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Author Topic: CHINA: Tours Abroad workshops/tours?  (Read 5092 times)
Petrus
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« on: April 07, 2013, 12:09:24 PM »
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These guys advertise photo tours in China on the home page of LuLa. Has anybody here been on their trips? When they say "We offer high value photo workshops" do they mean you get a lot from them in the mentoring/teaching/local knowledge kind of thing, or are they just admitting they quite expensive? I mean, local travel agencies can put together the same itinerary at 1/5:th of the price.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 11:30:58 PM by Petrus » Logged
Tim Gray
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2013, 12:57:22 PM »
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Don't really know, but I do know that in my experience there has been a world of difference between a travel agency itinerary and one done by photographers for photographers.  I've never begrudged the "extra" involved in a photo workshop.
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Petrus
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2013, 01:52:20 AM »
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Don't really know, but I do know that in my experience there has been a world of difference between a travel agency itinerary and one done by photographers for photographers.  I've never begrudged the "extra" involved in a photo workshop.

There certainly is some value in having a photographer in the group who knows the place and culture. I slightly disagree about the "travel agency itinerary" part, though, as we can customize the itinerary just as we like when forming our own groups.

As a matter of fact I just got an offer from a reputable Tibetan agency offering a customized 15 day 2000 km tour in Amdo in private Land Cruiser, driver, Tibetan guide/interpreter, hotels for 1675€/person. With meals it comes to about 1800€ or $2350. 5 days spent at the Shaman festival.
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kcscuba
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2013, 06:43:01 AM »
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Hi,
I noticed your post and thought I would let you know about my experience with Photo Tours Abroad.  I attended their Contemplative Photography workshop this past spring.  It was led by George DeWolfe and Lydia Goetze.  We traveled to Suzhou and Huangshan.  I had a great experience.  The food and accommodations were above average.  A representative from the photo tour company traveled with us and addressed requests or issues immediately.  At no time did I feel rushed or herded by a "tour" company.  The group size was small (I think 7 or 8 photographers).  There was general composition instruction regarding principles of Chinese painting as the focus of the workshop was on applying these principles to photography.  As for technical instruction, it was confined to the individual.  We had individual portfolio reviews with the instructors.  Overall, it was a very good experience.
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Petrus
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2013, 08:14:12 AM »
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I have not updated my thread yet, as I can not show many photographs before a selection of them are published. Anyway, I did go to Amdo & Kham for 16 days (18 days total), including the Repkong/Tongren Shaman festival, Larung Gar and Yarchen Gar monasteries and plenty of places in between. There was just one agency which promised that they could get me to these places, others claimed they were closed for tourists. We did actually cross two towns and regions which have been totally off limits to foreigners since 2008, our papers were never checked. I travelled alone, so the cost was high, 4300 Euros for the Land Cruiser, driver and guide, including all hotels, entrance tickets where required etc. This was quite an experience and still 1000€ less than the guided Shaman festival for 10 days only.

With 4 persons sharing the car it would have been only 1300€/pax, over 4000€ cheaper than the workshop, even if longer and much more interesting in the whole.

Here are 4 samples from the Derge printing house, Yarchen Gar monastery and Repkong shaman festival.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2013, 12:54:11 AM by Petrus » Logged
SeanBK
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2013, 11:44:12 AM »
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National Geographic "Expeditions" in 2013/14 Travel catalog >
Pages 70 - Bhutan Kingdom In Clouds - 12 days - Oct11-22 & Nov 5-16 < 2013, In 2014 6 tours $6,395
Pages 74 - Inside China - 14 days - 1 remaining in 2013 & 6 in 2014 $7,395 ('13) & $7,695 ('14)
  There are quite few others just check them out. I think they are quite nice.
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Gulag
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« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2013, 01:25:53 AM »
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the irony is guys like Steve McCurry won't be in any of those guided foto tours.
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“For art to be art it has to cure.”  - Alejandro Jodorowsky
Petrus
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2013, 08:11:47 AM »
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Here is a Picasa Album from my trip: https://picasaweb.google.com/109958612223411682295/EasternTibetAmdoAndKham2013?authuser=0&feat=directlink

Besides a few "good" photos I have also included shots which show the road conditions etc practical info. 91 pictures total.

Unlimited photo opportunities there, but travel is slow.
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Lightsmith
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2013, 01:17:19 PM »
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I would go be reviews by other photographers and want to know the maximum number of photographers in any one group. Last thing you want is to descend on to a village with a group of 30 photographers. The tour operator should provide you with a driver that knows the areas to be visited and a guide that is conversant in English. In my experience often the guides speak only a rudimentary level of English and the drivers often get lost once outside the major cities. GPS is also frequently not enough to get the driver to the location, only to the general vicinity.

I would also be very careful as to the time of year as tour operators want income 12 months a year but there are times to avoid going to China, like the winter months. I was in China a few weeks ago in the Guangzhou area and visibility was one city block. The air pollution there was around 300 parts per cu meter whereas at the same time in Bejing it was over 900 and the airport was closed. Not a good time for taking photographs, or even being outside and breathing in the "air".

I have hired drivers and guides in Central and South America, Europe, Thailand, and Cambodia, and China was the only place where I had a great deal of trouble finding English speaking guides and drivers who did not get lost.

There are national holidays when travel by train is nearly impossible and you do not want to be in the country in most major cities if at all possible. Most of China's cultural heritage in terms of towns and villages is being rapidly torn down to be replaced by high rise apartments and office buildings so a great deal has disappeared in the past 10 years and what little remains is going to be gone in another 10 years so go now if you can and don't put it off.
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neways
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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2013, 11:29:24 AM »
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Check this workshop which has much better itinerary and valued price. The images from that workshop are very impressive!

http://www.moabphototours.com/pages/workshops/--china.php
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zcy0118
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2014, 09:05:22 PM »
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I would go be reviews by other photographers and want to know the maximum number of photographers in any one group. Last thing you want is to descend on to a village with a group of 30 photographers. The tour operator should provide you with a driver that knows the areas to be visited and a guide that is conversant in English. In my experience often the guides speak only a rudimentary level of English and the drivers often get lost once outside the major cities. GPS is also frequently not enough to get the driver to the location, only to the general vicinity.

I would also be very careful as to the time of year as tour operators want income 12 months a year but there are times to avoid going to China, like the winter months. I was in China a few weeks ago in the Guangzhou area and visibility was one city block. The air pollution there was around 300 parts per cu meter whereas at the same time in Bejing it was over 900 and the airport was closed. Not a good time for taking photographs, or even being outside and breathing in the "air".

I have hired drivers and guides in Central and South America, Europe, Thailand, and Cambodia, and China was the only place where I had a great deal of trouble finding English speaking guides and drivers who did not get lost.

There are national holidays when travel by train is nearly impossible and you do not want to be in the country in most major cities if at all possible. Most of China's cultural heritage in terms of towns and villages is being rapidly torn down to be replaced by high rise apartments and office buildings so a great deal has disappeared in the past 10 years and what little remains is going to be gone in another 10 years so go now if you can and don't put it off.

Hello, I'm Chinese. Just wanna mention some dates better to be avoided, New Year Day, first week of May( May 1st. Chinese Labor Day), first week of Oct. ( Oct. 1st Chinese National Day). Also the Spring Festival, (depend on Chinese calendar )usually between Jan and Feb.

Maps and Roads are very confusion, especially southwest of china( most beautiful part of China, Tibet, Sichuan province, Yunnan Province, Guangxi province) lots of mountains, driving can be risky(mountain road)if driver doesn't know the area very well.

For serious landscape photography, it's nearly impossible to get a keeper in one day tour Huang Shang or Zhang Jia Jie Park....

Wish u good luck!

Wen


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stever
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2014, 11:17:40 PM »
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I've had pretty good luck getting private guided tours and letting the guides know what you want and tip appropriately - cheaper than photo tours and a bit more expensive than typical group tours.  The trick is finding a reliable local operator (same people all the photo and group tours use with the big mark-up).  Unfortunately I haven't had recent experience in China.
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Petrus
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2014, 01:49:10 AM »
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I made some inquiries, and one Chengdu based operator gave and estimate of 1300-1500 Rmb for a Land Cruiser & driver and 450 Rmb for a guide per day for a trip to eastern Tibet. As the hotels on my last trip cost between 100-350 Rmb (double room, single occupancy) per day, the total land cost for this kind of adventure would be 650 Rmb/day (80€ or $105) for a group of 4. As the roads are getting better a minibus would also be possible at around the same price, making the cost for a group of 8 400 Rmb/day or 40€ or $65 per day.

Thus instead of $5500-$7000 a 2 week trip would cost $1500 (4 persons) or $900 (8 persons).

For Amdo and Kham (eastern Tibet) 2 weeks is too short a time, we are planning a 4 week trip for year 2015. Cost: around $2000 + international flights.

Having a photo instructor along seems to quadruple the trip costs, or even more. If people have the money it is fine with me, but there are also alternatives for poor photographers like me.

One more example: in 2009 we made a 30 day camping trek in Nepal (Manaslu, Naar-Pho Valley, Tilicho Lake) making our own arrangements. Total cost for a group of 7 was 47$ or $64 per day including permits, transportation, food, everything. If you look for a similar commercial trek the cost would be $120-150/day, without a resident photographer. We had 31 person staff, the kitchen staff alone was 5 people...
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 12:18:11 PM by Petrus » Logged
zcy0118
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2014, 08:50:59 AM »
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That's really good deal. I'm from Chengdu, as I know, the SUV and driver's cost is about 500rmb($80) per day at least, plus the tollway fee and gas.

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dbolt
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« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2014, 08:48:56 AM »
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Thanks for posting the link to your slideshow.  Very good and most enjoyable viewing.  Even made my wife consider going.
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Doug Bolt
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Petrus
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2014, 06:18:32 AM »
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Here are the extended sets from Tibet on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/112698197@N08/sets/

Four parts: Repkong Shaman Festival, Yarchen Gar, Larung Gar, Amdo and Kham on the road.
Also a set from Jerusalem Old Town.

All shot with Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X100s.

 
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 06:20:17 AM by Petrus » Logged
Lightsmith
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« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2014, 07:47:37 PM »
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Photo tours will go to different locations and spend more time at each location than a regular tour. I have seen tours and workshops booked at times of the year when it is not a good idea to be in China due to holiday crowds or air pollution.

It is also difficult to find guides that really can speak English and have any amount of vocabulary. I guide who lives in the USA and travels to China to lead a tour or workshop will be a much safer bet. A photo tour can make use of a small van instead of a large tour bus and that means access to more places than would be practical otherwise.

In some areas special permits are required and the tour company can make the necessary arrangements ahead of time. This can include train tickets which have to be purchased once in China but may be sold out (though usually "first class" seats are available except during the holiday periods).

We have made our own way on our trips to China but if I was going specifically to do photography in a certain area I would look for a photo tour with good recommendations from other photographers.
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