We always say that the more mixed our trips are, the better. So, when Alexis joined our China trip, we were excited for the additional diversity, and even more thrilled because she is such a wonderful person to travel with. Alexis spoke with us about her recent trip with Zoom Vacations to China!
Zoom: How did you learn about Zoom Vacations?
Alexis: It was between Christmas and New Years break and I was thinking about how as of January 1st my vacation gets replenished. I wanted to start thinking about where I wanted to go in 2019. I wanted to do something a little more outside of my comfort zone. In the beginning of 2018, I had travelled to multiple countries in Europe and then in the fall did an Iceland trip so I really wanted to do something in Asia next. I did an internet search for gay friendly tour companies since I didn't want to do my first Asian trip on my own. Zoom was one of the first companies that popped up in my search. I loved the trips that Zoom had on their list. So many of the countries that were listed on the website I was interested in but they were more exotic so harder to necessarily plan yourself. I am totally comfortable planning my own stuff for places like Europe, Canada, etc but I wanted more help with something like China.
I sent Zoom an email and Joel actually called me the next day which was unexpected. He seemed really nice and welcoming on the phone and encouraged me to come even though I would likely be the only lesbian on the trip. I was pretty much sold after that conversation.
Zoom: You booked the trip solo. Do you like traveling alone?
Alexis: This was my first really big trip alone. I have done smaller trips where I was going somewhere in the United States to visit a friend and maybe I would take a couple days to do something myself. I admit I didn't really feel alone since we had a small tour group.
Zoom: You were also the only woman with a group of gay men. Did you feel included and comfortable?
Alexis: I felt very comfortable. I am in the technology industry so I am used to being the only woman in a group of men. I was really just looking to be around people that I felt like I could be myself with and not feel like I was being judged or had to watch what I say. I also wanted to feel safe. With that being said, I found that with Zoom. All the men on the trip were super friendly and welcoming. I feel like I met some people I hope to hang out with again and even hope to travel with again. It actually exceeded my expectations because I wasn't sure how it was going to be. Everyone always included me and I feel like at times even went out of their way to make me feel wanted on the trip and comfortable.
Zoom: Did you feel a benefit to traveling alone with a group tour?
Alexis: Yes definitely. It allowed me to have people to do things with. I went to some shows with a person on the tour that was interested in seeing Opera and Chinese acrobatics. I went out to a bar with another person on the trip in Shanghai. It was fun doing happy hours, lunches, and dinners. When I came down for breakfast, many times I ate with some of the other people on the trip. I never had to think about what we were going to do because Zoom did that hard work for me!
Zoom: What did you enjoy about traveling with a group?
Alexis: I enjoyed all the activities we did. I always had someone to go to if I had questions. I met a lot of great people on the trip. Everything about traveling with the group exceeded my expectations.
Zoom: What was your initial interest in Zoom China?
Alexis: I have been interested in China for a while. I am very interested in technology which is also something I do as a career. I have been following China's economy and their government mandate for being a country that will lead the way in Artificial Intelligence. They are also trying to educate a mass amount of computer science graduates. I also knew they blocked a lot of American tech companies and created their own replicas like Alibaba and Baidu which I have been following closely for awhile. I find that stuff fascinating and wanted to understand more. I also was interested in some of their historical aspects like the Great Wall of China (its been on my bucket list) and the Terracotta Warriors.
Zoom: What did you think about Zoom China and was there a way in which traveling with Zoom accentuated your China experience?
Alexis: We had amazing local tour guides in every city we visited. With such a small amount of people on the trip, you could ask so many questions and really learn about China. Zoom also figures everything out and they had special little touches along the way that makes the trip special. I also was impressed that Zoom gave us a gift in every city that we could take home as a memory.
Zoom: What did you think of the hotels and sites and sights in China?
Alexis: I was most excited to see the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors. These two things blew me away. I can't even explain the feeling I had on top of the Great Wall of China. It was super amazing and anyone that has the opportunity to go should do it. I also really enjoyed the boat ride on the Li River which was an unexpected highlight on the trip.
Zoom: What was your favorite city in China? What did you like about it?
Alexis: Shanghai without a doubt. It was a bustling international city. I loved the Bund. The lights were super awesome. I really enjoyed going to the hidden farmers market as well. I got some of my most favorite art there.
Zoom: What was your favorite activity in China that Zoom Vacations organized?
Alexis: I have 2 favorites! One was drinking champagne on top of the Great Wall of China. I don't know how Zoom pulled that off but it put the whole experience over the top. That was just a great day!
My other favorite activity was the boat down the Li River. The scenery was amazing. I think that was my most fun day on the trip. We did so many things that day and got a lot more time outside in nature which was beautiful.
Zoom: Would you travel with Zoom Vacations again? And if so where?
Alexis: Yes! I really want to go on the India trip. I have looked at the list and there are quite a few trips I would take but India is on the top of my list.
Zoom: Was traveling through China comfortable?
Alexis: It was very comfortable. The hotels we stayed at were all great. I always had someone to ask questions to or help get tickets to something. It made for a very comfortable trip.
Zoom: Do you feel that Zoom China covered all the bases for a first time traveler to China?
Alexis: Yes I saw all the things that I wanted to see in China. I felt like I saw all the main sites. It was a whirlwind trip that I will always cherish. I can't believe all the stuff I did on the trip. I have talked to a few people back home about it extensively and as I go through the things I learned and did, it seems like I did an endless amount of stuff. It was definitely an incredible experience that I will never forget.