Sunday, October 10, 2010

China - a View from the back of the bus - Prologue

Bus #3, Passenger #68
By Missy Schmidt (Chinese name: “Sweet Lioness” Mandarin naming 蜜狮 Pronounced mee-shee)

Traveling to China is a lot like “Amazing Race” with a little “Survivor” thrown in for good measure. The following is a recount of our adventures, a once in a lifetime experience with the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Prologue: When my former classmate, Meg Pier, and I recently reconnected (thanks Facebook), I enjoyed reading her professional blog, View From The Pier, where she republishes her words and pictures from such high profile publications as the Boston Globe. I was delighted when she invited me to guest author a post for her blog when, on my Facebook status, I declared myself "going off the grid in China."

Neither my husband nor I are the group tour types. My last was 35 years ago with my high school French class tripping to Paris, Brussels and London. In hindsight, I didn't appreciate the experience, evidenced by my lack of interest in the simple act - at the energetic age of 15 - of climbing the Eiffel Tower.

My husband and I are both Type-A personalities, independent in spirit and mind. Our jobs are such that we engage daily with the public. I work for the Hampton Roads Partnership, a core group of regional leaders working to improve Hampton Roads' competitive position in the global economy. I write for and manage my organization's blog, several websites, member and stakeholder communiqués, annual reports, meeting presentations, executive summaries and briefs, etc. Practicing my career, according to Mother Nature's wisdom, I do my best to write ten times as much as I talk (10 fingers, only 1 mouth), and anyone that knows me can tell you, I talk a lot.

The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce (Hampton Roads Chamber) tempted us with an unbelievably low price for a 9-day trip to China – all transportation (ground and air), 4- & 5-star American hotels (which we find to be VERY important on a trip to Asia), 3 meals per day, English-speaking tour guides (another important feature) and entrance to first-class attractions including the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

While China had not been on either of our "bucket" lists, who could refuse such a deal!?!

Slideshow on Flickr

Read the series...

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