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Author: dianepbreedlove

Joined: 8/3/2010
Posts: 2
Trips Taken: 4
Traveler Since: 2010

November 15, 2010

We're taking this OAT trip in May.  I read earlier a recommendation that women should wear skirts because the toilets were an issue.  I'd like to hear from others who took this trip how often this was an issue so I can pack accordingly.  Also from those who made this trip, what should we know that would make the trip more enjoyable?\

db

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 467
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

November 16, 2010

I haven't taken the China trip but I hope that someone who has been on the trip responds because I don't understand the recommendation to wear a skirt. I've been on trips where the "toilet" at rest stops was a hole in the floor and I think a skirt would be more cumbersome than pants.

I've brought skirts on trips a few times to wear to the farewell dinner, otherwise it's much more comfortable traveling in pants -- climbing stairs, getting on and off the bus, etc. A long skirt is a potential for tripping and falling. I don't recall any women on any of my trips wearing skirts during the daily excursions.

By the way, I'm looking at the picture at the top of the page, which certainly looks like China and all the women are wearing pants -- not one in a skirt.

I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 884
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

November 16, 2010

I went to China in 1998 with a different tour company.  After my friend and I got there, without a skirt between us, someone said they had been advised to bring skirts because of the toilets.  But the few times I had to use a "squat," I just removed my slacks.  After all, it's not a communal toilet room (I should hope), and I agree that a skirt would be more cumbersome and more likely to get wet or otherwise affected.

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

November 19, 2010

We did China & Yangtze River trip with GCT a couple of months before the Olympics opened.  You may not have any trouble with the "squat" toilets as I have heard that hundreds of "western style" were installed at all major tourist sites in China in preparation of the Olympics.  But, if I were you, I'd start exercising my thighs, NOW!  Just in case.  And for the record, no one on our trip wore a skirt. EVER.

I remember waiting in long lines at the restrooms because most had 1 or 2 western toilets and lots of squatters.  (the men grumbled about us using up time that could be spent at sites)  Don't be surprised when chinese women "butt" in line or just pass everyone and go right in.  They know tourists are waiting for the "seats" and that there are alot of empty squats.   We were told it's a cultural thing.  Alot still live with communal facilities and it's survival of the fastest.  Some facilities have attendants who will sell you 3 or 4 squares of toilet paper for a small coin.  ALWAYS CARRY TOILET PAPER WITH YOU.  ALWAYS.   Some restrooms had pay toilets so will need to carry small change with you too.  Our PD would have some coins on him for emergencys but not enough for a busload. 

Hand sanitizer is a must.  One or two GALLONS should do it.  I'm kidding, of course, but China is very dirty.

Most people didn't take "gifts" but, we usually do.  It certainly is a personal choice & isn't anything to fret about.  If you want to give your PD a gift, ours told us that maps of the USA are difficult to obtain.  I wish we had known before we left home.  For our home hosted visit, we took a small book about our home state, fridge magnet and cap.  Someone took a calandar of either their state or of the US.  Someone else who lived near the ocean gave a seashell.  We visited an elementary school and took paper, pencils, erasers, etc. The teacher and kids were appreciative.  Someone took candy.  They were the heroes!

We loved our China trip & rank it at the top of our favorites.  The Chinese people could not have been more welcomeing or friendly.  You won't be disappointed.

P.S.    I've tried several times/days to post a reply to your post, but always got the dreaded "access denied" where something would log me out.  I called GCT & they are aware of the problem.

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

November 19, 2010

I thought of a few more tips for China... 

Take plenty of single dollar bills and don't be afraid to bargain.  It's really fun after you get the hang of it & the chinese expect it.  The vendors are non-stop.  I had our PD write in chinese on the BACK of my NAMETAG...NO THANK YOU.  I HAVE NO MONEY.  It got alot of laughs (even from vendors) and worked (most times).

Also, make sure your ATM/Debit card can be used in China.  Our bank at home said ours could.  WRONG.  Even in larger citys at Bank of China.  It was a real hassle trying to get cash advances against our MasterCard & Visa.  (had to show passport, more ID, sign lots of papers we couldn't read and took over an hour)

Take the optional tours. (When will you have the chance again?)  The night boat ride to see the lights of the Bund is not to be missed.  Although there is a strong odor of diesel fumes from the boat.  We could have skipped one of the operas (Peking?) that was the original chinese version.  We've never heard such screeching!  The look on all our faces was priceless.  It scared us all!  Then we got the giggles.  We talked about it for the rest of the trip and my husband & I still talk about it today.  So maybe you won't want to skip it!

YOU HAVE TO SEE THE PANDAS!!!  I can't tell you what a treat they were.  I think this was an included tour.

The Great Wall of China is steeper than we expected.  Husband made it to the top but I just couldn't.  It was over 100 degrees.  It was fantastic.  The entire trip was. 

ALWAYS HAVE A HAT HANDY.  And sunglasses, if you wear them. 

NOW,  I WANT TO GO AGAIN!

Author: aspengal

Joined: 9/1/2010
Posts: 15
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

A partial list: Best of Kenya+Tanzania Safari(OAT), Peru(OAT), Canada(GCT), Thailand+Cambodia+Laos(OAT), Morocco(OAT), Egypt+Jordan(GCT), Australia(OAT), China(GCT), Ireland(GCT), Turkey, Tuscany+Amalfi Coast(GCT), Prague, Greece(sailing), the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Mexico (20+ visits), Martinique, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Jamaica (5 visits), Grenada + the Grenadines (w/Windjammer cruise), plus travel within the U.S.

Traveler Since: 1999

January 16, 2011

I did this tour in November 2009; I live in Colorado, & did not find the weather unusually cold for me, although China is definitely more 'humid' than Colorado.  The route of this tour will start out colder, & get steadily warmer as you progress into southern China.  The coldest day was on the Great Wall, outside of Beijing; I wore a fleece jacket with a t-shirt & a lightweight sweater underneath, & was warm enough (a neck scarf would have been nice too, tho).  It can also be 'chilly' while on your river cruise on the Yangtze.  I never needed anything warmer than that fleece jacket.  A good rain coat/poncho is a 'must' that time of year; it can rain pretty hard, & if you're holding an umbrella you can't be taking photos!   Good walking shoes (not brand new) are a must, as many times you're walking on un-even pavement or ancient stone pathways (hiking boots not needed).  Good supportive sandals (Birkis, Keens, Merrells, Tevas, Rockport, etc) are also good in the warmer areas.  A good sun hat (or small travel umbrella) is a must for the hot, sunny days.  China is very 'casual' in dress - polo shirts, capris, longer shorts, 'nice' t-shirts, khakis & cotton slacks are all OK to wear.  I brought a 'polo shirtdress' with me, & wore it several times; it was cooler to wear than pants, & casual enough to wear sneakers or sandals with it.  The air conditioning on the buses GCT uses within the cities was pretty cold; I always wanted a cardigan/fleece jacket with me for the bus, & would leave it there when we left to walk around a site.

HINT: bring one or two of those nylon 'reusable' shopping bags from your local grocery store; they're easy to stuff into a purse or daypack, & are more comfortable to carry than the inevitable cheap plastic bags your purchases will be put into, esp. when shopping from the 'street vendors' - a fun cultural experience in itself!

NOTE: unlike many countries, you should NOT bring any small-denomination US $$ with you to China; noone will accept them on the street or in the hotels as 'tips' or for buying inexpensive items.  Instead, you should use ATM's (they're EVERYWHERE, & I had no trouble using my Colorado bank checking account debit card) or exchange money at your hotel's front desk (however, be among the first in your tour group to do so when you arrive, as they usually run out of Chinese yuan).  Also, the Chinese are not interested in bartering for items you may bring with you to trade - they want cash!

HINT #2: if you like 'cream' in your coffee, bring your own instant creamer.  It's not always available.  If you need decaff coffee, bring some of your own also.  Lots of good tea in China (!), not so much good coffee.  (note that some tea has more caffeine than coffee, if you really need that buzz in the morning)

Bring LOTS of memory for your camera - the photo opportunities are endless.  I love taking photos of children when I travel;  the Chinese parents are very proud of their children & were very gracious whenever I asked if I could take a picture of their child.  Everyone enjoyed seeing the photos in my viewer afterwards.

Enjoy!  Learn a little Mandarin from the Internet before you go - they were very pleased with my small efforts to say 'hello', 'please', 'thank you', 'goodbye', etc.

Author: muprof

Joined: 2/1/2011
Posts: 1
Trips Taken: 12
Countries Visited:

Spain & Portugal, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, Italy, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland & Ireland, China, 12 cruises to Caribbean.

Traveler Since: 2002

February 01, 2011

I did China & Yangtze River last June 2010.  It was a bit hot & humid and Bejing was still smoggy but I had a wonderful time as a single traveler.  A few of the more local toilets were interesting but as an emergency you can not be choosy.  Never had a bad meal the whole trip.  Just for the food, I would return again as it was a very good bargin for the money.  Definitly have high tea at the Penninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.  A once in lifetime experience.  And take the mag lev train from Shanghai to airport you might never get to travel @250 mph on a train like that in your life.  Experience all that you can, walk back alleys and get off the beaten path.  Oh, and see a Wal Mart store in Bejing, especially the basement food area.

David Stern

Author: kaytravels

Joined: 3/21/2010
Posts: 6
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2002

February 06, 2011

I traveled as a solo in  October 2010.  Western toilets are not easy to find everywhere, but all the ladies in our group wore pants.  I bouight 12 ounce paper cups and they were a life saver for the hole in the floor toilets. "Me NO Speak Chinese" from Amazon may be helpful.  It is a small paperback with word and pictures. My little school friend at the school we visited really enjoyed our conversation using what I could. Also another tip you might want to start saving the last little bits of the toilet paper rolls for your day bag.  I took 12  for the 19 day trip.  The Chinese are very picky about US dollars so take NEW money.  I h ad my bank   get new $20 and 1$ bills took 100 ones and 500 in 20.  Capitol One Atm works in China most places.  We were limited to bank time because we usually arrived at our location after hours and left before 9am opening times so I used the hotel ATM when I needed more Chinese.  If you have left over currancy from other countries in bills (like Euros) and you want to use them they exchanged mine with no problem on arrival  at the hotel in Beijing.  Also remember to take a lock for your suitcase as inter China flights require locks.  Remember also that 44 lbs. is the limit within China.  I just left unwanted clothes  along the way and used the space for the "finds".  Have a wonderful trip if it was  not such a long trip from Louisiana I would go back. There is so much more to see!!!

Author: stans

Joined: 7/27/2010
Posts: 2
Trips Taken: 3
Traveler Since: 2010

February 20, 2011

In response to the skirt issue for squat toilets in China--don't bother.  If it's hot you'll be in shorts or pants as everyone said.  Each toilet does have one "western" style toilet.  However, soap and hand dryers are minimal or non-existent.  (We were there in Sept 2010).  I suggest carrying a small plastic bag with toilet paper (or take paper napkins from the breakfast room), sanitizer, and a small microfiber towel (the hand blow dryers are awful).  Your  hotels will be "western" style.

The hotels provide kettles to boil water for tea.  We boiled the water at night so we could use it for brushing our teeth etc. in the morning.  There will also be 2 free bottles of water a day in the room for you to take on your day trips.

Also if you are flying within China, you might want some handy wipes because you cannot carry ANY liquids in your purse or carry-ons.  That includes hand sanitizers.

Hope this helps.  Have a great trip. 

RMS


 

Author: chpiep

Joined: 4/12/2010
Posts: 4
Trips Taken: 3
Countries Visited:

Canada, Tanzania, Brazil, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos as well as various places in the States including Hawaii. I am interested in a trip to China and a bicycle tour somewhere in Europe.

Traveler Since: 2008

June 26, 2011

Just returned and yes there are squat toilets in all public places.  Most places also have a WC which is western toilet but wearing slacks wasn't a problem.  Make sure to bring TP though because there is NONE.  You hotels do have western toilets and TP.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 884
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

June 26, 2011

It's very important to have your own supply of toilet paper, whether from a roll from which you've removed the cardboard, supplies of kleenex, etc.  If they do supply it in the facilities, it's one square handed to you by an attendant.

I don't carry a liquid sanitizer; I use the individual moist wipes.

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