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 pristine 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. Join us for a 5 days, 4 nights journey to this relatively unknown UNESCO world heritage site to explore this amazing island! (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 - Learn from the masters and make your own precious cedar wood souvenir (Only the fallen logs are used) - Relax at the Japanese baths and enjoy multi-dishes Japanese cuisine including the flying fish (2) Rough itinerary: Day 1 - Fly from HK to Kagoshima, Japan (~3hrs) - Fly from Kagoshima to Yakushima (~30mins) - Check into hotel 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 - Workshop in making your own souvenir from the fallen ancient cedar (eg: chopsticks) - Optional activities to be decided - *backup day for hiking in case of poor weather on day 2 or 3 Day 5 - 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) Trip date and cost: - Apr 17th-21st, 2019 (*It’s over the Easter weekend holidays, so you only need to take two days off!) - HK$13,000 per person. This includes: - Meals (Day 1 D, Day 2, 3, 4 B+D, Day 5 B) - Hotel stay x 4 nights - Local transfer at Yakushima - Admission fee and local hiking guide fee - Souvenir workshop fee ** The return air tickets from HK to Kagoshima and from Kagoshima to Yakushima are NOT included because the price might fluctuate, so you can buy them at cost. It costs about $4400 total for both flights usually (just a rough guide). If you are interested to join, please ask me for bank account details to make bank transfer to secure your spot on the trip! Only when I confirm your bank transfer, I will move you over to the RSVP YES list.

Tracing the legendary Tea Horse Caravan Road

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The Tea Horse Caravan Road might not be as famous as the silk road, but it is just as hugely fascinating culturally. More than just tea and horses, it oversaw a major exchange of goods, religions and cultures in a region spanning Yunnan, Sichuan, Tibet, Myanmar and beyond. To understand the tea horse trade, let’s hit the former caravan road and discover its cultural legacy! The story of the tea horse caravan road started around the Song dynasty in the 11th century. During that time, the Song Chinese were threatened by tribal kingdoms of the North. Part of the reason is that they lack the faster and larger war horses of the tribes. At the same time, the Tibetans to the West lack the tea leaves that the Chinese produced, but they had good horses. Therefore, a mutually beneficial trade of tea for horses began. The road was in operation right up till the mid-20th century, and saw the exchange of other goods such as salt, precious metals, furs, animal hides, textiles and medicines. Trip highlights: - Learn about the former tea horse trade and experience life on the road on the horseback for a day - Explore the streets of the charming caravan town Shaxi, home to old opera stages and courtyard mansions - Enjoy an authentic classical music performance by the Bai minority - Explore the local bazaar: a mix of colorful tribal costumes and exotic local produce - Stay at refurbished former mansions of the caravan traders: rustic yet luxurious - Hands-on experience with tie dyeing using traditional methods and natural dye (1) Trip itinerary TBD *The above itinerary and pictures is only a rough guide and the actual itinerary might vary slightly. In any case, we strive to bring you the best possible experience based on the actual ground situation. (2) Requirements to sign up for the trip? - Passport with at least 7 months' validity - Valid visa to China - Return home permit (if applicable) - HK ID card (if applicable) - Your own valid travel insurance that covers medical assistance and trip cancellation due to natural disasters (3) What to expect for the trip? - Take return flights from Shenzhen to Dali - Stay 4 nights at various refurbished boutique mansion hotels (DOUBLE OCCUPANCY) - Private chartered minivan for the local transportation in Yunnan - Admission tickets to all the places that we visit - Meals (Day 1 D, Day 2,3,4 B+L+D, Day 5 B+L) - Local guides explanation (4) How to join this trip? - Please RSVP to be on the waiting list. By default, everyone is on the waiting list. It DOES NOT mean that the trip is already full! - Email me for the bank account details, and then make the bank transfer for the trip fee of HK$15,000. - Once I have confirmed receipt of your bank transfer, I will move you to the 'RSVP YES' list (5) Cancellation and refund policy - In case of bad weather such that the train service is cancelled, we will postpone or cancel the trip and you will receive a full refund (in case of trip cancellation) - Please take note that the event date is subjected to change or cancellation if there are insufficient attendees and you will receive a full refund (in case of trip cancellation) - The trip payment is non-refundable in all other situations - If you are late for the trip by more than 5 minutes, we will not wait and there will be no refund If you have any queries, please contact me at [masked] or phone/sms at[masked]. 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. I do not own the pictures listed above. Courtesy of voyagista.com and rough guide.

Japanese village rejuvenated with modern art
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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

Past events (59)

Epicentre of the Cold War

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Photos (1,461)

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