Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Things to Know for Your First Trip to China, Part I

Have I mentioned that I have a new job that requires a lot of travel?  One of the places that I have gone was to Shanghai, China.  Here are some practical things that I learned about traveling to this area of the world.

  1. You need a visa.  It takes a while to get one, so plan ahead.
  2. If you are a woman, do some research on Turkish toilets or squatty potties.  You do not want to be caught off guard.  I didn't have to use one, but I was not prepared if I would have needed to.
  3. Contrary to many people who assured me that young Chinese people know English, they do not.  Be prepared with a Chinese phrase book and the address of your hotel/destination written in Chinese for a cab driver or for help on the subway.
  4. You are not allowed to drive in China, even if you have an international drivers license.  There is a reason for this.  You will get killed.  They have a whole different system that works for them, but it also explains why they are not typically good drivers in America.
  5. If someone honks at you in China, it really means, "Hey, I am here, please notice me."  It is intended as a friendly announcement that there may be danger.  Do not take it personally as they honk A LOT!
  6. McDonald's fries taste the same no matter where you are.
  7. Crime is virtually non-existent.  Do not worry about walking around but still be aware.
  8. If you are not right in the city, take a napkin and fork with you as they do not have forks, and napkins are not routinely provided.  For those of us that do not use chop sticks, this can be a messy situation.
  9. Social media is banned.  There are ways around it, but I will leave you to find those for yourself.  Also, you will not find American television and Netflix has not come to that area of the world.  Please be prepared for evening entertainment if you like to fall asleep to the television.  You will get tired of the Chinese CNN station which was the only one in English. 
  10. Please be prepared to pay cash.  Most places do not take Visa or MasterCard, etc as China has its own credit card.  Most smaller places only take cash. If you do use your credit card, be prepared with your PIN number as it is required, even if you are using it as a credit card. 
There will be more to follow, as well as the story about me missing my shuttle bus in the rain. 

No comments: