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

Caribbean Travel Guides – Are They Worth It?

As well as being a raving shopaholic, Jane Morris is also a dedicated Travel Buff. This is just one article on her many visits to the lush clear waters of the Caribbean

Imagine all the stories and films you have seen on pirates in the Caribbean, Spanish galleons laden with gold, pretty girls all around, beautiful white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, clear blue seas, and reefs that have ripped the bottom out of many a fine sailing ship, now beautiful diving territory.

Well, this is what makes up the beauty, the mystery, and the attraction for many people as a dream holiday. In fact, there is so much to do that unless you plan your holiday carefully there is so much to miss.

That us why it is so important that you know all there is to know about the vacation destination of your dreams – that is exactly what a Caribbean travel guide offers.

But are Caribbean travel guides really godsend? Or are they just patronizing materials designed for commercial purposes?

Well, they’re probably a little of both actually. After all, the people behind Caribbean travel guides do need a source of income in order to continue to publish their guides. But a tremendous amount of research has been placed in these guides so don’t dismiss them as useless sales and promotion material.

What else is more nifty, informative and convenient than a Caribbean travel guide?

Sure, the Internet may prove more updated when it comes to information, but you can’t carry the Internet everywhere. And believe it or not, it’s always much more gratifying to pull out a Caribbean travel guide from your carry case, flip a few pages open, then slip it right back when you’re tired of reading. It sure beats having to wait in the airport, sitting bored silly and wondering whether or not your flight’s going to be delayed.

That said, don’t cling to travel guides religiously. Many travelers make that mistake. They are not the bibles that they are made out to be by some people. You should know that published materials, including travel guides, are out of date the moment they are published, because by then, there would have been new updated material that came up and it would be too late to include them.

So, how are you supposed to use Caribbean travel guides then? How would you know which information to believe and which facts are outdated? Unfortunately, there is no exact answer to that. To get the most out of your Caribbean travel guide, use them sparingly for basic orientation.

So once you have the basics right down to a tee, go out there and discover the towns and cities on your own. That is, after all, what traveling is all about – adventure and discovery of new things. At the very least, when all other signs look foreign, the information on museums and places of interest are great.

Remember where such facilities exist, always try and look for the local ‘City’ tour. I did just that on my first holiday in Cuba over 15 years ago. After a 2 hour tour on a coach, I was fully oriented with the sites, and then settled down to a delightful tour on foot – clutching my trusty travel guide of course, so I didn’t miss any of the delights that the beautiful but run-down city has to offer.

However, when it comes to hotels and restaurants, each to his own taste and budget. Remember that bargains rise in price with popularity, so there’s every bit of chance that that hot new deal in your Caribbean travel guide isn’t much of a deal anymore, considering how pricey it has become. And then sometimes, too, the places get easily full with foreigners and travelers like you, so you can’t always expect your Caribbean travel guide to point you in the right place all the time.

Then, if you do wander around on your own, you will surely find quality rooms with reasonable prices. They may be located in out-of-the-way places that Caribbean travel guide writers may not know about. Remember that because you in the destination, you are in a far better place to get what you want out of your vacation.

So to close it off, don’t be a sad type who writes to say that “it wasn’t like what you said in the book”.

Here’s a tip: open your eyes, and if the island you are on is Spanish – make sure you can speak some of the local language, as you will get such a nicer welcome from the locals in the infrequently visited spots – and make sure you take your time to explore for yourself!

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.