Dear Drivel starved Nation!
As mentioned earlier in the year, I have to go to China in October and thought it would be fun to invite members of the Drivel Starved Nation to tag along for a couple of days to see China and meet China’s most famous woodworker. It will be a trip you will not soon forget.
Here are some important details for those who have never traveled abroad and are considering this trip;
1) You will need a passport. Everything you need to know about obtaining a USA passport can be found here.
2) AFTER your passport arrives, you will need to apply for a Chinese Visa. The type of China visa for a tourist is “L”. Here is the link for the application process. The visa is good for 10 years.
3) We will be visiting both Shanghai and Nanjing. I am recommending that you fly in and out of Shanghai. We will all take the bullet train from Shanghai to Nanjing and return to Shanghai from Nanjing.
4) Here is the itinerary;
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27: Bridge City will host a dinner in Shanghai. This will be really fun evening as we mingle and you will get to meet some of the team members from Harvey Industries. The location will likely be our hotel, but that could change.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28: We will visit some of the major Shanghai tourist attractions. We will be accompanied by Jack Xu, the president of Harvey Industries who is also a great tour guide! Saturday evening you will be free to explore the Bund area on your own or with fellow DSN members.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 29: We will visit a couple more attractions in Shanghai prior to taking the bullet train to Nanjing. The cost each way runs from $20 USD to $60 USD. You will be on your own for dinner but I suspect we will all travel in a pack and find a great place to eat.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 30: We will be on a privately guided tour of parts of Nanjing, the old Chinese capital.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31: We will visit Harvey Industries and you will learn all about their rich history of making tools for the world woodworking market. In the afternoon, we will visit Mr.Yang Jin Rong, China’s HongMu Master. He is considered the most important woodworker in China. His showroom is literally unbelievable. Lastly, Bridge City will host a farewell dinner in Nanjing and both Jack Xu and Mr. Yang Jin Rong will be in attendance to talk shop with the DSN.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1: Nothing on the schedule, you can take the bullet train back to Shanghai and fly home, or continue to explore China. You can research flying home out of Nanjing as well.
5) Prior to researching your airfare, you need to understand that you likely cannot fly in on the 27th and make it to dinner. The latest you should arrive in Shanghai is Thursday, October 26th. You will likely not get to the hotel before 10PM. Regarding airfare, coach airfare can run from $400-$800. Business class is typically around $4,000. For those DSN members in the USA, it is approximately a 13 hour non-stop trip from the west coast. The airport for international travel is PVG, Shanghai Pu Dong. The other airport in Shanghai is Hongquiao and is primarily for domestic arrivals and departures.
6) You are certainly welcome to make your own hotel arrangements but we recommend staying at the Westin Bund Center, Shanghai. If you choose to stay with us here, we will make the reservations for you. The cost will be around $200/night. The hotel in Nanjing is the Crowne Plaza Nanjing. We will also make all reservations for this hotel. Cost is under $200/night. Every effort will be made to get a lower group rate at both hotels once we know the final count of those planning on this trip.
7) About the food. Simply, it is off the charts INCREDIBLE. This is a cooking culture with over 5,000 years of culinary history. Each day you will start off with the hotel breakfast buffet which is free. For those of you who refuse to sway from western food, you do not need to worry, western tastes are not ignored. The two dinners that BCTW is hosting will be typical Chinese style dinners where dishes are prepared and brought tableside and placed on a large lazy Susan. You pick and choose what you want to eat. Practice your chopstick skills! And regardless of how picky you are as an eater, you will not go to bed hungry.
8) A word about Baijiu. This is a traditional Chinese beverage that is definitely an acquired taste. It is served at dinner and all I can say is I thought it tasted like transformer fluid and I have never tasted transformer fluid. Beer and wine are both options as are all the non-alcoholic options. Lastly, DO NOT BRING marijuana into China. This would be really STUPID.
9) A word about safety. Last year I visited China five times, and went on self-guided walking tours whenever I was in the mood to walk. I think China is one of the safest tourist spots in the world if you follow a couple of simple rules. 1) Ask the concierge to write in Chinese your destination if you are taking a cab. Always carry the hotel business card with you for a taxi ride home. 2) Do not talk to strangers trying to sell you things. 3) Take a copy of your passport and Visa. That’s about it.
10) A word about money. I recommend you convert a couple hundred dollars at the Shanghai airport when you arrive. This is a much better exchange rate than what you can get stateside. The taxi fare from the Shanghai airport to the hotel will be around $70. AND, DO NOT accept a taxi ride from people inside the airport, simply head to the taxi line. The people in the airport charge double or triple. Lastly, if you run out of Chinese RMB, you can always exchange for more at the hotel. You can convert all of the excess RMB back to dollars at your departing airport. Credit cards are accepted just about everywhere.
11) We hope you bring your spouse or significant other. Shanghai is the largest city on the planet and if shopping is your thing, you will be a happy camper.
12) Depending on the size of the group, we all may end up sharing the expense for a private bus. Just sayin’…
So, what is left to discuss? WE NEED TO KNOW IF YOU WILL BE JOINING US! If so, please following these instructions!
1) RSVP with CHINA in the subject field of an email addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) In this email, please provide the full names of the attendees.
3) IF you are going to stay at the recommended hotels in Shanghai and Nanjing, please let us know what days you would like reserved.
4) WE NEED TO KNOW THIS INFORMATION BEFORE JULY 1st PLEASE! The sooner the better.
5) If you have contacted me directly, you STILL need to formally RSVP. I have a crappy memory.
If you have never been to China, I highly recommend this trip. It will change just about every preconceived notion you have about China. This is what happened to me. The people, the food, the architecture, the history… all are simply amazing.
I hope you join us!