Our founding director Elizabeth Morrell has been visiting China since 1976 – the year in which Chairman Mao died. At this time there was a limited student exchange scheme between the UK & Chinese Governments.
China was a very different place, the prevailing image was bicycles and khaki uniforms, Beijing was bleak and dusty, the airport terminal was one small building and your luggage was delivered through a hole in the wall on to a single chute – not even a moving conveyor belt! On the road from the airport into Beijing you were more likely to meet donkey drawn carts, than Mercedes and the roads were lined with willow trees rather than high rise office blocks.
In the years that followed, Deng Xiao-Ping set in train the process of opening up China to the rest of the world with his ‘special economic zones’ – initially in southern China close to Hong Kong – Shenzhen was then a small village on the border – today it is a well laid out confident city, where the inhabitants of Hong Kong come for a weekend away and to hunt for bargains.
During the late 70’s & early 80’s Elizabeth was one of the founding directors of the Tour Operator Voyages Jules Verne, whose main focus at the time was China and an innovative range of train journeys – in particular the Central Kingdom Express which began in London and arrived in Hong Kong 42 days later by way of Paris – Berlin – Warsaw – Moscow – Ulan Bator and Beijing with stops at several other cities in China. In the mid 1980’s the company pioneered the opening of several interesting border crossings – between Tibet & Nepal, Xinjiang & the USSR (as it then was), Pakistan and China.
Elizabeth went on to take a degree in law and practised commercial and residential property law for several years before returning to the world of travel. Needless to say, one of her favourite activities is travel – especially to China, Mongolia, Italy and Switzerland to visit friends and family and to explore!