If anyone has not told you what to do before you embark to China here are some tips before you leave. These tips I wish I knew before I arrived in China.
1. Bank Card: Make sure your bank knows you are going overseas. Make sure your debit card can work in foreign ATM machines. Usually, if you get a debit card from a major bank like Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, etc. You should be fine.
If you get a card from credit union, not every ATM machine in China will work for you.
Once you find an ATM that will take your debit card from a credit union, make sure you mark the location. These will become your best friend. It is prudent to bring two debit cards for when one does not work. It is true China is changing, but in reality, cash is king.
Remember do not rely on your credit card! This could cost you more than you think.
2. Cash: Bring cash! Do not flash it around. You should have enough for emergencies. You will be surprised how long you can live off of cash! Food in general are usually pretty cheap.
3. Converter: Make sure you bring the proper converter for your phone. You do not want to be in a foreign country where you do not have access to your phone.
4. Phone calls: Make sure you are able to make international phone calls with your phone. If you do not do this before you get to China you may need to buy a Chinese chip for your phone. Good luck on buying one! I hope your Chinese is good or you know someone who can translate.
5. VPN: What is that? This stands for Virtual Private Network. Just because your phone or your computer may get internet does not mean you have access to everything. China is very strict on their internet and certain vital tools may not work without one.
You may or may not think how harmless Google is or its services, but they are blocked in China. Facebook is also blocked. To get around this you ought to get a VPN before you leave.
This will allow you to surf the net without “Big Brother”.
6. Plans: Make sure you know when and where your party will meet in China. China is a big country and to getting lost is easier than you think.
7. Hei Che (Black car): Make sure you do not get an unmarked taxi! They will charge you an arm and leg. They will lie to you and tell you anything they can to get you into their cars. DO not listen to them, this could cost you thousands of dollars.
8. Tissues: Many travelers probably would not think to do this but this is VITAL! You need to carry around some tissues in your pocket. Not all the restrooms in China have toilet paper. If they do, sometimes the paper will be out from the stalls.
9. Toilets: Remember not all toilets in China are Western meaning the toilet you are used to at your home. Usually, you will have to squat and finding the handicap or Western toilets is not always an easy thing to do.
10. Etiquette: Do not blow your nose at the dinner table or show the soles of your feet. As crazy as this might sound, for us guys it’s perfectly ok for them to take their shirts off.
If you do these simple steps, your trip into China will be a more pleasant one! I hope this is helpful!
If you want any more advice please feel free to email me at Matthew.Jae.Lund@gmail.com. I will update this article depending on viewers’ questions.