Ancient Villages, Imperial Porcelain, and Surreal Landscapes with Roger Williams

Overview

Our newest WT Expedition with veteran Trip Leader Roger Williams brings us to fascinating corners of China’s Central Kingdom, from the walled Hakka villages of Fujian Province to the famous kilns of ancient “porcelain capitals,” some dating to the Tang and Ming dynasties. We’ll also experience Southeast China’s natural beauty in Zhangjiajie National Park, whose eerie sandstone spires were the inspiration for the magical "floating peaks" in James Cameron's film Avatar, and the beautiful valleys, lakes, crashing waterfalls, and burbling rivers of Mt. Lushan National Park, the inspiration for many Chinese paintings.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-5, Apr 9-13, 2019
Shanghai / Xiamen

In Shanghai, we learn about the city’s colonial past, explore local art galleries, and visit Zhujiajiao, an ancient town on the outskirts of Shanghai with well-preserved ancient houses and bridges from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Flying to the port city of Xiamen, we stroll through its noted botanical garden, visit local produce markets, and explore the complex of South Putuo Temple. A ferry brings us to historic Gulangyu (Kulangsu) Island, where we view its Art Deco architecture and Shuzhuang Garden, considered a masterpiece of traditional Chinese gardens.

Days 6-11, Apr 14-19, 2019
Dehhua / Hakka Culture / Changsha

We head to Dehua, known as one of China’s three ancient porcelain capitals, and famous for Dehua Whiteware, a type of white Chinese porcelain produced in Dehua since the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). In the company of a senior museum researcher, we visit the Dehua Ceramic Museum and appreciate the porcelain works from both ancient and contemporary masters. We also meet the local craftsmen at Yueji Kiln, a 400-year-old wood-fired kiln that is still in use. In Yongding, we explore the traditional Hakka culture and their UNESCO-listed houses, Fujian Tulou (“earthen buildings”). These large buildings (three to five stories high) housed several hundred people of a family and served both communal living and defensive purposes. Flying to Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan province, we visit the Hunan Xiang Embroidery Museum, with its fascinating examples of traditional folk art and crafts, and the Changsha Museum, noted for its collection of bronzeware from the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the relics from the Chu and Han Kingdoms, and the porcelains from Changsha Kiln.

Days 12-14, Apr 20-22, 2019
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

A flight brings us to Zhangjiajie, a World Heritage Site famous for its karst pinnacles and spires. Here we’ll take a cable car to the top of Tianmen Mountain, the highest mountain in Zhangjiajie at 4,987 feet, and explore the sub-primitive forests, the breathtaking sky-walk, and the 300-foot-deep natural hole, Tianmen Cave. We also explore Yellow Stone Village, one of the most picturesque areas in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, hike along tranquil streams running between strangely-shaped peaks, and spend a day on Tianzi Mountain, with its spectacular views of eroded mountain peaks.

Days 15-17, Apr 23-25, 2019
Changsha / Mt. Lushan National Park

Back in Changsha, we visit the Changsha Tongguan Kiln, well known as the first kiln to develop the technique of the colorful underglaze porcelain, then head to Mt. Lushan National Park, a spiritual center since ancient times (our hotel is set right inside the park). Our hikes here grant us spectacular views of the elegant peaks, deep valleys, beautiful lakes, imposing waterfalls, and swift streams that have inspired many household poems and paintings.

Days 18-22, Apr 26-30, 2019
Jingdezhen / Shanghai

In Jingdezhen, the world capital of ceramics, we step into one of the world’s oldest porcelain workshops to see the craftsmen hand-making the round-shaped porcelains in the traditional way. We then visit the Zhen Kiln, the best preserved wood-fired kiln from the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), and tour several museums displaying folk art and fine Chinese ceramics. In the nearby Gaoling Mountains, considered the birthplace of Jingdezhen Porcelain because of the production of Kaolin (Gaoling) clay, we hike along a stone-paved mountain path and discover the traces of where Kaolin clay (Kaolinite) was mined. At the Royal Kilns, we’ll watch the artists at work and witness the entire process of porcelain-making. Fly back to Shanghai on Day 20 and depart on Day 22.

Highlights

Highlights

Visit the ancient porcelain capitals of Dehua, Changsha, and Jingdezhen, the world capital of ceramics
Enjoy walks and fantastic mountain scenery in Zhangjiajie and Mt. Lushan national parks
Learn about the traditional Hakka culture and their UNESCO-listed houses—Fujian Tulou

Details

Length: 22 days
Cost From: $12,695  
Arrive: Shanghai, China
Depart: Shanghai, China
Lodging: 21 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History, Walking, Archaeology
Trip Level:

Cultural exploration and walking tours, some overland travel

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