Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What to do, what to do?

Our travel planning is pretty much over. We'll be flying from Jax to Beijing, Beijing to Hefei and Hefei to Guangzhou. We'll take the train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, then fly out of Hong Kong back to the U.S.

Logistically, getting all this worked out was a bit of a hassle because of the number of travelers in our group (14 after we get the girls). Needless to say, I've spent A LOT of time on the phone this week - talking to Great Wall (our adoption agency), my sister, my parents, my mother-in-law, and Lawrence at Delight Travel (the travel agency associated with Great Wall).

Since we are arriving in Beijing one day early, one of our big decisions was whether or not to take an additional tour that included the Summer Palace, Giant Pandas, and Temple of the Heavens. We originally wanted to do this, but I learned the tour left the hotel at 8 am and returned at 5 pm. That's a LONG day after flying 20 hours the day before. So we decided not to do the pre-arranged tour.

We're thinking about other options, though, because we would still like to get out and see the city. We're thinking about trying to get to the zoo to see the pandas on our own – are we crazy? Our hotel is apparently right on the subway line, so we should be able to get around Beijing. Of course, we won't know what the hell anything says, so that might be a bit of an adventure. also, I've read a couple of reviews of the zoo, and most say it's really dirty and depressing.

Another option is to take a shorter tour offered by another tour company. The other tour is called a Hutong tour. The hutongs are traditional chinese residences located on ancient city alleys or lanes around the outskirts of the forbidden city. The tour takes you via rickshaw (a bicycle cab) through the hutongs where you visit a kindergarten, climb a tower to watch a drum beating dance at the top, and possibly dine with a family in their home. The link to the tour is here. This would be really neat.

I guess our other option is to just rest, and get ready to tour the Great Wall and Forbidden City the next day. Hmmmmm . . . what to do, what to do?