Contest winner Cindy Keith (nee Ecclestone) is heading to China April 6, 2017.

Vernon woman wins dream trip to China

Cindy Keith has won an all-expenses paid trip to China where she will document her 11-day trip to share it with you.

A Vernon woman won a trip of a lifetime and she can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Cindy Keith won an all-expenses paid, 11-day trip to China through Black Press Media and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and she’s set to document her experience and share it with you.

The Vernon resident was chosen out of applicants from across the province.

“I never win anything so I was blown away,” said Keith. “It is an amazing trip.”

Keith saw the small ad about the contest in the travel pages of the Vernon Morning Star in November and immediately knew she wanted to apply.

“The ad asked me to explain why I should go to China,” said Keith.

“It so resonated with me as I lived in China 22 years ago. I was based out of Asia working with doctors without borders and the Red Cross as a physiotherapist.

“I was doing a lot of land-mine amputee and wound care stuff. I was based out of Hong Kong for two years and spent time in Tibet as well, before backpacking through mainland China.”

Having been to the four major areas they will be visiting, Keith cannot wait to see how the country has changed.

“In my entry I reflected on how different rural communist China was from the fast-growing capitalist cities, it was quite striking. It was an incredible experience for me then,” said Keith.

“So, I just loved the idea of it. Flipping back to Asia, it was so attractive to me. I wasn’t even thinking of winning at first, I just wanted to sit down and write out my feelings of China and why I found it so fascinating.”

She spent five years away from Canada before moving back to Toronto nearly 20 years ago. She moved to Vernon 10 years ago for work and got married on Silver Star this winter.

Because of this, Keith was an Ecclestone when she first won, but took her husband’s name. A wonderful wedding day but a slight headache as a passport with her new legal name was required quickly to apply for a Visa to China and ensure she got to go on the trip.

The 11-day trip departs April 6, 2017 and includes airfare, hotels, guides, tours and meals. The “Bloggers dream trip” is valued at $2,500.

She said she is really looking forward to going on the trip with Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Allan Asaph as he has been on the trip three times before and has a lot of knowledge and experience to share with her.

“He has already been really helpful,” said Keith. “I am really looking forward to this. I loved the Great Wall, that was a happy place for me. When I was in Xi’an you weren’t allow to photograph the Terracotta Army and you are now, so I am really looking forward to seeing that.

“Unfortunately there is a lot more pollution now, I am not looking forward to that, but I am really looking forward to having eyes 22 years later on it.

“I bet it will feel busier, more modern. It will be a reminder and a new experience in so many different ways.”

Keith will be sharing her experiences along the way by writing a blog with photos and video for the Black Press – be sure to check it out then.