English Takes a Turn on China Tours

English is pretty much the international language and it takes many shapes around the world. In China, it takes turns that are sometimes hard for a native English speaker to follow.

Following are photos of signs that we have taken along our California Native tours of Yunan Province in China.

Although they don’t follow our idea of English, we are sure that the persons who made the signs speak English much better than we speak Chinese.

From a hotel in Dali:
Strange English Signs along The California Native Yunan China Tours - Sign in Chinese Hotel
From a hotel in Beijing:
Strange English Signs along The California Native Yunan China Tours - Sign in Chinese Hotel in Beijing
On a street corner in Lijiang:
Strange English Signs along The California Native Yunan China Tours - Sign on Street Corner in Lijiang
Sign leading to a temple at the top of a hill in Lijiang:
Strange English Signs along The California Native Yunan China Tours - Sign at Temple
Sign at Leaping Tiger Gorge:
Strange English Signs along The California Native Yunan China Tours - Sign at Tiger Leaping Gorge
Sign at Wild Elephant Preserve in Jing Hong:
Strange English Signs along The California Native Yunan China Tours - Sign at Wild Elephant Preserve in Jing Hong
This sign was intended to warn visitors of slippery salt on the trail:
Strange English Signs along The California Native Yunan China Tours - Sign at Wild Elephant Preserve in Jing Hong Warning of Salty Trail

Traveling through China, especially in the more off the beaten path areas, is always fascinating. And rarely visited Yunan Province, spanning an area from the tropics to the Himalayan highlands, is home to more ethnic groups than any other province in China.

For A Good Cause

Over the past 25 years there have been many changes in technology, and we have always tried to keep our offices as efficient as possible to keep our prices low and our quality high. This has created a room full of old computer equipment and other items that we no longer needed, most of which were in good working order, just a little out of date for us.

We searched for an earth-friendly and community-friendly way to dispose of these items. California Native employee Dave Klein went online and discovered Komputers 4R Kidz, a non-profit refurbishing program. Their mission is to help children of all ages acquire the technology and technology skills they need to succeed in the future by providing equitable access to technology resources.The Komputers 4 R Kids Program has been designed to address four key issues:

Komputers 4 R Kidz refurbishes donated computers for underserved kids.

  • E-waste
  • Computer to student ratio
  • Work Experience for Information Technology students
  • PC’s for underserved students due to economic, language and cultural barriers

They use the donated computers to aid in education on computers and computer repair, and what they can’t use they recycle, so it’s good for the kids and the environment.

The truck from Komputers 4 R Kidz pulled up last week in front of The California Native headquarters in Los Angeles and picked up monitors, computers, accessories, and other items they might use with the kids. We were proud to be able to donate these items to such a worthy cause, and to know that they will continue to be used to help others.

New Boutique Hotel in Copper Canyon

The California Native International Adventures is proud to welcome the Hotel Torres del Fuerte to their line of preferred Copper Canyon hotels. The newly restored hotel is in the colonial town of El Fuerte, the gateway to Mexico’s Copper Canyon.Hotel Torres del Fuerte in Mexico's Copper Canyon

This family-owned boutique hotel has been in the Torres family for nearly 200 years. Some of the structures date back to the time of the town’s original settlers 400 hundred years ago. This impressive property is conveniently located within a one-block stroll to the town’s plaza.

Upon stepping through the front archway, a member of the Torres family is there to greet you and show you around the hacienda. The friendly welcome and beautiful courtyard are just the beginning of a wonderful visit. There are 25 enchanting rooms, each uniquely decorated with fine art, antiques and materials from around the world (China, Morocco and Paris to name a few). The eclectic décor of the hotel gives it the feel of a home belonging to a rich silver trader who had, over the years, brought treasures back from his world travels.

The hotel’s elegant dining room offers gourmet meals and local fares including fresh caught black bass when available. The grounds are spectacular with luscious gardens and fascinating water features. A cozy cantina with an inviting patio lounge is just off the garden. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly service is a nice way to end a long day of touring.

Copper Canyon Tours Featured in National Geographic Publication

Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean: a Guide to 50 Extraordinary Adventures for the Seasoned Traveler edited by Don Mankin and Shannon Stowell is not a typical walk in the park, not by a long shot. Instead, the anthology, published by National Geographic, takes the reader from National Geographic features Copper Canyon tour in new bookthe frozen latitudes of polar ice caps to the desert sands of Tunisia and most everywhere in between to highlight adventures for the active traveler. Since no adventure compendium would be complete without featuring the remote Sierra Madre mountains, Joan Merrick, a contributor to Hulahula and California Native client, reflects on her experience touring Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

Merrick, a New Yorker now living in Alaska working as a nurse practitioner, is no stranger to adventure. Her work serving patients of fly-in villages along the Yukon River and Pribilof Islands is thrilling enough that vacations to the bottom of Copper Canyon are the only way she and her husband keep in step with this excitement. “I wanted a destination that offered more than just sand and sun and sweet alcoholic drinks with funny umbrellas,” writes Merrick in her essay. For Merrick, the escorted 11-day Ultimate Tour, arranged by The California Native and guided by Jessica Jerman, proved to be this and much more: “The ride to the bottom of Copper Canyon was breathtaking. . . The information from our tour operator had warned us that the ride was not for the faint of heart, but I had no idea just how hair-raising it would be!”

While safety is paramount on all California Native trips, the nature of travel in this rugged area of Mexico is known to be effective at raising the pulse. Descending approximately 5000 feet while traversing 40 miles of poorly maintained gravel roads without guard rails to protect from the sometimes vertical shoulders is indeed a test of fortitude. However, clients tend to agree with Merrick, feeling vertigo is a small price to pay when they arrive at the town of Batopilas: “The town has 1500 people, one main street, a small sleepy town square, and a sprinkling of businesses, including a sandal maker who uses old tires for soles. . . A small store sells mango ices dusted with chili powder. The town was charming, a step back into the past and well worth a little discomfort and anxiety to get there.” It’s hard to tell these days, but the sleepy town of Batopilas was once the site of the largest silver-mining operation in the world, adding a rich history to this quaint village.

The flagstone of California Native Copper Canyon Adventures rests on the capabilities of guides who accompany guests on deluxe escorted tours. Guides enjoy sharing their knowledge of the area with clients. In many cases, California Native guides have spent time working with charitable organizations in the area and can provide a behind-the-scenes look at the Tarahumara culture. Such is the case with Jessica Jerman, the 27 year old from Wisconsin who facilitated Merrick’s trip. Merrick remarks: “Through Jessica’s efforts, we had the good fortune to visit the home of a Tarahumara weaver. . . Jessica also arranged a dance and game demonstration and took us to the home of a violin maker. These are just two examples of the several times during the trip that Jessica’s language skills and the goodwill that she and the company had built up over the years led to a unique experience.” These personal touches did not go unnoticed by Merrick, who was at first hesitant to group-style travel, but warmed to it when she realized she was in good hands: “These experiences convinced me of the advantages of visiting this area with a guide who has already established personal relationships with these very special people.”

Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean offers similar accounts from other traveler writers who, like Merrick, are more in their element when hiking the backcountry or interacting with an exotic culture.

The California Native prides itself in developing tours for the active traveler who enjoys creature comforts—even in the most remote locations. For twenty-five years The California Native has led adventurous people to exotic places all over the globe and continues to scout for new destinations off the beaten path.

Our 25th Anniversary

Launched in June 1983, our company is celebrating its 25th year leading wonderful trips to unique destinations. ThisCalifornia Native founder Lee Klein silver anniversary comes as a proud moment for our company’s founder, Lee Klein, who continues to scout new locations world-wide in search of new destinations for the active traveler. Klein, a graduate from Loyola Marymount University with a MBA in Management spent more than two decades as a corporate manager and college professor until, while climbing Ayer’s Rock in the Australian Outback, he decided to venture into the adventure travel business. As he did, he took to heart the lessons he taught his students on how to succeed in business: “keep it simple, and learn to do it right before adding new products and services.”

The initial offering from The California Native was a tour billed as “The Other Los Angeles.” This day-long excursion traced the route of the San Andreas Fault from the Mojave Desert to the San Gabriel Mountains without ever leaving Los Angeles County. The tour became so popular that colleges in three California counties offered them as part of their community-education programs. From this, the company expanded its offerings to include tours to the Channel Islands, Santa Barbara Wine Country, Death Valley, and other uniquely California destinations, as well as white-water rafting, ballooning, spelunking (caving), sailplane gliding, and other outdoor adventures. “My family has lived in Los Angeles for generations,” writes Klein in the company newsletter, “hence the name The California Native.”

Satisfying the growing client base led across the border to the development of The California Native’s most popular destination—escorted and independent tours of Mexico’s Copper Canyon. These tours feature the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad (labeled as one of the most spectacular train rides in the western hemisphere) and highlight one of the most primitive indigenous cultures still subsisting in North America—the Tarahumara Indians. The California Native has become a major source of information on this remote area of Mexico, and it’s guides are known throughout the area for their work with the Tarahumara.

Today, The California Native offers a wide selection of tours to Costa Rica, Mexico, Patagonia, Peru, the Galapagos Islands, Ireland, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, and Laos, and more destinations are in the planning stages.