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A Grand Idea for a Visit to China

The Mature Traveler

April 10, 1988|HANK KOVELL | Kovell is a veteran journalist in seniors' interests

A series of special-interest tours, Grandtravel, designed to enable grandparents to travel with their grandchildren, has added a tour to China as one of its 1988 programs. Children as young as 7 have enjoyed Grandtravel programs.

The China tour is 17 days and begins July 1. It includes a citywide tour of Hong Kong plus a visit to Japan for a meal at a McDonald's in Tokyo and a ride on the bullet train between Tokyo and Kyoto.

Grandtravel arranges for grandparents and grandchildren to travel through China in groups of at least 20 so that each generation has other members of its peer group with whom to share experiences and activities.

The group will visit a Chinese kindergarten, a senior citizen village, a children's palace and a former mansion where children learn handicrafts, singing, dancing and other skills.

Evening entertainment designed to appeal to both junior and senior tastes includes a troupe of acrobats, the Peking opera, a musical revue and a theater dinner show.

Visit to Great Wall

Visits to China's most popular attractions include the capital city of Beijing and the Great Wall, the huge port city of Shanghai and Xi'an, site of the excavation of thousands of life-size terra-cotta warriors and their horses.

Fares for the China trip, including round-trip air from Los Angeles, are $3,780 for adults and $2,990 for children up to age 12. Older children pay full adult fares. The price also includes all air transportation in China, air-conditioned motor coaches, three daily meals, first-class hotels and other features.

Grandtravel has published a free booklet of 1988 tours with details on various foreign and U.S. destinations. For a copy write to Grandtravel, 6900 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 706, Chevy Chase, Md. 20815. Or phone toll-free (800) 247-7651.

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While we're combining mature travelers with the younger set, it has been announced that American Youth Hostels Inc. (AYH) is offering free membership to nonprofit organizations, including senior citizen groups. If your senior group applies and is approved, members will be able to stay at youth hostels in the United States and Canada for overnight fees ranging from $4 to $10 per person a night.

AYH hostels are usually Spartan dormitory accommodations with separate sleeping and bathroom facilities for men and women plus a kitchen for group-prepared meals. Blankets, pillows and mattresses are provided but linen is not, though it may be rented if you don't take your own. There is no maid service. Smoking and drinking are usually not permitted.

Many hostels are housed in historic buildings and are near national and state parks or hiking and biking trails. Senior citizen organizations willing to sacrifice some creature comforts in exchange for very low-cost travel accommodations can apply for group membership by writing to American Youth Hostels Inc., P.O. Box 37613, Washington, D.C. 20013-7613.

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Mature travelers who may be planning a trip to India are offered a laid-back Kashmir Water Trek as a side trip through the Himalayas. The placid four-day trip is undertaken entirely by boats called \o7 shikaras \f7 that are a kind of water taxi, with two or three oarsmen for each boat. No motors are used so that the peace of the mountains will not be disturbed.

The trip begins in Srinigar in northern India and proceeds through waterways and lakes where one sees waterfowl, past farmers at work, villages, fruit orchards, almond groves and paddy fields. Stops are made to visit a fishing village, a mosque where a Muslim saint is buried and other sights.

Overnight stops are luxury camp-outs along the shores of lakes and rivers, where meals are served as travelers relax on Persian rugs. The four-day Kashmir Water Trek as an add-on to a trip to India is priced at $348 per person, available June through September.

For information on tours to India and Kashmir, write to Odyssey Tours, 1821 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica 90403. Call (213) 453-1042 or toll-free (800) 654-7975.

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