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Going To China, Any Advice?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by danqi, Jun 8, 2004.


  1. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    This summer I'll be going to Shanghai and Beijing for 2 months. I've never been there, so I would greatly appreciate any advice, tips, etc. The more "insider" the better, of course ;) . I'll be spending most of my time in Shanghai and then travel somehow to Beijing.

    Most importantly:
    I am looking for a nice place to stay in Shanghai, maybe rent something. Does anybody know anybody in Shanghai, who could give me some advice? It is really hard to organize stuff like that without knowing anybody there.
     
  2. BustinJustin

    BustinJustin banned

    Sep 12, 2003
    NYC, LI too
    Don't eat chicken... that's all. I can't help beyond that... good luck
     
  3. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    I can't help but to look at China as a giant buffet.
     
  4. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Confucious say: chinese food is not like chinese food
     
  5. Stay away from SARS... heard it's not very cool.... :smug:
     
  6. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I'll see if I can get a hold of any of our Chinese inspectors for tips. I'm not promising anything but I will send out a couple of emails tomorrow.

    You have your Visas in order and everything? You might want to talk to a doctor about any vaccinations you made need as well.
     
  7. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    That would be amazing, thanks.

    Visas and vaccinations are in progress. I am still considering if I should get rabies. Probably not. It's not a pleasent vaccination.
     
  8. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Damn straight!

    When I was in Seoul, the only foods I recognized from US oriental restaurants were white rice and sweet & sour pork. Everything else was completely new to me.
     
  9. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Nothing like 16 shots in the stomach to ruin your day. :meh:

    I think you'd have to worry more about yellow fever, cholera / dysentary and the like. If you can, bring or buy bottled water, just because your body isn't used to the microbes living in Chinese water.
     
  10. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    If I am not mistaken the Chinese themselves usually also always boil the water befor they drink it or use bottled water.
    It is really nasty to read about the different parasite diseases you can get. You won't see me touching puddles of water or eating salad.
     
  11. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    You can't believe how excited I am about that. Ever seen "Eat, man, drink, woman" by Ang Lee? Amazing food!
     
  12. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I lived and worked in China for a year during 2001-2002. I also lived there for a summer in 1996. I travelled extensively and I've been to Beijing many times. I've only spent a few days in Shanghai but I found it dull compared to Beijing. IMO Beijing is much more rich in history compared to Shanghai. The best hotel deal I found in Shanghai was a place that was listed in Let's Go China called "The Love Inn." It's a pretty big hotel, not in the best area you could be in but close to the train station and therefore close to the subway, which will connect you to the rest of Shanghai. Also, taxi's aren't too expensive on American dollars if you know how to convey to them where you want to go. Make sure that they turn on the meter once they get headed in the direction they want to go. Don't be too hasty to point to the meter though because sometimes they will shoot a u-turn or something before the start the meter. If it's not on after the first minute though then I'd point to it.

    Definitely pick up a book such as Let's Go China. It's more valuable than a smattering of tips and hints that any one person could give you IMO. Although I'll still give you some of those. :)

    Probably your best deal in Shanghai would be to find a hostel if you qualify to stay in one. I can't help you with lodging in Beijing because I was always able to shack up at my company's headquarters for a minimal fee.

    Notable things to see in Beijing:
    Tiananmen Square and all the things around it including the Forbidden City just across the street from the north end (easily accessed by either subway line)
    The Temple of Heaven (cool but don't spend TOO much time here because it's not THAT cool)
    The Summer Palace - You'll have to find some way out to this one. I'm sure there's a bus but I don't know which one. Subways don't go out that far but taxis and buses will.
    The Beijing Military Museum (very cool if you have any interest in things military or military weapons, tanks, missiles etc..) - This is easily accessed by the straight line subway
    "Silk Alley" - Can't remember the subway stop but it's easily accessed. (silk alley is kind of a chintzy market full of tourists but a fun place and I never got tired of visiting there even after I had been there many times)
    The Great Wall - this is a must-see of course. There are two main places that tourists go to see the great wall - Ba Da Ling and Mu Tian Yu. I've been to both and they were both kind of tourist spectacles but they are very cool once you get past all the vendors at the bottom. Both have breathtaking views on a good day and you can hike a long way at either one. Ba Da Ling is much closer so it's naturally more crowded. You'll have to ride on a bus for a good ways to get to Mu Tian Yu. Don't take a taxi to either place or you'll pay significantly more than the bus. There is one more place where you can go see the wall in a more natural, non-restored setting and I've heard that place is very cool but I can't remember what it's called and I think you WOULD have to book a taxi to get out there.

    Shanghai:
    Shanghai has a good subway system but I was more at ease with Beijing's despite the fact that Shanghai's is newer and nicer. Probably just because the big B was much more familiar to me. Shanghai is more notable for it's modern sights than it's historical. The historical sights in Beijing are very, very old while the historical sights in Shanghai tend to mostly be 1800 and 1900's type places such as the european buildings on the waterfront, the home of Sun Yat Sen, etc... Shanghai is more of a modern place with gigantic elaborate skyscrapers and whatnot. It's cool but I tired of it after a few days. I could probably have found some more interesting things had I really delved but I saw all the basics. You can tour Old Chinese City, visit the waterfront where you'll find the gigantic needle/tower which either is or used to be the tallest structure in China (I think it's now beaten buy some Malaysian buildings maybe), the old European districts and a cool aquarium. This probably doesn't really help much since I can't remember street and district names and whatnot. Someone else might be of more help with Shanghai.

    One other thing:
    While you're in China make every attempt to catch a train to Xi'an to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. They are, to me, as impressive an accomplishment as The Great Wall. Not a whole lot else to see there aside from the Big Goose Pagoda. When a friend and I were travelling we took a night sleeper train to Xi'an, got there first thing in the morning, bought our return tickets, caught a bus to the Terra Cotta Warriors, spent a while there, took the bus back, saw the Big Goose Pagoda and then that same night caught a night train back to Beijing. This saves you hotel costs and you can sleep on the train. At least I can...just make sure you get a sleeper. I always travelled on the cheaper sleepers, not the private room sleepers, and never had any problems. This saved me a lot of money. You can find all info for visiting Xi'an in Let's Go China.

    Anyway, this has been long enough. Hope it helps. I'll post other things as I think of them.

    brad cook

    As soon as you get to Beijing buy a Beijing Tourist Map from the first person that offers you one. These things are far more helpful than their minimal cost and they clearly illustrate the subway lines (bus lines too, I think) and the tourist spots. Don't waste your time at the dumpy zoo unless you just have an overwhelming urge to see Pandas.
     
  13. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Oh yeah, the food is great! I can't recommend any chinese restaurants by name because I would usually just step into any old place to be honest but there are many recommended in Let's Go. Don't just go into a place and order "chicken" though because you'll get an entire chicken just chopped up and cooked....head and every thing. It's worth it to get a little phrasebook (I had a Berlitz I always kept in my back pocket...at least for the first six months) and learn some names of food dishes. If they don't understand you just point to the chinese characters next to the english in the book.

    About vaccines:
    The first time I went I just got vaccinated for hep. A and got my tetanus shot. Talk to your doctor and get whatever he recommends but you definitely don't need rabies. Last time I went for a year I didn't get any vaccinations! I was fine.

    Another tip: ALWAYS carry toilet paper with you as you won't often find it in many Chinese bathrooms and sometimes you have to pay for it. In the city I usually had my backpack with a little kleenex packet in it. Kleenex/napkin packets can be purchased in China just about anywhere. I also usually knew where the McDonald's and KFC's were in the areas that I frequented because they are usually a good place to find a relatively clean bathroom. Make mental notes as you walk around. :) It can be a lifesaver.

    Feel free to email or PM me with individual questions. Or you can just post them here.

    brad cook
     
  14. You know all of those barber poles...THEY AIN'T BARBER SHOPS... NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK SAY NO MORE!
     
  15. eat the street food, it's yummy ;)

    in Shanghai, the best club is ROJAM :p
     
  16. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    Wow, thank you very much for that extensive reply. Amazing! I guess buying a guide like "Let's Go" really is a good idea.

    I did not know what you said about toilet paper. This may save me from some uncomfortable situations.

    I hope not to have too many language problems since I hope my chinese will improve while I am there. Currently, it is still very basic though.

    I'll see if I get to check out the Terra Cotta warriors, nice tip with the sleepers.
     
  17. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    Is it?
     
  18. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Oh ok you know some Chinese...that will make things much easier for you just to know the basics. I don't know how extensive your knowledge is but just knowing how to use mandarin tones and having a phrase book would be an immense help for most people.

    brad cook
     
  19. If you'd care to make an international phone call, I could help you out with your Mandarin. ;)

    So, Shanghai, eh?
    I haven't been there in a while, and I suppose where you go would depend on what you feel like doing. Tourist-type stuff, or more "walk around the back alleys and find interesting stuff," etc.

    As for vaccinations, honestly, I wouldn't be too worried about anything if you're going to Shanghai & Beijing, since they're a lot cleaner than...well...most of the rest of the country. Unless, of course, you plan on eating at more "local" type places where the kitchen, tables, and food are a lot dirtier. As was pointed out by someone else, the street food is among the best you'll get. 5 small dumplings for something along the lines of 10 RMB IIRC, which is, roughly, US$1.25 or so.

    And also, while you're in Shanghai, you could take a train over to Hong Kong, which doesn't take all that long, 1 or 2 nights, depending on which train you take. :p

    Oh, and if you're looking for a more..."modern" type of a shopping mall, for whatever reason, you should check out Plaza 66, it has the highest concentration of name brand shops in the world. Yep. Nice and cheap compared to the US. :p

    Ummm...yeah, that's about all I can tell you, since it's been even longer since I last visited Beijing, and I honestly have no idea what there is to do over there. :p
     
  20. Oh yeah, one more thing. "Silk Alley" or whatever is just a place designated to rip off tourists. It's just impossible to get a good deal in there because they know that they can always sell to some other sucker. There's a huge mall type place that has a way bigger open market next to it, but I forgot the name. Maybe you can ask around where the locals like to shop.

    P.S. If you can get someone who speaks fluent chinese the bargain for you, the price will be much lower.