YOUR DESTINATION SPECIALIST
SILK ROAD & TIBET The Worlds Greatest East-West Trade Route 21 days - Departs 6 September 2018
Xian, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar, Xining, Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, Tsetang & Chengdu Including the Qinghai-Tibet Railway
THE FABULOUS SILK ROAD The Worlds Greatest East–West Trade Route
Silk was first cultivated in China around 2600BC, but it took 2½ millennia for it to spread west. Alexander the Great’s expansion from Europe into Central Asia over 2300 years ago stopped far short of China, and he had little knowledge of the lands beyond. So the empires of Rome and China, developed simultaneously up to the second century BC and had only the vaguest consciousness of each other. The journeys west by China’s emissary Zhang Qiang, in the second century BC brought the Chinese Han Dynasty into political contact with many kingdoms of Central Asia, and opened up the great EastWest trade route. This trade route would eventually become a chain of camel caravan trails, a vast conduit for exchanging goods and information, stretching thousands of kilometres from Changan (Xian) in China, across the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts, through the rich oases of Turpan and Kashgar. From here the route continued into modern Afghanistan, Iran and Syria on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, with further branches connecting to the Roman Empire at Constantinople (Istanbul) and beyond. China controlled these trade routes to the West, accumulating great wealth from it.
The early trade in silk and tea was carried on against incredible odds by merchants and animals travelling at a snails pace over some of the most inhospitable territory on the face of the earth. For protection against gangs of marauders (much tempted by the precious cargoes), merchants set aside their competitiveness and joined forces to form large caravans comprising as many as 1000 camels under the protection of armed escorts. The Han Dynasty Silk Road began at the magnificent capital city of Changan (Xian), and took traders westwards along the Hexi Corridor to the Great Wall fortress at Jiayuguan. The Chinese traders escorted their merchandise probably as far as Dunhuang, where it was sold or bartered to Central Asian middlemen who carried the trade on to the cities of Persia, Syria and Greece, often reaching the Roman Empire in the hands of Greek and Jewish entrepreneurs. On its way across Asia, the Silk Road brought riches to several isolated Chinese pre-Islamic Buddhist civilisations that flourished in these desolate regions. Along with trade came travellers, and with them, ideas. The Silk Road may have seen the exchange of small but precious cargoes such as gems, porcelain, spices, incense, furs, tea and silk, but in the long term the greater exchange was of science, religion, and art. It should not be forgotten that it was along this route that the Chinese inventions of the compass, gunpowder and paper were carried westwards. In the Han Dynasty, the Silk Road bought Buddhism to China, and by the time of the Tang Dynasty, Islam. It was during the Tang Dynasty when the Silk Road reached its zenith. The Monk Xian Zang made his epic journey from China to India in search of Buddhist Scriptures, and Changan (Xian) had over 5000 foreign traders. Each year tons of silk and spices passed through the Changan city gates. However, when the Tang Dynasty fell, so did trade. The Silk Road finally passed out of use in the 10th century with the discovery of faster and more convenient sea routes. Today, oasis towns, tranquil lakes, snow capped mountains, Buddhist caves, and remnants of ancient cities add allure to this wilderness, maintaining the mystique and romance of the Silk Road. Large communities of Muslims continue to flourish, and vast Buddhist cave complexes mark the ancient frontier between old China and the deserts of Central Asia. Today it is not just the historic significance that makes the Silk Road intriguing, but the incredible scenery and ethnic diversity along the way.
BY RAIL INTO TIBET Outstanding Engineering Achievement
The Qinghai-Tibet Railroad, the highest in the world, connects Tibet with the rest of China. You can now see for yourself the spectacular scenery of the mysterious Qinghai Tibet Plateau from the relative comfort of a passenger tourist train, the ‘Lhasa Express’. Departing from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, the train travels 1956 kms to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. It is by far the longest plateau railway journey in the world with the highest altitude, and the most problematic climate. The 1142km section from Golmud to Lhasa traverses 960kms over 4000m above sea level, and 530 of these kilometres are built over permanently frozen earth. The worlds highest railway station, Tanggula, stands 5068 metres above sea level. The line runs across the spectacular Kunlun, Tanggula and Nianqing Mountain Ranges, winding its way past the source of three of the worlds great rivers, as well as the vast and magnificent wetlands of Kekexili Nature Reserve, and skirting several huge mountain lakes including Cuona, China’s highest fresh water lake. On the newest Golmud to Lhasa section alone, there are almost 2000 culverts, 681 spectacular bridges with 458 of them built over permanently frozen land. Two of the 11 tunnels also pass through frozen land. The air pressure and oxygen levels at this altitude are just 60% of those at sea level. Hundreds of kilometres of specially designed fences and intricate stonework protect the most vulnerable parts of the line from sand and snow storms. The carriages are sealed and pressurised like an aeroplane. Each carriage is equipped with an oxygen generator to maintain comfortable oxygen levels. The large picture windows in each compartment are fitted with antiultraviolet radiation glass. Although outside temperatures can be as low as -30˚C in mid winter, the temperature inside is always kept at a perfect 22˚C. This is one of the worlds most amazing engineering projects, providing a unique travel experience across some of the most amazing topography on the planet. You even get your own personal TV for each bed, small and only carrying Chinese programs, but still unique in China. This rail journey is a totally unique experience, undertaken in comparative comfort.
TIBET Shangri-La - The Roof of the World
Potala Palace Tibetâ€™s reputation as a lost land steeped in magic and exotic mystery is due to centuries of geographic isolation and a unique theocratic culture, based on Buddhism but influenced by an older shamanistic faith called Bon. In 1950 China annexed Tibet, but the traditional ethnic culture and values of the Tibetans remain strong, consistently enchanting those lucky enough to visit. Songsten Gampo, a remarkable leader who unified Tibet, introduced Buddhism in the 7th Century. Since then religion has permeated all aspects of Tibetan life, with monasteries acting as palaces, administrative centres, and schools. Ruled by priests, Tibet was feudal and resisted all modernisation, with few technologies more sophisticated than the prayer wheel. One of Tibetâ€™s early rulers, Tsongkhapa (1347-1419), established the Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism. His disciples became the Dalai Lamas, rulers of Tibet for 500 years. Each new Dalai Lama is seen as a reincarnation of the previous one. In the 1959 uprising that followed the Chinese annexation, the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India, where he still leads the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Despite continuing ethnic tensions, living conditions in Tibet have improved significantly today, and there are signs of religious revival. Many monasteries that were ravaged during the Cultural Revolution have been repaired and returned to their former roles. The ancient city of Lhasa is the heart of Tibet. The Old Tibetan Quarter, home of the Potala Palace and the famous Jokhang Temple, illustrates Tibetan determination to hold onto their cultural traditions. A common sight here are pious and cheerful pilgrims, swinging prayer wheels and performing energetic prostrations as they make holy circuits around the temples. Many customs arose as response to life in this harsh environment. Sky burials, for example, in which the dead are left in the open for vultures, are practical in a land where firewood is scarce and the earth too hard to dig. Farming this barren land is difficult, and the only crop that grows easily is barley. Almost a quarter of the people are nomads, keeping herds of Yak and living in tents. Tibet is without doubt one of the most remarkable places on earth to visit. For many, the highlights will be of a spiritual nature. Despite rapid development and more than 50 years since Chinese annexation, Tibetan pilgrims across the country are mumbling mantras and thumbing their prayer beads in chapels heavy with the acrid smell of incense and yak butter. Tibet offers fabulous monastery sights and experiences, stunning views of the worlds highest mountains and one of the most likeable peoples you will ever meet. Almost everyone comes away with admiration and affinity for the Tibetan people, whose openness of heart makes travelling in Tibet such a joy. But you are never far away from the reality of politics. For anyone who travels with their eyes open, a visit to Tibet will be memorable, fascinating and even life-changing, but also at times a sobering experience.
HIGHLIGHTS XIAN Ancient ‘Changan’, historic centre of Chinese Civilisation - Home to the Terracotta Warriors & historic starting point of the famous Silk Road – Capital of ancient China for 1100 years. JIAYUGUAN Guarding the famous Silk Road’s Hexi Corridor - Spectacular Ming Dynasty Fortress at the western extremity of the Great Wall, the ‘overhanging’ Great Wall, Weijin Dynasty tomb, Great Wall Museum DUNHUANG China’s most significant capital of Buddhist Art - World famous Buddhist murals and sculptures of the Mogao Grottoes, Mogao History and Research Institute, Camel ride in the Ming Sha Sand Dunes, Crescent Moon Lake, local farm visit, Folkloric show, Dunhuang evening market TURPAN World famous oasis in the Gobi Desert - Historic Karez underground irrigation system, vineyards and agricultural crops of the Turpan Depression (World’s second lowest, 154m below sea level), ruins of the Han Dynasty desert garrison town of Jaiohe, Emin Afghan-style mosque and its famous minaret, Flaming Mountains, Home of Traditional Uyghur Music and Dance. URUMQI Furthest place in the world from an ocean (2250kms) - Archaeological relics and 4000 year old mummies of Xinjiangs Lost Cities in the Regional Museum, Heavenly Lake, grassfields and snow capped peaks of the Nanshan Prairies, the Kazakh and Mongolian people, their horse culture and yurt houses KASHGAR Exotic remote outpost, historic focal point of Old Chinese Turkestan - World famous Sunday livestock market, Old Kashgar & its traditional handicraft skills, musical instrument & pottery workshops, Fragrant Concubines Tomb, Idkah Mosque XINING One of China’s mysterious cities, on the 2260 metre northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau – world famous Kumbum Lamasery, Yak Butter sculptures
Worlds highest railway, an outstanding high-altitude engineering success - Xining, Golmud, Kunlun mountains, Tuotuo headstream of Yangtse River, Kekexile Great Lakes and Nature reserve, Tanggula Mountain Pass, Worlds highest railway station (5068m above sea level), Cuona Lake (highest freshwater lake in China), Lhasa LHASA Holy Buddhist Capital, proudly guarding the flame of Tibetan heritage - Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery, Debating Monks of Sera Monastery, Barkhor Pilgrims circuit, Norbulingka Summer Palace, Herbal Medicine Hospital, Tibetan Cultural Show SHIGATSE & GYANTSE Ancient towns under the authentic Tibetan spell - Tashilhunpo Monastery (Seat of the Panchen Lama), Kumbum Chorten and Pelkhor Chode Monastery, magnificent Yamdrok-Tso Lake, Karula Glaciers, Tibetan Carpet factory TSETANG & YARLUNG VALLEY Birthplace of Tibetan culture - Samye Monastery (Tibet’s very first), Yumbulagang (legendary first building in Tibet), Tomb of Songtsen Gampo and the Chongye Burial Mounds CHENGDU One of the most important economic and cultural centres in Western China - Chengdu is the habitat of the cute Giant Panda and last location for China’s traditional tea houses
JOIN US IN SEPTEMBER 2018 IN CHINA On a great small group tour with rewarding cultural experiences and friendly people in the most intriguing parts of this amazing country.
Day 1 - Thursday 6 September Brisbane / Xian This morning we depart Brisbane on our direct flight with China Southern to Guangzhou with onward connection to Xian. Upon arrival into Xian we transfer to our hotel, which is beautifully located for a stroll around the heart of the city. Marco Polo visited Xian during the Middle Ages, when it was one of the largest cities in the world. This centre of ancient cultures served as the capital of a united China for eleven dynasties, and of course was the beginning of the famous trade caravans of the Silk Road. Xian is one of the few cities in China where the spectacular old city walls have been preserved. The monuments, archaeological sites in the city and fertile surrounding plain are constant reminders of a time when Xian stood at the very centre of the Chinese world. Overnight: Hilton Hotel Included Meals: In Flight Meals Day 2 - Friday 7 September Xian This morning we visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed cultural site of China’s fantastic Terracotta Warriors The Terracotta Army guarded the tomb of Emperor Qin, builder of the Great Wall of China – and a visit here is an unforgettable experience, a lifetime highlight! Thousands of life-sized terracotta warriors and horses served as imperial bodyguards in the tomb of this powerful Emperor, credited with unifying China. The mausoleum is so large that archaeologists expect to work at this site well in to this century. After lunch, We’ll also visit the Wild Goose Pagoda, made famous by the Monk who travelled on an epic voyage along the Silk Road to India in search of Buddhist sutras. He then returned to Xian to spend years in the Wild Goose Pagoda built to house the sutras, where he translated them from Sanskrit into Chinese. We’ll also spend time looking at Xian’s large Muslim Quarter including the Grand Mosque, a result of the influx of Central Asian Muslims who travelled the Silk Road into this fabulously prosperous Imperial Capital of China. This evening we’ll enjoy a unique Dumpling Banquet, a specialty of Xian. Overnight: Hilton Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 3 - Saturday 8 September Xian to Jiayuguan This morning we depart by air for Jiayuguan, following a photo stop at the Silk Road statues in Xian. Jiayuguan is famous as the location of the westernmost extremity of the 6000km Great Wall of China. A narrow strip of land, 1000kms long, called the Hexi Corridor, is sandwiched
between the Tibetan Plateau to the South and the merciless mountain desert to the north. Historically whoever controlled Jiayuguan Pass at the entrance to the Hexi Corridor had a stranglehold on the fabulous riches of the Silk Road trade. Jiayuguan was literally the last frontier of the Chinese Empire beyond which lay the terrifying desert wilderness. Tibetans, Uyghurs and then Mongols vied for control. Great Wall building started along the Hexi Corridor in the 3rd Century, but the Corridor only came under complete Chinese control in the Ming Dynasty with the building of the magnificent fort at Jiayuguan which is one of the great sights of Western China. The pervading sense of history is overwhelming. The illustrious gate towers and walls encircling the fort, adorned with bowmen’s turrets and pavilioned watchtowers, are an imposing 10 metres high with a perimeter of 733 metres. Foreign traders, pilgrims and later western envoys, their camel caravans laden with tribute gifts and goods, had to wait here for permission to proceed eastwards into China. This afternoon we’ll visit the famous fort and the 16thC ‘Overhanging Wall’, which once connected the fort to the Mazong range. We’ll take a little time to visit the excellent Great Wall Museum, documenting its history, and exhibiting a wealth of Wall relics, scale models, photography, interpretive materials and maps. Overnight: Holiday Plaza Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner Day 4 - Sunday 9 September Jiayuguan to Dunhuang This morning we visit one of the 1000 or so ancient tombs of the Wei and Jin dynasties. It is a little ‘gem’ in the vast Gobi Desert. The three chamber tomb we’ll visit includes hundreds of painted bricks depicting all facets of ancient daily life – farming, mulberry picking, herding, hunting, military encampments, butchery and entertainment. We then get a very personal and up-close look at the famous Gobi Desert as we travel 400km by good road to Dunhuang. Silk Road caravans wound their way roughly along this same path but took up to three weeks to complete the journey. We travel through desert areas pivotal to modern China as the site of important oil wells producing an annual output of more than three million tons. Along the way we pass sand bluffs and dunes, occasional herds of camels, sheep and goats, perhaps even catching a glimpse of donkeys or camels harnessed to farmers’ carts – and of course the occasional oasis. We arrive in Dunhuang, an ancient oasis town, once perched right on the outer periphery of Old Chinese Turkistan. In the early days of the Silk Road, Dunhuang was an important trading centre, and during the first century BC, the westernmost outpost of China. This was the last stop on the Silk Road before it split north and south to skirt the Taklamakan Desert. The
town marked the confluence of artistic styles and philosophies from Central Asia – Turkish, Mongolian, Christian, Manichean and Buddhist. Tonight we take the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular local folkloric show highlighting the apsaras and history of the Mogao Grottoes and remote desert cultures. Overnight: Grand Soluxe Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 5 - Monday 10 September Dunhuang Today will be a sensational, unforgettable experience as we visit the famous Mogao Grottoes. The Grottoes were the first known Buddhist temples in the Chinese Empire. Chinese Buddhism radiated to the whole Empire from these wild desert cliffs. Hewn over a millennium spanning nine dynasties, from the 4th to the 14th centuries, the Mogao Grottoes mark the height of Buddhist art. The caves honeycomb the cliff face, surrounded by sand dunes and desert. Most of the caves are rectangular and connected by balconies, walkways and ladders. They are the world’s richest treasure-trove of Buddhist manuscripts, wall paintings and statuary. History relates that in 336AD a Monk asked a pilgrim to have one of the smaller caves painted and consecrated to ensure his own safe journey along the Silk Road. Other pilgrims and travellers followed, and for the next thousand years temples and shrines were hewn out of the cliff face, painted and decorated to guarantee the success and safety of their journeys – today these grottoes are known as the ‘Great Art Gallery in the Desert’. Nearly 500 caves are still in good condition with over 45000 murals and 2000 pigmented stucco figures. The paintings have lasted for 15 centuries because of the aridity of the surrounding desert and the pigment used with many of the colours still surprisingly bright. About 30 of the caves are open to the public with Cave 96 containing a statue of Buddha standing 34 metres high. We’ll make a brief visit also to the Museum and Research Exhibition Centre at the site, to help appreciate how the caves were discovered. Late afternoon, we’ll visit the Ming Sha Sand Dunes, magnificent authentic desert scenery with dunes as high as 300 metres. We’ll take the opportunity to ride camels in this classic desert setting, and perhaps see sand tobogganing or paragliding. The dunes overlook the small and mysterious Crescent Lake, which is freshwater and despite being at least 2000 years old, exists in the heart of shifting sand dunes. This evening you may like to visit the Night Market in the towns main street, which offers an exotic range of souvenirs including leather puppets, scroll paintings, artwork, jade items, coins, and much more. Overnight: Grand Soluxe Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - Tuesday 11 September Dunhuang to Turpan This morning we plan to visit the Dunhuang Arts School, and travel out of town to make a very personal visit to a local farm. Something very different! Mid afternoon we transfer to the train station for an interesting and comfortable four hour journey across the desert lands to Turpan with outstanding desert scenery, small oases, wind farms and oil rigs. Overnight: Turpan Shuangcheng Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 7 -Wednesday 12 September Turpan Turpan is an oasis of world repute, sitting in a huge depression of the Gobi Desert whose lowest point is 154 metres below sea level, equalling the second lowest continental point in the world after the Dead Sea. Intense summer temperatures in June and July can reach 50°C. Winters are also extreme, as low as -15°C. September will be warm, and it is probably the best month of the year to visit. In this amazing environment, Turpan is a stunning agricultural oasis, thirstily surviving on snowmelt irrigation from the 5,000 metre high Tian Mountains. The ancient Karez irrigation system is the most outstanding of its kind in the world. A series of wells and 5000kms of underground channels delivers gravity-fed water from the unique water table of the snow clad mountains all the way into the depression. This amazing irrigation system, 2000 years old, the concept of which originated in Persia, and knowledge of it, probably came to Turpan via the Silk Road. During the Tang dynasty, Turpan introduced China to the art of making grape wine. Today this well-irrigated oasis is a premier grape growing region as well as successfully producing excellent crops of melons, nuts, grains, fruit and vegetables. Verdant trees, vineyards and cultivated fields are a striking contrast to the surrounding desert. We are visiting during the grape season, and many of Turpan’s streets and walkways are trellised with grapevines providing a delightful cooling effect from the harsh (at times) heat. Virtually every household in town has an involvement with the grape or cotton business - cultivating, drying grapes to make raisins, or selling the raw cotton product. The ancient Silk Road brought the Uyghur people to the region, They were descended from nomadic Siberian tribes who converted to Islam, still the majority religion in the area. This morning we catch the colour of the setting sun on the lovely and interesting Emin Mosque with its famous minaret, one of the remaining architectural gems of the ancient Silk Road. Constructed in 1778 with sun dried bricks, of circular Iranian style, the minaret tower stands 44 metres high. The elaborately decorative brickwork tapers skywards in geometric and floral patterns. The adjoining Mosque has views of the area from the
second story balcony. From here we’ll take a walk through a typical Uyghur village with opportunities to meet the locals in the streets and at the local market. We then visit the ancient Gaochang Ruins, where we use electronic carts to visit these second century ruins, one of the two ancient garrison cities associated with the Silk Road that preceded the current town of Turpan. Gaochang was an important and wealthy centre of power, first the capital of the Western Han Empire in the 4th Century and then the Uyghur capital from 9th to 13th century. The city was ultimately abandoned during the early Ming era, leaving scant remains of the city and its royal cemetery containing the famous Astana Tombs. Later we’ll drive towards the celebrated Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, set above a spectacular gorge in the side of the Flaming Mountains, some 60 kms from Turpan. A series of 67 caves (once lined with pious Buddhist murals) dating from the 4th to the 10th centuries were located here. Sadly, the surviving murals are but a shadow of what Bezeklik must have once been. Many of the finest were removed by the German archaeologist Albert Von Coq at the beginning of the 20th century and subsequently sent to Berlin. Others were damaged by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution (1966 -1976). Apart from the historic significance, the setting for the caves on the side of this spectacular gorge, makes them worth our visit. Later this afternoon we head out to the spectacular ancient ruins of Jiaohe. These strategically located Tang Dynasty ruins are just 10kms west of Turpan, perched on a spectacular narrow island terrace with its ancient street plan clearly evident. Jiaohe reached its cultural peak under the Uygurs in the ninth century, when the population was approximately 5000. We’ll have an exclusive dinner on top of the ruins at sunset, with Turpan wines and colourful Uyghur music and dancing. Overnight: Turpan Shuangcheng Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 8 - Thursday 13 September Turpan to Urumqi Later this morning we’ll visit a site that allows us to see and understand the workings of the unique Karez Irrigation system. Then we depart by coach for Urumqi. Enroute we’ll pass Asia’s largest wind farms consisting of thousands of huge windmills generating clean energy. In the distance we’ll glimpse the snow capped Tian Mountains. Urumqi is 900 metres above sea level, a modern prosperous city and the primary commercial and political hub for north-west China. The city is located just below the foothills of the Heavenly Mountains (Tian Shan), an unspoilt natural haven where Kazakh families pitch their yurts in summer and graze their herds of horses, sheep and cattle. Overnight: Grand Mercure Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9 - Friday 14 September Urumqi This morning we pay a visit to the excellent Xinjiang Regional Museum to see the incredibly well preserved Mummies, some from the Astana Tombs of Gaochang, including the socalled ‘Loulan Beauty’ allegedly 4000 years old. Also displayed are archaeological treasures and examples of the ethnic minority cultures of the region. Later we’ll drive out through this picturesque countryside to Heavenly Lake, an unexpected alpine treat at an altitude of 2000 metres, enclosed by snowcapped peaks. It is spectacularly at odds with the low lying arid terrain below. We’ll cruise on the lake, and enjoy this spectacular and beautiful lake landscape, home to many local minority people. After our return to Urumqi (if time permits), we’ll have a short orientation of the significant parts of this great western hub city. Overnight: Grand Mercure Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 10 - Saturday 15 September Urumqi to Kashgar This morning we depart for the beautiful Nanshan Prairie and a particularly interesting cultural day. The Prairie is dotted with pie-shaped yurts, nomadic tents favoured by Kazakhs who live there. They are generally made from thick felt bound over wooden frames. This beautiful green valley has a small stream and waterfall, with a backdrop of fir and pine tree forests, amid snow capped peaks. We’ll meet the locals, and see their horse riding skills, traditional lifestyle and yurt accommodation. After lunch we return to Urumqi to join our flight to the great oasis outpost of Kashgar and the westernmost border of China with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Our flight of 1000kms is entirely over the Taklimakan desert, the worlds second largest. Kashgar is extremely remote from Eastern China, more than 4000kms from Beijing as the crow flies! It is an oasis 1200 metres above sea level, a remarkably prosperous and pleasant place, despite being essentially a medieval community. It is the largest oasis community in Chinese Central Asia, and a visible bastion of old Chinese Turkistan. Kashgar’s importance derives from its strategic position at the foot of the Pamir Mountains commanding and overseeing access to the high glacial passes of the Silk Road into Central Asia, India and Persia. With a history spanning 2000 years, this remote fabled community is a step back in time – traditional rhythms of the traders, worshippers and bakers seem unchanged among the mudbrick walls, horse carts and bazaars. The 18 metre high statue of Chairman Mao dominates the main streetscape. Kashgar’s persona is overtly Islamic, as more than 90% of the population are Uyghur Muslims. Late afternoon we visit the heart of the town, Idkah Mosque and the surrounding People’s Square.
Overnight: Qinwake Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 11 - Sunday 16 September Kashgar Every Sunday (including today), the world famous livestock market is held 6kms away from the city where tens of thousands of villages and nomads arrive via many forms of transport. Large numbers of minority peoples come to trade, all sporting their distinctive headwear. Donkey carts cause traffic jams as they compete with horsemen and herds of sheep for space in the chaos. At the market, horses are testdriven, sheep are meticulously examined, and cattle are paraded before potential buyers. Food, clothes and boots, and every kind of domestic and agricultural appliance are also on sale. Returning to town we visit the colourful and equally chaotic City Market. Skull caps, prayer caps, fur lined caps, as well as veils and colourful silk scarves for the women are available everywhere. Barbers set up throughout the bazaar to shave faces and scalps with an assortment of large knives and cleavers. Silversmiths, bootmakers and porcelain menders labour in front of teashops and stores. You’ll find shops selling jewellery, silk, colourful candles, knives, pots and pans, fresh vegetables, mountains of stacked Hami and sweet melons, baskets of peaches and apricots. The overflow and crowds of people spill into the streets where horse and donkey carts jostle with each other and the general population. Shows of acrobats and magicians sometimes attract large crowds. Being in Kashgar on Sunday for one of the worlds most famous markets is an unforgettable experience! Today we’ll not only visit both markets, but we’ll experience some of Kashgar’s unique home-based occupations in a visit to the ‘Old City’ where we meet some locals, visiting them in their ‘platform’ homes. We’ll also walk down Handicraft Street, including the exotic musical instrument markets. Overnight: Qinwake Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 12 - Monday 17 September Kashgar to Xining (via Urumqi) A few kilometres east of Kashgar is the sacred resting place of the descendants of Abakh Hoja, a 17th century leader of the White Hat (Sufi) Sect of Islam who was revered second only to Mohammed in this region in his time. We visit the tomb (or mazar), the holiest place in the Province, an architectural treasure where all five generations of the family are buried, including Xianfei, said to be the legendary ‘fragrant concubine’. Legend has is that she was the wife of a defeated rebel leader, captured by the Qianlong emperor and taken to Beijing to be his imperial concubine before she was either murdered or driven to suicide by the Emperor’s mother.
Although Islam came to the province via Arab traders on the Silk Road in the 9th and 10th centuries, it was not the dominant religion until the 15th century, after which Kashgar became an important Islamic Centre. Later in the morning we catch our flight to Urumqi and transit for our flight to Xining. Overnight: Qinghai Hotel Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch Day 13 - Tuesday 18 September Xining to Lhasa Xining is the provincial capital of Qinghai, which is geographically and culturally a part of the Tibetan Plateau. It only came firmly under Chinese control in 1949 when the Communist armies defeated the Muslim warlord Ma Bufang. Xining is particularly famous for the Kumbum Buddhist Monastery, one of the worlds six great Yellow Hat Sect lamaseries. It was the birthplace of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the reformist Yellow Hat Sect. Two of his unique disciples were to become the two greatest living Buddhas, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. Among the clusters of historic buildings is a hall containing yak-butter sculptures, a historic Tibetan art form. Our time in Xining includes a visit to the monastery. We also visit the excellent Qinghai-Tibetan Cultural Centre, showcasing a remarkable 618m long thanka!. Later, we board a very unique train, the ‘Lhasa Express’ to travel across the Tibetan Plateau to Tibet – a very special experience in reasonably comfortable quad share accommodation. Overnight: on board the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (picnic style) Day 14 - Wednesday 19 September Lhasa Morning will likely find us passing through the legendary Kunlun Mountains, climbing to a height of 4772 metres above sea level the world’s highest railway station near the Tuotuo River which is the beginning of the mighty Yangtse River. During the night we will have followed the route of the Southern Silk Road around the shores of Qinghai and Salina Lakes. We will have passed through a long tunnel nearly 4 kms above sea level. During the unforgettable day that awaits us, we’ll cross the stunning Kekexili Green Lakes area in the 4200 metre high frigid zone surrounded by snow capped mountains. The scenery is simply fantastic! Herds of yak, the endangered Tibetan antelopes, mountain sheep, donkeys and hardy mountain cattle grace the magnificent landscape. We’ll be able to sit back, soak up the stunning views from our huge picture windows, listen to expert commentary from time to time, take memorable photos, socialise with fellow travellers, and generally appreciate this very unique travel experience. We’ll cross the Tanggula Mountains at a height of 5072 metres above sea level, before entering Tibet, skirt the world’s highest
freshwater Lake (Cuona Lake) before descending into Lhasa this afternoon. Our transfer from the new Lhasa station into the city may provide us with our first views of the famous Potala Palace, dominating the cityscape. Overnight: Shangri-La Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Breakfast and lunch are picnic style onboard the train) Day 15 - Thursday 20 September Lhasa After centuries of isolation and only a short history of communication with the outside world, Lhasa, the holy capital of this magnificent province, guards the flickering flame of Tibetan heritage. Today will be a memorable and unique day as we visit Jokhang temple, and experience the heart of Lhasa’s Tibetan Quarter. Over 1300 years old, Lhasa is a city where religion is blended into every aspect of life – busy markets, sweet incense, and flowing yellow robes greet you at every turn. The Chinese population is highly active economically, with two Chinese businesses to every Tibetan one - a ratio that reflects the city’s population. The most visible of all Lhasa’s sights is the awesome fortress-like Potala Palace. Only a kilometre away is the holiest of Tibet’s temples, the labyrinthine Jokhang, deluged with Tibetan art and illuminated inside by a constellation of yak butter lamps. Two huge incense burners in front of the temple send out juniper smoke as an offering to the gods. In front of the temple doors, a constant crowd of pilgrims prostate themselves. Inside, you’re in for one of the world’s most unforgettable experiences – a palpable sense of reverence accompanies any visit here. The anticipation of the pilgrims, the constant bustle, gaudy paraphernalia of worship, flickering butter lamps, and wreaths of heady incense, make this one of Tibets most memorable moments. We’ll also visit the golden roof of the Jokhang for magnificent views over Barkhor Square and across to the Potala Palace. Barkhor is in the heart of the Tibetan enclave, and a start of the temple perambulation around which pilgrims circle in a clockwise direction (don’t go against the flow!). It has become a focus for market stalls, and a crush of hawkers and traders from all parts of Tibet. The whole scene melts into a fusion of colour and activity. You can watch groups of monks draped in their maroon and saffron robes mingling with colourful Tibetans sporting large boots, daggers and large turquoise necklaces, spinning prayer wheels, or performing full prostrations. This morning we’ll also pay a short visit to the Tibetan Herbal Hospital, quite a unique place. We’ll drive to the Sera Monastery, particularly to see the monks in their famous debating routines during the mid-afternoon. Held in the open-air Sera Je courtyard, the monks assemble in small animated groups to practice highly stylised debating skills, involving lots of posturing, clapping and stamping. You
will be surprised by the physicality of the exercise, with one monk sitting while the other launches intimidating verbal attacks. These debates provide an opportunity for monks to demonstrate their scholarship and rise through the ranks. High above the monastery is the Sera Utse hermitage which predates the monastery established by Tsongkhapa’s disciples in 1419 and often used by Tsongkhapa himself. Tonight provides a free evening to get out into the Barkhor again if you wish and appreciate the life, colour and ambience of the old Tibetan Quarter. Overnight: Shangri-La Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Day 16 - Friday 21 September Lhasa Today is our opportunity to explore the amazing Potala Palace. Thirteen dramatic stories high, with over 1000 rooms, it was once the residence of Tibet’s Chief Monk and leader, the Dalai Lama, and therefore the centre of spiritual and temporal power. The palace is dazzling both inside and out. Some of Tibet’s richest treasures are held here, including the jewel encrusted tomb of the 5th Dalai Lama, a 15 metre high stupa containing 3720 kg of gilded gold and 10,000 precious pearls and stones. After lunch we visit the pleasantly maintained gardens of Norbulingka, once the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lamas. The oldest palace, used by the 8th to the 13th Dalai Lamas, is the most historically important and still has a throne and wealth of thangkas on display. But the most fascinating is the Summer Palace built by the current Dalai Lama in 1954. Its Audience Chamber holds modern murals depicting major events in Tibetan history including one of a young Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. The Dalai Lama’s meditation room and bedroom are preserved exactly as he left them when he escaped from this palace disguised as a Tibetan soldier and began his journey to India in 1959. The Assembly Hall where he held state has a fabulously carved golden throne and colourful murals depicting scenes from his court. Locals use the grounds for picnics and come to see masked dances or traditional opera. Dinner is also special tonight with light-hearted Tibetan entertainment, including a performance by a Yak! Overnight: Shangri-La Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 17 - Saturday 22 September Lhasa to Shigatse via Gyantse This morning we drive from Lhasa to the city of Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest. We’ll travel via the summit of Kamba La Pass (4794 metres) to take in views of the magnificent turquoise waters of Yamdrok-Tso, third largest
lake in Tibet. The road up to the Lake lifts us a kilometre higher than Lhasa. The lake is several hundred metres below the Pass and is one of the four holy lakes where devout Tibetan pilgrims circumambulate, a walk of around seven days. Our spectacular drive takes us around the edge of the lake, then through the Karula Pass between awesome glaciers. We stop right in front of the largest glacier where high-altitude nomadic herders roam the frozen landscape. Shortly after we will make a short stop at another beautiful turquoise Lake before descending to the picturesque town of Gyantse, located in a natural amphitheatre of rocky ridges. This is a very ‘Tibetan’ town with a pleasant laid-back air, drawing visitors to its amazing Kumbum and the Pelkhor Chode monastery. The town is presided over by the spectacular Fortress (Dzong) - heavily bombarded during the British invasion in 1914, at great loss of life to the Tibetans. Today it is a dramatic ruin with a small museum. The towns monastic compound is home to a magnificent nine story (42 metre high) Kumbum, honeycombed with 75 little chapels. It is the world’s finest historic example of this architectural style, unique to Tibet. The first 5 floors are four sided, while the upper floors are circular, crowned with a golden dome and umbrella roof. The chapels are bursting with statuary and smothered with paintings at each level. Just below the huge eyes of the chorten that look in each direction, is a platform with dramatic views across the countryside. The surrounding rural scenery is beautiful, and features the rare architecture of sturdy two and three story farm houses. Not much has changed over the years. Tonight if possible we’ll organize an optional foot massage from the people of the Blind Massage Centre for those who wish. Overnight: Shigatse Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 18 - Sunday 23 September Shigatse - Tsedang Shigatse is 3900 metres above sea level, and has historically been an important monastic centre and a former capital. On the Drolma Ridge to the north of the city is a mighty 14th century fortress (or Dzong) resembling a mini Potala Palace. From here the kings of the Tsang Empire ruled, but it was reduced to a dramatic pile of ruins in the 1957 conflict and has since been restored. We’ll visit the most important attraction of Shigatse, the large Tashilunpo Monastery, traditional home of the Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking Buddhist leader, supported by the Chinese Government often in opposition to the Dalai Lama. The vast monastery was founded in 1447 by Tsongkhapa’s nephew, who was retrospectively titled the first Dalai Lama. Some of the most fabulous chapels outside Lhasa are to be found in
this monastery – the best preserved in Tibet. In the Maitreya Chapel is a huge 26m high golden statue of the Future Buddha, decorated with pearls, amber, diamonds etc. It took 900 craftsmen 9 years to build. There’s a gold and silver chorten that contains the remains of the 4th Panchen Lama. It was the only funeral chorten to escape destruction during the Cultural Revolution. The larger jewel-studded funeral chorten of the 10th Panchen Lama cost US$8 million in 1994. There are courtyards where monks can sometimes be observed praying, debating, and relaxing. The 15th century Assembly Hall holds the imposing throne of the Panchen Lama. There is also a Tibetan Market in town to explore if you wish. This afternoon we pay a visit to a local carpet factory (time permitting). Both Shigatse and Gyantse are quite famous for their carpet making skills. Local ladies produce beautiful carpets, first skeining the wool then weaving it. Carpets are made from 90% wool and 10% cotton. Late this afternoon we board the new train service to Qushui, via the Bramaputra Valley with more great scenery to enjoy along the way in this rich agricultural area. Overnight: Tsedang Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 19 - Monday 24 September Tsedang Amazing scenery today as we visit several outstanding historic highlights of the Yarlung and Chongye Valleys, considered the birthplace of Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism. The rural scenery today features nomadic herdsmen, primitive irrigation systems, patchwork fields, and even huge shifting sand dunes. Our first visit is to Samye, Tibet’s very first monastery, founded in the 8th century, marking the replacement of Tibets primitive beliefs with Buddhism. At Samye, Indian and Chinese Zen Scholars were invited to translate Buddhist sculptures into Tibetan. They argued over which form of Buddhism should be followed in Tibet. The Indian school won, and Chinese religious influence gradually waned. The first Tibetan monks were ordained here. Nowadays followers of many traditions worship at Samye, and Samye is a popular pilgrim destination. It is also famous for its striking design in the shape of a huge mandela. The central six-storey temple complex (the Utse) demonstrates the classic principles of Tibetan architecture with a large ground floor tapering to refined and intricate upper tiers. Near the entrance is a 5 metre obelisk proclaiming Buddhism to be the state religion. The first floor is dominated by the Grand Assembly Hall and the very impressive main Chapel. The second floor is where monks do craft work for the temple, and the third floor contains the small Dalai Lama quarters. Later in the afternoon we visit spectacular Yumbulagang - Tibets oldest building. It was originally a palace constructed on a
spectacular hilltop for the first King of Tibet in the 2nd century BC. Unfortunately it was severely damaged in the Cultural Revolution, but has since been faithfully restored. It contains a small two story chapel dedicated to the early Tibetan Kings, with murals showing legendary events in Tibetan history, and an 11 metre high tower in a spectacular setting. If possible, we’ll have a fun ride up to Yumbulagang on horseback. For those who wish, we’ll drive out the other side of town to the Chongye Valley (25kms from town) to visit the burial place of Tibet’s early kings. Some tombs are up to 200 metres long and 30 metres wide, as each king was buried along with statues, precious objects, and (some sources suggest) live servants. About 20 of the greatest kings of the Yarlung dynasty are buried here. We’ll visit the site of the Red Tomb of Songtsen Gampo which has a chapel on top of it, built in the 12th century, with representations of Songtsen Gampo, his wives, and chief ministers. In the distance we’ll see the ruins of the huge fortress and capital of the Yarlung kings before Songtsen Gampo moved the capital to Lhasa. We’ll also visit a farmhouse and a village to meet some real locals on their turf. Overnight: Tsedang Hotel Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 20 - Tuesday 25 September Tsedang to Chengdu Our flight today takes us to Chengdu, the famous home of China’s iconic Giant Panda. A huge statue of Chairman Mao marks the centre of Chengdu, the prosperous capital of Sichuan Province. Endowed with fertile land, Chengdu is known as ‘China’s breadbasket’. There are more than 40 ethnic minorities living in the province. The city is over 2,500 years old, and even though it has a laidback feel to it, Chengdu has rapidly developed into an important commercial centre in Western China. Sichuan Province is world renowned for its spices used in Sichuan cuisine. Here you can also get comfortable in a bamboo chair and watch life go by in one of Chengdu’s countless teahouses, feast on the famous Sichuan cuisine, and visit the beautiful pandas. There are few places in China where traditional teahouses can still be found. In Chengdu the teahouse and local cuisine vie for top defining characteristic. We take the opportunity to experience the traditional teahouse environment in Peoples Park this afternoon. The park is a popular venue for locals to gather for social and physical activities, characteristic of the older Chinese generations. We can relax, watch locals play mahjong, and listen to the whistles from the songbirds that old men carry in bamboo cages. Not only is Chinese tea featured in teahouses, but you can also get a mini massage, or even have your ears cleaned by experts while you enjoy the local
ambience and the tea, sometimes served from traditional long spouted teapots. Overnight: Crowne Plaza Hotel Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Day 21 - Wednesday 26 September Today we travel home via Guangzhou - or move to your next destination if you are extending your holiday. Day 22 - Thursday 27 September Arrive Brisbane
COST & INCLUSIONS All-inclusive, quality touring ex Australia
21 Day Escorted Small Group Tour - $11,945pp Departing Australia: Thursday 6 September 2018
Returning Australia: Thursday 27 September 2018
Touring: Xian, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar, Xining, Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, Tsetang, Chengdu COST: $11,945pp (ex Brisbane, China Southern Airlines) includes tips, 53 meals and hotel porterage Single Supplement: $2,025pp I
UPGRADE CONDITIONS: Air fare upgrades to either Premium Economy or Business Class on China Southern are subject to availability and pricing at time of booking. Tour Inclusions: All flights (International ex Brisbane & domestic in China), 19 nights accommodation in deluxe first class hotels with full American buffet breakfast daily, 17 lunches and 16 dinners (Quality Chinese style), private coach with local guide at each destination, all sightseeing, entrance fees and entertainment as per itinerary, hotel porterage of one average size piece of luggage per person, tips for Guides and Drivers. You will be accompanied by our travel Masters tour escort and a professional national guide while in China. NB. Use of alternate international airlines, departures from cities other than Brisbane, and different extensions can all be arranged if preferred â€“ costings will vary in these instances. Please enquire.
PRE OR POST TOUR EXTENSIONS Five star CRUISING on the YANGTSE RIVER or any other desired options can be added to this tour.
MEET YOUR TOUR ESCORT
The Silk Road & Tibet tour will be escorted by Graham Stephenson, experienced tour escort and freelance travel writer. Graham will travel with you on this outstanding itinerary, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and travel experience - and a passion for people, places and different cultures. Graham has travelled extensively throughout China and looks forward to making this tour one of lifeâ€™s most outstanding memories. We hope you can join this exciting tour in 2018.
Silk Road & TIbet 2018 BOOKING FORM FIRST PASSENGER Title: ________________ Surname (as shown on passport): ______________________________________________________________ First Name(as shown on passport): ____________________________________ Preferred First Name: ____________________________ If sharing what would be your room preference? TWIN / DOUBLE Do you require single supplement? YES / NO Would you like us to keep an eye out for a possible twin-share on your behalf? YES / NO (Please note that Single Supplement will be payable if we are unable to assist with a suitable twin-share for you) Do you require Premium Economy airfare? YES / NO
Do you require business class airfare? YES / NO
Are you a China Southern Frequent Flyer Member? Member No: ___________________________________________________________ Do you have any dietary or seating requests: __________________________________________________________________________ Do you hold an Australian passport? YES / NO
If No, please state the nationality: _________________________________
Passport Number: _________________________________ Date of Issue: ______/______/______ Date of Expiry: ______/______/______ Date of Birth: ______/______/______ Place of Issue: _______________________ Occupation: _____________________________ Email Address: __________________________________________________________________________________________________ SECOND PASSENGER Title: ________________ Surname (as shown on passport): ______________________________________________________________ First Name(as shown on passport): ____________________________________ Preferred First Name: ____________________________ If sharing what would be your room preference? TWIN / DOUBLE Do you require single supplement? YES / NO Do you require Premium Economy airfare? YES / NO
Do you require business class airfare? YES / NO
Are you a China Southern Frequent Flyer Member? Member No: ___________________________________________________________ Do you have any dietary or seating requests: __________________________________________________________________________ Do you hold an Australian passport? YES / NO
If No, please state the nationality: _________________________________
Passport Number: _________________________________ Date of Issue: ______/______/______ Date of Expiry: ______/______/______ Date of Birth: ______/______/______ Place of Issue: _______________________ Occupation: _____________________________ Email Address: __________________________________________________________________________________________________ PASSENGER/S CONTACT DETAILS (Please attach details separately if Second Passengers Contact Details are different) Street Address: __________________________________________________________________________________________________ Suburb: __________________________________________________ State: ___________________ Postcode: ____________________ Postal Address (If different from Street Address: ________________________________________________________________________ Suburb: __________________________________________________ State: ___________________ Postcode: ____________________ Home Tel: ______________________________ Work Tel: ______________________________ Fax: ____________________________ Mobile No: ______________________________ Email: _________________________________________________________________ TRAVEL INSURANCE It is compulsory and in your interest to carry travel insurance for health, loss of luggage/belongings and in case of cancellation. Would you like us to send a travel insurance brochure to you? YES / NO
EMERGENCY CONTACT (Person to contact should there be an emergency while you are overseas) Complete Name: _________________________________________________ Relationship: ____________________________________ Street Address: __________________________________________________________________________________________________ Suburb: __________________________________________________ State: ___________________ Postcode: ____________________ Home Tel: ____________________________ Work Tel: ____________________________ Mobile No: ____________________________ I have read and understand the responsibility section detailed below on this form and the General Information and Booking Conditions and accept them on behalf of myself and my party. I declare that I/they are not travelling against any medical advice. Signature: __________________________________________________________________
Payment Options 1.
Direct Deposit into Travel Masters bank account. Please call for account details.
Mail – Enclosed is a cheque / money order as a deposit (Please make cheque payable to Mistvale Pty Ltd)
Credit Card – Please debit my:
Visa / Mastercard Card No: ___________________________________________________________
Cardholder’s Name: __________________________________________________ Cardholder’s Signature: _______________________________________________ (Payments by credit card will be subject to a 2% Merchant Administration fee)
Please also complete both sides of this form and then send it to your travel consultant, or to:
Group Tour Co-ordinator, PO Box 5038, Mermaid Waters QLD 4218
Your Consultant _________________________________
DEPOSIT AND FINAL PAYMENT The deposit is accepted as a first instalment of the tour cost and will be fully refunded if the arrangements cannot be confirmed or the tour is cancelled by Travel Masters. A detailed invoice is sent out to all passengers booked on the tour, approximately two weeks prior to due date of the final payment. Final payment for the tour needs to be received by the 20 June 2018. CANCELLATION FEES If it is necessary for you to cancel your holiday, notification of cancellation must be received in writing. Cancellation charges will apply: up to 8 weeks prior to departure – loss of deposit; 7-4 weeks prior – up to 50% of tour cost, and less than 4 weeks – up to full tour cost. No refund is available for cancellation of the tour or any service not used after commencement of the tour. Deposits are non-transferable and non-refundable. PASSPORT AND VISAS
It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure that they posses the necessary travel documentation for the tour, such as a valid passport and any required visas. In general, a passport should be valid at least 6 months beyond the end of your journey and have two clear pages to allow for entry and exit stamps en-route or for any visas applicable for countries in your journey. At the time of making your booking you will be given information about the visas that are required for the tour. Our agency will assist you with the Visa process. Visa cost is additional. PRICES
Tour prices stated on the tour brochure have been calculated on the basis of exchange rates and tariffs valid at time of print (July 2017) and are subject to change up until final payment for the tour has been received. Should you decide to cancel your tour on the basis of a change of price, then normal cancellation charges will apply. TRAVEL MASTERS Group (Travel Masters) PO Box 563, Nerang QLD 4211 Phone: (07) 5596 0511 / 1800 672 988 Email: email@example.com (The Travel Studio) PO Box 5038, Mermaid Waters QLD 4218 Phone: (07)5572 7272 Email: Lifestyle@thetravelstudio.com.au Visit our website: www.travelmasters.com.au
RESPONSIBILITY Mistvale Pty Ltd trading as Travel Masters and/or its associated Companies or Agents, act only in the capacity of agents for the passenger in all matters of transportation, tour operation and other services. All receipts, tickets, vouchers, coupons or exchange orders are issued subject to the terms and conditions under which transportation and other services are provided. Travel Masters and/or its associated companies or Agents assume no responsibility for loss, injury, accident, delay or damage or irregularity that may be caused to person or property, however caused arising before commencement and/or during any tour under its management, sponsorship, procurement or otherwise. It is the responsibility of the passenger to make sure he/she is in possession of the proper visas and other travel documents and that they are in compliance with current government and transportation companies’ regulations. The right is reserved to modify the itinerary in any way considered necessary or desirable, or to change any reservation, hotel feature and/or means of conveyance, without allowance or refund but the extra cost (if any) resulting therefrom must be paid by the passenger. The right is also reserved to cancel or withdraw any tour, to replace any tour leader with another, to cancel or withdraw any booking made for a passenger, or to decline to accept any person as a member of a tour. The transportation companies or firms shall be exempt from all liabilities in respect of any detention, delay, loss, damage, sickness or injury however and by whomsoever caused and of whatever kind occurring of or to the passenger at any time when the passenger is not on board a carrier or conveyance used or operated by the transportation companies or firms. The contract of passage in use by the transportation companies or firms concerned shall constitute the sole contract between transportation companies or firms, and the purchase of these tours and/or passenger. All tickets, deposit tickets, coupons or orders are furnished and issued subject in all respects to those terms and conditions under which the means of transportation or other services provided there by are offered or supplied by owners, public carriers, or managing agents. The issuance and acceptance of receipts, tickets, vouchers, coupons, or exchange orders shall be deemed consent to the above conditions. The tour is based on flights as detailed in the itinerary, however any other IATA or non-IATA carrier may be used for tour co-ordination
GENERAL TOUR INFORMATION CLOTHING AND LUGGAGE Our visit is in Summer so days (even in Tibet) should be cool to warm and evenings cool to mildly cold. The Silk Road can be quite warm during the days. Comfortable, casual clothes are the general rule. Clothes should be mostly light and loose fitting. Good walking shoes are a must, and you will need a warm jacket and a light raincoat (just incase!)for the cooler nights. Both men and women are requested to wear long slacks or skirts (light of course) especially on the Western Silk Road, in deference to Muslim sensibilities. Women are requested not to wear revealing clothes. Bring sturdy sunglasses and a small light torch (between couple) for inside the Buddhist caves. The international luggage allowance is strictly 23 kilograms. Please restrict your luggage to one average size suitcase and one carry bag of no more than 5kg. Porterage is for one average size suitcase (max 23kgs), All hand luggage is your personal responsibility at all times. PASSPORT AND VISAS You must be in possession of a passport with 6 months validity beyond the end date of this tour. If you are not using an Australian Passport please let us know so that we can advise you of your visa requirements. Your Chinese & Tibet Visas, and special travel permits in Tibet are additional. Our Agency will organise these for you. HEALTH AND VACCINATIONS To participate in this tour you will be required to present a Doctors Certificate indicating your capacity to handle this tour, including the altitudes involved, capacity for significant walking, and ability to climb sets of steps. Anyone requiring wheelchair assistance at any time is not considered suitable for this tour. Currently no vaccinations are required for travel in China and Tibet. However this could change at any time and we suggest you contact your Doctor for the latest advice. CURRENCY We recommend that you take cash in Chinese Yuan, (at least some of it in smaller denominations). Travel Masters is happy to organise your cash requirements for you – ask for advice. Australian dollars, major traveller cheques and international credit cards are generally accepted in most of China, but not always. We recommend that you only use credit cards to pay for hotel bills. Travellers cheques are becoming more difficult to cash. Torn, old, damaged or marked notes will not be accepted in China. ATM’s are sometimes available. ELECTRICITY The voltage for China is 220 volts. TIPPING Gratuities for guides, drivers, porters and waiters are a necessity in China. To avoid any embarrassment or problems, and help make your holiday "hassle free", we have included all necessary tips for all activities and meals included in the itinerary. Your tour escort will manage the tipping funds for the group whilst on tour. ITINERARY CHANGES From time to time, changes may be required to the advertised itinerary. If this is required, it will be communicated to you by the Tour Escort who will make the decision in conjunction with our operators. TRAVEL INSURANCE Travel Insurance with a Travel Masters recommended Insurance company is compulsory. This is a comprehensive insurance which covers cancellation charges in the event of illness preventing you from travelling, overseas medical and hospital expenses, personal baggage, accidental death, personal liability and much more. Credit card insurance is not advised, as is does not cover full cancellation charges in the event ill health forces you to cancel. DEPARTURE TAXES International and local taxes as known at time of tour preparation are included in your tour cost. However, should new government taxes or tax and fuel increases be imposed these will be advised to you at time of final payment or at the time of their imposition.
MEDICAL INFORMATION It is a good idea to travel with a small personal medical kit containing…. Headache pills, antiseptic cream, cold & flu tablets, remedy for upset stomachs, laxatives, non-liquid mosquito repellent and throat medication. You should take whatever is necessary with you. Just in case your reading glasses are lost or damaged, take a spare pair with you – you never know what you might need. CANCELLATION FEES If it is necessary to cancel your holiday, notification of cancellation must be received in writing. Cancellation Charges will apply: up to 8 weeks prior to departure - loss of deposit. 7-4 weeks prior - up to 50% of tour cost, and less than 4 weeks - up to full tour cost. No refund is available for cancellation of tour or any service not used after commencement of tour. Cancellation fees will also apply as required by Airline Tariff Regulations. DEPOSITS AND FINAL PAYMENT A deposit of $500 per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is then required by 20 June. We have striven to keep the tour costs as low as possible and the tour price quoted is a cash / cheque price. Should you choose to pay by credit card, fees apply. CLIMATE We have chosen the best and most rewarding time of the year for this tour – the oasis towns are full of life, flowers in bloom, fruit in season, activity is at its best. The days should be mostly warm. Climate is not such a major concern when visiting Tibet as you might imagine. Days should be sunny and evenings cool. NATIONAL CHINESE TOUR ESCORT Our tour group will be accompanied by a National Guide who accompanies the group throughout the duration of the tour, thus avoiding any language difficulties. Our National Guide works in support of our Tour Escort. In addition, we have local guides who have specialised knowledge of their own areas in each of the places visited. SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT The single room supplement is $2,025. In the event that you are a sole traveller and would prefer to share we will do our best to arrange a twin-share companion, but this cannot be guaranteed. AIRFARE UPGRADES Upgrades are Subject to availability on the International flights (Brisbane – Guangzhou – Brisbane) ADVERTISED PRICE EXCLUDES Meals other than specified, insurance, additional gratuities as required, items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, phone calls etc and any optional excursions. All costs are subject to surcharges which may occur in connection with Governmental action, currency exchange fluctuations or increase in supplier's costs i.e. scheduled air fares, entrance fees etc. Should the minimum number of 14 persons not be attained, we reserve the right to cancel, amend or re cost the tour program. PLEASE NOTE – DEGREE OF FITNESS All Travel Masters itineraries are carefully planned and well paced to maximise the passenger experience, while at the same time ensuring a level of comfort is maintained at all times. Given the nature of the journeys and cultural experiences etc, any person/s of a reasonable general fitness level will have no problems in gaining total satisfaction from the trip. Should any person however, have significant walking difficulties or be likely to find it necessary to require wheelchair assistance at any time, it is unfortunately considered that participation on this tour would not be appropriate.
ANTICIPATED GROUP SIZE: 14 - 16 EARLY BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL
FINALLY…. We hope this information will assist you plan for your holiday. We would be delighted to have you join our Travel Masters escorted holiday tour. Our tours are recognised as the best deluxe tours of their kind available in China – especially designed for Australians who want high quality accommodation, especially selected dining experiences, the best possible smorgasbord of sightseeing and cultural experiences, and the highest quality English speaking guides available. Do not hesitate to telephone or call in if we can be of further assistance. We want to make this a very memorable holiday for you.
All-inclusive quality escorted touring ex Australia
TESTIMONIALS FROM SILK ROAD & TIBET ‘Lots of information and wonderful places to visit. Efficiency in travel arrangements and care and concern for everyone made a big difference’. Ingrid Deller
‘Excellent guides everywhere ensured any in house problems were solved without concerns. We were happy with all aspects of the trip.’ Brian Beaumont
‘Excellent itinerary – Excellent / competent Guides’ Carmelita Lim
‘Tour Escort has a wealth of knowledge of China’s history… an excellent escort’ Keiko Hanayama
‘Attention to detail and effort to provide the best tour possible was fantastic’ Ellis & Sue Niven
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