Lion at Victoria's Peak, Hong Kong
It's an exciting time for the remaining families in my Yahoo China Adoption group. Several are scheduled to leave for China this week! Last week, the others received matches for their beautiful children. I'm so excited for them. These are some tips I'd like to share with those who may still be planning their trip.
1. If you can afford to, bring extra money. With the US economy being in the tank, we owed more money for the orphanage fee. Also, our guides wanted us to tip bus drivers and even the hotel staff in Guangzhou, including housekeeping. Originally, we were told that tipping wasn't necessary. Also, tours are extra (of course), so that will factor into what you spend.
2. If your entry port isn't Beijing, leave a few days earlier (if you can afford it.) I wish we had done this. The sights we saw in Hong Kong, excluding Victoria's Peak, were not that exciting, definitely not the beginning I had imagined for our trip. I can't believe we flew all the way to China and didn't see the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square or the Forbidden City.
3. If you're single or the only person of a couple traveling, please bring a support person. You're going to need it. There was a person in our group who came by herself and I know it was a struggle for her to manage her child and everything else that was going on - luggage, etc. Sometimes it really does take a village. Mike and I were blessed to have three people on our team. My mom was an amazing help.
4. If you have two rooms and you "think" you have late-day check-outs for both rooms, double check. In Guangzhou, mom received a call in the early afternoon "reminding" her that she needed to check out of the room or be charged an extra day. That information was never shared with us prior to the trip. All of a sudden, we were scrambling to more everything from mom's room into our room. That was some extra craziness we didn't need on the day we left for Hong Kong.
5. Bring a small packet or two of formula with you on Gotcha Day. We had some Enfamil packs but they were at the hotel because we thought we would be given formula that morning. We discovered that the last time Maggie had been fed that day was at 6:30 in the morning. We received her between 10:30 and 11. Although I thought promotional material for our agency said they provided the baby with their first can of formula, this was not the case. Right after our Gotcha moment, we took a trip to a local super market to buy formula. However, Maggie was heavily crying before we reached the hotel because she was so hungry.
6. Our agency promised that staff provides water at each stop, so at each city. We received this at two of our stops, the first in Hong Kong after I commented how thirsty we were. If I hadn't said something, we probably would not have been offered this. In Changsha, our guide said she had never heard of this policy. So, I e-mailed our agency. In Guangzhou, water was waiting for us on the bus when we arrived. If the guides don't have water when you meet them, ask about it. If they act confused, e-mail the agency. I get upset when agencies/companies promise things and don't deliver. Hopefully, the next family who stays in Hunan will get everything that is promised to them.
7. If you are in a taxi and get hit by a vehicle, don't be upset if the taxi drivers orders you out of the cab and away from the scene right away. This happened to Mike and one of our adoptive parent friends. Mike learned from a friend who is from China that if the two had been at the scene when the police arrived, they may have had to stay in the country longer for the investigation, legal process. What had been considered rude bheavior was really a time saver.