An in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese are now adopt­ing car­a­van­ning to en­joy their leisure

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By XU LIN xulin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Kon­stantin Abert, along with a group of 40 Euro­peans, were ex­cited to ar­rive at Bei­jing af­ter a two-month drive in their recre­ational ve­hi­cles from Dus­sel­dorf. They were just in time to visit All in Car­a­van­ing 2017, China’s largest ex­hi­bi­tion of RVs and mo­tor homes, which was re­cently held in Bei­jing.

More than 650 ex­hibitors from home and abroad showed prod­ucts there, rang­ing from RVs to ac­ces­sory parts.

“China is a safe coun­try for car­a­van­ning, but the pro­ce­dures are com­pli­cated for for­eign­ers. I like China’s beau­ti­ful land­scapes such as deserts and moun­tains and its de­li­cious food,” says the 50-year-old from Ger­many, who has trav­eled to China reg­u­larly in his RV since 2006.

The group — com­pris­ing Ger­mans, Swiss and French aged be­tween 50 and 65 — trav­eled to nine coun­tries along the Silk Road.

“The Chi­nese are very friendly and helped us when we were in need,” he says.

Mean­while, just like Western­ers, an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese are adopt­ing this new life­style to en­joy their leisure.

More camp­sites

There were about 21,000 car parks for car­a­vans on the Chi­nese main­land in 2016. And the Chi­nese govern­ment has an­nounced plans last year to build an­other 2,000 camp­sites by 2020.

Speak­ing about the fu­ture, Axel Bartkus, the manag­ing direc­tor of Messe Dus­sel­dorf China Ltd, a co-or­ga­nizer of the ex­hi­bi­tion, says: “The Chi­nese mar­ket has great po­ten­tial. And we’ve been work­ing on the le­gal side to en­sure more ve­hi­cles on the road, and more RVs camp­sites.

“Also, we have to do a lot of ed­u­ca­tion on RVs in China.”

Com­ment­ing on car­a­van­ning, Ge Min­wei, 49, who works in a TV sta­tion in Wuxi, Jiangsu prov­ince, the 2017 China Car­a­van Am­bas­sador, says: “A car­a­van is like a mo­bile home, and you en­joy the scenery the in­stant you open the win­dows.

“It doesn’t mat­ter where the des­ti­na­tion is, as long as you can feel the hap­pi­ness and re­lax.”

Ge of­ten trav­els around with his

As more Chi­nese go for RVs, the im­ported brands are ca­ter­ing to the de­mands of Chi­nese cus­tomers.” Zhu Jun, the vice-gen­eral man­ager of Bei­jing-based com­pany RV In­ter­na­tional, which is the Chi­nese agent for Ger­many trailer brands Hobby and Fendt

wife, and their dog in his spa­cious 8-me­ter-long trailer.

Im­prove­ments

Speak­ing about how things have im­proved for car­a­van­ning, he says that in 2015, the Traf­fic Man­age­ment Bureau of the Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­istry al­lowed travel trail­ers’ to be on road in China, in­clud­ing high­ways.

“It’s not a le­gal clause, but it’s big progress for China’s RVs in­dus­try. Now, you only need to get a spe­cial li­cense for your trailer.

“In the early years, I had to ex­plain to traf­fic po­lice what a trailer is and ar­gue with them that a trailer can be run on road. Now, they are not sur­prised to see them.”

Ex­plain­ing how car­a­van­ning works, he says RV lovers typ­i­cally fre­quent places that have no wa­ter, elec­tric­ity or toi­lets.

And when they get to­gether, they obey an un­writ­ten rule that each one car­ries his one’s own chair and food.

Ge says that when he first went to camp­ing, he felt re­laxed af­ter en­joy­ing a bar­be­cue, drink­ing and chat­ting.

Be­fore that, he thought of camp­ing of te­dious.

“When I woke up by the lake the next day, I re­al­ized I wanted this kind of life,” he says.

“You can take off your ‘mask’ and be your­self while hang­ing out with friends.

“You don’t la­bel them in ac­cor­dance with their so­cial sta­tus.

“The only thing counts is that whether you share some­thing in com­mon,” he says.

Af­ter that, he fell in love with camp­ing and then started to go car­a­van­ning.

Now, do­mes­tic and overseas cor­po­ra­tions are eye­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket.

Zhu Jun, the vice-gen­eral man­ager of Bei­jing-based com­pany RV In­ter­na­tional, which is the Chi­nese agent for Ger­many trailer brands Hobby and Fendt, says: “As more Chi­nese go for RVs, the im­ported brands are ca­ter­ing to the de­mands of Chi­nese cus­tomers.”

Mo­bile app

Sep­a­rately, China In­ter­na­tional Travel Ser­vice (HK) Hold­ing Ltd will soon un­veil a mo­bile app, al­low­ing users to rent RVs and book from a net­work of 100 camp­sites in Yun­nan prov­ince. And they are plan­ning to ex­pand the ser­vice to Hainan, Guizhou and Guangxi.

Giv­ing de­tails of the scheme, Lan Chun­hong, the gen­eral man­ager of the com­pany’s cap­i­tal op­er­a­tion de­part­ment, says: “You don’t have to spend money to buy a car­a­van. You only have to rent one to ex­pe­ri­ence a road trip by RVs.

And we want to pro­mote it (the ser­vice) as an af­ford­able way of trav­el­ing in China.”

He says rent­ing a car­a­van costs around 1,200 yuan ($178) per day and camp­site costs be­tween 50 and 100 yuan per day. A car­a­van is suf­fi­cient for a fam­ily of be­tween four and six.

As of now, tourists can get a car­a­van at the air­port at Kun­ming and re­turn it in Dali, Li­jiang and Xishuang­banna. Each camp­site is around 50 kilo­me­ters from the next one, so it is con­ve­nient to drive from one to the other.

Lan also says that in China, a car­a­van camp­site is of­ten like a des­ti­na­tion, with din­ing places and en­ter­tain­ment ac­tiv­i­ties. “But our camp­sites are dif­fer­ent. They only of­fer wa­ter and elec­tric­ity sup­plies. So, af­ter tour­ing around in the day­time, trav­el­ers can stay there at night as all camp­sites are close to scenic spots.”

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Like Western­ers, an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese are adopt­ing the new life­style of car­a­van­ning to en­joy their leisure. Ge Min­wei is one of them.

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