With the launch of our new tours to Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu and Yangshuo, we got the thoughts of our very own China ‘nut’, Mike Hendey.
MSG Tours are thrilled to be branching out with some of the most unique and varied study and cultural itineraries to China to be found anywhere. Compiled with a passion to push students outside their comfort zone, delve into community projects and tick off those must-see locations, we’re confident that you won’t find anything that comes close. Mike explains why…
I didn’t take much persuading to sit down and explain in a little more detail why we’re launching such an extensive programme of tours to China. Having lived in the country for 3 and a half years, I have unfortunately become ‘that guy’ who forever wants to share unsolicited stories on adventures no one else cares about; until now!
Through the wonders of the travel industry, the stars have aligned, and I’ve finally been granted a reason to shout, rave and wax lyrical about this incredible country.
When I say China, I’m often met with a confused look and the question, “but why China?” I used to feel a little defensive about this but as time has worn on, I actually think it’s one of the major charms of the place. It’s not what people are expecting, and it almost never disappoints for the lucky ones who were intrepid enough to give it a go.
Having worked in the school travel business for a long while now, I can wholeheartedly endorse China as the perfect place to take your young minds.
To give some context to my own experience, I began my adventures in Chengdu in the lush green of the southwest. I was a teacher at Yandaojie middle school and looked after grades 1 and 2, with ages ranging from 11 to 13. The class size, rather intimidatingly, was rarely below 50 students and we spoke very little of the others’ language, which led to some interesting situations.
I later moved south to Guangxi province, where I settled as a tour guide in the incredibly beautiful town of Yangshuo. Here I chaperoned wide eyed gap year students and younger, educational groups. It opened my eyes to the highs and lows of touring groups in China; from the trials and tribulations of ordering food to the elation of being understood in broken mandarin.
After a stint back in the UK, I return to Yangshuo and worked with International School students, guiding programmes in, among others, Inner Mongolia, Hangzhou, Sanya and Beijing. We focused on social development through pushing students outside of their comfort zone and encouraging an exposure to different cultures and ideas. It was an incredible time for me and really opened my eyes up to how much students in the UK stood to gain from following in these footsteps.
So when I began with MSG, I decided I wanted to be part of a team that developed China tours that went beyond the guide books and standard attractions. That’s why I’m thrilled to bring these itineraries to market. Including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi’an and Yangshuo, with plans to expand further, we offer China trips that benefit from genuine, first-hand experience.
Explore the hustle and bustle of truly giant cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, studying the human impact of these sprawling metropolises and the investment needed to sustain them. Learn history first-hand as you volunteer in an old people’s home and learn from those who lived through the cultural revolution. Hike through hidden tea plantations in Hangzhou or sleep under the stars in the countryside of Yangshuo as you look at China’s rural development. The list of historical, cultural and geographical studies on offer in China is endless.