Producing a Travel Documentary – ChicVoyage in Asia

Producing a Travel Documentary

Almost a year in the making after departing for Asia in December 2012 I will be receiving the first batch of high definition Blu-Ray copies of ChicVoyage in Asia from my supplier. if you go to our subsidiary website Chicvoyage Productions travel store  you will also see  ChicVoyage in Asia now available for sale as a digital download .

I never would have imagined the amount of time and passion it would take to complete a film project from beginning to end. Filming videos and putting together music videos for youtube is one thing, but taking video footage and producing it into a entertaining and professional show is a much larger undertaking.

I have a new level of respect for film-makers after going through the process of planning, filming, and post production. When I left for Asia I had an idea that I wanted to film video and eventually produce a travel show; however it wasn’t crystal clear what the format of the show was going to be.

When I got back to Vancouver I knew that I had captured some amazing footage and unique travel adventures in my month and a half.  Originally I created a music video from my time in Asia, but it wasn’t the appropriate video to showcase the adventures I had. My friend introduced me to a travel adventure show called departures by two Canadians that inspired to begin working on the show.

To have the technology to be able to capture that experience in high definition quality and share it does satisfy something internal in me to build and share. Traveling and filming provide me an opportunity to pursue my passions and film provides the platform to document it.  The actual process of producing a show provides additional opportunities to tell a story and invoke inspiration through visuals and music. I’ve always enjoyed music and I’ve hand picked tracks that are modern, fresh, and what I’ve felt are relevant for the particular country.

It is an amazing time to be able to have an opportunity to do this. I hope you’ll check out the trailers and purchase ChicVoyage in Asia also available on Blu-Ray in the Amazon Store.

Here is a special personal recount of the experience in Beijing and Xian. If you like it please comment and I can write more about the other cities in Asia.


When I set foot in Beijing it was super exciting to be in the city to be able to film famous structures such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. What I didn’t expect in Beijing was the experience of going to the Centro Jazz bar in Beijing to experience the live jazz, the color ambiance, the smell, great drink, and company. This was one of my Beijing highlights and I manage to capture some of these elements on the film. Even though I’m no stranger to a the Chinese culture living in a dense Chinese population living in Vancouver BC Canada I did feel like an outsider not being able to speak Mandarin. I didn’t anticipate how little English would be spoken by the people I met throughout my trip in the hotels, bars, restaurants, and in the street. Catherine Lu and my good friend Linh were very helpful during my trip there and helped me find my way in Beijing and feel welcome. ChicVoyage in Beijing is a great introducing to Asia and great footage of the attractions such as Forbidden City are a given. What I believe is original about this adventure is including the experience of a night club in Beijing, riding through the Hutongs on a rickshaw bike, and getting a chance to experience some of the best Peking duck Beijing has to offer.

ChicVoyage in Beijing – Included in ChicVoyage in Asia


I had a short 2 day stay in Xian with the main goal to see the Terracotta warriors. I found Xian to be a city that is overcrowded with traffic and loose with the rules. You’ll find motor bikes riding on the sidewalk or taxi’s that only stop to pick you up if it’s convenient. I had a good first night filming at the City Wall, but spent over an hour trying to get a taxi back to my hotel. In the end I had to call the hotel to call a taxi to pick me up. The Terracotta experience more than made up for the first night. My tour guide Koko said I was extremely luck to get a chance to film all 3 pits at the museum as it is usually so overcrowded with people. For me seeing the Terracotta warriors was gratifying in the sense that I knew I had seen a unique worldwide attraction with a long history. I love the montage in ChicVoyage in Xian and I hope with the music I’ve picked you will enjoy it as well.

Trailers from some cities covered in ChicVoyage in Asia

ChicVoyage in Xian – Included in ChicVoyage in Asia



ChicVoyage visiting Beijing soon

Beijing is our first stop on a month and a half long visit to Asia in early December. Here is a little bit of research I wanted to share before the trip.

The essentials

China Visa

To begin, the first thing to do before booking your trip is to get a Chinese Visa. Here is a good site about the requirements for Canadians. From my experience, you can save yourself one additional trip to the visa office by printing out the forms prior to your first visit and get your passport photos completed. The visa office will only take a limited number of people a day so be there before opening time with your completed application. The  contact number for  the Visa office  is (604) 734 – 0704. The office address is 288-1338 West Broadway, Vancouver. You can also try avoiding all the hassle by hiring a travel agent to do this on your behalf.  Here are two contacts who can help you with this:

Sundeck Vacations
John Wong
Richmond, BC

Travel Gallery
Betty Tan
Vancouver, BC


The currency in China is called Yuan or Renminbi. One Canadian dollar as of today is equivalent to 6.09 CNY. I’ve been told by the local store where I got my China sim card that foreigners are limited to withdraw a certain denomination a day so it was suggested to buy at least $1000 CDN worth of Renminbi locally before I leave.

You will also want to visit your doctor to make sure that your immunization is up to date, and make sure you have travel insurance.

TIP: If you have an iphone I recommend downloading “Exchange LE” to convert worldwide currencies on the fly. If you don’t have an iPhone try the Fairmont’s currency convertor.

TIP: Check that you have the appropriate electric plug adapters for China. I was told by a London Drugs employee that most modern electronics such as Iphones do not require a convertor so save yourself some money.


Beijing is located west of North Korea between the Yellow Sea. Beijing is known as the capital of China, is the country with the world’s largest population and was host of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Beijing’s has the second largest population after Shanghai with a population of 17.55 million people in 18 districts. It is the political, education, and cultural center of the country that offers many historical sites and important government and cultural institutions.

Beijing’s time is known as the China Standard Time (CST) and runs 16 hours ahead of people in the Pacific Time (PST) time zone, which includes Vancouverites. So currently looking at the iPhone world clock its currently 12:10pm. One way that I do time zone math is to add 12 hours to the current time, which would be the same time but you exchange the pm for am and then add the additional hours.

12:10pm + 12 hours = 12:10am plus 4 hours which equals 4:10am

Beijing is known for its flatness with only 3 hills found within the city limits. The configuration of Beijing is that of concentric rectangular shaped ring roads. Most of the tourist sights are located in what is called the old walled city and enclosed by ring road two.

Beijing districts
Beijing districts

picture courtesy of

XiCheng District – this covers the northwestern part of the central city and includes the Beijing Zoo and National Concert Hall.

Dongcheng – this covers the north eastern part of the central city. This includes the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and Beijing Central Station

XuanWu District – Southwestern pat of the central city

Chongwen District – Covers the south eastern part of the central city and includes the Temple of Heaven

For more information about the inner suburbs please check out Beijing wiki travel.

Highlights of the tourist attractions Beijing:

  • Tiananmen Square – This is located in the Dongcheng district. Wikipedia calls it the third largest public square and is also home to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. It has cultural significance as it was the location of several important events in Chinese history with the most recent being the protests of 1989.
  • Forbidden City – Wikitravel claims this is the most important palace that was home to the Imperial court during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. This site was protected during the Cultural Revolution from the Red Guards. Detailed information is available in the China Travel Guide
  • National Stadium – Better known as the Birds Nest this is located in Chaoyand district and is the symbol of the 2008 Olympic games.
  • Da Dong Roast Duck – Located in Dongcheng district Da Dong was recommended from a local who used to live in Beijing. Currently ranked as the # 3 place to eat in Beijing on Trip Advisor. Summarizing the variety of latest reviews from Trip Advisor I expect high prices, excellent Peking Roast Duck that is carved at the table, drinking, laughing, good food, upscale location, and free drinks waiting at the bar. Can’t wait!
  • Hutongs – These are narrow street alleys that are on the outskirts of the Forbidden City and I’m told visiting Hutong’s are a way to experience how the local Beijing Chinese culture and how they live.
  • Temple of Heaven – Located in Chongwen district my readings confirm that this is a worthwhile place to visit, a symbol of Beijing, and is a larger palace than Forbidden city. The reason is that Chinese emperors considered themselves sons of heaven and did not want to live a palace large than what was built for heaven.
  • Summer Palace – Located in the Haidan district it is known as the largest and most well-preserved Royal Park in China
  • The Great Wall of China – Our trip to China is not complete without scheduling dedicated time to view the largest man-made monument ever built. In 2007 the great wall was listed as one of the world’s wonders of the world, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means it has special cultural and physical significance to the heritage of humanity.  In 220 BC during the Qin dynasty the wall was built as a fortification defense against the invading Mongol’s. It is 8,851.8 km and can be see seen from Space. According to TravelChinaGuide, the most information rich internet resource I’ve come across, the Badaling section of the great-wall is the most well preserved, and is located in Yanqing County 70 km north of Beijing.

Night Life

Based on the top Google searches for “Beijing Nightlife”, the Sanilitun bar street is most popular with ex pats and tourists as well as locals. Located West of Gongti North Gate in the Chaoyang district the MIX Bar seems worth visiting. What I expect is a mix of Western people and locals,  attractive women, and high quality sound and lighting. There are two floors with the first offering comfortable seating and the second offering French and Italian cuisine with music.

mix bar beijing
mix bar beijing

photo courtesy of

The other up and coming area for nightlife is in the Hou Hai Bar Street. The Beijing impression calls No Name Bar  “hands-down one of Beijing’s best”. It is is located in Qianhaidongyan, Shichahai, XiCheng district by a lake.  It is known for scenic views, a welcoming atmosphere popular with locals, and a hidden gem due to no name on the door.  I’m expecting friendly staff, good modern music, a long drink list, and to make a reservation.

That should cover the Beijing plan for now. Hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post and will tune in for the post visit blog post with the pictures and HD video footage of must see attractions, restaurants, and nightlife for Beijing.