Last-Minute Freakout

Old Jun 14th, 2006, 10:02 AM
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Last-Minute Freakout

I'm leaving for China on next Tuesday, traveling with my 11-year-old son and following my daughter's orchestra tour on our own. I'm traveling on Air China and have hotel reservations in Beijing and Shanghai, made by a friend who grew up in China, who will be in Beijing at the same time as I. I'm flying out on the same flight as the orchestra and back on my own the day after they head home.

I had planned to improvise my itinerary once I arrived in each city. In Beijing, I would coordinate with my friend and sightsee with her family and a little on my own. In Shanghai, I figured I could handle three days of seeing the sights on my own.

Now, suddenly, I am filled with anxiety that I am leaving too much to chance, that I was foolish not to purchase a tour package, that breaking away from the orchestra tour was a stupid move, that I shouldn't even think about getting home to San Francisco from Shanghai without someone who can hold my hand through the whole process. There's even talk on not letting my son go on the trip afterall.

There are admittedly a lot of loose ends to be wrapped up in the next few days. But am I panicking needlessly? If not, what do I do about it?
mlberry is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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Let me give you an unusual answer, but I really believe in it. Just bring extra money. As long as you have money, you can get anything done in China (well, unless you get arrested by state police).

Stop worrying.
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 10:26 AM
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No need to freak. You can certainly improvise an itinerary in each city. We went to China on our own last September and had no problems. Here's our report:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34682619
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 10:30 AM
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First of all, take some deep, deep breaths...

You shouldn't have too many problems in Beijing since you will be in the care of and also have the recommendations of your friend and her family. I won't say the trip will be flawless, because by nature travel is full of surprises and adventure.

Regarding Shanghai, there's a wealth of information at Fodor's site: http://www.fodors.com/miniguides/mgr...ur_section=ove
specifically the section "Best in 3 or 5 Days"

If you don't feel confident to make arrangements on your own, ask the concierge at your hotel or visit an agency online like www.chinahighlights.com (they use Paypal!)to meet and greet you and take you to sites, or hold your hand, though the Chinese generally refrain from such displays
And of course, your son should go.
blithespirit is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 10:38 AM
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no problem...you will be fine...do you have a good guide book for each location? you need one...lots you can do on your own...the rest can be arranged with the assistance of the hotel you are staying at on a time available basis...money cures all, although it will not be expensive...you can pick and choose...

why not take your son?? don't understand that part??

keep away from the music group...let you daughter have her fun with her friends...they will invite you to things...go to some and stay away from others...

relax...you will have lots of fun and everything will work out well...

as far as getting home, what's the problem...you take a taxi or other trans. to the airport get on the plane and come home....simple...just as if you were flying to LA for the weekend...
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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Thanks for the soothing replies. I guess I'm keyed up because I've never traveled internationally, I've been getting conflicting advice and my spouse (who is not going on the trip) and I have different comfort levels about loose ends.

I do have a highlighted copy of Fodor's "Beijing and Shanghai" handbook. I originally looked into a package tour through CTSHO, which my Chinese friend thought was ridiculously expensive ($969 for each of us) and wouldn't really entertain my son. Then I let her book a room at the Huadu Hotel in Beijing and at the Baolong in Shanghai. I have confirmation faxes (in Chinese) from both, but nothing more than that. The plan was to meet up with my friend and her family on the second day after my arrival.

I have been putting together contact info sheets and itinerary notes, but whenever there's a gap and I say "I'll figure that out when I get there," the anxiety level in my household ratchets up another notch, to the point where it's a possibility that I will be flying completely solo. I don't want to do that for a number of reasons, but I'm getting stresses out and twitching and beginning to think I'm going to enjoy this not one lick.
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 11:03 AM
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I expect you'll have a wonderful time. Frankly, you'll enjoy yourself much more than with an expensive tour package with it's forced shopping stops.

You have your hotel reservations and you can make your decisions about what you want to do when you are there. It's very easy to hire a car and driver should you need one.
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 12:18 PM
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You will do ok, Shanghai is huge yet easy to get around on your own. Let's deal with the hotel Baolong first. There's only 1 comment on tripadvisor, very positive, clean, nice breakfast, helpful staff, just it's out of city centre, tho taxis are cheap and plenty. If you don't want to spend too much time in taxis and can have your friend cancel the room (no need to think of saving face), book one in the central area even if it costs a bit more. Get on www.elong.com, click English, view the hotels and dial the phone #, they are very helpful. Make sure you have the hotel's chinese name written done for the cab driver.

You can do a lot in 3 days, consider a day trip to Suzhou if you like gardens, they are fabulous.

Don't worry, be happy, let us know what else is freaky.
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 09:23 PM
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make sure that the hotels that you have choosen are adequate for a western traveller...some are not
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 10:03 AM
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i just looked at both hotels...the baolong is 4* so it is probably ok, but a bit basic if you look at the rooms..

the huadu is only 3* and looks very very basic...i would rethink it...it is also 10 kilometers from the city center which is a long ways if you ask me....

both cost around $65-75 per nite..

its china afterall...i think it might be wise to seek out something slightly more expensive... but i don't know your budget
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 03:36 PM
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Thanks, all, for your suggestions. I'm now planning on staying at the Yanxiang Hotel in Beijing and at the Jin Sha in Shanghai. The orchestra will be staying in both, but I do not plan to be dogging my daughter's heels every step of the way. I've worked out a schedule that seems to take into account her performance schedule, my son's wish to spend time with his Beijing-based friends, my wife's need to contact me in the event of an emergency and my own desire to have some fun along the way. A tall order, but we're close.

I think everything will smooth out once I actually and can take stock of the real situation, rather than operating under a cloud of "what-ifs."

But there's still a lot to do in the next 72 hours.
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 07:41 PM
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I didn't read all the responses, but I agree with those I read. China is relatively inexpensive and you should be able to get things lined up over there with the help of hotel staff. Two suggestions: When you leave your hotel, take a card with the name of your hotel - in Chinese - so if you get lost or just want to get back you can give it to a cab driver (we found none that understood English). Ask your Chinese friend or someone at the hotel to write some Chinese food choices on a piece of paper so you can order food if you get somewhere with no English menu, which is quite common.

Go and enjoy. The Chinese people are very curious about westerners and are quite affable.
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