By Daniel Van Hoosier
When the trip of a lifetime presents itself, travelers should do their best not to pass it up. That is exactly what the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce’s group of 42 local travelers did when they embarked upon Shanghai, China in early October, followed by stops in Beijing, Hongju and Suzhou. The nine-day expedition took participants to monuments old and new, giving them the chance to experience the history, dining, shows and sights, like the Great Wall for starters. “My favorite thing about it was the dramatic differences between the old and the new. In particular, there’s a place called The Bund, where on the left side there are old (buildings, former Shanghai International settlement), and then you look to the right and it’s all of Shanghai’s new buildings. The engineering and architecture will blow you away. When I look at New York now, it’s kind of lost its luster. Shanghai delivers architectural feats that don’t even seem possible” said one awe-struck traveler. Citslinc and the Chamber combined to produce a turn-key adventure for folks of all ages with all tours thoroughly planned to help maximize your time in ways that you simply could not do on your own. This type of trip is definitely great for people visiting a country for the first time. They hit on all of the major sites, while still allowing for some personal exploration. Comfort and safety were always a top priority. Instead of worrying about language barriers and asking for directions, guests could simply relax in tour buses and listen to the tour guide’s charming “inside scoop” on upcoming sites and answer questions about things spotted while travelling from destination to destination. In terms of dining, the groups enjoyed having time to connect and share their experiences around a circular table with a lazy susan that leant well to the family style dining. Noodles and rice were the staples at every meal, teamed up with several chicken, seafood, vegetarian, and beef accompaniments. Of course, local hot green tea (and sometimes local beer or alcohol, known affectionately as “fire water”!) was enjoyed among the conversation. “You really get the most value for your money with this kind of controlled trip. They get discounts on everything. I mean here we are in 4 and 5 star hotels, eating at high-end buffets, seeing uparalleled sights, being treated like royalty… and all for about half the price of what it would cost to travel on our own. It is really a no-brainer, and I simply cannot wait for the next opportunity to travel like this,” cooed Allison Castellanos. Lakewood Chamber President, Joshua Castellanos, also had a wonderful time and said the experience was eye-opening. “It just does more for you as a person than you can realize,” he said. “These really are life-changing experiences. China is so much more advanced than I had ever imagined. Their rate of construction and growth is a huge thing. I was also blown away by the incredible hospitality the Chinese people showed us. At one point, a gentleman even opened up his home and cooked us a traditional meal while sharing some of the intimate charms China has to offer from a locals point-of-view.” Did you miss your chance to join the Chamber in China? Help us choose where to go in 2018 by casting your vote at our website, lakewoodchamber.com.