My experiences in China

Discussion in 'T&AA - Travel and Anything Automotive' started by JD666, Oct 21, 2012.

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  1. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Well not that this is a show off bit, however I thought that while I have traveled to a new place, might as well share the information with everyone.

    I visited Shanghai a few days after my Singapore trip. All company work again, so no sightseeing but surely some pointers for others planning travel.

    1) China visa process - One of the smoothest that I saw, however the mess that they make of your passport is that first you get only a single entry visa, then a 6 months multi entry, and then a 1 year multi entry visa. So for every visa, one page of your PP is donated, and they also make some money on it. Documentation is pretty straightforward, however the original invitation letter is essential for processing. I got my visa within 4 days of application, and they have an Express service as well.

    2) Getting there - There are not many direct flights to Shanghai ( I believe only Air China is a sole operator out of DEL ). So best option is to break your journey into two bits, preferably stop at Hong Kong, since the remainder of your flight is really short ( 2hrs to Shanghai ).

    Avoid China Eastern like the plague. I nearly missed my return flight thanks to them. More on that later.

    3) Arriving in Shanghai, you arrive at the Pudong International Airport. In their quest to beat Hongkong Airport as the world's largest terminal ( by internal area ), and bringing the glory to Mainland China, Pudong Airport is massive in size!

    The immigration is a slower affair, however is common for all, so simply line up and wait for your turn. There is an interesting 'give your feedback on your experience with immigration officer' console that lights up once your visa processing is done. I did make it a point to give a feedback. :p

    Once you collect your luggage, follow the markers, and the crowd might be what you expect at Delhi/Mumbai Airport, so keep following the signs.

    There are some tourist information booths there, and a single counter selling Mobile connections. Be sure to look around properly before exiting.

    Some handy pointers -

    - You can withdraw local currency directly if you have an international debit card. I found that better, since the exchange rate was better than what I got in India ( 8.2 vs 9.4 rs to a Yuan ).

    - If you are not sure of your destination/location/hotel, be sure to read up before hand, and if possible, look it up on Gmaps and take a printout. Everything is in Chinese even if you get your hands on a PC.

    - The tourist information people are helpful. Better if you get them to write the address of your destination in Chinese, so that you can show it to the taxi driver for ease. Very few of them understand English ( or pretend not to ), so brush up on your sign language!

    I had an interesting encounter of this sort. I had read up on taxi fares in Shanghai, and how far my hotel was from the Airport and approximately how much would it cost me.

    I headed down to the taxi waiting area, when two pretty girls wearing uniforms similar to the Tourist information desk ( you could tell the difference on close scrutiny, which was their name badges did not give out any information of them being related to the Airport in any way ).

    They supposedly wanted to help me get a taxi and help me get to my destination. At first I was impressed at the arrangements made for travelers, but then later it got suspicious since there was a normal taxi waiting area lined up outside, and people were standing in line waiting to board a taxi, however these 2 insisted on taking me to another part of the terminal ( which I later realised was for private taxis ).

    I asked for the fare, and in true Russell Peters fashion one said, We give you special price, only 350 RMB. And that was enough for me to walk away. ( my hotel was not more than 50-55 RMB away, which the tourist information desk girl had also confirmed ).

    So that was that. I had gotten the address written in chinese, so it was easier to explain to the driver.

    - Driving in China is fast, and rash too at times. Reminds one of a milder version of driving in India, however still they do follow lanes and signs, but don't give a damn for the speed cameras. The taxis are old/duplicate/replica Fords and Volkswagens, so be prepared for some scary action.

    4) Food - Not the best place for a pure vegetarian, coz the food will have some meat or egg in it. Which is an absolute paradise for Non-vegetarians! I tried Squid, octopus, Feasted on Shrimps, Prawns, Crabs and what not. They use a lot of pork, so that's a major warning for followers of Islam, please be careful in what you eat, and check and re check before eating.

    For a vegetarian, I would recommend , if its a short trip, to make sure that you have some ready-to-eat food packs along, else you could be staring at a weight loss trip composed solely of fruits and salads. That also not readily available everywhere.

    - The staff at the local McDonalds also don't understand english, so its all back to sign language and pointing fingers at the menu to get them to understand. However they gladly play Micheal Jackson and Britney Spears.

    5) General pointers - China is a decently liberal place. However they are as strict about rules as any other country. One should be careful not to litter, and follow proper signage when crossing the road etc. Do not expect cars to stop for you to cross the road ( A fleeting reminder of India ), so it comes naturally :p

    I saw some locals sitting out side with a bottle of vodka and drinking, however what the local rules and practices are, best if you have someone to guide you there.

    - They don't really believe in Spoons with their food. Its Chopsticks all the way. So if you are a picky eater, then please make sure to carry some disposable spoons with you, or eat using a soup spoon. I learned this the hard way, and despite many requests to the Buffet staff in my hotel, had to resort to picking up one of the spoons from a salad dressing bowl ( yea, in your face if you don't gimme one ! ).

    - Most people would understand English, however prefer not to respond/act. ( at least from what I saw ), but this was mainly with the staff that I saw in my hotel. However a stern voice and inquiry for the duty manager does fix everything nicely.

    Its not actually their fault. Our fellow Indians have left such impressions as i saw with some other business people from India in our hotel. They don't really understand what the staff say, simply smile at the cute attendant and are ushered away to their rooms.

    Anyhow. For me the high lights were the food, and a local beer that they have Tsingtao, if I could have, I would have bought a crate with me home.

    - Shopping - I did not really get a chance to see the main city centre and visit the big malls etc, however there was a Carre-Four close to my hotel, which I was able to visit. I would not recommend buying chocolates from there, since they all taste funny, and not really what I was used to atleast.

    Really cheap for toys and stuff, however I did not find the electronics appealing enough. I was expecting some impressive tablets and cell phones, but other than Android phones by lenovo, which are quite popular, and some local company, nothing else was worth the money. Tablets were nearly the same price as in India, and inferior in specs, and the screens were really dim, though Android 4.0.

    I picked up some souvenirs from the Duty free on my way back. That was about it.

    Now Ill be headed there again in a few days, hoping to ride the Shanghai Maglev this time. :)

    Hope some of this info was useful!
     
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  2. MohitGamer

    MohitGamer ActiveRAIDer

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    All I see is a lot of text and no pictures...:censored: !!
     
  3. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Sadly there aren't many that I took, since mostly I was busy with work, but I'll post some.

    2012-09-24-2160.jpg

    HongKong Airport - One of the largest terminals in the world by interior space.

    2012-09-24-2163.jpg


    The Hills/Mountains around the Airport. Most would know that the HKG Chek-Lap-Kok Airport is one of the most expensive Airports in the world ( 20 Billion $ in 1999 ). Its made on a man made 12.1 sq km island.

    2012-09-24-2164.jpg

    Thats the terminal in the background. its designed in such a manner thats its in the form of a Toroidal ring, and the terminal is an arc of that ring, whose other end is supposed to be at the centre of the earth!

    Will post some more.
     
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