Subject: Re: China
Hi Lauren,

China is a relatively safe country - I feel more concerned about my son travelling in the US than I do when he's in China.

Yes - he'll need a VISA - he can contact his nearest Chinese consulate http://www.china-embassy.org/visa/english/lq.htm and they'll get him fixed up with it.

Where to go depends so much on his/his friend's interests and sense of adventure and their language skills.

Wilma mentioned that in 1996 it was recommended that foreigners travel with a govt guide. Things have changed a great deal in the last 7 years. There are no restrictions on travel (with the exception of land travel into Tibet) and China is much more open and tourist-friendly.

All of the main tourist areas now have sufficient English signage and people to help so not speaking the language should not be a problem for them. But, if your son and/or his friend speaks (and reads) Mandarin (Putonghua), they could probably go to the less touristy places and travel on the trains (which are much cheaper and certainly give a great opportunity to meet the people). My son speaks the language (and reads a bit) and he had little difficulty travelling by hard-sleeper on trains throughout the country but he said that he would have really had a hard time if he couldn't read the train scheds or ask for help in some of the stations.

I'm sure that your son has already done some research into China and has some ideas as to where he'd like to go. I'd be happy to answer any specific questions (if I can) and....could possibly link him up (electronically) with my son because Sean's been travelling (lately on his own) in China since he was 18 (he's 24 now).

Cheers! Judy in Hong Kong