So, our latest trip is to China. We are combining a visit to friends in Beijing with an organised tour via Intrepid Travel. I’ve taken a couple of extra days off ahead of departure to relax and make sure we’re all prepared for the trip.
I last visited Beijing in the late nineties as a Tour Manager, so I’m interested to see how the city has changed. Beyond that, I’ve never been to mainland China and I can’t wait to experience it. Our tour (which you can find out more about here) takes us from Shanghai, through lakeside villages to Xi’an, where we visit the Terracotta Warriors and then, via the Great Wall, back to Beijing for the sites of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
Before we leave, as a bit of an experiment, we are following a programme from JetLagRooster.com to help ease us through the seven-hour time difference. It’s not too complex; essentially we just shift forward by half an hour each day, so that we are living closer to the destination timezone. It takes a bit of planning to arrange around a work schedule – taking a break to eat dinner at 4pm may not be acceptable in all workplaces – but otherwise it’s been fairly painless so far. By the time we set out we’ll be living three and a half hours ahead of UK time. That won’t completely eliminate jetlag, but it will go a long way to helping us manage it at the other end.
We’ll be travelling light. Inspired by the Neverending Voyage, we are planning to take only carry-on luggage with us for the two-week trip. We got on pretty well with minimal luggage in Cambodia and learned a lot from that. I’ll do a more detailed post about our gear and how we get by at a later date for those who are interested.
In anticipation of the limited luggage though I’ve been looking out for lightweight clothes which don’t need ironing after washing. I found it a surprisingly difficult search; outdoor shops seem to follow the UK seasons just like a fashion house. They’ve sold out of their warm weather gear and are now stocking for winter, so if you’re planning to escape the cold by travelling to warmer climes you may have trouble finding anything new to wear!
Anyway, I did find myself a nice long-sleeved Craghoppers Nosilife shirt and a pair of dark blue Rohan Grand Tour Chinos, which look smart enough to be good in a restaurant of an evening as well as durable enough to do a day’s trekking in.
In other news, there is a strike planned by the Tube drivers on the day we fly, so getting to the airport could be a challenge. We’d originally planned to get the Tube most of the way, but if the strike goes ahead (it may not) we’ll have to spend the extra for the Heathrow Express and cross-London buses or taxis.
At the far end, we received warning that in the run up to a Military Parade on 3rd September, there will be heightened security and disruption in central Beijing and we should expect pretty much everything to take longer than you’d think.
Logistical obstacles aside, though, I am really looking forward to this trip. We haven’t seen Mark and Chris in a while and I haven’t seen China in even longer. Tally Ho!