At first glance Rick strikes you as the quiet type. Which I later found out is quite the opposite. But maybe my initial first impression had something to do with the fact that this was Rick’s first trip to mainland China and Zoom China was the first time he was experiencing the birthplace of his grandparents. As a second generation Chinese American whose family has been in the USA for over 100 years and has contributed immensely to the place we call home, Ricky was in for a trip of a lifetime, in a very personal way.
Zoom: Why did you decide to join Zoom Vacations in China?
Rick: My partner Jason always spoke so highly about the trips he had taken with Zoom to Vietnam/Cambodia and Argentina/Brazil. So when it was time for us to plan our vacation, he found the China trip was available at the time we wanted to travel. We both thought the itinerary covered all the main attractions we wanted to visit. The top-notch accommodations were a big selling point as well.
Zoom: Was this your first time to China?
Rick: This was my first trip to mainland China. I had been to Hong Kong twice before with the most recent trip in 2014.
Zoom: What was your highlight of the trip?
Rick: I think there were two highlights on this trip for me - the Forbidden City and the VIP tour of the Terra Cotta Warriors. I was amazed by the enormity of the Forbidden Palace given the absence of all the machines and building equipment we use today. The VIP tour of the Terra Cotta Warriors was an unexpected pleasure. I couldn't believe we were able to meet with the archeologists and scientists actually working on the artifacts and stand in their lab rooms with the recently excavated pieces and several of the Warriors!
Zoom: How did you find the hotels that Zoom Vacations selected for the tour?
Rick: I enjoyed all the hotels Zoom chose for trip. Not only were the accommodations luxe and comfortable, service at each property was exemplary. I thought the Fairmont Peace Hotel was a standout. It did make you feel like you were transported to another era!
Zoom: What did you think of the food?
Rick: The food we enjoyed was one of the trip highlights for me personally. I am rather food-obsessed so it was really a treat to experience the different regional Chinese cuisines! The Western food we ate was equally delicious. As with the hotels, the restaurants were stylish and service was first-rate.
Zoom: What were the benefits of traveling as part of a gay group to China?
Rick: Traveling with a gay group meant having a sort of built-in camaraderie with one another. Within a short time, I saw a lot of laughs exchanged amongst newly-formed friendships and folks watching out for one another.
Zoom: Would you recommend this trip to your friends?
Rick: I have already started recommending this trip to others! Traveling with Zoom really took the element of stress out of being somewhere you've never been before and don't speak the language. The concierge and local team members took great care of us especially with the check-ins at the hotels and at each of the airports we flew out from. I can't say enough about the concierge and guides. They took such great care of everyone and handled any problems or special requests graciously and got the job done!
Zoom: Did China live up to your expectations?
Rick: China most certainly lived up to my expectations. It was great to see all the sights I've seen so many times on TV, in movies, and in pictures taken by my friends and family. Being of Chinese decent myself, it gave me such insight to the stories I've heard from relatives and family friends about their lives and experiences there.
Zoom: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Rick: I just wanted to thank the Zoom team for their thoughtfulness and attention to details. From the memento gifts to the surprises left for us in our rooms. I also appreciated the printed menus given to us at our meals, the list of bars and restaurants in each city for our free time, and the luggage tags with our names and contact information already completed for us! Every last detail was pretty much covered. I had a fantastic time and look forward to my next trip with Zoom Vacations!