What we're about

Join us to explore seldom-heard-of-places with unspoiled scenery in China and beyond. Let's experience places rich in culture and history so that you learn something in a fun and relaxing way. And in the process, we make great friends with one another and with the locals! So just pack your bags, come with an open mind and we will share with you all the fun without the hassle!

Our vision of travel:

(1) Fuel your sense of adventure through exploring off-the-beaten-track places

(2) Experience the local culture and understand its history

(3) Make great friends with a few like-minded travelers: only small group travel every time

(4) Relax and enjoy: Backpacking-like experience, yet without the hassle of planning. Stay at guesthouse rich in character and savor authentic local cuisine.

Upcoming events (4)

Hiking in mythical mossy forest with ancient cedar trees thousands of years old

Yakushima, a secluded paradise relatively unknown to foreigners. Its hauntingly beautiful forest is home to Yakusugi, the gigantic Japanese cedar thousands of years old. The wet climate creates crystal clear rivers and moss covered trees and rocks, inspiring a moody and fairytale-like atmosphere. Let's join us to explore this amazing UNESCO world heritage site!

(1) Highlights of the trip:
- Admire the mossy forest and silky smooth streams, scenes straight from a postcard
- Marvel at the gigantic Yakusugis, a Japanese cedar that has been around for at least 1000 years
- Relax at the Japanese baths and enjoy multi-dishes Japanese cuisine including the flying fish
- Check out unique souvenirs made from precious cedar wood (only the fallen logs are used)

(2) Rough itinerary:
Day 1
- Fly from HK to Kagoshima, Japan (~3hrs)
- Fly from Kagoshima to Yakushima (~30mins)
- Check into guesthouse
Day 2
- Full day hike (7hrs) to visit the different Yakusugi cedar trees, and climb up a big boulder to get a panoramic view
Day 3
- Hike in a different area with beautiful green mossy forest and rocks, streams (~5 hrs)
Day 4
- Fly from Yakushima to Kagoshima
- Fly from Kagoshima to HK

*The above itinerary and pictures is only a rough guide and the actual places/activities might vary slightly. In any case, we strive to bring you the best possible experience based on the actual ground situation.

(3) What to expect for the trip:
- Fly to Kagoshima, then to Yakushima and return
- Meals (Day 1 D, Day 2, 3 B+D, Day 4 B)
- Hotel stay x 3 nights
- Local transfer at Yakushima
- Admission fee and local hiking guide fee
- You need to be able to cope with the hiking stats below:
o Speed: 2.5 (normal hiking pace)
o Distance: 2.0 (8km)
o Elevation gain: 2.0 (500m)
o Surface: 3 (dirt trail with exposed roots and rocks that might be slippery if it rains)
o Average: 2.4
o About 6-7 hours hike

(4) If you are interested to join, please ask me for bank account details to make bank transfer (HK$15,000 trip fee) to secure your spot on the trip! Only when I confirm your bank transfer, I will move you over to the RSVP YES list.

(5) Cancellation and refund policy
• In case of bad weather such that the flight service is cancelled, we might postpone or cancel the trip
• Please take note that the event date is subjected to change or cancellation if there are insufficient attendees
• The trip payment is non-refundable in all other situations

Disclaimer: NineXplorer is an amateur casual adventure group that welcomes anyone with a basic level of fitness. By joining this event, you are deemed to have agreed to the terms and conditions contained in this disclaimer, and agreed to exonerate the tour leaders, the organizers and any other participants in the walks from any liabilities, claims, including but not limited to liabilities and claims as a result of any injuries or deaths or damages arising thereof. Members joining our activities are at their own choosing and at their own risk.

Pink snowflakes on a forgotten ancient highway

Needs a location

Long before the Shinkansen trains zap you between cities in hours, Japanese officials had to walk the mountain trails “highways” for weeks to reach their destination. One of the most famous highways is the Nakasendo that links the imperial capital Kyoto with Tokyo, the shogun’s seat of power. The frequent movement of the officials and their entourage give rise to the post towns that provide accommodation, food and entertainment along the long journey.

Even though they have long since been rendered obsolete, parts of the highway and some post towns have been preserved and beautifully restored. Furthermore, many artisan and guesthouse owners are still working like their ancestors have for generations. So we will be able to experience how it was like to be a traveler in feudal Japan.

Last but not least, we will be visiting at the period when cherry blossom should be in full bloom and it will make the scenery along the trail even more gorgeous!

1) Trip highlights
• Learn about the fascinating system of official travel utilizing the Nakasendo trail
• Explore the painstakingly restored post towns including their charming little stores selling traditional crafts, sweets and tea
• Relive the Edo period by hiking a short section of the scenic Nakasendo trail in the cherry blossom season!
• Stay at rustic traditional ryokan at the post town just like the Edo travelers, while enjoying the marvelous food, onsen and Japanese hospitality
• Hands-on making session of traditional painting crafts
*The above itinerary is only a guide and is subjected to change

2) Requirements to sign up for the trip?
• Passport with at least 7 months' validity
• Valid visa to Japan (only required depending on your nationality)
• HK ID card (if applicable)

3) What to expect for the trip?
• Return flight to Nagoya
• Stay 4 nights in traditional ryokan/minshuku (DOUBLE OCCUPANCY)
• Local transportation including trains, van or taxi
• Meals (Day 1 D, Day 2,3&4 B+L+D, Day 5 B)
• Luggage forwarding
• All admission, local guide or activities fee
*Please take note that in some Japanese traditional guesthouse, there are only shared toilets and bathrooms down the hallway.

4) How to join this trip?
• The trip fee depends on the number of people joining in the end
• For 9 or more person, it costs HK$19,000 per person
• For 6 to 8 person, it costs HK$22,000 per person
• Please sign up on the waiting list. Once you have made bank transfer of the trip fee of HK$22,000, I will move you to the RSVP list. (Please ask me for bank account details)
• If in the end there are 9 or more persons joining the trip, I will refund the difference of $3,000 to your account.

5) Cancellation and refund policy
• In case of bad weather such that the flight service is cancelled, we might postpone or cancel the trip
• Please take note that the event date is subjected to change or cancellation if there are insufficient attendees
• The trip payment is non-refundable in all other situations

Disclaimer: NineXplorer is an amateur casual adventure group that welcomes anyone with a basic level of fitness. By joining this event, you are deemed to have agreed to the terms and conditions contained in this disclaimer, and agreed to exonerate the tour leaders, the organizers and any other participants in the walks from any liabilities, claims, including but not limited to liabilities and claims as a result of any injuries or deaths or damages arising thereof. Members joining our activities are at their own choosing and at their own risk.

Japanese village rejuvenated with modern art
Needs a date and time

Location visible to members

This coming year we will go beyond China to Japan! We will visit off the beaten track places in Japan, again focusing on their culture and history. First up are the islands in the Setouchi inland sea, where old villages and decaying factories are rejuvenated with modern art installation that blend into the environment. In the process inspiring a dynamic interaction between new and old, visitors and locals.

Stay tune for more details coming up!

Why nobody visits this private museum in Yunnan, a treasure trove of...

With over 20,000 pieces of exhibits, this museum contains treasures whose preciousness “exceeds even China’s national museums”, marveled by visiting scholars from Kunming. Welcome to Weishan folk museum, a rare private museum opened by a local antique collector.

However, when talking about their private museum, owner Mr Zhou Jingqian does not feel any sense of pride; instead, he looks really worried, worried about the survival of his museum.

Weishan, the place where the folk museum is located at, used to be a major town in the tea horse caravan trade. The museum is set in the mansion of a former caravan trader, one of the big four in town, who used to own half the property in Weishan. Inside, you will see a massive collection of the caravan traders’ items, from horse saddles, sheep skin carpets, specialize leather jacket with multiple pockets, to stirrups, spice containers and even silver chopsticks!

Bell ringing in the mountain signals the coming of the caravan

In addition to the tea and horses that were being traded, tiger and bear hides, herbs, salt, etc gets traded between Tibet and Southeast Asia and beyond. Often, caravan meet each other on the narrow mountain trails. In order to avoid traffic congestion, Mr Zhou explains: “Each lead horse will have a huge bell on its neck, so that the caravan coming from the opposite side will be notified of their presence. Then the lead caravan can decide if he wants to give way, in which case he will use his bell to signal to the other caravan of his intention. In return, he will receive one silver dollar from the other party, an established rule in the caravan community.” This is just one of the many valuable insights that Mr Zhou have about the caravan, making the private museum so much more than just a set of caravan hardware.

Keeping antique sounds cool, but it’s extremely hard work!

The collection started from Mr Zhou’s father, who loved to collect old items. When villagers built houses, sometimes they dug out old items that they found useless. Not to the senior Zhou, who would get or even buy them from villagers. He was so obsessed that he would use their government ration to exchange for old items behind the back of his family! The junior Zhou had to fill their stomach only with salted water and he would wake up in the middle of the night, crying of hunger and frustration. During the Cultural Revolution, the senior Zhou would dig holes in the mountains and hide his collections secretly in the middle of the night so that they wouldn’t get destroyed. It’s only in the 80s when he could finally dig out these items safely. Finally due to his father’s influence, the junior Zhou started to understand their value of these items and grew to like them. When his father passed away in 1997, he decided to work towards his father’s lifelong wish of creating a folk museum, exhibiting the cultural history of Weishan including the tea horse caravan culture.
His wish would only be fulfilled in 2014. With the county mayor’s help, they rented a small mansion, which was actually a government’s office at that time.

Private museum finally in operation, what now?

Opening the museum seems like the easy part. Getting people to come and visit is the main problem. Ever since opening, they have never had more than 7 or 8 visitors a day. Sometimes they won’t even have a single visitor for a few days straight! Their highest monthly income is around 1500 RMB, but sometimes they can’t even get this amount in 6 months. This means that they have to do everything by themselves, as they can’t afford hire any narrators, administrators, cleaners or experts to sort out and maintain the collections. This in turn creates a vicious cycle because few people will appreciate a mess of collections stored in an undersize mansion, however precious the collection might be.

Mr Zhou understands that they need help, and have actually begged for assistance from the government. But what he always hear is “We will try to find a more suitable place for your museum asap”.

A tired yet devoted Mr Zhou

The future of private museum in China?

What Mr Zhou needs is actually not just government funding and assistance in finding a suitable museum location. In China, the idea of private museum is still at a very novel stage. There is minimal scholarly research and government policy in how to develop this field. In addition, there are very few professionals who are trained to service, manage, and promote private museums. To reverse the situation, both the government and tourism industry innovators need to work together to help the private museums.

On the other hand, the culture of visiting museums in China is also sorely lacking. But sadly this takes a long time to cultivate, perhaps as long as two to three generations. Only with the presence of both the supply and demand can private museums truly prosper. Hopefully the artifacts and the people who can tell their stories will still be around by then.

If you are interested to visit the Weishan private museum to learn about the Tea Horse Caravan history, sign up for our trip to Yunnan now!

https://www.meetup.com/Ninexplorer/events/241838468/

DISCLAIMER: I do not own the pictures above. They are courtesy of chuansong.me

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