China

Survival China and Tricks

These China , Survival Techniques, will help you get around and make your trip to China easier, so you will be able to experience the real China with a little less stress.

China is an odd beast that needs to be respected; the major cities, Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian, all have their own personalities.

Some complex situations that you think would be an organizational disaster turn out to be great and you wonder afterward what all the fuss and worry was about. Then the simplest of tasks can turn out to be a major calamity.

This is when you have what we call here a “China day”.

These days come and go and are part of the experience of everyday travel in China. One needs to have an open mind when travelling China. It is a place with thousands of years of history and culture that is trying overnight to adapt to Western ways of living.

You need to have a very open mind when you Travel in China.
I have listed below a few China that will make life that wee bit more bearable on your Travel China experience.

China – Be Toilet Wise

o Never expect a clean toilet 100% of the time.

o Be prepared; Carry some tissue.

o You may have to use a squat toilet, again if you know this before hand it is not a shock. If you don’t know how to use a squat toilet, try the following experiment at home.

While holding onto something for support with both hands, lower your body down into a low squat position, so that the cheeks of your bottom is almost touching your heels or the back of your calf. Now, let go with your hands. See if you stay in this position for at least 1 minute. If you fall backwards or you cannot get up, then a squat toilet could be a problem for you! Practice, you will be happy you did.

o If you see a clean toilet, Go… it may not come again for a while.

o There are many public toilets around the cities, usually the ones you pay for are OK, (RMB .5), the others best to stay away from if you can. You will soon notice them as you walk around the cities.

o Be warned that public areas like bus and train stations are usually what I class as “tough toilets”, however if gotta go you gotta go.

o Outside of the major cities, the toilet systems are old or have very narrow plumbing /pipes and get blocked easily. In these cases a small basket is usually beside the toilet, this is for your used toilet paper.

One of the best China Travel toilet Tips I can give you, is use hotel lobby toilets; these are everywhere and are always clean. Still they may not always have toilet paper. It depends on the class of hotel that you are using.

I do not wish to scare you. However, of all the China in all the other web sites I have read, this is a topic not often mentioned, but it is very important to us all.

So outside of the major cities conditions can be tough. But most of the time everything will be fine, especially if you book a tour; everything will have been checked out before hand. However even the best laid plans can go wrong, so be prepared, the toilets in the smaller cities, towns and villages can be scary.

China – The Food

o The food is great and the variety is overwhelming. Most of the time you get to choose what you eat, or you can recognize what you’re eating, however sometimes you do not get a choice. Carry a chocolate bar or something; this will keep you going until some food that you can recognize turns up. Drink bottled or boiled water, as the tap water is NOT safe to drink, this is for the whole of China. Even boiled water, while sterilised can contain a lot of minerals and iron deposits that you probably do not want in your system. The safest bet is to drink bottle water. Tap water in most big cities is OK for brushing teeth.

o Eating habits – Most Chinese people have a great habit of being very noisy when they eat and lunch and dinner times can be a wonderfully noisy celebration, food tends to go in all directions, its just part of being in China.

o People also smoke at the table while everyone is eating, so some restaurants get very loud and smoky.

o If you get stuck what to order as most of the menu’s are in Chinese just look at the table next to you and point to the dish you fancy and ask how much it is, this system works really well and know seems to mind.

o I have a basic menu that will help you order safe food, (no Cats or Dog) this will enable you to visit a larger selection of restaurants, not just the tourist ones with high prices. You can carry it with you and use it in the local restaurants where most will be able to serve what is on it. This way you will know what you are eating.

These local places are very cheap and the food it great. Contact me if you would like me to send it to you.

China – Taxis

o China – Taxis – Taxis are an experience that can have you griping the seat and gasping for breath; however you soon get used to it, after the first few rides, you’re an old hand.

o The taxis in Shanghai are, overall, quite good. Try to get the Blue, Blue’ish Turquoise, Gold and White taxis, these are the best… these are the four major taxi companies and are generally recognised by their single colour paintwork. The others are OK, just older and a rougher ride (the others also may have faulty metres). No drivers will speak English.

o Carry your hotel or accommodation business card with you, written in Chinese, this helps if you get lost walking around town.

o In all the taxis around the country you will see the drivers name and taxi registration number in plain sight. If you have any problem, or if you think you have been over charged etc, just take this number down, make a big fuss about it, and the driver then should wake up and fix whatever problem you have. Even better is to take the receipt. This has all the trip details on it and you can ring the taxi company if you want to take things further or if you’ve left something in the taxi.

o The government takes rip-off drivers in all cities, Beijing and Xian especially, very seriously and if you complain they will lose their license. This is their livelihood. So far I have had not one driver in 3 years that has not backed down and we have then agreed a price for the trip or solved our problem.

o In Shanghai, it is common practice for taxi fare increases after 11pm. However, one can usually bargain for a 20% discount, which will get the fare back to the pre-11pm rate.
Be strong with the taxi drivers, never-the-less, keep your cool, smile and negotiate.

China – Shopping

o China – Shopping – China is a shopper’s paradise, Markets, Bargains; Top labels… anything and everything if you have the time. With clothes, the larger (Western) sizes can be quite hard to find, however in the major cities where you get a lot of tourist traffic, you can find them.

o Electrical gear, DVD’s, Cameras, stuff like this is not worth buying in China, Hong Kong is still the best place for this.

o Store hours in the major cities are from 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week.

o Visa card is still the best card to carry, with ATM’s in good supply all with PLUS access etc.
There is usually a surcharge for use of VISA, MasterCard or other forms of credit card.

o Wait on purchasing if you can, look around to get a feel for the prices. The Chinese are VERY experienced at selling and know that we halve the opening price when bargaining.
In the markets go for 25% of what they first ask; go so low that they let you walk away. This will give you an idea of the bottom price. The resulting end-price will probably be around 40% to 50% of where they started.

Whatever the market people say, they are used to pushing and haggling for best prices. Do not worry about being too hard, they are used to it and will not sell you an item unless they make a profit. Don’t be concerned with the apparently hurt body language when you go low – it is all part of the game. As soon as they have wrapped up your first purchase, they will try to sell you something more. Remember to keep smiling and having fun while bargaining.

China – Medical Treatment and Records

o Most hotels will have a doctor that you can see. In the major hotels English will be spoken.

o Always take a small first aid kit, cold remedy, headache tablets at the very least. WATSONS is a very large chain chemist. Most of the remedies, tablets etc, that you may require should be in these shops. These shops are all over China.

o There is a great network of pharmacy type shops; these are indicated by a Green Cross. There will always be a 24 hr Green Cross pharmacy in the city you are in. It is handy to carry a Phase book, as no one will speak English, however you will end up with something that will help.

o INPORTANT POINT – for most of the mass produced packet type medicines, the packaging will be written in Chinese on one side, English on the other. However in the shops you only see the Chinese side. Have a good look, turn the packs over, it gives you a lot more confidence knowing you can read the package.

o If you have a specific medical issue, take records, most of the Doctors will have OK written / reading English, even though their oral English will be poor.

China – Telephone

o Using the phone is as easy as at home. However the person picking it up will not speak English or have very broken English… the Major 4- or 5-Star Hotels will all be OK.

o What is worth doing is buying a Chinese Telecom SIM card, they are about RMB100 and with this you get RMB50 in calls, the other 50 is for the price of the SIM card; this SIM card will go into all major brand phones and work OK.

By doing this, people can reach you within and out of China if there is an emergency. If you have a couple of phones, you can short (txt) message each other (SMS). Also you are able to call your tourist guide, hotel etc if you have any major problems. It is a cheap way to keep in touch.

NB.Before you buy a Chinese SIM card, check that it will work in your Cell / Mobile phone. There are plenty of China Telecom shops that can help.

China on when NOT to move around China.

o Spring Festival, this would be the Chinese New Year time, around the end of January / Early February

o Early May; Labour day Holidays

o Early October; National Day Holidays

Of all the China National Day is the biggest one. Millions of Chinese travel at these holiday times of the year. Most are travelling back to home towns or visiting family. Hotels, trains, planes, cars, buses, and roads are all crowded to the maximum. Major congestion, everywhere.

Also travel fares are at their full price. No discounts are offered!
Stay in one place and enjoy where you are. It’s best and causes fewer hassles.

China – TV

o If you want to watch TV, most of the major hotels will have cable and if you are in the smaller places, the national channel, CCTV9 is in English. Over the last couple of years it has got a lot better, with some great China programs, news and views on people and places around China.

China – Airport Tax

o There is a “construction fee” at almost all airports.

Domestic flights RMB 50
International flights RMB 90 – which is to be paid in local currency.

Just recently, tickets are being tissued with the Construction Tax included; however make sure you have the Tax money with you just to make sure.

I hope some of these China will come in handy and will make your trip to China that little bit easier.

If you have been to China and wish to share your China , please feel free to contact me anytime.

John Mckenna

http://www.Travel-the-Real-China.com

Top Ten Safe

Traveling is one of the most enjoyable and interesting things we can do, but with traveling comes some risks. We all know that it’s not always safe to travel and that some of the things associated with it, such as money and hotel stays bring with them some additional risks as well. There are some top ten safe that you can use to make your travels more safe and enjoyable.

Everyone should take the time to learn the top ten safe for those who are traveling summer or winter.

1. Keep your self and your children seat belted at all times when the car is moving. Keep your young children or toddlers safely secured in a rear facing car seat. The reason this is a top ten safe travel tip is obvious. The kids are our number one concern when it comes to traveling.

2. Keep your cash stashed out of sight. When you stop don’t display large amounts of cash and don’t flash it in a store. When you can use travelers checks as opposed to carrying large amounts of strictly cash. When you do carry cash, keep some in the car, some on you and some on your spouse so that your trip is not dependent upon just one person. One of the top ten safe that can keep your trip safe if one of you is injured, or your car is stolen, is this one.

3. Keep a first aid kit in your car at all times.

4. Don’t visit an ATM machine at night or when alone.

5. If traveling with children, keep things to occupy them so that you can keep your attention focused on the driving, where your attention should be. This top ten safe travel tip is one of the most important.

6. Be aware of how is around you at all times. Make sure that you are paying attention to where you children are, and where others are located in relation to them and to you.

7. Keep your luggage or pda/palm pilot close to you. Don’t permit strangers to come near your luggage or ask them to watch it while you enter a restroom or other areas where you are not able to see the things you will be carrying onto an airline or train/automobile. Paying close attention to this one of the top ten safe will assure that you not only keep yourself and your family safe, but also others who will be traveling with you if you are using mass transportation.

8. Keep your regular medication handy and on your person as opposed to packaged all separate from you.

9. Don’t carry your most valued jewelry or your most expensive coat with you on vacation. Its in open invitation.

10. Don’t take your children with you or travel to parts of the country where advisories have been issued. If it is truly a vacation, then why put yourself into a position to be in danger.

Travel Information So Important You Can’t Leave Home Without It

When you travel you not only step out of your comfort zone, but you also leave behind all of the important information about your life. You know, the stuff you’d need in case there were some kind of emergency–insurance numbers, the number to call if you lose your credit card, prescription information, etc.

We have all of this information available to us when we are home, but what would you do if your house sitter contacted you when you were halfway around the world to tell you that your house had caught fire? Could you contact your homeowner’s insurance agent and provide all the information he’d need no matter where you are?

This checklist is designed to help you to compile all the information you should need while away from home so that you can carry it in a portable file. I hope it provides you some peace of mind.

The list includes the items you need and, in parentheses, an explanation about why it is important.

Documents to Place in Your Important Papers File & Why You May Need Them

Make a list with the following information on it:

  • Homeowner’s or Renter’s Policy Number & Agent Contact Number (in case there is an emergency at your home so that you can notify your insurance company as soon as possible)
  • The name, address, contact information, and reservation confirmation numbers for your hotel, rental car and airline tickets (in case you need to contact any of them for any reason or you need the confirmation numbers for any reason)
  • The numbers of and contact information for any credit or debit cards you may use on your trip (in case they are lost or stolen)
  • A copy of your Driver’s License (and International Driver’s License, if necessary-in case either of these documents are lost or stolen)
  • Your frequent flyer number, your frequent guest number for hotel chains, and any other travel membership clubs’ numbers (in case you need them to claim rewards or discounts)
  • The numbers of your traveler’s checks (in case the originals are lost or stolen)
  • Names and contact information for friends and relatives you plan to visit while on your trip (so that it will be easier to contact them and also, in case of emergency, for someone else to be able to contact someone nearby)
  • Medical insurance provider name, contact information and policy number (in case your card is lost or stolen)
  • Name and contact information for your cell phone service provider & the serial number of the phone, your account number, and the SIM card number (in case your phone is lost or stolen or there is a problem with your phone and you are not able to get service)
  • If you will be using a laptop or cell phone with wireless internet access, the name and contact information for your internet service provider, and the serial number of your laptop and any other accessories (in case your computer is lost or stolen and also in case you need assistance with your internet coverage)
  • A copy of your itinerary (Each adult or older child should have a copy of this document in case you get separated from the others in your party. You should also leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home in case you are lost or missing they can better work with the authorities to help them find you.)
  • Information concerning any medical conditions you may have including allergy information (Include information like blood type, height, weight, birth date, etc. for each member of your party.)
  • Names & contact information for your house sitter, pet sitter, etc. (in case of an emergency)

It could be disastrous if a list like this fell into the wrong hands, so for this reason, use some kind of code as you compile these account numbers.

One suggestion is to write the account numbers in a different sequence. For example, if your account number is 6389 7492 8852 4301 you could write it like this 2588 9836 1043 2947 or if it is 5529731 you could write it as 2551379.

Whatever code you use be sure to memorize it and make sure that anyone else in your traveling party knows how to use it also.

The secret is to have the information available to any one who may need it, but extremely difficult to use for any one who may try to steal it.

Another code to use is to leave the names and contact information in the right order or to further protect yourself and any one else whose contact information you may be carrying, mix up the order of the names and numbers. For example, you could put the info for the first item on the list in the second position, the info for the second item on the list in the third position, and the info for the third item on the list in the first position.

Then create a fake category, something like “Luggage Insurance Carrier” then list the account number as 122331 with the order of the numbers being the “pairs” of how you switched the information: 1,2=first in second position, 2,3=second in third position, 3,1=third in first position.

It may seem a little confusing and like it would be a lot of work to make your list in this way, but remember that the secret it to make the information hard to steal while still having it available just in case you need it.

These items are not sensitive information, but they would be valuable if you needed them:

Keep several various sized envelopes available to store these items safely.

  • The name and contact information of your travel agent (if you used one)
  • Any coupons or discount codes you plan to use
  • The contact information for the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Board for the areas you will be visiting
  • Contact information for the embassy where you will be visiting
  • A copy of your packing list with space to add any purchases you make while on your trip
  • Emergency phone numbers for the areas where you will be traveling including poison control
  • A phrase book for any foreign languages you may encounter
  • Directions to any places or events you plan to visit
  • A tipping chart
  • A foreign currency exchange rate chart
  • If traveling with pets, name & contact information for their veterinarian and also their immunizations history
  • Names and addresses for anyone you plan to send a post card to
  • A journal to keep track of your expenditures and also to keep a record of what you do each day
  • A recent map of the city and surrounding areas where you are visiting
  • Copies of any contracts you signed for vacation packages, travel insurances, etc.
  • Copies of any prescriptions for medications, eye glasses or contact lenses (for each person in your party, if necessary)
  • If traveling with children and only one parent, a notarized letter of consent from the other parent (a separate letter for each child, if necessary; this is good to have even for domestic travel)
  • Immunization records (for each person in your party, if necessary; this is good to have even for domestic travel)
  • The receipts for any merchandise you purchase while on your trip (in case you need to return them for any reason; also, if you are returning from a foreign country you will need these when you pass through customs)
  • A list of all electronic equipment, including serial numbers, that you are traveling with and copies of receipts for them, if possible (in case they are lost or stolen you will have this information available for the authorities; also, if you are passing through customs you will be able to prove prior ownership and avoid paying duty fees on these items)
  • The name and contact information for the hotel(s) where you will be staying (Each person in your party should carry a business card with this information on it in case they are lost or need to give directions to a cab driver.)
  • A copy of your auto insurance information (in case you are involved in an automobile accident)
  • Your luggage claim tickets (to enable you to claim your luggage)
  • The number/aisle of the parking spot where you leave your vehicle in long-term parking at the airport (in case you can’t remember where to find it when you return)
  • Insurance claims forms (for all traveler’s insurance that you purchased; these insurances often have a short claim period so you may need to file the claim before you return home)
  • Birth Certificates (in case you need to prove identity or prove that a child is yours)
  • Extra passport photos (this will save you a lot of time, trouble and expense if your passport is lost or stolen)

Items to carry on your person (You will need these actual documents):

  • Your passport, visa, or any other necessary documents (adults should carry these for the children)
  • Any travel visas or entry documents you need for the areas where you will be traveling (for each person in your party, if necessary)
  • Medical insurance card & any other insurance cards
  • A card with information on any medical conditions and the names and contact information of any other adults in your party or that you may be visiting

Special note about children:

  • Children should carry an identification card stating their full name, your name and the names of any other adults in your party, the phone numbers and addresses where you can be reached, and emergency contact numbers back home.
  • This card should also include any other important information such as medical conditions, insurance information, and health care provider’s name and contact information.
  • Place the ID card inside the child’s shirt in a pocket that you have sewn in beforehand.
  • This will require a little bit of work and preparation, but if it is ever needed it will be worth it.
  • Your child probably already knows about “stranger danger,” but right before a trip is a good time to review this information and to teach them not to show this card to anyone unless they are lost.

Gather all these lists and documents and put then in an accordion style file folder with an elastic band to hold it shut. If you leave your hotel room, place this folder in your room safe and make sure that every one who would need this information knows the combination and knows how to operate the safe.

Hopefully you will never need any of this information for an emergency, but this Important Papers File will be there if you do.