If you are anything like me, when you think about China, you think about Communism, the long history of the nation, a vastly different way of life or perhaps you have thought about that cheap, dollar store item that you got in your stocking this past Christmas, or maybe even pearls or jade. China is so much more and a very interesting place to visit.
Have you ever thought of a visit to China? I had always been interested in the country and when my sister in law announced that they were adopting a baby from China, well, and then I became very interested.
With the little one that they brought back, they also brought back several guide books, videos and such. Now, armed with the information from my family and after reading books I am ready for my trip to China.
If you are planning to visit China, chances are that the air fare will be the most expensive thing that you will need to save up for. The Chinese Yuan (currency) is about 0.127877238 US dollars. So the exchange rate is pretty good. I have heard of people just going to China for shopping trips! Stores are plentiful and merchandise is pretty cheap there. Besides the obvious touristy things that you will want to pick up while you are there such as silk goods, pearls, teas (the tea ceremony is a big deal there). Everyday articles also can be found at fairly reasonable prices there such as shoes. My nephew picked up around ten pairs of shoes for very little money (they are brand names or look alikes).
Hotels and eating in China are not hard to find as long as you do your homework. The hotels are such names as the Sheraton and the like, but may not be up to the standards of a North American four standards, but just the same, they are comfortable and the restaurants that are well known here such as Pizza Hut and McDonalds are there as well, but you might not find the exact same food as you would here.
Suggestions while visiting China:
Do plan to hire a guide. This is a must as there are places that the average outsider cannot go (your guide can help you determine when and where to visit) and you will truly enjoy the trip more with an experienced guide that speaks English and knows his or her way around things and the country at large. You will no doubt want to see landmarks such as Tiananmen Square (though they will deny anything happened there) and the Great Wall, a guide is what you will need.
If you have children, you will want to plan ahead, do some homework and look into what you will be doing with your family as there is not a lot for children to do. You will not find Disneyland wannabe or any such thing. If your teens or children are not interested in history or shopping, it is best to plan a adults only type of trip.
If you are somewhat shy, China is not the place to shop. Store merchants will constantly be calling out to you (and since you are Caucasian, you will stand out) and the store workers will be wanting to bargain with you. My sister in law said that shopping was exhausting. Also the homeless will be relentless in their seeking of help. You will find that they will play on your sympathy by using their children (which shows that the total Communist way of life is not truly the case in China, but leans towards more of a legalist society).
You will want to keep in mind that Beijing will be hosting the 2008 Olympics and is preparing to do so. This means that there is a lot of ongoing construction and no doubt chaos in order to ready the city.
You will always need to keep your wits about you. I am saying this because although there is not a lot of crime, pickpockets and purse snatchings are a serious problem there. NEVER flaunt your jewellery, money or anything else that would attract the attention of a thief. Also you will not want to carry any valuable papers in your purse (such as your visa, etc). My nephew had a backpack on and my brother in law had to shoo away someone that was trying to open the zipper! You should also be careful in what you say in China. You will not want to mention anything that is disrespectful to their culture, way of life or ethics or morals.
China can be a fascinating place to visit to discover its history and other experiences and once you go you will have memories that will last a lifetime.