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Meet our Local Experts: Dana Yue, Traveling Ten Thousand Miles with Alexander + Roberts

Dana Yue cherishes an ambitious goal to read ten thousand books and travel ten thousand miles.  She’s getting the miles in helping Alexander + Roberts’s clients discover her native China.  We caught up with Dana between groups to learn more about China and what she thinks are the important parts of her country for travelers to visit.

1. Dana, tell us a bit about yourself and your country.  How did you get started in the travel business?

I am a Buddhist, and my English name is Dana, although my Mom doesn’t know it.  I majored in English but I didn’t go directly into tour guiding.  At first I worked in one of the outbound tour companies in Beijing for almost two years.  During that time, I didn’t get any chance to use my major apart from filling in visa forms for my clients.  I was worried that I was beginning to lose my proficiency in spoken English, which I had studied for almost ten years.  So I quit my desk job and took to the road as a professional guide.

I haven’t looked back!  I love to travel, and I’ve enjoyed learning more about other countries and seeing new things.  I say to my friends that I would rather sleep in various a hotel bed in a foreign country than in my bed at home!  And I like working with people so I find traveling with groups is a lot more satisfying than on my own. 

In my spare time, I try to keep fit: I like to go to the gym, and I’m good at yoga.  I can also do a little bit of tai chi, which is a traditional Chinese form of meditation combined with exercise.  I’m also learning one of the oldest Chinese musical instruments: the guqin.  Pieces played on the guqin were recorded for the American ‘Space’ rocket in 1977, which was designed to represent humanity's wisdom and culture to other galaxies.

As for the future, I would like my parents to join me on some of my travels when I get some free time.  I mentioned before that traveling ten thousand miles and reading ten thousand books is a major goal for me, and I’m working hard to accomplish it!  When my schedule permits, I do some volunteer activities as well.

2. Tell us about some things that foreign visitors find surprising about China?

Most Chinese drink warm or hot water instead of cold or iced beverages.  Foreigners find that odd. 

Another thing my guests often comment on is that Chinese toddlers wear pants with a slit in the crotch.  Usually, they ask me why and the answer is that Chinese parents would like to train their children as early as possible.

3. How has visiting your country changed over the years?

So much!  Ten years ago, tourists in China were mainly foreigners, but now the vast majority are Chinese people.  The destinations have expanded - tourism used to limited to a few cities: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Beijing - but now we’ve added so many more destinations.  Today the primary destinations are Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Guilin, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Tibet.

The biggest change, however, is that tourists used to be obliged to travel in very regimented groups, but today it’s possible for people to come as individuals without a program. 

4. I’ve got three days to visit your destination.  What should I do?

Three days isn’t nearly enough, so, unfortunately, I’ll have to limit you to one city, Beijing: by all means, do visit the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, that’s a full day.  Then take in the Great Wall at the Juyong Pass section and the Summer Palace, which combine well and then on the third day, visit the Lama Temple and one of our charming hutongs or old-fashioned neighborhoods for a taste of what China was like a hundred years ago.  Strolling around a hutong is a good way to experience some of our ancient traditions. 

5. How would you characterize Chinese people?  What makes them tick?

China is a vast country, of course, so it is hard to choose one characteristic that fits all 1.37 billion of us!  Just as in your country, our people vary widely depending on which region they come from, whether they are from the city or the country, or which religion they practice.  The level of education of our people also varies significantly.  But if you want me to generalize, I’ll say that Chinese people are friendly and enthusiastic.  We sincerely enjoy having foreigners come to visit us, and you’ll notice that from the smiles of people and our passion for having our picture taken with tourists!  

6. What are three books I should read before visiting your country to prepare?

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler
Eat Shandong: From Personal Experience to a Pedagogy of a Second Culture by Eric Todd Shepherd
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

7. What’s your favorite Alexander + Roberts itinerary, and why?

I love Historical China, Tibet, and the Yangtze!  16 days allows for an in-depth exploration of our country, and this itinerary takes visitors to the most representative cities in China: Shanghai, Yichang, Fengdu, Lhasa, Chengdu, Xian, and Beijing.  The addition of the cruise makes it even more unique and far more leisurely as there is no need to pack and unpack and not as much walking.  With this itinerary, I feel that visitors begin to appreciate just how diverse our country is! 

8. Tell us anything else you think would enhance our understanding of your destination.

I like to think of my country as a growing baby: it's changing so much and so often that it is worth several visits.  So open your mind, come and experience this dynamic change with us!  We will be happy to welcome you!  

Dana Yue is just one of Alexander + Roberts global team of local experts who share their expertise, warmth, and knowledge with our visitors.  We know that this is the best way to experience a country such as China.  Talk to our knowledgeable reservation agents about Historical China, Tibet + the Yangtze or other carefully curated trips to China and beyond.

Posted: 7/7/2017 3:10:10 PM by Alexander + Roberts