First time in Shanghai? Follow these tips 7KHFRDVWDOFLW\RI6KDQJKDLLVLQYLWLQJ%XWIRUDÂżUVWWLPHYLVLWRU the cosmopolitan city can be overwhelming. In order to make your stay VPRRWKVDQVUXGHVXUSULVHVLWLVEHWWHUWREHSUHSDUHG
hina has become a hot spot destination for Indian travellers â€“ both business persons and tourists. China tours, unless fully conducted ones, can be daunting because of language problems. Following are a few guides to life in China, based mainly from my experience in Shanghai. Hope they are of help to future sojourners!
1. Getting around There are three main modes of public transport in Shanghai â€“ taxis, metros and buses. New travellers who do not know how to read Chinese are better off avoiding the buses because the drivers are not always regular with the stop announcements. Taxis are the most convenient way to travel â€“ but also the most expensive one. The first three kilometres cost RMB 14 and thereafter it is RMB 2.4 per Km. After the ride is over, it is better to ask for the receipt or fapiao (pronounced as faa phiaao). The receipt helps track down the taxi in case one has forgotten anything in the cab. One should be careful to board only a legal taxi (which have â€˜taxiâ€™ written at the top).Chinese words are often not pronounced the way they are writtenin English. Therefore, it is highly useful to carry in written Chinese the name of oneâ€™s hotel and destination and just show it to the cab driver. Cabs that are available to be hailed have a green light on top of them and those that already have passengers or have been booked have no or red light on top.The Shanghai metro is quite convenient if you know the place you want to go to from beforehand. However, if using the metro, one should be prepared for a good walk. The minimum charge for a metro ticket costs RMB 3 and can go up to 7 RMB depending on the distance. Tickets can only be bought at ticket |36| India-China Chronicle Âƒ September 2013
vending machines (which require one to keep handy RMB 1 or 0.5 coins or RMB 5, 10 or 20 banknotes). Travel cards are available at the metro station service centres for RMB 20 which can be used in taxis as well. Google Maps usually gives accurate direction guides to get about in Shanghai. Arriving at the airport, travellers can choose to take the metro, maglev, buses or stand in line for taxis. There is no prepaid system here, just a line for taxis. Travellers carrying boarding passes can get a discount on their maglev ticket fares. 2. Food Shanghai has restaurants of myriad cuisines and price ranges. Right from Vietnamese, to Spanish, Indian to
Australian, all kinds of restaurants have set shop in Shanghai. Apart from these there is of course the local Chinese cuisines. A good guide to dining and living in Shanghai can be found at this website: www.smartshanghai.com. Food delivery is also popular. Indian and other cuisines can be delivered in Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou by the Sherpaâ€™s delivery company (www.sherpa.com.cn). The phone numbers for the different cities can be gleaned from the website. Sherpaâ€™s attendants speak excellent English and there is also the option to order online. It might also be good to carry ready to eats as vegetarian restaurants are difficult to find in China. Shanghai though does have a vegetarian restaurants like â€œNew Age Veggieâ€? that serve vegetarian dishes. Those who do not mind fast food can always find 24 hrs KFCs and McDonalds in the city. Better still they can actually order from these chains whose hotline numbers and online order options are available on these links: https://www.4008-517-517.cn/mdswo/ (Mc Donalds) and http://www.4008823823.com.cn/kfcios/ index.htm?utm_campaign=KFC_Online_Ordering&utm_ source=Official&utm_medium=HP&utm_ content=rightbutton (KFC) 3. Money exchange Airports usually have money exchanging counters. These are usually private and give a lower rate but can often exchange Indian Rupee. Within cities, apart from a few foreign private kiosks like those of Thomas Cook, banks exchange money legally. Banks usually accept the US dollar and not the Indian Rupee. A convenient way to obtain RMB in China is to carry a Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards as the numerous ATMs all around the cities all accept these cards for cash withdrawal. 4. Phone calls Those looking to make international calls can use IP cards available for RMB 10-20 from newspaper stalls or small
stores selling phone cards. The best SIM cards are available from the companies China mobile and China Unicom. In case the stay in China is for a week or more, it might be best to get a Chinese SIM card â€“ you will need your passport and minimum RMB 50 for that. 5. Emergencies At any time if you are stuck in Shanghai and want to communicate with the taxi driver (or other service providers) in Chinese you can dial the Shanghai helpline 962-288. The police helpline number is 110. If there is a medical emergency, it is best to take a taxi and rush to one of the nearest hospitals by asking the Shanghai help-line to conduct the necessary communications with the driver. In the event of a passport loss, apart from registering an FIR at the nearest police station, one should contact the Indian embassy or consulates as applicable. if you are stuck in Shanghai and want to communicate with the taxi driver (or other service providers) in Chinese you can dial the Shanghai helpline 962-288. The police helpline number is 110. Almost all big cities now have 24 hour convenience stores which sell goods for daily needs. As one is careful in any new place, one should be cautious in China as well and take the general necessary travel precautions. Wishing all incoming travellers a very safe and happy stay!!! Â‰
SUMELIKA BHATTACHARYYA Chronicle Bureau, Shanghai
September 2013 Âƒ India-China Chronicle |37|