Beijing street

China in a rice bowl

When HL and Yours Truly decided to go ahead and commit to the Wendy Wu Grand Tour of China acquaintances and friends alike commented that it wasn't a top pick on their bucket list. I must admit for me, all I really wanted to do was visit the Olympic City in Beijing, walk along the Bund in Shanghai, climb the Great Wall in Xi'an, and cruise down the Yangtze 'Yellow' River. I hadn't given any consideration to other locations until friends mentioned they were going on WW's Grand Tour: "If we're going to go, we may as well see the real China!" From that moment on we chimed "Can you count us in too!". The 28-day tour (we added one extra day at the very end of the tour for a day's shopping in Shanghai) was a trip of a lifetime. It opened our eyes to both the Old China and the New China - and yes, there are definitely two different worlds to explore and conquer. It's an incredible country full of disparities; a vast land which is home to many different groups of people; it's a destination that everyone must experience at some stage in their global trekking. If you are considering travelling to this wonderful part of the world, then may I be so bold to offer a few recommendations:

Loo paper - start saving your rolls of loo paper. Not the whole roll, just as it gets towards then end. These are great life savers when you're in a loo as more often than not there's no loo paper. You'll be surprised how often you'll have to rely on your own supply. When touring around regional areas, in most cases, you can't flush the loo paper either so it's seems more civilized to be able to wrap used paper in a clean supply before popping in the basket near to the loo.
Moist handy wipes - another must. Buy at least 6 small travel packs - great for your handbag, backpack etc. Always have them on hand to ensure your hands are always clean before eating anything! NB: You can't take bottles of liquid hand sanitizer on internal flights - it's to do with China's regulations regarding alcohol in hand luggage on planes - so the moist hand towels are a godsend.
Medical supplies - ensure you have everything packed before your departure. And when I mean everything - I mean everything. For starters: a box of antibiotics (not just a script), tablets to stop diahorrea and tablets to get you going (you know what I mean), bandaids, allergy pills, panamax or a similar brand for headaches, cold & flu tablets, a tube of 1.0% Dermaid (or similar brand) for rashes etc., FESS nasal spray (stops the germs getting up the old nasal passage and stops the nose from becoming blocked especially during your flight), and of course your own list of medications...
Metro: the train is a brilliant way to travel in the big cities but try to avoid peak hours - it's hellish.
Tipping: As we were on a tour, our tipping money was already calculated paid to our tour group leader on the day otwo when we landed in Beijing; irrespective whether you are on tour or travelling on your own you will also need additional tipping money for incidentials.
Umbrella: Lightweight collapsable umbrella is a must not ony for weather but also for privacy when going to the loo when there isn't a door!