Join Grandmaster Gary Khor on an amazing tour of China. AATC's Tour China will take you to the very heart of China, where you'll see things you've never even imagined... Travelling with AATC is an amazing, fun-filled adventure.
Explore the beautiful landscape and discover the mystical culture of Mongolia. Tour nature's wonderland! The tour itinerary is personally selected by Grandmaster Khor, visiting only worthwhile sights with particular focus on history and culture meaningful to you.
Ice Festival and Water Silk Road Adventure
Training with local masters, in-depth sightseeing, sumptuous Chinese health cuisine, and exquisite shopping. A truly cultural experience. Traveling with the Academy is a fun fulfilled adventure. You are never lonely or neglected. You are with CARING FRIENDS! It is like traveling with an extended family. There is always someone to share your delights and excitement.
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Flights, Hotels, Meals, sightseeing all included, Book now with a $500 to secure a spot. Send an e-mail below or contact (02) 9797 9355
A hundred years before Columbus and Europeans began making their way to the New World, fleets of giant Chinese treasure ships commanded by China’s great Admiral ZhengHe, and filled with the world’s finest porcelains, lacquerware, and silk, ventured to four corners of the world. Seven epic expeditions brought China’s "dragon ships" across the China Sea and the Indian Ocean, from Taiwan to the spice islands of Indonesia and the Malabar coast of India, on to the rich ports of the Persian Gulf and down the African coast, China’s El Dorado, and per-haps even to Australia, 300 years before Captain Cook's landing.
Alarm spread quickly through the East African town of Malindi. Across the sea, beyond the coral reef, strange storm clouds appeared on the horizon. Fishermen hastily dragged their outriggers to safety on dry land. As the clouds gathered, it suddenly became clear that they were not clouds at all but sails - sails piled upon sails, too numerous to count, on giant ships with large serpent's eyes painted on the bows. Each ship was the size of many houses, and there were dozens of these serpent ships, a city of ships, all moving rapidly across the blue expanse of ocean toward Malindi. When they came near, the coloured flags on the masts blocked the sun, and the loud pounding and beating of drums on board shook heaven and earth. A crowd gathered at the harbor, and the king was summoned. Work ceased altogether. What was this menacing power, and what did it want?
The fleet moored just outside Malindi's coral reefs. From the belly of the big ships came small row boats and men in lavish silk robes. And among the faces were some the king recognized. These men he knew. They were his-own ambassadors, whom he had dispatched months ago, a tribute-bearing mission. Now emissaries of the dragon throne were returning them home, and they brought wondrous things to trade. But had so many men and so many ships come in peace, or had they come to make the citizens of Malindi subjects of the Son of Heaven? The year was 1418.
The largest of the ships moored off Malindi were four-hundred-foot-long, nine-masted giant galleons the Chinese called bao chuan (treasure ships). They carried a costly cargo of porcelains, silks, lacquerware, and fine-art objects to be traded for those treasures the Middle Kingdom desired: ivory, rhinoceros’ horn, tortoise shell, rare woods and incense, medicines, pearls, and precious stones. Accompanying the large galleons on their mission were nearly a hundred supply ships, water tankers, transports for cavalry horses, warships,
and multi-oared patrol boats with crews numbering up to 28,000 sailors and soldiers. It was a unique armada in the history of China - and the world - not to be surpassed until the invasion fleets of world War I sailed the seas.
In the brief period from 1405 to 1433, the treasure fleet, under the command of the eunuch admiral Zheng He, made seven epic voyages throughout the China seas and Indian ocean, from Taiwan to the Persian Gulf and distant Africa, China’s El Dorado. The Chinese knew about Europe from Arab traders but had no desire to go there. The lands in the "far west" offered only wool and wine, which had little appeal for them. During these thirty years, foreign goods, medicines, and geographic knowledge flowed into China at an unprecedented rate, and China extended its sphere of political power and influence throughout the Indian ocean. Half the world was in China's grasp, and with such a formidable navy the other half was easily within reach, had China wanted it. China would have become the great colonial power, a hundred years before the great age of European exploration and expansion. But China did not.
Shortly after the last voyage of the treasure fleet, the Chinese emperor forbade overseas travel and stopped all building and repair of oceangoing galleons. Disobedient merchants and seamen were beheaded. Within a hundred years the greatest navy the world had ever known willed itself into extinction and Japanese pirates ravaged the China coast. The period of China's greatest outward expansion was followed by the period of its greatest isolation. And the world leader in science and technology in the early fifteenth century was soon left at the doorstep of history, as burgeoning international trade and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution propelled the western world into the modern age.
In 1498, when Vasco da Gama and his fleet of three battered caravels rounded the cape of Good Hope and landed in East Africa on their way to India, they met natives who sported embroidered green silk caps with fine fringe. The Africans scoffed at the trinkets the Portuguese offered - beads, bells, strings of coral, washbasins - and seemed unimpressed with their small ships. village elders told tales of white "ghosts" who wore silk and had visited their shores long ago in large ships. But no one knew anymore who these people had been or where they had come from. Or even if they had really come at all. The treasure fleet had vanished from the world's consciousness.
Zheng He and Vasco da Gama missed each other in Africa by eighty years. One wonders what would have happened if they had met. Realizing the extraordinary power of the Ming navy, would da Gama in his eighty-five to a hundred-foot vessels have dared continue across the Indian Ocean? Seeing the battered Portuguese boats, would the Chinese admiral have been tempted to crush these snails in his path, preventing the Europeans from opening an east-west trade route?
China rose as a maritime power and after the wide-ranging voyages of the treasure ships, it systematically destroyed its great navy and lost its technological edge over Europe. At the heart of the matter is China's view of itself and its position in the world, which has changed little to the present day. Today there is still the same ambiguity toward foreigners and foreign influence. The opening and closing of doors. The sullen refuge in isolation.
A People Called Baijini
Aboriginal songs of northern Arnhem Land in Australia record the arrival before the Indonesians and Europeans of a people called "Baijini," who have been linked to the Chinese. they came in sailing ships, arriving with the northwest monsoons in October and November and departing for home on the southeast winds six months Iater. They came to fish for trepang, a sea slug, and to collect the tortoiseshell, pearls, and sandalwood found farther inland. Anchors found along the coast have been attributed to the Baijini. They have one or two arms at sharp angles to the main shaft, a characteristic of Chinese adze anchors dating from the rate Han dynasty.
The Baijini were remembered as having light, golden-coloured skin, and the aborigines said the women were very beautiful and wore robes or pantaloons of many colours, even when they worked. The Baijini built houses of stone and bark, as opposed to the Macassans from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, who built wooden houses on stilts with thatched roofs. They brought rooms with them to make cloth, but, as the aboriginal songs say, they did not share the secret of cloth making with the people of Arnhem Land. The women mixed dyes in large pots and produced yarns of beautiful colours.
The Baijini also planted fields of rice. A song of the Yirritja people of Yirrkala on the Gulf of Carpentaria tells of the cooking of this special "clean food”. Cooking rice on the fire; pouring it into a pot from a bag. Pouring rice from a bag: rice, rice for food . . .
Rice with its husk, pouring it there into earthen pots;
Into pots of ant-hill earth . . .
White, clean food, clean rice . . .
Nanhai No.1, a wooden merchant ship of Southern Song Dynasty is the earliest, largest and bestpreserved merchant ship for ocean trade of the sunken ships discovered in the region around China Sea, and the only sunken ship which could witness Maritime Silk Road in Ancient China. The ship had been investigated for several times before the “Whole Piece Salvage Scheme” was finally confirmed. On Dec 2007, “Nanhai No.1”, sunken under the sea for 800 years, was exposed to air, which created a stir in the field of archaeology in China. The “Nanhai No.1” in the Crystal Palace of the Museum, has 80 thousand pieces of cultural relics most of which are extremely rare, peerless and precious cultural relics. And there are southern and northern tourist corridors in the “Crystal Palace”, both installed with bottom where “Nanhai No.1” slept before its salvage is simulated in the light blue seawater, from which the tourists seem able to feel the greetings from the Song Dynasty. This is a theme museum to preserve, display and research on Nanhai No.1, the ancient shipwreck of Song Dynasty, with visitors being able to observe the ongoing excavation of the ship. It is the first museum with the theme of underwater archaeology in the world. With the total floor space of 12288 square meters and the building area of 19409 square meters, it is one of the high priority programs of Guangdong to construct the powerful cultural province. The museum has a distinguishing feature with the theme of sea. It entails five interlinked ellipsoidshaped structures of varying sizes that in design call to mind waves upon an ocean, or a flying sea mew. Instead of adopting frame structure of traditional architecture, it comprises the structure of keel of a ship and the unique stilt style of Southern China, which presents rich marine culture.
There are 8 exhibition halls in the museum: Foyer, Underwater Gallery, Platform of Underwater Archaeology, Hall of Maritime Silk Road, Hall of Treasures, Time Gallery of Underwater Archaeology, Hall of Sea and Ocean, Exhibition Hall of Yangjiang Cultural Relics.