

This Ming Dynasty tower in Sichuan Mingzhong city. The tower was 12 floors in the past 400+ years and now only 6 levels left.

travel blogger wanted in New Media era

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Elliott Ng from Uptake Blog has a last minute call for a travel blogger. If the blogger can convince Via Hjortur Smarason at Marketing Safari, then the lucky he/she will be able to join an “all-expenses included cruise tour” with 15-25 other journalists in iceland. It is a 4-day sailing adventure trip.

Hjortur explains the how this work:

They are inviting journalists on their first tour on the 26th of May 2008. I have suggested they invite at least one blogger as well and now I am searching for that one blogger. If you are interested in a four day adventure cruise in Iceland on the 26th of May and are available from May 25th until June 1st, send me an email and convince me you’re the blogger we are looking for. I will need information about you, your network and the readers to your blog (who, how many, where from, age, status etc). My email address is hjortur.smarason (at) gmail (dot) com. Please send me your info no later than midnight Thursday night (May 8th).

More details check Breidafjordur Nature Cruise.

Iceland becomes a much well-known country to many Chinese recently in Feb. 2008 after proud singer Bjork’s Shanghai concert. I think Bjork could the people of year 2008. It seems to me that she was the first to raise the Tibetan ”wave“ around the world.

It is too late for me. Good luck to the lucky one! It must be a terrific tour if you are going to see these:

Place to go in 2008, or today!

Thursday, December 13th, 2007’s newsletter service has a new feature, it will send you a “Top 5 Viewed Features” email every week. One of the most eye-catch eresting feature in today’s email is an artical titled The 53 Places to Go in 2008. I don’t know why it is “53” not “52” or “54”, but those pictures and each 60-word description are just amazing. What even more amazing? 437 people have comments and shout out their wishes.angkor wat

Kango blog is hosting a Carnival of Cities this week. It asks bloggers to answer “Where do you want to go today?” well, I have a long wish list. But the 1st place is Angkor Wat. Reason #1: Winter is the best season to visit East South Asia as the raining season is over and the weather will be cooler. But the con is that Winter is also the tourism peak season as well. Anyway, who cares. Reason #2: I am from a country of a long history. I want to see all other ancient cultures and histories. One day I will be in Egypt, Chile and Greece. Bootsnall blogger Sharkfin just report his trip in Angkor Wow.

Carnival of Cities is quite a fun blog event. I submitted a post in September about Beijing and that post now is the most viewed page among my 43 blog posts. So, undoubtly, you can promote your blog while having fun writing about trips!

Where do you want to go today or in 2008?

A Warm Thanksgiving Gift to Your Love Ones

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

A friend of mine sent these images in an email to me today. Isn’t it a great thanksgiving gift?

Sasha Tseng Toast Messenger

Today is your mother’s birthday. Early in the morning, in stead of waiting her to get up and make breakfast for you as usual, you decide to get up earlier to leave a nice “happy birthday” note to her and make her a breakfast.

Sasha Tseng Toast Messenger

So you decide to make a toast for her.

Sasha Tseng Toast Messenger

Here you go! “Eat your word Toast Messenger!”
According to the informaion in my email, this toaster is designed by Sasha Tseng.