In just a few days, I will begin my journey to China with Jonathan. It will be my first time visiting, and I have to admit… I’m a little nervous. While I can’t speak for him, I can’t imagine that Jonathan is nervous. He visited China for a month, where he taught children English at a summer camp. Me on the other hand… well, I never imagined myself there.
My hopes for this trip, just like any journey, is that it teaches me. I want to learn all I can about the history and people of China.
Growing up, I don’t remember learning much about China in school. Even throughout my time at university, my understanding of China and it’s culture was limited. So really, I don’t know what to expect. What I do know, I’ve gathered from Jonathan’s stories from his time there. The question I always ask myself before going somewhere new — internationally or domestic — is “How can I prepare?”
While it’s impossible to be prepared for everything, I try my best to do as much research as I can before leaving. Jonathan and I went to Barnes and Nobles to look for travel guides. We picked up the one by Eyewitness Travel.
“Why buy a travel guide Zebley,” you may ask. “You can find everything you need to know on the internet.”
While that might be true, I don’t have an international phone plan to be able to use the internet while abroad. The guide is great and has 1,630 photographs, 100 detailed maps and 120 illustrations. Just reading it makes me feel a lot better about what to expect when traveling to China. I’ve flagged with a dog-ear the three cities we are going to visit: Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an.
What’s also helpful about this book is that it has many pre-made itineraries you could use to help you plan your trip in advance, for example: Two Weeks on the Silk Road, A Week in Guangxi and Yunnan and A Week in Sichuan and Chongqing.
There are many notable features in this guide, but the reason I bought it were because of the At a Glance, Major City Map, Detailed Information and a Survival Guide.
The At a Glance feature because it provides a summary of the region and an illustrated view of the area. It also has a Getting Around section, which describes long distance travel. Since we are visiting other cities in China, we are taking domestic flights inside the country and need the Getting Around section.
The Major City Map is essential for the trip. In this guide, Beijing and Shanghai each have their own chapters with maps where the sights are plotted with numbered bullets.
The Detailed Information pages are great for getting a more in depth look at each location. These pages are color coded to be easily referenced in the front of the book. There are also beautiful photos of some locations. These photos are helpful as they often show what the outside of the building look like — great for identifying if you are in the right place.
And quite possibly my favorite part of the whole book is the Survival Guide. It has several subsections like Etiquette and Personal Security and Health. In my personal opinion, the best way to travel is to try and fit in. I’m already at the disadvantage being an American… I stand out with my pale skin, blonde hair and eyes.
I won’t tell everything we have planned, but I look forward to experiencing everything and sharing it with you all!