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Andy Song is about to reach a milestone in his career: 25 years of guiding English-speaking visitors around his native China.  Andy is one of Alexander + Roberts’s expert guides on our bespoke itineraries such as Historical China, Tibet, and the Yangtze, which Andy reluctantly admits, when pressed, is one of his favorite itineraries.  “I like when our guests are able to relax a bit and really soak up all that China has to offer.” 

Andy knows better than most how much there is to see and do on a trip to China.  We caught up with him recently to find out more about his native country and to get his perspective on how travel to China has changed in the past quarter century.

1.  First of all, Andy, congratulations on your upcoming milestone of 25 years as a guide! How did you first come to the travel business?

I graduated from University of International Business and Economy, and I’ve been working as a tour guide for almost 25 years!  And I think I’ve stayed with it because I do really enjoy meeting all kinds of different people from abroad.  I’ve learned a great deal about other cultures while also sharing our own Chinese culture.  Our country is changing very quickly, it’s true, but the beauty and our very rich history stays the same.  It’s my hope that more Americans will want to visit China in the future so that our two countries will develop an even better understanding of one another.  

2.  What is one thing about China that foreign visitors find surprising?

The Great Wall of China is always a shock for people because of its enormous scale and length.  It was a truly monumental undertaking by our ancestors… although these days, it is only a landmark and a testimony to the fact that our forbears thought very big.  It isn’t an effective military deterrent! 

3.  How has visiting China changed over the years?

Our visitors have much more freedom to explore China on their own because our people feel more comfortable interacting with them.  Also, our own people have enjoyed a considerable rise in our living standards — more service industry businesses have really increased the level of comfort and ease. 

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

Well, that’s not nearly enough, but I’ll say you have to see Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall.  But, please do stay longer and get outside of Beijing and see places such as Xian, with their amazing terra-cotta warriors, Shanghai, our ultra modern business capital, and Hangzhou, the center of our ancient silk industry.  Three weeks is more like it!

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

Chinese people are very, very friendly.  You will find this particularly in the rural areas outside our big cities. Of course they are also quite curious about people from other countries… and don’t be surprised if they ask for a picture of you and them.  It is a great kindness if you oblige. 

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

The Wild Swans by Jung Chang
Private Life of Chairman Mao by Li Zhi-Sui
Chinese Culture and History by Ying-shih Yü and Josephine Chiu-Duke

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

Now you really put me on the spot!  As a guide, my preference is for trips that take in more than one big city — I want our visitors to really understand that our country is large and its regions each have their own traditions, cuisines, and unique sights to enjoy.  If you insist, I’ll confess that I do like the trips that include a cruise on the Yangtze.  I find that it is a relaxing way for our guests to enjoy learning more about Chinese history at a very unhurried pace.  It’s also nice for me to get to know my guests better.  

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

Please come and help me celebrate 25 years of guiding people around my wonderful country!  Visiting China is the best way to get to know us — and world culture —   better!  Welcome!

Andy Song is part of Alexander + Roberts’s team of dedicated expert guides around the world. Speak to our expert reservation agents about your next adventure with us!

Posted: 3/16/2017 1:38:53 PM by Alexander + Roberts

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