Chinese version of Uber – DiDi – no exchange of cash, haggling of the price, or giving directions. The price is set based on distance and the type of car you choose. The driver knows where to go based on the address you provided when booking the car. The payment is all done electronically (the app needs to be linked to a bank account). Easy!
Subway – in rural China the computers that print your ticket are either before or after security. The catch is that they are typically in Chinese; however, if you simply show the station on your phone to the security guard, or a bystander, they will select the station for you. The machines take bills smaller than 100. If you only have a hundred, simply go up to the counter and the person will change it for you, allowing you to go back to the computer, and finish buying your ticket. Once you have your ticket you need to go through security. There will be an xray machine that you have to place your bag through and a guard will wave a metal detector over you. Once through, make your way to the turnstiles. Here you need to wave your ticket over the designated circle and the turnstile will let you pass. KEEP YOUR TICKET, you will need it to exit the subway system. To exit the system, you will need to put your ticket in the slot on the turnstile and it will let you pass. Wala, nothing to it!
Metro Man is an excellent app for navigating all subway lines in China
Flights – Local flights with China are very affordable. I have found the best prices to be on the app CTrip. I highly recommend checking this app out.
Trains – Trains can also be booked through the app CTrip
Bikes - A lot of the Chinese cities now have OFO bikes. They are yellow bikes that people can use to get around the city. They don't need to be left at a docking station so it's a bit of hide a seek trying to find one, but they are awesome if you can! There is a English and a Chinese version of the app. If you use the Chinese app the cost is 1 yuan for the month. The English app is 1 yuan per ride.
Bank of China is one of the larger Banks. As a result, they will be able to exchange Canadian funds and their ATM’s have an English option (Yippee!!!) and take Canadian Bank cards. My bank, charged me $5 with every withdrawal.
To give you an idea of how much things cost. At the time of my trip (Oct 2017) $1 CAD = 6 yuan
- Coffee - 30-40 yuan
- Tea - 20-30 yuan
- Dinner for two - 100 yuan
- Local beer - 25 yuan
- Import beer - 45 yuan
- Bus - 1 yuan
- Subway - 1-3 yuan
- International stamps - 4.80 yuan (people look at you like you have three heads when you want to post a letter)
- Ice cream - 12 yuan (can you tell what my vice is?)
Okay...after spending sometime in Beijing I have come to the realization that rural china is MUCH cheaper than Beijing. Here are some cost updates:
- Dinner - 100 yuan for one
- Subway - 5 yuan
Maps Me – I can’t say enough about this map. It doesn’t require data which makes it very handy navigating in foreign countries. There are two down side, 1 – it does track your position, and this information is used for advertising. Once I downloaded the app I started receiving random text messages. I just simply delete them. I can’t read them anyway as they are in Chinese. 2 – the search function doesn’t work that well, so instead I simply scroll on the map to find various things. Once I find them I ‘pin’ them and use that for navigation. This app is also handy for using the subway systems, it shows all of the stops, and the GPS function still works in the subway, showing you when you're getting close to your stop.
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One can't have a post about China without at least one picture of a cat!!!
A lot of things are blocked in China…A LOT of things! Having a good VPN is key! The one I chose to use was betternet; however, I would choose ExpressVPN in the future. Speaking with others it is more reliable and you can still access Netflix!!!
Google Translate – even though every other google product is blocked in China, google translate still works and it has been a life saver. Having multiple functions, you can type in a word and it will translate it for you, or speak, or hold the camera up to a sign…or restaurant menu. It really does make things too easy!
WeChat – This app is like gold in China. The Chinese do everything through this app. They communicate with their friends, pay for products at the store, order a taxi, or even order food. It is an instant messenger that has various functions built in behind it. Undenounced to me, it is actually larger than Facebook!!! The handiest part, it also works as a translator. If someone send you a message you can translate it into English within the app, showing both the original and the translated version on the screen. This has proven to be invaluable when trying to ask the athletes questions.
SIM cards – if you have a local friend get them to come with you. The Chinese are able to access SIM cards that give them 500mb of data a day for only 50 yuan a month.