What a busy time it is around here! With less than two weeks til we embark on our journey, we've pretty much got things under control, but there's always that "what if we forget the..." feeling.
Things that we've taken care of, in no particular order...
VISAS. I could tell you a long convoluted story but suffice to say I highly recommend, no I exhort you--use a courier to handle the visa process! Considering the time and gas money, it would have been an overall savings to pay someone else to go to the Chinese visa office in Washington DC (2 hours each way from here). They no longer mail visas to applicants, so I had to make a second trip to retrieve them. Because I forgot that May Day is a holiday for that office, and the closure was not listed on their website, I also made a THIRD trip to retrieve them. One thing to pass along though, if you need to drive there...you can sneak a parking spot at the Safeway there on Wisconsin Avenue and you'll probably be ok - though I went in the store and bought stuff just to be able to smile for the video surveillance :)
IMMUNIZATIONS. John is good to go because he had a round of immunizations in preparation for a trip to Ghana last summer (and then that trip was canceled). The girls and I were fairly up to date on everything. We got the first of a two-round HepA series, and needed typhoid immunizations as well. JieJie and I are taking a 4-day round of oral vaccine, but MeiMei was unable to swallow the capsules, so we have her scheduled for a shot at the health department tomorrow. She actually said she would prefer the shot because she was having such trouble trying to swallow pills...kind of surprising.
TRAVEL PLANNING. We are again using Lotus Travel to handle all the preparations and are confident that they have everything covered. Today I'm making a spreadsheet to estimate in-country expenses not covered in the tour fee, i.e. lunches and dinners as well as tips to each city's guide and driver. Of course souvenir shopping will be a must as well. I'm so curious to see what the girls end up bringing home.
HOUSE / DOG SITTER. Our big dog does ok at the kennel for a weekend but often comes home hoarse from all the barking he does, so we made arrangements for live-in pet care and house-sitting while we're gone so that he's comfortable and someone is here looking after things.
Stuff we still need to do:
LUGGAGE ASSESSMENT...we have the two Totes rolling duffels that we took to China in 2004--they were $20/each at the Potomac Mills Totes outlet, amazing they've lasted so long! We need two more similar pieces, as well as daypacks we can use in-country that fold away easily. Portability is key - we are literally taking planes, trains, and automobiles on this trip...and boats...and rickshaws. I don't want to wrestle with an unruly suitcase or give the girls anything they can't tote on their own.
PACK FOR GIRLS' SUMMER CAMP. Yep, believe it or not, 3 days after we return home, jet-lagged as all get-out, the girls are going away for a week of sleep-away camp!! Knowing that my brain is going to be about as useful as a schlorpy pile of jello at that point, best to pack for that beforehand.
That's about all I can think of at the moment. I should say that I will not be posting from China because a) can't access blogger from there anyway and b) who wants to spend an hour a day in the business center when we're on a trip?!
So I'm planning to keep an old fashioned written journal and can share some highlights when we get home.
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