Subject: Re: China
Hi Lauren:

I admire your son for his fortitude to doing an independent trip to China. Is he entering through Hong Kong? And how much research has he done on the hows and wherefores?

My husband and I were in China several years ago - primarily Gwangzho, Beijing and Shanghai. We traveled independently but with some help from a local Beigjing travel agent. At that time, Hotels didn't take reservations from individual travelers - don't know about now. So he made reservations for us, gave us a wonderful bunch of suggestions about sighseeing, and, in Beijing, arranged for a day tour for us including the Great Wall (we went up to an area used principally by the Chinese - there was only one other Western family there!). So it's doable, BUT I would advise investing in Lonely Planet's CHINA . And yes, you have to get a Visa - I think you can download the form on line.

I am returning to China in May, but going with a small tour group - Imaginative Traveler. We' ran into them when we traveled before so I know they are about my speed. As I'm now by myself, I figured some structure and socialization was indicated and they allow a lot of time for you to do your own thing. Mostly a younger group - maybe something he might want to consider for they - or Explore or Intrepid - set up some wild and wonderful trips. .All are on line: www.adventureecenter.com for Explore! and The Imaginative Traveller (though I think you can get them directly - try Google) and www.intrepidtravel.com for Intrepid Travel (An Aussie firm, I think)

Anyway, I don't think you need to worry any more than if he took off fdr Europe - you can get into trouble wherever and you can be perfectly safe whereever.

Cheers!

Jo, working at getting out of Sunnyvale ASAP.