American Peter Danford owns and operates The China Guide – a Beijing based travel company specializing in custom private tours around China. The father of three who has traveled throughout Asia for over 20 years, spoke to CD-Traveller about mysterious Myanmar, Mooloolaba and, of course, the Middle Kingdom
What do you like to do on holiday?
To be honest, now that I have three little children, it’s much more about what they like to do on holiday! As a family, we love visiting Australia and taking advantage of the beautiful beaches. We have a sailboat in Australia and so tend to spend a lot of our holiday time out on the water. On a personal level, I also enjoy hiking in areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Where did you last go?
The last place that I went was Australia. Pardon the pun, but Oz really is just wizard!
Do you know where you’re going this year?
Yes. I am heading back down under – this time to Mooloolaba, which is situated on the sunshine coast in Queensland. It’s supposed to be a magical place that kids and adults alike will adore.
Of all the places you’ve been to, which was your favorite and why?
Myanmar (or Burma as it is used to be known under the British). Travelling to Myanmar is like stepping back in time or, as Rudyard Kipling put it: “Quite unlike any land you know about”. One of the few places yet to be Stabuck-ised, Myanmar is home to an array of magnificent temples (the Buddhist feeling is stronger than anywhere else I have been), including the un-missable ancient ruins of Pagan.
Which destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?
I’d like to go trekking in Mustang (Nepal) and experience real Tibetan life. I’m told a trek into the kingdom of Mustang is an unforgettable experience. Another dream I have is to spend five years sailing around the world on my boat. Maybe one day…
In China, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
Qinghai – a remote region of North West China, whose lake was named as most beautiful by China National Geography magazine. Rent a four-wheel drive, get out there and go camping.
How do you plan your holiday?
First, I look to see when the school holidays fall as this is the only time that the kids can travel. I then buy the cheapest plane tickets I can find, for a family of five!
How often do you go away?
Usually around three to four times a year, which I think is pretty good going.
Who do you travel with?
For the most part, it’s always with my family.
Where do you see tourism in China, in 10 years time?
I think that there will be more international travel agencies in China and subsequently, the level of service that tourists enjoy will be much higher. On the flip side, I fear that China might suffer from overdevelopment and don’t think that independent travelers will be able to find as many ‘off the beaten track’ avenues to explore.
Thanks, Peter! For more information on The China Guide – one of the first completely foreign travel agencies in China – visit www.TheChinaGuide.com. Peter’s photography portfolio can be viewed at www.peterdanford.com.
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