Feb 02

Preparation for the trip to China.

This is the second article in a series about my plan to visit China. To read the first article go here.

*** Update*** I returned to the Chinese Embassy in NYC today and picked-up my 10 year visa!



One of my Chinese friends, who is too shy to post a comment on the blog, offered an old and very interesting Chinese proverb;

“One should be born in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhou, and die in Luzhou.” I was really fascinated by this comment and asked for an explanation. While I understand the bit about “eating in Guangzhou”, because the Cantonese are famous for eating many curious things. In fact, another famous Chinese saying helps to explain that phenomenon; “Cantonese will eat anything with wings, except an airplane, anything with legs, except a table!” This saying lets you know that you are in for some real surprises when dining in the Cantonese way. So, here is the explanation about the other cities; “Born in Suzhou” because many famous people, especially ancient poets were born in Suzhou, and if someone can be born there, he or she may have potential talents to become a celebrity. “Live in Hangzhou” or “Wear in Hangzhou” means the living environment is the best of China. Hangzhou is known for the beautiful West Lake, and also its silk and embroidery. “Die in Luzhou” so that one can have a coffin made with the supreme quality wood from the region.

All of the Chinese students with whom I have shared the above comment seem to concur. That little bit of anecdotal information is but another indication to me that China is far too intricate to fairly experience in only one visit. The depth of history, the peculiarity (for an occidental) of the customs & culture, the complexity of the food are other contributing factors. The geography of the country is another. The realization that one visit would be insufficient to even scratch the surface. It is sort of like telling someone from China that if you travel to New York City, Washington, D.C., The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and Los Angeles you will see the United States. Impossible! Going to five places in a country as large as the U.S. or China introduces the traveler to only a small view of the country. Hence, I plan to make this trip the first of several….more on that as developments unfold.


The process for visa application for an American to visit China is the most complex that I have seen. If you are not booked with a guided tour service the starting requirement is a letter of invitation from your host. I felt it was too much of an imposition to ask any of my students, but one of my business contacts has drafted a very gracious letter of invitation and for that I am deeply grateful. Additionally, the Chinese authorities require a copy of your general itinerary including all hotel reservations and transportation arrangements. At this point, all of this has been arranged and the only thing I need to finalize my visa application is to submit the paperwork and attend the interview. Recently, the U.S. agreed to terms for a 10 year visa for Chinese citizens to visit the U.S. I am hopeful that the restrictions and lengthy application process will improve for U.S. travelers going to China. I will be asking about this when I speak with the interviewer.

With the exception of those travelers coming from areas affected by Japanese Encephalitis, there are no vaccination requirements . I won’t be stopping in Japan so that will not apply to me. I took care of the hepatitis A & B vaccinations prior to my Philippines trip in 2010. Those are lifetime vaccinations.


Fodor's Travel Guides can be very useful when planning a trip.

Fodor’s Travel Guides can be very useful when planning a trip.

So, the itinerary has been finalized and reservations have been made for hotels and air travel. Most of my travel within China will be via high-speed rail. I am looking forward to experiencing this mode of travel.

Here is the plan; Arrive Beijing airport 4/1/15 – My plan is to visit the Great Wall, see the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and tour around the Hutong. 4 days to accomplish this should be doable….even accounting for some jet-lag slowing me down a bit.

4/4 in the afternoon (or perhaps early on the 5th) take the train to Ji’Nan visit with my group of students there and sight see. Due to the fact that I currently have such a large number of students concentrated in the city of Ji’Nan, I want to spend time to meet as many of the team as possible.

From there, on the 9th, I will take the train to Shanghai – 3 days visiting with students and sight-seeing the second tier city of Suzhou and the surrounding area as quick day trips out of Shanghai.

Then, take the overnight train to Xi’an visit one of my students who has promised to show me her city and to see the Terracotta Warriors.

Return home.

I am eager to meet as many of my students as possible, but I also understand that it is simply impossible to reserve time for every student. Please let me know if you wish to get together while I am traveling. I can give you my number and perhaps we can arrange a meet-up. Keep in mind that I intend to return and if we don’t meet this time we will have opportunities in the future.

In closing, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to all who have offered suggestions about places to see and things to do on my upcoming visit to China.

I’ll be seeing you soon!


Permanent link to this article: http://english-speak-english.com/peparation-trip-china/


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    • Ella on February 2, 2015 at 9:07 pm
    • Reply

    Dear Kevin, long time that I haven’t been here. Really sorry! I am so happy to know that your visit to China has been confirmed and carefully arranged. Wish you an impressive trip! I will arrive NZ on Feb 9th. It is a pity that I cannot meet you in my home country and my home town, but I believe we will meet each other in future. Miss you…..

    1. Hi Ella,
      Happy to read your comment! Yes, it seems like a long time since we spoke. I hope your post-graduate studies in N.Z. are going well.
      I will keep you informed of my trip. Miss you too!

    • Yang yang on February 5, 2015 at 9:09 am
    • Reply

    Wonderful plan Kevin. I hope to meet you if there are no schooling days during the time you come to Shanghai.
    Also, I would suggest that you should better change some 10yuan,20 yuan or 50 yuan note. Those are common use when you want to buy some small things or food.

    1. Thank you, YangYang.
      I learned to get some money exchanged before leaving on a trip, because the exchange rate at the airport can be punitive!
      It is handy to have some currency for the destination country, just to buy some food or pay for local transportation options. Hope to get together with you in your big city!

    • Summer on February 10, 2015 at 7:56 am
    • Reply

    Dear Kevin,I am so happy that you will come to Jinan soon,WELCOME!!!
    I agree with you that one visit would be insufficient to even scratch the surface. It’s great that you have planned to return.
    I believe will see the beautiful views,you will feel the culture of china deeply,and will have fun with your students.
    And ,again,WELCOME!

    1. Thanks, Summer.
      I am very much looking forward to meeting all of your team members in Jinan.
      It is almost hard to believe that I will be there in less than 2 months.
      This Friday, I need to return to NYC and the Chinese embassy to pick-up my visa.
      Talk soon.

    • spring on February 12, 2015 at 5:00 am
    • Reply

    Dear Kevin,
    I was in Suzhou in October ,Beijing in January and had been in shanghai for several times
    Here are some suggestions that i wish can offer you a little help
    1. The forbidden city -rent an audio guide at the entrance which will only cost you about 10 dollars
    but will bring you detailed explanation even for a piece of jewelry , if you are interested at ancient exquisite treasure, the extra ticket for this will cost you only about 20RMB.
    2. Suzhou- I recommend the lingering garden(liu yuan),it is famous for man-made mountain ,lake scenery gardening and its artistic way of dealing with the spaces. Compared with the forbidden city,liu yuan is more delicate and pretty
    3.Shanghai- a city of mixed culture, Night scene of bund (waitan) and also the restaurant and bars nearby by are worth of seeing and trying

    1. Wonderful suggestions, Spring! Thanks, I will be sure to follow your advise.
      I’ll be seeing you soon.

    • Lily on February 15, 2015 at 9:32 pm
    • Reply

    Congratulation, Kevin! you have got the 10- year Visa to China. Can’t believe will see you soon in less than 50 days! You are so well prepared and will have a good time in China. I agree with you that several cities only introduce the traveler a small view of the country. Hope this is just a wonderful start:)

    1. Thanks, Lily. I am very excited to have received the 10 year visa! It will save a lot of time and hassle as I plan future travel in your country.
      Looking forward to seeing you and the team soon.

    • Echo on February 16, 2015 at 8:28 am
    • Reply

    Hi my dear friend!

    My whole team is waiting for you here, make yrself home hehe!

    always your students and friends.

    1. Thanks for your gracious and warm welcome!
      I am looking forward to seeing all of you soon.

    • Julia on February 22, 2015 at 12:52 am
    • Reply


    Just now I checked my schedule. The afternoon of April. 1st & 2nd and 4th are available for me. Need any help just feel free let me know.

    Anyway, when I come back we may talk online about the meeting and anything else.

    1. Hi Julia,
      Thanks for your warm welcome to China! I am so excited about this trip and the fact that it will be only the first of many more. I know it is a tight schedule, but for a first visit I think it covers some of the important highlights. I hope to travel more in the south and west of your country in the future.

      I know you have a busy schedule as you prepare to finish your research here in PA. I will chat with you when you return to Beijing and we can finalize a plan for a meet-up. Say hi to Vicky.
      Stay warm and see you in a few weeks.

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