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 5 For Canada

Canada is a great vacation destination and has many things to offer to its visitors like the majestic mountains, beautiful winding roads, lush green forests, wildlife and the multicultural cities. I traveled to Canada last year in December using my air Canada miles, my trip was simply awesome. Here I want to share with you my five best for Canada.

First Tip – Purchase A Good Travel Guide:

When you are traveling to some foreign country, it’s always a god idea to carry a travel guide. Canada is also a no exception, if you don’t want to buy a travel guide there are always many good and guides present online which you can print.

You can find some good travel guides for Canada on top web pages like Fodor’s, Lonely Planet or Rough guides. A good thing about travel guides is that it provides you with an insight about the destination, like where to go, what to eat and drink, things to do and see, where to shop etc. Investing in a travel guide is not bad and it only helps you in knowing the place better.

Second Tip – Always Consider The Climate:

Before you pack your bags for Canada, don’t forget to consider the season you are traveling in. If you are heading for the Maritime Provinces then you must know that they tend to be more humid than the other provinces in the west. In Nova Scotia, Halifax, you can expect to experience weather that is temperate in summers and freezing in winters.

If you are staying in the mountainous areas of Canada, then you can expect to see a lot of diversion in the climate. Keep yourself layered up if you are staying in this region. On the other hand, areas like Victoria and Vancouver are more temperate and don’t usually see too much freezing temperature.

Third Tip – Plan To Cross The Border:

Traveling to Canada is not that easy anymore like it once used to be. The new restrictions have made it difficult to cross the borders, the documents needed for traveling to Canada are always changing from time to time. So it’s best that you check the documents and verify that you don’t need anything extra before you head for Canada.

Fourth Tip – Know The Currency:

Another important tip for traveling to Canada is that you should know the importance of comprehending the currency before you leave. Canada uses Canadian dollars, though you can also use US dollars. It is always wise to carry a traveler’s check in Canadian currency since they can be accepted anywhere.

Fifth Tip – Tips On Tipping:

Also remember when you are giving tip in Canada you need to know how the Canadians take gratitude. Tips are not included in the restaurant bills and a standard tip for good service is $12 to $15.

Faro Portugal Travel Information

Faro Travel Advice and Information for the best use of your rental car.

Faro, the sleepy and tranquil gateway to the Algarve is located on the southern tip of Portugal next to the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. It is a great place to visit to wind down, or more popularly used as a base for those looking to travel to the many fine resort towns along the Algarve. Those even more adventurous or with a thirst to travel can even drive into Spain to make the Costa del Sol part of their holiday, enjoying your car hire and heading to Gibraltar, Marbella, Malaga and beyond..

Faro has much to offer, great weather and beautiful beaches with superb waterfront restaurants and bars. All year round sunshine means the average winter day is between 15-20 Celsius, while summer averages 25-30 Celsius.

After flying into Faro Airport it is then a 4.5 mile trip into town.
We recommend booking car hire to be collected from Faro Airport, as you will find the use of a rental car will take a lot of pressure off having to rely on public transport during your trip.

Hotels and Museums
The town has many great hotels on offer for those looking for a luxury stay, through to more humble self-catering arrangements. Once settled in, Faro boasts three museums in a range of areas; The Maritime Museum, along with the Archeological and Ethnographic (or Human Culture) Museums show some great history of the local area, more of which can also be seen by taking a casual walk around the town. The city walls, of Roman origin, will lead you to the old Roman square, once site to the Roman forum, a cathedral and palace. One place that is a must see is the Cappella dos Ossos, a chapel with a chilling choice in decor. Cappella dos Ossos translates to the Chapel of Bones, and that’s just what you’ll see. Over 1,000 monks became part of this spectacle with the entire interior being covered with bones and skulls, something that has to be seen to believed.

Nature
Lovers of the great outdoors, nature and ornithology must visit the 170,000km sq nature reserve based around the Ria Formosa Lagoon. With hundreds of types of bird alone this is a great spot to see such wealth of life, especially during the spring and autumn migrational season.

Super Beaches
Beaches are essential for the majority of holiday makers, and Faro has some great beaches to offer. Again we recommend the use of car hire in Faro to get about as the beach is located around 4 miles from the town. Along the Algarve most of the beaches are found on sandbanks and require a short ferry journey to visit. Faro is one of the rare places where the beach can be reached on foot. On a sandbank itself, Faro’s beach can be accessed via a small rope bridge, which once crossed gives you fine gold sand, clear waters and plenty of space and solitude to relax with a cold drink and a book whilst working on your tan.

Water Park
Those with families looking for a fun day out should take a trip to ‘The Big One’ water park. A perfect way to have a good time and cool down on a hot day, and highly likely to be a highlight for children.

Other Towns nearby
With Faro being the gateway to the Algarve, we do recommend you visit some of the many other resort towns on offer especially if you have taken advantage and booked car hire in Faro. With each town offering something a little different in both culture and entertainment. Vilamoure is closest, being less then half an hour’s journey from Faro. Albuferia will take less then an hour to travel to, with Portimao and Praia da Rocha both taking around an hour and a quarter. Lagos is the longest journey but at under two hours it is still close enough to make a comfortable day trip without having to spend too much time traveling.

As the days do inevitably get hot, if you are traveling, especially with children, it is recommended that you get an air conditioned hire car.