Cabbie's Family Ready for Trip of a Lifetime
Before an upcoming 30-day global tour, the furthest place Hangzhou cabbie Jerry Zhou had taken his wife and daughter was Malaysia. But next month they will commence their journey as Hangzhou ambassadors, promoting the city as a world-class travel destination as they travel around the planet.
“It is a responsibility and, I have to admit, I feel a little bit of pressure,” says Zhou, adding he has had a few sleepless nights as he reads numerous travel books and bones up on Chinese culture. He and his family have also been busy shopping for new clothes for the trip.
The family won the Hangzhou China Global Tour 2015 contest organized by the Hangzhou Tourism Commission. The trip will take them to 12 cities in seven countries beginning on August 1. They will meet officials and locals at every stop along the way to promote Hangzhou.
Though a taxi driver, Zhou has met many political leaders, celebrities, and successful businessmen because he is the only English speaking cabbie in the city. His language ability, his enthusiasm and can-do attitude have won him many foreign friends.
At midnight on Wednesday, he picked up the Capaldi family from the United States. The family will be joining the Zhous on the trip as they were also selected as Hangzhou ambassadors.
Domenick Capaldi is a musician and his wife Leigh Zimmerman is an actress on Broadway. Their daughter Cayleigh Capaldi speaks Chinese and has performed on stage many times despite being only 15 years old.
Domenick is a keen traveler who has been to over 10 countries and regions. Together the family members can speak English, Mandarin, Italian and Spanish.
“We are so excited, honored and happy to be here,” says Cayleigh Capaldi. “We’ve done a lot of research about the trip, and we are proud we are going to make our own map.”
The trip will include a visit to Dunhuang, in northwest China’s Gansu Province, and then move west along the Ancient Silk Road. It will also include stops on the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini, Dubrovnik in Croatia as well as Venice, Geneva, Paris, Boston and New York.
Two journalists from China and the US will accompany the winners to record their trip in a series of online dispatches.
“I am really interested in digging up stories about tea, Marco Polo and the Silk Road,” says American journalist Mike Shubic. He will post regular updates on mikesroadtrip.com.
Before the global tour, the families and journalists will be given an eight-day tour of Hangzhou that covers the city’s best attractions and features. This means they will stop at obvious spots like West Lake and Liuhe Pagoda, but also visit craftsmen, study tai chi.
“We are ready for anything, especially learning why Hangzhou is dubbed the ‘happiest city’ in China,” Domenik Capaldi tells Shanghai Daily.
Checking out the sights
The Zhou and Capaldi families will be given an eight-day tour of Hangzhou. While few tourists will spend that long in the city, the tour offers a panoply of things to see and do. Here’s where they will visit.
Hangzhou Cuisine Museum (DIY Hangzhou cuisine) — Southern Song Guan Kiln Museum (DIY pottery) — Innocent Age Book Bar (poetry reading) — Impression West Lake show
Visit antique Hefang Street to buy souvenirs — lunch at Hu Qing Yu Tang TCM Clinic’s restaurant (Chinese traditional medicine and herbs are cooked in dishes) — visit grocery market — cook together at Zhou’s home
Tour around West Lake by bike — the Capaldi’s will give a street performance at Broken Bridge — visit bars on Nanshan Road in the evening
Boat ride on West Lake — Yongfu Temple — Lingyin Temple (eating vegetarian foods in temples)
Rouzhiyi Tai Chi Center for a tai chi class — Xumen Qin (the oldest Chinese instrument) Studio for a lesson — Grand Canal Craftsman Museum (DIY Chinese fans)
Wai Tong Wu Tea Plantation to pick leaves and make tea — Wensli Silk Museum — dinner with a local ceramics expert
Xixi Wetland (watch dragon boat races and appreciate Yueju Opera) — foot massage after dinner
Learn the ancient tea ceremony in the morning — join the Hangzhou China Global Tour 2015 commencement ceremony in the afternoon.
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