TIPS FOR YOUR GREAT ADVENTURE IN GUANGZHOU (Special thanks to Robin Cayce, Suzie Carter and Betsy Potts for sharing their travel tips) Four Stages of International Travel: 1. Jet lag and wonder.happiness 2. Settling in 3. Depression and homesick 4. Acceptance.home away from home Take it one day at a time, focus on the positive and wait for that home away from home phase. FLIGHT TIPS
It is a very long flight! Dress comfortably in loose and layered clothes. Pack a travel pillow and earphones. The earphones are a life saver if you are trying to sleep while others are making noise. A glass of wine if complimentary on the international flight. I made do with a Coke and Dramamine. The transition to Chinese cuisine started on the flight.
Plan ahead on how you will manage time. It is easy to lose your sense of time on the flight. I spent a lot of time trying to follow the navigation tool on the flight screen. I should have set the time for the flight on my iPad so it would be easier to follow. I did not change my watch until we reached Guangzhou. Did I mention it is a very long flight?? It seemed even longer since I have just broken two bones in my foot
and was wearing a big boot on my left foot. Try finding enough leg room to accommodate that on a 16 hour flight from L.A.
Loose clothing Ladies- dresses make restroom challenges easier Comfortable shoes Weather wear-it will rain-be prepared with an umbrella Humidity awareness-it is humid and you will sweat. Ladies be aware
Layer-weather changes throughout the morning, afternoon and
evening. You don't always have time to return to your room for a sweater.
Over the shoulder bag for ladies-you will want your hands free Professional but comfortable clothes-you will find the principals and
teachers will dress up at the school you visit. You will attend at least two dinners where you will need to dress accordingly (men you will wear a tie).
Electric adapter (voltage converter not needed at hotel) Empty gift card-the air conditioner in the room will only run if you
insert your room card in the outlet by the door.having an extra card to plug in the outlet will keep the a/c running all day. NOTE: Not all buildings you visit will be air conditioned.
The hotel will not provide shampoo, conditioner, etc. like American
hotels. There is an emergency kit in the hotel bathroom but there is a charge to use anything in the kit. Check with your doctor about any medicines you might need. My doctor prescribed Ambien (which came in handy on the plane) as well as Cipro in case of an upset stomach from food. He also suggested I take bug repellent which was handy as there were some pesky mosquitoes.
Most restrooms at schools and sightseeing sites do not provide toilet
paper, paper towels or soap. Pack small packets of Kleenex, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer that will fit into your purse/bag. You may also want to pack Tums or Rolaids, Dramamine, Tylenol and any other meds you need, band-aids in case you get blisters from all of the walking you will do.
Take business cards with you to share with principals and teachers.
Many of the students were thrilled to receive a business card also.
Travel pillow, earplugs, and bottled water for your flight. It is a
You will want to take hostess gifts for your host families and smaller
gifts for your student guides in the schools.
You may want to take an empty tote or duffle to bring home all of the
gifts you will be given. We received beautiful gifts wherever we went, from jade jewelry to tea sets. Be prepared to have extra space to bring things home.
You can exchange your money before you leave or exchange it when you get to Guangzhou. Upon arriving in Guangzhou Dawei (one of your guides) was kind enough to have someone go to the bank and exchange money for many of us. We gave him the money one morning and the exchanged currency was back by lunch. On the way home I exchanged my money at the airport in L.A. Many banks here will exchange your money within 24 hours. Plan ahead. Also make sure you notify your bank if you plan to use your credit/debit card while on the trip.
Most of us turned our cell phones off and did not use them. We did not want to risk high dollar roaming charges. We used our iPads for photos. We used Face Time and Skye which also worked well.
Television isn't an option in your hotel room unless you speak Chinese. There are no English channels. You may want to download some things on your iPad. This is a good idea for the long flight also. Pandora will not work in Guangzhou.
You will be served food almost everywhere you go. The food is gorgeous and plentiful. At large formal meals most foods will be served from a lazy susan.
Do not place foods on the small plate. Place food in your soup bowl after you finish
your soup. Plates are for foods you don't want or for bones. Don't fill your own glass at a formal meal. A server will fill it or someone at your table will fill your glass. Ask if you want Western silverware.
You will visit schools and they will provide impressive meals for you. You will also visit homes and many extended family members/friends will be there to greet you and celebrate with you. There is much pride in the meals prepared for you.
We all packed many snacks and they came in very handy. I was able to share with others who had not thought to bring snacks. I usually ate breakfast in my room- although there is a breakfast buffet in the hotel.
You will receive a case of water in your room. I took additives to make tea and lemonade. You will want to use the bottled water when brushing your teeth.
There is a Pizza Hut about a mile from the hotel. It was a very popular spot on the rare occasion we didn't have a planned dinner to attend.
You will want to shop. There are beautiful souvenirs everywhere. Prices are reasonable. Make sure you take a taxi to the Tee Mall. The mall is very upscale, more so than The Mall at Green Hills. Tee Mall will not be on your sightseeing agenda but it is worth the short cab ride. There is a great grocery store there very much like Whole Foods. There is also a Starbucks and a delicious bakery. There are food courts and even a Burger King.
For mass quantities of souvenirs for family, friends or colleagues try the souvenir stand at the top of Five Goats of Guangzhou. The vendors there (and at most stores) will barter. I had one of the student translators barter for me and I got great things for a very low price. Keep this in mind when you travel to the Pearl Market and the Jade Market. The translators are wonderful at helping with anything you need.
This will be a wonderful and lift-changing trip. Take lots of pictures and grab every opportunity that comes your way to learn and experience new things. When you return home you will need to take some time to rest and rejuvenate. Jet lag seemed worse returning to Nashville than it did traveling to Guangzhou. Enjoy and have a safe trip.
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