21 July 2008

New content now online at weninchina.com

We have just added two new essays:

Travel and Tourism: Chinese Domestic Flights
Describing the procedures and experience of flying within China.
People and Culture: Lucky Fish
Going beyond the guidebook definition to show you how language and art intersect to create specific cultural meanings.

weninchina.com now offers 26 entries to help adoptive families prepare for their journey to China, in the categories of Lodging, Food, Travel and Tourism, Money and Shopping, Safety and Health, and People and Culture, with many more being developed. We encourage parents and fellow travelers to share their stories to help smooth the way for the next group, and to better understand their new child's culture.

You can contact us at weninchinainfo@mac.com, through posting a comment via this blog, or at our website.

16 July 2008

Olympic Souvenirs

You will not escape the marketing blitz around the Summer Olympics being held in Beijing this August. The organizers are hoping to earn US$70 million in royalties from licensed merchandise, so expect to find it very convenient to part with your money.

The mascots are collectively called "Fuwa," are incredibly cute, and with over 300 authorized products, impossible for you NOT to purchase for your child.

Prices are not going to be any cheaper than similar merchandise here in the States ($16 for a t-shirt, $5 for a set of pencils, for instance.) No haggling or discounts just because you'll be in China...

Official shops are in major tourist areas like the Great Wall, inside the Forbidden City, big shopping centers, and international airports. Your guides will know where to take you.

Counterfeit merchandise is plentiful, but of dubious quality (remember the lead paint scare from last year.) Do your best to buy legitimate merchandise, keep a clear conscience, and set a good example for your newest family member. Questions to ask are:

1. Does the item in question come from an official shop, or one of the big retailers in town? That's good.  Does it come from an outdoor market, a temporary stall, or the back room of a tiny shop? Don't bet on its authenticity.
2. Does the packaging say "Beijing 2008 Official Licensed Product" with the manufacturer's name and address, as well as contact info for the Olympics licensing service. 
3. For clothing and larger pieces of merchandise, does it have an attached tag featuring holographic security thread, watermark, and microembossing? Excellent.

If you don't have enough time during your trip, or spare cash, an excellent option for Olympic merchandise when you're back in the States is China Sprout, an authorized reseller on this side of the Pacific. We've used them ourselves and are very happy with their service and shipping.

For an expanded version of this article, plus additional links and photos, click here to visit the "Olympic Souvenirs" page at our home site, weninchina.com. Elsewhere on our site you'll find tools such as weather forecasts and currency conversion, helpful links, and dozens more essays on other topics of interest to families planning adoption trips to China.

13 July 2008

Taking you where the guidebooks don't

After years of hoping and waiting, and eighteen hours of flights, we finally made it to Beijing. It was coming up on midnight by the time we checked into the hotel and made our way up to the room.  Excitement about the trip and anticipation of meeting our daughter had worn off; we were completely exhausted and nervous about being in an alien culture. And we really needed to use the bathroom.

I put the key in the door and opened it. Our room was dark, so I flipped the light switches. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. With the dim light from the hallway, I could see there were instructions above the light switch, in Chinese...

This is the point where the travel guidebooks and your adoption agency's preparation stop being useful, and you have to figure things out for yourself. That's where weninchina.com comes in. 

We give you the practical how-tos about your China adoption travel experience, supplementing what your adoption agency has presented. We don't get into adoption paperwork, process, or politics; but we do get into what kind of shoes to pack, how you get breakfast, and where to exchange your money.

We aim for our home site to be the first travel resource adoption agencies refer their China Program families to. weninchina.com will be continually evolving and expanding - with your feedback, suggestions, and photos, we can help our fellow traveling families have a great experience.

And if we can save you the ten minutes of fumbling around in the dark to figure out there's a slot above the light switches to slide your room key card into to activate the electricity - like I did -, then we have removed a stress and made your trip a little bit better.