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FAQ-Tour

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
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Here is a list of frequently asked questions. If you find your question is not answered in this list, please contact the Tour Leader, Bruce Lo directly at lobw@uwec.edu.

 1 When and where will the tour begin and end?
(Information last updated August 10, 2014)
The tour will begin and end in Hong Kong. You need to be at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) by the Air China airlines "check-in" counter at the Departure Hall no later than 11.00 hour (11 am) on Monday, Nov 3, 2014 to meet with the Tour Leader to get your air ticket and boarding pass. Our flight, Air China CA112, from Hong Kong to Beijing on Nov 3 will  departs Hong Kong at 14.10 hour (2.10pm) and arrive Beijing 17:30 hour.

The tour will also end at Hong Kong. The tour guide will take us to the Shenzhen/Hong Kong bourder near the Louhu station after lunch on Friday, Nov 14. I will help you to clear immigration and custom at the Louhu Check Point, cross over to Hong Kong and take a MTR train from the Hong Kong side of Louhu Station that afternoon. The train will terminate at the Kowloon Rail Station, but you can use other MTR connections to go to your hotels anywhere in Hong kong, or to the airport directly to pick up a flight. We expect to arrive back in Hong kong on Friday afternoon.

(NB: The exact times of departure and arrival, and the location of meeting are subject to change. Please check back here frequently to make sure you get the latest information.)
 2 Who is responsible for getting the international flights to and from China?
Since our group members come from different parts of the world, the most economic option is for you to book you own international flights from your home country to and from Hong Kong, keeping in mind the time and date of arrival and departure as specified in the previous question. Here is a summary...
  • To arrive at Hong Kong before Monday, Nov 3, 2014 early enough to meet with the group for departure to Beijing (See Q1).
  • To depart from Hong Kong to your home country we suggest you book a flight after Friday, Nov 14, 2014.
If you want the Tour Leader to arrange for your international flights, please email Bruce Lo at lobw@uwec.edu early with your requirements to facilitate coordination. 
 3Who is the tour operator? Are they reliable? 
The tour is operated by a Hong Kong based company called Qifang. Our contact in that company is called Stephen Dong, who is a member of the Adventist Church in Hong Kong. They are recommended to us by Pastor Daniel Jiao, the Secretary of Chinese Union Mission.
 4How much does it cost? And what does it include?
The tour fee is $2,500 USD person which includes all meals, domestic flights within China, bus and train transport near each city, entry fees to major Chinese attractions, hotel accommodation, and tips to tour guides and bus drivers. However, it does not include incidental hotel expenses (e.g. minibar, room services) nor does it include additional entry fees to special exhibition inside an attraction. Also if you want to make use of the hotel porter service for your luggage, you  will need to pay for that yourself. Also, since we need to telegraphically wire the money to the tour operator in Hong Kong, we ask each tour member to add an extra $2.00 USD per person to cover the wiring fee charged by the banks.  This will take the total cost to $2,502 USD per person.
 5When do I have to pay? 
The tour fee may be paid in two installments:
  • A deposit of $200.00 USD per person by no later than Jun 30, 2014.
  • The final balance of 2,302.00 USD per person by no later than Jul 31, 2014.
Please note that these are HARD deadlines and the dates refer to when the money is received not when it is sent. Since the number of places in the tour group is limited, in order to secure a place in the tour group, you should pay your deposit as soon as possible. Late deposits will be accepted only if there are still places in the tour group.
 6 How do I make the payment (payment methods)?
All payments must be in USD and payable to
          Bruce Lo
          1427 Taft Ave., Eau Claire,
          Wisconsin, 54701 USA 
You may use any of the follow methods to pay:
  1. By Check/Cheque: If you have an US bank account, you can pay by check. Please send check to Bruce Lo at the above address, allowing sufficient time for the check to reach by the Jun 30th and Jul 31st deadlines respectively.
  2. Use Online Banking: If your bank has online Billpay or P2P payment facility (E.g. Chase Quick Pay, Bank of America online transfer, Citi Bank, Wells Fargo Sure Pay), you can send money online to Bruce Lo using his email. For Chase Quick Pay only, please use the email address: brucelo2012@gmail.com; for all other banks, please use the email address: lobw@uwec.edu
  3. Use 3rd Party Payment System: You can make your payment using PayPal. Send the PayPal payment to Bruce Lo's  email address lobw@uwec.edu. PayPal charges payee a fee of 2.9%+30 cents per transaction. So when you use PayPal to pay, please add an extra amount of 2.9%+30 cent to the payment to cover the fees. You may also pay using Western Union money transfer system. Use Bruce Lo's name and address as stated above. Other payment systems include WorldPay, or AsiaPay. 
  4. Telegraphic Wiring: You may wire the money telegraphically from you own bank to Bruce Lo's bank account at Wells Fargo Bank. You will need the following information: Wells Fargo Bank's SWIFT Code=WFBIUS6S, ABA=121000248, and Bruce Lo's account number. For security reason the account number is not published here. Please email Bruce Lo at lobw@uwec.edu to request him to send you the account number. Wells Fargo Bank charges a $15 USD for incoming internationally wired fund. Please add an extra $15.00 for this charge.
 7 What is the quality of accommodation?
Your comfort is our chief concern. Throughout the tour, you will be accommodated in 5-star international hotels.
 8 What meals are included in the tour cost? Are all meals vegetarian?
Most meals are included in the tour cost. Please check the itinerary to find out which are included and which are not. All meals served are ovo-lecto vegetarian.
 9Where can I find foreign exchange rates? 
In additional to asking your bank, you can make use of many online foreign exchange services. Here is a site called OANDA that I often use. You may like to check it out:  http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/.
 10What are the refund and cancellation policies? 
Please see Travel China Guide website.
 11 Do I need a visa to travel to China? 
Yes, every foreign national needs to have a valid visa to enter China. (No visa is needed to enter into Hong Kong. You only need a valid Passport.) 

To obtain a China visa you must possess a Passport valid 6 months beyond the travel dates. Since most of your will probably use a 3-month visa, we recommend that you apply for the China visa no more than 3 months in advance but at least 1 month prior to the travel date.
 
If you are in the US, the best way is to go through a "China Visa Service" agent. The official website for the Chinese Embassy in US is http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/, where you can find out more information about visa requirements. Here are some examples of visa service agents in the US:
You will be pleased to note that I have negotiated a discount for you. If you use the service of USCHINAVISA (the first link), you can get $4.00 reduction in the service fee, if you include a handwritten note: "per arrangement with lobw@uwec.edu" when you send them your application.

If you are in Australia, please contact the Chinese Embassy or Consulate there http://au.china-embassy.org/eng/

Please be advised that the visa fees for US citizen is much higher than those from other countries.
 12Since I do not speak Chinese, will there be an English speaking guide with us throughout China?  
Yes, the guides we have in each city are bilingual. They can speak both English and Chinese.
 13 What is the best way to get local currency for spending when traveling in another country?
Generally speaking, the most economical way to get money in local currency while traveling overseas is to use your Check Card or your Debit Card, which should contain a "Cirrus" or "Plus" logo signifying that they can be use for money withdrawal from an overseas ATM bearing the same symbol. You will be charged a foreign ATM fee as well as additional bank fees. But the foreign exchange rate for international ATM withdrawal is usually better than using AUD/CAD/USD cash to buy local money at a money kiosk. To avoid excessive transaction fees, minimize the total number of withdrawal while overseas.

Generally speaking, for non-trivial amount of payments, you can use your (foreign) credit cards. Visa and Master cards are widely accepted. American Express charge cards are slightly less widely accepted, because Amex charges the merchant a higher service fee. Therefore business may add the "merchant-side" card transaction fee to your payment, i.e. you will pay a bit higher. In Hong Kong you should not have any problems with your credit cards or debit cards, therefore you should be able to withdraw local cash from virtually any ATM's. But in China, you may find only ATM's from certain banks (e.g. OCBC, BoC, etc) will accept foreign cards. Since we are staying in 5-stars hotels, ATMs in or near those hotels will most likely accept foreign cards.

It is a good idea to carry with you a small amount of local currency on arrival to a new country. For emergencies, each person should also carry some cash in either USD, CAD, or AUD, which you can exchange in money kiosks or at airports. We do not recommend you exchange too much local currency (CNY) in China, because any excess, you are not allowed to take out of the country, and if you took some Chinese Yens out, no banks in US, Canada or Australia will be willing to purchase it from you to help you change back to other currency. So on exit at the boarder, you should change all your left over CNY back to a currency that you will use in future.
 14 Do I have to give "Tips" in China?
Please review this webpage for general guidelines provided by Travel China Guide on tipping : http://www.travelchinaguide.com/tipping-guidelines.htm.

As China interacts more with the Western world, tipping is becoming an accepted practice, particularly in the hospitality industry. In a group of our size, it is suggested that the tips is CNY 40  (approx USD 6.50) per traveler per day for the tour guide, and the tips is CNY 20 (USD 3.25) per traveler per day. It is best if you give your gratuity to you group leader so that he can pay, as a group, at the end of the guide/driver's segment of the overall tour. If you choose to pay individually, you may do so. But they would normally expect a higher amount per traveler for smaller groups. Please place your tips (remember to separate the guide's tips from the driver's tips)  in 2 envelopes properly marked, and hand them to the group leader towards the end of each segment. You may pay your tips in either CNY or USD. If the tour guide and driver is with you part of a day, you may prorate the tips.

To give you some ideas about the the amount of tips needed in this 12-day tour, we shall explain further as follows. Day 1 may be regarded as 1/3 day, so allow $2 USD for guide and $1 USD for driver, Day 12 may be regarded as 1/2 day, so allow $4 USD for guide and $2 USD for driver. The other 10 days are full days, allowing $6 - 6.50 USD per day for the guide means about $60-65 USD for the guide; and allowing $3 - 3.25 for the driver means about $30 - $32.50 USD for the driver.  This means the total tips per traveler for the guide will be in the range of $66 - $71 USD, and the total tips for the driver will be in the range of $33 - $36 USD.  So roughly speaking one should allow for about $100 USD for tips for the whole trip, noting that some of time we will be in trains/planes with not guide/driver. The total tips should be prorated for each local guide/local driver according to how much time they spent with us. To convert the USD to CNY, you can use the FX rate of 1 USD = 6.1 CNY.

The tipping rate for hotel bellboys is less formal. If you decide to carry your own suitcases, you do not have to tip. If you decide to use the hotel porter service in a high class hotel, it is customary to tip the bellboys with 5 to 10 CNY (1 to 2 USD ) per suitcase. If you go out to dine in a western restaurants in China, a tipping rate of 10% to 15% may be appropriate. If you go out to dine  in an Chinese restaurant, generally no tipping is needed. However, in some restaurants, the bill includes a service charge already. Make sure you check the bill before you double tip the waiters/waitresses. 
 15What sort of electricity adopter will I need? 
As a former British colony, Hong Kong's voltage is 220V and uses an UK power plug. China follows the north American system with 110V and an US shape power plug. For most flexibility, I suggest you purchase a "Universal" power plug (e.g. Samsonite" universal plug) from any travel agent, large departmental store, or at the airport. This will enable you to charge your laptop, Ipad, Ipod, smart phone, MP3 etc. without any problem anywhere in the world.
 16 How many pieces of baggage may I carry during the domestic flights in China?
For the economy class passengers, only one piece of hand baggage and one piece of checked luggage is allowed. Each hand luggage must not exceed 20×40×55 centimeters (8× 16×22 inches) and should be less than five kilograms (about 11 pounds) in total. Any items that exceed these criteria are treated as checked luggage. Each piece of checked luggage should not exceed 50 kilograms in weight (110 pounds) and 40×60×100 centimeters (16×24 ×39 inches) in size, and the Maximum Total Weight for free checked luggage is 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of economy class. Any excess amount would incur extra charge, which is generally 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) costs 1.5% of a full economy-class airfare (one way, adult ticket). These are general guidelines only. Please see the airline site for specific details.
 17 How much cash do I need to carry?
How much cash you need (per person) naturally depends on how much you plan to spend. In addition to this you will need some money for small gift items. If you wish to shop for more expensive items, we suggest that you use your credit card to avoid having to carry too much cash.
 18 Who have joined thus far? 
As of July 20, 2014, the follow persons are confirmed for the tour (n=13) : John Cox, Wendy Cox, Bruce Lo, Ruth Lo, Lawrence Onsager, Ann Gibson, Michael Campbell, James Arakawas, Victoria Arakawas, Don Corkum, Phyllis Corkum, Warren Shipton, Janet Shipton.
 19 What are the addresses of the hotels in China that we are going to  stay?
To allow you to share yours where about during the tour with your friends or family at home, we have posted at the bottom this webpage, a file called "hotel addresses.pdf", which contains  the addresses and phone numbers of all the hotels that we are going to stay in China. With this information, your friends or family will know where to contact you in case of an emergency. Further- more, in some countries, you may also need this information when you apply for the China visa. This document contains the full list of hotel addresses as at August 26, 2014. The tour operator reserves the right to substitute a hotel of equivalent ranting should unforeseen circumstance arises.
 20 If I arrive a couple days earlier, are there any pre-tour activities that I can join?
Yes, there are a variety of activities you can choose to join.
1) Hong Kong Adventist College (HKAC) will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary that weekend with lots of fun activities. Please download the "75th Anniversary Poster.jpg" at the bottom of this page to see what is going on and who to contact.
2) For Sabbath (Nov 1), you may like to consider the English-speaking Hong Kong Adventist International Church, which was originally called the Pioneer Memorial Church, established to honor Abram La Rue and other early Adventist pioneers in China. Pastor Paul K. Cho is the current minister for this church. Click the above link to find out more.....  On Sabbath afternoon, you may try finding Abram La Rue's grave and the grave of Gertrude Mable Thompson, one of the early missionaries from Mauston, Wisconsin, USA, who actually died in Canton, China, shortly after she arrived in China. Also buried in the Happy Valley Cemetery near the other two was missionary nurse Clara Capfer Falconer (Thanks to Larry Onsager for pointing this out). There are also English speaking Sabbath School classes at Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital, Hong Kong Adventist Hospital, and Hong Kkong Adventist College.
3) On Sunday (Nov 2), an optional 1-day tour of  two top tourist attractions of Hong Kong is being planned (subject to sufficient interests)
(a) Ngong Ping 360 to Lantau Island, which will include a stunning 7.5 km cable car ride, cultural village, Po Lin Monastery, the biggest Tien Tan Buddha on mountain top.
(b) Victoria Peak-Take cable tram to the highest peak in Hong Kong Island to get the best panoramic view of the Hong Kong Harbour and Kowloon peninsula. Visit the Peak Garden Park and shopping complex.
As the Ngong Ping 360 may take nearly the whole Sunday already, we shall include Victoria Peak only if there is a general consensus that the group members are keen to do both and are not too tired. We shall use public transport to keep costs to minimum. If you are interested in this optional tour, please let Bruce Lo know immediately. Once there is sufficient interests, we will be able to give you an estimate of cost. As at September 25, theses people have expressed interest to do the Sunday tour of Hong Kong: Don & Phyllis Corkum, Larry Onsager, Ann Gibson, Warren & Janet Shipton, Susan Scharffenberg, Linda McCloskey, Bev & Sam Liou, and Bruce & Ruth Lo.
 21 If my return flight to home country does not depart HKG until after Nov 14 , can you help to book the extra hotel night(s) in Hong Kong?
The answer is "Yes". In fact a number of people have already asked me to book the night of Nov 14 for them as their flights are departing on Nov 15. If you need assistance with respect to this, please let Bruce Lo by Aug 28, 2014. Since hotel tariff in Hong Kong is pretty expensive, we are thinking of booking a 3 to 4 star hotel that is not luxurious but clean yet close to transport facilities to airport. As at August 29, these people have requested booking of a hotel room for the night of Nov 14: Don & Phyllis Corkum, Larry Onsager, Ann Gibson, and Bruce & Ruth Lo. 
 22What is the weather like in Hong Kong and China in November? What type of clothing should  I bring?
Here are the average hi and lo temperature for the month of November when we visit these cities. 
     Hong Kong/Shenzhen: 19 - 24 C (or 66 - 75 F)
     Beijing:  0 - 12 C (or 32 - 54 F)
     Xian:  3 - 12 C (37 - 54 F)
     Shanghai/Nanjing:  10 - 18 C (50 - 65 F)
     Xiamen:  16 - 23 C (61 - 73 F)
So generally speaking, except in Hong Kong and Xiamen, it will be pretty cold. Please bring sufficient warm clothe.

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Bruce Lo,
Aug 14, 2014, 1:38 PM
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Bruce Lo,
Aug 28, 2014, 3:46 PM
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