‘Yes, the China Travel Channel Loves Saipan!’

Alex Lee (back row, orange shirt) and the China Travel Channel film production crew with author/guide Walt Goodridge overlooking Forbidden Island in Kagman, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. (Contributed Photo)

Alex Lee (back row, orange shirt) and the China Travel Channel film production crew with author/guide Walt Goodridge overlooking Forbidden Island in Kagman, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. (Contributed Photo)

As more and more Chinese tourists and travel agents discover Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, word of our beautiful scenery, crystal clear waters, lovely weather, friendly people and safe environment is spreading far and wide.

A few months ago, the Costa Cruise ship, Atlantica, departed Tianjin, China and made two separate visits to Saipan as part of a 46-day World Cruise itinerary to the South Pacific. Among the approximately 2,100 passengers who descended on Saipan was host Alex Lee of The China Travel Channel who had contacted me to arrange a comprehensive, personalized guided tour for him and his team at a good price. Their mission: to learn the truth about Saipan, and document it all to encourage more tourism to these islands.

Alex is an entrepreneur born in mainland China, now living in Thailand. His film crew hails from Hong Kong and China. We spent a total of two days roaming the entire island, enjoying the sights, meeting local residents, getting to know each other by comparing and contrasting business practices, lifestyles and behavioral norms in China, the U.S. mainland, Saipan, Thailand, and Jamaica and filming it all as Alex narrated the adventure for the camera.

In addition to the standard fare “must see” spots—The Grotto, Bird Island, Tapachao, Last Command Post, Suicide Cliff, et.al.—the four documentarians were treated to many off-the-beaten-path spots tourists don’t often get to experience.

The travel channel crew’s verdict? Yes, it’s all true! From muscle cars to Managaha, from the green flash, to the Grotto, Saipan offers quite a lot for the Chinese tourist! It’s well worth the trip and the experience for those who want a little taste of America with a dash of tropical flavor and a pinch of accurate history all cooked up in a pot of indigenous culture!

The proof and result of that verdict is a series of inviting, expertly-produced videos that show off the best of Saipan for the benefit of the Chinese tourist, whether family, group or free, independent, solo traveler. The first in the series, produced and directed by Zhang Han Qing, aired yesterday (Sunday, April 16, 2017) on Chinese television and, as Alex promises, “will remain on the China Travel website, forever!” The 3.5-minute video gives an exciting, fast-paced overview of Alex’s team’s shore excursion tour, off-road adventures, marine activities, scuba diving, plus a little Battle of Saipan footage for those who may not be aware of the island’s pivotal role in the outcome of World War II. View it directly on their channel’s QQ page at https://v.qq.com/x/page/u0391abbqi9.html or http://www.discoversaipan.com/videos/ with easier navigation for English speakers.
Other videos highlight additional destinations on their itinerary, including Vanuatu, Tonga, French Polynesia, American Samoa, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea.

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Walt Goodridge is author of several books about Saipan including Chicken Feathers & Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan, The Saipan Living Relocation Guide, and Saipan Now: A Photo Adventure. He also conducts writer workshops to help other Saipan writers tell their own stories.

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WALT F.J. GOODRIDGE Author

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