IF YOU GO to China --
1. Pack for however many weeks you will be touring in the People's Republic. Then, when you've packed, throw out half the clothes and double the amount of film.
Visitors' clothes are laundered daily in China. Every hotel room has one and more often two laundry bags. These are collected in the morning and the laundered clothes returned between 6 and 7 in the evening.
No matter how much film you pack it will be inadequate, and color film is not available in China. They do sell black-and-white film, for example, the 35-millimeter film (called SEAGULL) has an ASA rating of only 100.
2. If you are going to take a camera, make up your mind ahead of time whether you want black-and-white photographs, or color. If you want both, then take two cameras, one for each. If there is no real need for black and white, take only color.
In any event, bring a telephoto lens. This is advisable for two reasons. A good part of what you will see will be a distance from you - communes, the countryside, vistas across rivers and lakes, etc. More importantly, many Chinese do not like having their pictures taken and will run away, put their hands across their face or turn their backs at the sight of a camera. Many of those who don't object tend to pose. Accordingly, candid shots are hard to come by, especially with a regular lens.
3. Take a roll of masking tape. It's an all-purpose traveling tool. Chinese stamps do have gum now, but Chinese envelopes do not. Although there are glue sticks and pots at every postal desk (at each hotel, for instance), sometimes it is not available when you want it. Moreover, masking tape can be used for emergency repair, to label film cannisters, to attach notes, etc.
4. Take a pair of slippers. Floors and carpets in hotel bedrooms and bathrooms are very dirty. Though many hotels provide sandals in the rooms, they are not provided in all hotels.
5. Take Kleenex, dehydrated coffee (and powdered cream and sugar if that's your taste) - there always is hot water (for tea) in a thermos in every hotel room - and include an assortment of cold pills even though Chinese medicine is excellent and the Chinese are very concerned about the health of their visitors.
6. Take an umbrella or, better still, buy a wood and oilcloth one in China for about $1.50. Though it's a bit cumbersome to tote, if the same umbrella were carried in the United States it would end up at the Abby Aldridge Rockefeller Museum of American folk at Williamsburg. In short, it is as much a handicraft as an umbrella.