First off it's important to state that Hong Meigui expeditions are generally do-it-yourself affairs. We travel scunge class, bargain hard at every opportunity, and avoid officaldom whenever possible. There are no translators, jeeps, porters, official banquets, press conferences, dancing girls, etc. and we like it better that way. Other groups caving in China run their expeditions differently, so of course their expenses will differ.
The basic formula is:
Cost = flight to major city in China + 100 GBP for gear + approx. 4 GBP per day*
There are other expenses for visas (10-30 GBP), flights (500 GBP?), insurance (100 GBP?),new personal equipment, innoculations, batteries, film, etc. but these things vary widely from person to person, so we're not going to make any claims about how much you should expect to spend on them.
Note that the above calculation specifically excludes expenditures while boozing/eating western food in Yangshuo, camera shopping in Hong Kong, and other side trips that really aren't at all related to caving. In Yangshuo it's easy to spend 10-15 GBP a day, but it's value for money. If you're planning on being out in China for a long time, be sure to budget for some luxuries along the way.
*Costs vary considerably between expeditions. Please see the accounts for each expedition to get a better idea of what per day expenditures will be.
We had a long talk about it and decided the best thing to do was come up with a standard way of distributing the cost of group gear. We had a few aims in mind: First, we wanted to build up a cache of gear that can be used by all HMG expeditions to China, to both encourage small/new groups to come to China, and to minimize the hassle of taking heavy equipment on airplanes. Second, we wanted to encourage cavers to come out to China frequently and for long periods of time. The theory is that the more time you spend in China, the more likely you are to do things like recce new areas and make local contacts that are useful for everybody. Third, we wanted to make it simple and sustainable. With that in mind we came up with the following:
100 GBP per person per year. In other words, if you want to cave with Hong Meigui you should contribute 100 GBP towards group gear to leave in China. This will cover you for 12 consecutive months of caving with the society. The one caveat is that if you go on an expedition where gear costs exceed gear deposits, the excess will be split evenly between everyone on the expedition.
If you have a problem with this, or think there's a better way of distributing costs, please let us know.
Expenses on Expedition
One of the major expenses on expedition is specialty food products: dehydrated meals, Snickers bars and other cave food, beer and liquor, bottled water, coffee, hot chocolate, Tang, oreos, etc. Our policy is to divide the cost of these items (and non-food items bought in China such as printer paper, ink cartridges, etc.) evenly between all expedition members, regardless of who has consumed what. The aim is to avoid petty accountancy. In particular beer, coffee and hot cocoa cost the same per unit of volume, so we have decided not to offer a reduction for non-drinkers or implement a beer tally. (Although serious boozers are encouraged to bring a bottle to share).
Batteries for individual use are the exception to the rule. They are considered part of the spares kit. But we split the cost of batteries used in flash guns, walkie talkies, GPSs, etc.
We have a limited spares kit in China. It consists of items donated to the society and on loan from individuals. Everyone is encouraged to bring all of the spares (top bobbins, jammers, bulbs, etc) they may need, but in a pinch they can rent/buy something from the spares kit. Costs will be assigned on a case by case basis.
There is a tally for batteries in the spares kit. AAs typically cost 2.5 to 3 Y apiece.