Friday, July 26, 2013

Tips for trippin' in China

Flying over China
Getting away for a few days or even a few weeks provides a break in the daily routine and is always exciting, especially whether the destination is China or any other place you’ve never been before. Vacations, however, can turn into disasters, ruining even the best-laid plans. Travelers can cut the risk of disaster happening by taking a few precautions.

Protect Your Legal Papers

While most travelers don’t travel with a lot of legal papers, it is important to protect the legal documents you do have. It is extremely important to protect your passport, as getting it replaced internationally can be expensive and time-consuming if a consulate or embassy isn’t handy. (This is the voice of experience talking here!) Make copies of the passport’s front page. Put one in your luggage and give others to your traveling companions. Scan the front page and email it to yourself at an account that can be accessed anywhere in the world.  Having a copy will make it easier to get a replacement passport and may be the only proof of who you are should your purse or wallet be stolen. Follow the same procedure for any current visas in the passport.

Learn the Lingo

Learning a few words in the language of the country you’ll be visiting makes a good impression on locals. At the very minimum, travelers should know how to say hello, goodbye, please and thank you. Your pronunciation may not be spot-on, but the locals will like it that you’re trying. Even if the only word you speak in Mandarin is “ni hao,” which means hello, the Chinese will compliment you on your ability to speak Chinese even if you’ve bungled the Mandarin pronunciation. The Internet makes it easy to learn new languages through online classes and tutorials. The classes, or at least a few lessons, are generally free. Whenever I’m planning a visit to China, I always sign up for a free course to refresh my language skills.

Know Before You Go 

China is safer for travelers than other countries, but no country is completely crime-free. At a minimum, take the same precautions to protect yourself that you would at home. Stay in areas that are well lit at night; don’t venture out alone in the middle of the night. Leave expensive jewelry at home as it’s a magnet for muggers. Don’t flash wads of cash around; only keep handy what you’ll need for that day.  Wear the rest in a money belt or withdraw from an ATM as you need it; be sure to tell your bank you’re traveling abroad so it won’t deny withdrawals in China. Beware of pickpockets; some are so smooth in parting you and your valuables, you may not know you’ve been victimized until long after the fact.

Travelers who use common sense and take basic precautions are more apt to have a trouble-free holiday.
Are you going to China?
If you're planning  trip to China, check out my website, Cheryl's China, for tips and recommendations. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about travel in China.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Two China sites rank among world's top engineering projects.

The Great Wall at Simatai
Two places in China are on a list of the world's top 25 greatest engineering feats: the Great Wall and Shanghai World Financial Center.

The list, compiled by CNN, places the Great Wall in third position. Stretching 5,500 miles across northern China from Jiayuguan in the west to Shanhaiguan in the east where it ends at the Bohai Sea, the Great Wall is undoubtedly one of early man's greatest engineering feats. it is a feat that would be almost impossible to duplicate today because of governmental regulations, including environmental impact statements.  The CNN article names Badaling as the best site to visit, primarily because it is the easiest to get to. It is also the most crowded, though there are ways of avoiding the crowds.

Something new that I learned about the Great Wall from the article is that the mortar holding the bricks together is made from rice flour.

No. 15 on the list is the Shanghai World Financial Center, a trapezoid-shaped building that is 101 stories high. It was the tallest building in China when it was completed in 2008. It is nicknamed "the bottle opener" because that's what it looks like due to a hole in the top that cuts down on wind.

Other places on the list include the International Space Station, the London subway system, Hoover Dam and the Panama Canal.