Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Malaysia Tour 2011

Malaysia Tour - 15 Days - August 9th - 23rd, 2011.

Please click on the individual slides to enlarge.

For further information or to secure your place on the tour, just add your details in the comments box below or email us at: taijiplus@hotmail.com

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yunnan Tour 2005 - Relax Asia Tours - 6 part video

Relax Asia Tours

Yunnan Province is the most geographically and
culturally diverse region of China.

From the temperate plateau of its pleasant capital, Kunming, to the
tropical south bordering Vietnam and Cambodia. From the exotic old
towns of Dali and Lijiang and the thundering gorges of the upper
Yangtze to the Tibetan grasslands and spectacular snow mountains
of the north-west.

If you could only visit one part of China, Yunnan would have to be first
This six part video blog highlights an amazing 3 weeks a group of us
spent being captivated by this wonderful place and its people.

Part 1: Kunming and surrounds

Part 2: Riuli, Tengchong & Dali

Part 3: Dali, Lijiang

Part 4: Lijiang, Zhongdian

Part 5: Zhongdian

Part 6: Deqin

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Penang 2010 from $1,357 all inclusive.

How does 2 weeks in exotic Penang sound for less than $1,500 including airfares, accommodation, transfers, sight-seeing, entrance fees and some meals?

August 6th - 20th, 2010

Staying at Batu Ferringhi in spacious 3 bedroom apartments ( you can have a whole apartment to yourself or share with family and friends ). Five minutes from the beach, restaurants, night market and bus into George Town. The apartments have their own private garden and swimming pool. Each apartment has two balconies with views. Click on the link below to see inside an apartment.

Marco Polo Guesthouse Click on 'suites' and view Type A ( Fairway Suite )

Cost: ( Total Land Content )

Price per person with two couples sharing a 3-bedroom apartment - $920

Price per person with one couple having a 3-bedroom apartment to themselves - $1,170

Price for single supplement with one person having an entire apartment - $1,670

Airfares to Penang are very cheap through Air Asia if you book ASAP.
We do not book group airfares now, they are much cheaper to book on-line.
As of December 12th the cost of travelling to Penang return is $437.
Total cost for 2 couples sharing would be $1,357 per person.
A seriously cheap holiday with an itinerary that goes well beyond the major tour operator travel formulas.


August 6 - 20, 2010

Friday Aug 6

Arrive into Penang airport at 12.45 pm and transfer to our apartments in Batu Ferringhi.

After settling in we'll go out to Dinner together at a vibrant local food court.

Saturday Aug 7

Transfer into George Town for lunch at our favourite vegetarian restaurant.

George Town is a World Heritage listed city full of temples, clan houses, Chinese coffee shops, local trades operating in crumbling pre-war buildings, narrow alleyways, a vibrant Little India , Malay enclaves with mosques, Chinatown, Trishaw riders ( Rickshaws ), colourful markets, superb restaurants and hawkers, Baba mansions and an ever present sense of excitement.

We will wander down some of the historic streets, through Chinatown to meet a group of trishaw riders who will take us on a trail through the backstreets of Little India, the Colonial district, clan houses built on stilts over the water and several historic landmarks.
Our tour will conclude at a Cendol stall before ascending Komtar ( Penang's tallest building ) for views over the city.

Sunday Aug 8

Today we will enjoy a bus tour around Penang Island. From the Northern beaches we will head to the Batik factory to watch a demonstration of this fine local art before visiting their showroom. I always have trouble getting people out of this shop.

We head up into the beautiful jungle highlands of west coast Penang, past Durian plantations with views over the straits of Melaka. Next stop is a tropical fruit stall with a rubber tapping demonstration. If there has been recent rains we will get to see the Titi Kerawang Waterfall.

We then drive through several Malay kampongs ( villages ) before arriving at the small town of Balik Pulau. Lunch will be at a Thai restaurant perched high above the surrounding villages and offering spectacular views.

We'll call into the infamous Penang Snake Temple on the way back before spending an hour or so at Queensbay mall ( Penang Island's largest and most modern shopping complex ).

Monday Aug 9

Today is free to enjoy the beach, laze by the pool, explore the kampongs of Batu Ferringhi, do some shopping, take a jungle walk or catch a bus into town.
In the evening the entire main strip of Batu Ferringhi comes alive as a huge night market.

Tuesday Aug 10

This morning we'll meet up with a couple of local friends and take you to a great Restaurant on Gurney Drive for a real mouth-watering Malaysian breakfast. The special fried tofu is extraordinary.

After breakfast we will drive to Kek Lok See . Towering over the village of Air Hitam, this is the largest Buddhist complex in South East Asia.
From Kek Lok See it's only a five minute drive to the base of Penang Hill. We will ascend the hill by Funicular Rail for commanding views over Penang and parts of mainland Malaysia.

We intend to have lunch or high tea at the majestic David Brown's Restaurant and Tea Terraces before any brave souls in our tour party try the Air Walk ( a matted rope walk-way slung high in the jungle tree-tops ).

Wednesday Aug 11

The start of a very relaxing and fun day.
We will drive to the Penang Tropical Spice Gardens for a guided tour and then make our way to the outdoor platform restaurant perched on the edge of the jungle clad hills with wonderful views across the bay.
You will meet our friend Nazlina who will conduct a hands-on Cooking Class for those who want to attempt an authentic Nyonya dish.
You may just prefer to kick back and relax on the deck, enjoy the view and dodge falling sea almonds dropped from above by cheeky Dusky Leaf Monkeys.

Afterwards we will join together for a traditional banquet cooked by Australian Nyonyas.

Thursday Aug 12

This is an optional add-on to the tour. A two day one night trip to the Cameron Highlands in the centre of Mainland Malaysia.

We will cross the bridge from Penang to Butterworth and head south for the highlands.
Enroute we will stop at Bukit Merah, a huge resort with a water-world fun park but more importantly, a lake with an interesting island accessible only by boat. This island contains many Orangutans and provides the chance to get up close and personal with some juvenile apes.

We then drive up into the Highlands, past Orang Asli ( native ) villages to our preferred accommodation Bala's Holiday Chalet.

Friday Aug 13

A day of sight-seeing around the Cameron Highlands includes a tea plantation, the cute little town of Tanah Rata, Sam Poh Chinese Temple and a short jungle walk if we have time.

Our drive back to Penang will include a stop off at Ipoh , Malaysia's 4th largest city, for a famous Ipoh Koay Teow dinner.

Saturday Aug 14

After packing a lot into the past two days - today is a free day.

Sunday Aug 15

An early start as we bus it into George Town to join a group of Penang friends for Dim Sum.
Before that we can stroll through the best morning market in Penang - Chow Rasta. Bring a camera.

We will explore some more of George Town on foot including more of Chinatown, magnificent Armenian St, Khoo Kongsi, Yap Temple, Kapitan Keling Mosque, the Street of Harmony and much more.
Lunch at Edelweiss Cafe owned by our good friend Teresa.

Anyone who wants to spend more time exploring George Town with us may choose to stay in town. If you need to relax then you may prefer to head back to Batu Ferringhi.

Monday Aug 16

The day is free to relax. In the evening we will transfer to the fishing village of Teluk Bahang ( only 10 minutes away ) and be overwhelmed by all the amazing colours, sights, sounds, smells and friendly atmosphere of a local Malay Pasar Malam ( night market ). This market is only held on a monday night and hardly any tourists know about it.

A short walk away is the Fishing Village Restaurant where we'll relax over dinner. Great food the locals will travel from all parts of the island to enjoy.

Tuesday Aug 17

For those who are reasonably fit we will transfer to Teluk Bahang to start a great 90 minute jungle walk to Monkey Beach. The trail is not too difficult through dense jungle with the chance of spotting Long Tailed Macaque and Dusky Leaf monkeys, huge Monitor lizards, Flying Lemurs, scorpions, green tree pit vipers, squirrels and maybe even a python. It's hot and sweaty but worth every step.

Those who don't wish to do the trek will come to Monkey Beach on a fishing boat. The sea here is gentle and the boat ride only takes about 25 minutes.
We will enjoy a picnic under coconut palms, take a dip in the warm waters off Monkey Beach and then all return by boat.

Wednesday Aug 18

Today will be a fairly relaxed and informal trip into George Town.

We will visit the beautiful Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion , chocolate factory, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel , Nagore Place and Penang's New World Park.

Thursday Aug 19

We have kept today free for any last minute shopping, re-visiting any favourite places or just to laze by the pool before returning to winter.

We will have options for anyone wanting to explore more of Penang. We have been coming to Penang every year for the past 13 years and still not seen and done everything this amazing place has to offer.

Tonight we will plan to have dinner together at a local restaurant ( Alternatively, Veronica might cook up a great curry for us all ).

Friday Aug 20

Early morning transfer to the Penang Airport for our flight back to Australia.

This Itinerary is only a brief outline of activities and the actual tour will involve far more content. Any festivals or cultural events occuring while we are in Penang will be added to the itinerary. Specific shopping requirements ( such as music, movies, jewellery, tailored articles or optical needs ) which are significantly cheaper in Penang, will be highlighted for tour members.

This is not a tai chi tour but tai chi is available for anyone interested. A group of local friends practice tai chi every morning from 7.15 - 8.15 in the park next to our apartments. They do the Beijing 24, 42, 40, 42 sword, 48, Chen 56 and a fan form under the tutorage of Master Peter Lim. We will also be there most mornings to help anyone wanting to give tai chi a go.

In the past 2 days Air Asia has increased the airfares by approximately $60.
If you want to join us in Penang at this amazing price, you need to act quickly. Airfares will continue to rise. It is worth bearing in mind though that even well into 2010, despite price increases, Air Asia will still be offering cheaper flights into Penang than otherwise available.

Please click Booking flights to Penang 2010 to book your flights.

Important: Please ensure that your passport is valid at least until February 2011.
Passports must be valid at least 6 months after intended travel dates. You cannot book your airfares without a valid passport.

Booking flights to Penang 2010

Penang Tour - August 6th - 20th, 2010

Booking Flights

Before booking your flights please contact me ( John ) at taijiplus@hotmail.com or ring 1300 88 28 13 to check apartment availability. This tour is filling up quickly.

Please follow the instructions below for booking your airfares to Penang.
( Printing this page may make following the booking thread easier ).

Make sure you have your Passport ( must be valid until February 2011 ) and your credit card with you. Do not book without a valid passport.

Click on AirAsia.com to go to the on-line booking site.

On the left hand side enter Melbourne as the origin and Kuala Lumpur ( LCCT ) as the destination.

Put in departure date as August 6th, 2010 and return date as August 20th, 2010.

Number of people travelling ( paying on this booking ) then click search.

In the new screen that comes up click in the little circles next to 'Adult' to select the economy fares for both flights.

August 6 - depart 0045 - arrive 0700 - D7 2723

August 20 - depart 1340 - arrive 2330 - D7 2722

Tick the box to confirm terms and conditions and then click continue.

The Guest Information box will come up.
Enter details for everyone booking and then go down to select baggage weight allowance and meals.
You may also elect to purchase a comfort kit.
Be sure to enter all passport and contact information correctly.
Important - Enter your name exactly as it appears in the passport.

You will now need to enter contact information for one person.
Don't stress too much with the phone numbers - just enter your number after the '61' and move on. This part is not overly user friendly. Make sure you choose 'international' when asked for which state you live in.
You can enter your name and a password so that if you have to fill this form in again it will remember most of your details. This is a good idea. You will need to go through this procedure again to book from KL to Penang and chances are this booking may time out on you the first time too.
Click continue.

You will be asked if you want to pick a seat. Good luck - it usually can't - so move on.
Domestic flights will allow you to pick seats in advance but the International flights don't for some reason. Confirm and continue.

You will now need to fill out your credit card details and book.

A security section may come up asking you to validate your credit card. This is a bank generated box. Enter your details if you know them or create a new security code. Please make note of any password created for future on-line booking. Any problems, contact your bank's 24 hour support.

If the card security is successful you should get a Confirmed Booking Sheet with a booking number. Please print and/or save this page. Remember, ultimately your passport is your ticket.

Now it's time to do it all again.

Enter search. Select KL as the departure and Penang as the destination. You'll find them both if you scroll down to the Malaysia sub-heading.
Enter dates - August 6 and 20, 2010 followed by number of guests then 'search'.

Select flights below:

Aug 6th

Depart KL - 1155 - Arrive Penang - 1245 - AK 5354

August 20th

Depart Penang - 0815 - Arrive KL - 0905 - AK 5351

Follow instructions as per the previous booking.

If you have any queries or run into trouble , please call me ( John ) on 1300 88 28 13 or mobile 0418 589 594.

You can email me on taijiplus@hotmail.com or add a comment to this blog.

Alternatively you can reach Air Asia support on 1300 760 330

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

China Tour 2010 - Itinerary

June 26 - July 10 , 2010

Tour Itinerary

14 days in Southern China exploring the major centres of Zhu Hai, Guangzhou, Macau and Hong Kong.
Enjoy the scenic beauty of Dinghu Shan and Panyu.
Tai chi, massage, great food, comfortable hotels, sight-seeing and good company.
A fully-escorted relaxing holiday.

Click on link for overview of the tour : China Tai Chi Tour 2010

Day 1: ( Sat. June 26th )

Arrive at Macau International Airport and transfer to the four star Gold Crown China Hotel.
Airfares are not included in the overall cost of the tour. This allows for greater flexibility for those wanting stop-overs or add-ons. It is also significantly cheaper to book on-line than it is to purchase a group booking. Click on the links below for details on how to book.

Tonight will include an orientation and welcome dinner.

Day 2: ( Sun. June 27th )

Today we explore the once sleepy Portuguese-administered backwater-turned-gambling-megaresort of Macau. Referred to as the Vegas of the East, Macau is a fascinating blend of old and new.

'Macau offers visitors a captivating mix of historic Chinese and Portuguese influences. Handsome colonial houses line cobblestoned streets punctuated by baroque churches and stone fortresses. Restful pockets of greenery, 30 UNESCO-listed historic sights and the beach resorts of Coloane Island' - Lonely Planet.

We will visit the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the Church of St.Paul - the very symbol of Macau.

We will continue on to the Macau museum, the Largo do Senado ( a swirling black and white tiled square surrounded by colonial buildings ), Monte Fort, Penha Hill, Kun Lam Temple, Street of Happiness and we'll wander through the old Colonial district.
The best way to explore Macau is on foot. Be prepared for a fun day of trekking, using public transport and enjoying Macau food.
Time and energy permitting, we may hop on a bus and head to the laid-back Coloane village before returning via the Cotai strip with its huge resorts and casinos.

Macau's colonial backstreets.

Late afternoon we will transfer to the border control area and pass through into China.
Transfer to our Zhu Hai hotel.

Day 3: ( Mon. June 28th )

After a hearty breakfast we will make our way over to the tai chi centre to meet Master Zhao and organise training schedules.

Click on links below to learn more about Master Zhao:

Days 3, 4, 5 and 6: ( Mon-Thurs. June 28th, 29th, 30th and July 1st )

For those wishing to participate in the tai chi training with Master Zhao, we will practise in the mornings. This is not a boot camp, all participation levels will be determined by the student. You can do as little or as much training as you wish.

For those not doing tai chi, there will be various activities in place for you to enjoy.

We will also endeavour to visit a city park in the early mornings for those interested in joining the locals for tai chi.

During our stay in Zhu Hai you will be able to enjoy daily massages ( $6.50 per hour ) and some informal sight-seeing organised by John and Veronica. We will also have the full time services of our close friend and interpreter, Vera Hsu.

Places to visit in Zhu Hai include Xianglu Bay and Fisher Girl ( pictured above ), New Yuan Ming Yuan ( pictured below - based on the Old Summer Palace in Beijing ), Tangjiawan, various temples, extensive shopping ( much cheaper than Hong Kong ) and many great restaurants.

Day 7: ( Fri. July 2nd )

Training with Master Zhao before a mid-morning departure for Zhaoqing.

Zhaoqing ( pictured above ) lies on the Xi River, 110 km west of Guangzhou. It is bordered to the north by lakes and a series of limestone karst formations.
After arriving in Zhaoqing we check into the Zhaoqing Hua Qiao Hotel and the remainder of the afternoon and evening is free to explore the township.

Day 8: ( Sat. July 3rd )

Today we visit Dinghu Shan, one of the most beautiful and popular scenic spots in all of Guangdong ( see pic below ).

We will explore the Seven Star Crags park - a group of misty limestone hills, with concealed caves and grottos among their craggy peaks. Willow and kapok trees line the paths around Star Lake.
In the evening we will drive to Guangzhou and check into our hotel on Shamian Dao.
This is a beautiful place, an oasis in an otherwise hectic city. It's full of tree lined boulevards, gardens, colonial buildings and fabulous cafes and restaurants.
The evening is free to wander around and enjoy the atmosphere.

Day 9: ( Sun. July 4th )

A day of sight-seeing around Guangzhou and then on to Panyu.
We will visit beautiful Baomo Gardens and Yuyin Village before returning to Zhu Hai late afternoon.

Days 10 & 11: ( Mon & Tues. July 5th & 6th )

Tai chi training with master Zhao and informal sight-seeing around Zhu Hai.

Day 12: ( Wed. July 7th )

Tai chi training after breakfast before transferring to the Zhu Hai Ferry Terminal for a 1 hour and 15 minute ferry ride to Hong Kong.

We had originally planned this trip as a full day tour, returning to Zhu Hai in the evening. Hong Kong is one of the great cities of the world. In order to get more out of a visit there and not leave you totally exhausted, we have decided to stay overnight in a fabulous new hotel right in the heart of downtown. This will incur a $75 increase to the quoted price but for a night in Hong Kong and an extra day's sight-seeing, this is quite nominal.

In Hong Kong we will visit the famous Victoria Peak for spectacular views over the city and harbour ( see picture above ), Repulse Bay ( see picture below ) and the floating city of Aberdeen.

Late afternoon we will check into the Harbour Plaza Hotel ( a new hotel opened October 2009 - click on link below to view ) and enjoy an evening in busy Kowloon.

Day 13: ( Thurs. July 8th )

After a buffet breakfast at the hotel we will enjoy a half day tour of Hong Kong's Kowloon area including the Wong Tai Sin Temple - A large and active Taoist Temple with nearby fortune tellers. We will then stroll through the beautiful Kowloon Walled City Park before visiting either the Jade Market or the delightful bird garden.

In the afternoon we transfer to the ferry for our return trip to Zhu Hai.

Day 14: ( Fri. July 9th )

Morning tai chi with Master Zhao.
Enjoy lunch together in Zhu Hai before an afternoon transfer to Macau International Airport for our return flight.

This itinerary is as accurate as possible. Certain things will no doubt be added to the program closer to the departure date.

Tour includes:

* 1 nights in Macau with sight-seeing ( 4 star hotel ).
* 1 night in Hong Kong with sight-seeing ( 4 star hotel ).
* 9 nights in Zhu Hai ( 3 star hotel ).
* 8 days of tai chi training with Master Zhao ( duration and level of training will depend on the individual - suitable for all levels of tai chi experience ).
* 1 night in Zhaoqing including sight-seeing to Dinghu Shan ( spectacular scenic area ).
* 1 night in Guangzhou staying on Shamian Dao with sight-seeing.
* Visit to Panyu area.
* Ferry and 2 day guided tour of Hong Kong.
* Some meals but not all ( food is cheap and western friendly. Zhuhai is famous for its seafood )
* All transfers.
* Australian Tour Leaders throughout.

Total cost excluding airfare is only $1,665 twin share. Single supplement is $2,065.

Tour price excludes:

* Airfares - currently available through Air Asia at approximately $750 return.
* Some meals
* Zhu Hai informal sight-seeing ( optional )
* China visa ( $30 ) - we can organise for you.
* Travel Insurance.
* Drinks & spending money.
* Any tips.

To book for the 2010 China Tour please call 1300 88 28 13 or email info@relaxasia.com.au or
simply add a comment with your details to the end of this article.
We hope to have you travelling with us in China next June.

A $200 deposit is required at time of booking to secure your place on the tour.
The price quoted is subject to change until deposit is paid. The Hong Kong hotel promotional rate is only valid until the end of November 2009. As this tour has not been designed as a profit making exercise there is little margin to play with. Any drop in the Australian dollar will have to be passed on to tour members ( until deposit is received and we can confirm bookings with our China operators ). Air Asia flights should also be purchased without delay to avoid incremental price increases and ideally secure seats on the same flights. If you are unsure about booking flights, please call me - 1300 88 28 13 ( John ).
This promises to be a great tour at a probably never-to-be-repeated price.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tai Chi or Chai Tea

"I thought Tai Chi was a spiritual thing, like Yoga"

"Isn't Tai Chi just for health?"

"A martial art? How can you fight in slow motion?"

What is synchronised swimming doing at the Olympics?
Ask someone who's trained in the pool every day for 10 years.

Swimming against the tide
The wave of people washing blind
They are just a ripple
The real rip is caused by the storm of converted souls
The Tai Chi enthusiasts
Yesterday's students
Today's teachers
Passing on the diluted piddle they should rename - Chai Tea.

Why can I not defend myself using Tai Chi?

A: Because you are not prepared to stand in the Zhang Zhuang for 1 hour a day.

A: Because you don't practise stepping for 1 hour per day.

A: Because you don't travel to China and stay there for 5 years studying every day for 6 hours with a Master.

A: Because you don't train the applications over and over and over again with a partner.

A: Because you don't know what 'Duifang' means.

A: Because you are SOFT. Because you are not soft.

A: Because you haven't done 10,000 hours.

These Masters, these Chinese men and women who breathe Tai Chi from childhood
Unhitched by ego
Pure power
Pure physics

I also like watching Tai Chi gymnastics
Pure Chai Tea

Some relevant quotes:

Courage first; power second; technique third.~ Author unknown

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.~ Napoleon Bonaparte

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.~ Bruce Lee

Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit softly.~ Theodore Roosevelt

“Persistence is the twin sister of excellence.
One is a matter of quality; the other a matter of time.”

“There is no superiority or inferiority of style, only the distinctions between the practitioners.”

“The one who has conquered himself is a far greater hero than he who has defeated a thousand times a thousand men.” -The Dhammapada

“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” -Charlie Parker

“First you have to be hit to know how to defend.”-unknown