Don't forget to pack...
Going to China? Bring your own shampoo, deodorant, etc. There
are a number of copy cat brands in China, so buyer beware. I
have seen people purchase what they thought was a North American
or European brand of shampoo and the contents where not and
it was very damaging to their skin/ hair. Also, makeup as well
as personal hygiene products are two or three times more expensive
than what we pay for them here in North America. Stock up on
what you need before you go -- if you have extras leave them
for new friends at the close of your trip.
Pauline, Cambridge, Canada
balm and squatting...
It depends on where you are going
-- some restrooms in China are still pretty primitive -- so
be prepared. Take your own toilet paper and seat covers for
where the toilets actually have seats. Most public toilets are
the squat type so start exercising your thigh muscles and practice
squatting. A small dab of Tiger Balm under the nose can be very
helpful in dispelling unpleasant odors in the toilets.
Estelle, California, USA
Ed. note: I use my mentholated
lip balm under my nose in "hard-to-be-in" washrooms.
I also wear pants with tight fitting legs so the bottoms don't
get dirty in the squat washrooms.
In Beijing, I took a pedicab "hutong"
tour (arranged through our hotel), which was about
half a day long and cost about US$45.
We were taken through the alleyways of a 300 year old area in
the second ring road where we explored the crowded neighbourhoods.
Our guide took us into a school which had pre-schoolers all
the way up to early elementary school age, then to a typical
neighbourhood market and the home of a retired couple who had
lived in the area their entire lives. The end of the tour was
a tea ceremony at a traditional Chinese opera house. It was
very informative and graceful and the tea was much welcomed
on such a cold day. This tour is highly recommended. It was
a glimpse into traditional China and a view to its future.
Trish, Singapore, Malaysia
P.S. Beijing in December was extremely
cold -- many sites are old and do not have any heat. I suggest
you take some extra clothing (I find silk long underwear lightweight
and very warm) if you are travelling there in the winter.
don't have to dress up at night no matter where you go.
Ed. note: I agree. When
I was in Beijing in January I was very glad I had packed my
longjohns -- I wore them not only outside in the cold under
my pants but alone as comfy, light "loungewear" in
my hotel room.
In preparation for my upcoming trip
to China I've started collecting websites that contain useful
information. Other JourneyWomen might like to take a quick look
at these two links - both seem very useful: See: www.brookes.ac.uk/worldwise/directory/www00044.html
-- a university site that contains helpful data about almost
everything about the country. And, also www.travel-guide.com/data/chn/chn050.asp,
a site especially good for money matters.
Marion, United Kingdom
have more fun in Beijing...
I was in China for two months last year (around Beijing)
and my flatmate taught English in Shanghai for over a year.
I got used to being stared at. As a blonde, blue-eyed
girl, I was a fascination to everyone - from passing motorists
to people on the
pavement. I found out that
everyone will try and say 'hello.' Chinese people wanting
to talk or practice their English make a great way to
pass the time while waiting for trains, etc. Most young
Chinese want to learn English - many can read and write
it, but spoken English - from western teachers - is a
special opportunity. Once you've madea connection with
people (especially on the trains) they will go out of
their way to help with the harder struggles unfamiliar
to westerners (getting on the train - finding a 'hard
seat', and if you feel comfortable - will watch over bags
stored overhead while you run to the toilets). I found
many a shared 'hard seat' (when there weren't any seats
left) by chatting away with students.
Robin, Brighton, United Kingdom