Helpful bits of info

Some things I should have taken to China (and ended up buying while I was there):

  • A watch.  I normally just use my cell phone, but since I didn’t keep it on in China, I had no way to know what time it was.  This was pretty stressful when trying to be sure to be at a certain place by a certain time while traveling with a group.
  • A cheap calculator.  Trying to do conversions in my head was driving me crazy.  Also, occasionally I’d come across a vendor without one, & having one was handy.
  • A compass.  Sometimes finding the way back to the hotel could be tough — especially in Lijiang where everything looks the same in Old Town.  And I couldn’t always count on the sun being out to figure out what direction I was heading.

Things I bought in China, but I’m glad I didn’t haul with me:

  • An umbrella
  • A rain slicker
  • An extra bag to haul stuff back home.  Bags are cheap & abundant in Shanghai.

Things I took that I could’ve left at home:

  • The books & DVDs.  I read one book on the way home, but mostly I was too busy or too exhausted or too excited about the sites to ever want to read or watch a movie.  Books are heavy, & by the end of the trip I was counting every ounce.

Things I wish I’d taken & couldn’t purchase in China:

  • One pretty outfit to make me feel great.  I got seriously tired of looking like crap all the time.  And unless you’re teensy, you can’t buy clothes there.
  • A little bit of make-up for the same reason.
  • Those coffee bags that look like tea bags.  They make a good real cup of coffee.  There’s always a way to make hot water in the room.  And the coffee in China sucks for the most part.  I ended up buying Nestle coffee packets, which makes much better than average instant coffee.
  • Some kind of electrolyte mix to mix with my water.  Crystal Light makes one.  I got in one bad spot where I was so dehydrated my body wouldn’t even absorb the water.

Things I took and was really glad I did:

  • MY LAPTOP!  I was able to get internet access in every hotel, sometimes for free.  When it wasn’t free it was cheap, except for Shanghai where it was stupid expensive.  I was able to journal as I went, & I wouldn’t have done so with a paper journal.  I know I wouldn’t have.  I was also able to keep in touch with my family daily.  I used my laptop to dump off my photos from my camera.  The laptop is the one electronic device that doesn’t need any kind of converter.  It was important to have a power cord (duh) & my own network cable, as sometimes the ones in the hotel were messed up.  I also had a power adapter to use on a plane, but those plug-ins are usually only in business class, so that was a waste.
  • Two pairs of shoes.  It rained.  A lot.  I wished I’d had one pair of closed shoes (I took two pairs of high end walking sandles – Clarks & Eastlands).  While I was there I really wanted a pair of rain boots because we really slogged through some deep puddles & muck in a few places.  A couple of people were able to find a place to buy some (not easy because they are so much smaller), but I wouldn’t have wanted to haul them to China & back. 
  • All my OTC & prescription drugs, including the probiotics.
  • A Chinese phrase book.  Big time helpful.
  • Clothes that all matched each other.
  • My Kavu bag.  Seriously awesome.

Things I learned that made the trip easier or would have made the trip easier:

  • Using an ATM card is easy in China.  I just had to go to a Bank of China ATM.  They were abundant, even in the more remote cities, & there is an English menu.
  • I should’ve waited until Kun Ming to use the laundry service.  That’s the cheapest place.  Bejing & Shanghai are expensive for laundry.  Many people washed their own laundry in the sink, but I was too busy seeing the sites to spend time washing out underwear.  Oh, and wearing clothes multiple times was mostly out because it was hot & humid, & we walked a lot.
  • Finding a supermarket or Walmart right after we got to a new town proved very helpful.  We could buy bulk water cheaper & keep it in our fridge.  Having our own water that was actually cold was a truly precious thing.  We would pick up a few beers, sometimes a bottle of wine (you have to look for it to say “dry red” specifically, because the other is nasty), buy some snacks, & toiletries & such.


  • The first night I was in China, the outlet fried my converter & my battery charger.  I was able to buy a Chinese battery charger & batteries to go with it for a pretty affordable price, even for Bejing.  The charger charged my rechargables just fine, & I didn’t have to worry with converters the rest of the time I was there.
  • I ended up having an international calling plan put on my phone while I was in China (actually, my husband did).  We were told we could get phone cards, but they were harder to find, purchase, & use than expected.  I didn’t use my phone much while I was in China, but it was nice to be able to pick up the phone & call home whenever I really wanted to.
  • Several times I really wished I had a backpack– just a small lightweight one. 

One response to “Helpful bits of info

  1. carla bryant

    thanks virginia! i hope to go next summer and these points really help! carla

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