Monday 26 September 2011

Transport- Zhuhai

There are two main ways to get around Zhuhai- Taxis and Buses.
Taxis- Be careful of unlicensed taxis, they could be anyone, and often will charge you more. ALWAYS check your seat before you leave taxis and always get receipts when you leave them. This way if you loose anything you have a taxi number- without this you cannot do anything.

Zhuhai Taxi
When in Zhuhai always use the Green Taxis

Buses- The best way to learn these is by getting on them and seeing where it takes you. You will rarely have to pay more than 25 RMB to get a taxi home, so as long as you know where you live, you will always be able to find a way home. Buses are the cheapest way to travel with a flat rate of 2 RMB anywhere in Zhuhai.

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Zhuhai- A very small introduction

Zhuhai, within China is known as the holiday destination, it is a very pretty place, but 25 years ago it was not here. Zhuhai was originally a small fishing village but the government decided to make it a Special Economic Zone, and in 25 years in grew to a population roughly the same size as Birmingham in the UK.

Because of this, there are barely any locals, everyone is a foreigner here to the locals. Beware of coming to Zhuhai on Chinese New Year because as many expats will tell you it becomes a ghost town. This is because everyone goes home, and since nobody really comes from Zhuhai, it becomes empty.

Zhuhai is in the South of China and can be seen below:

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Friday 23 September 2011

Zhuhai- Mapping the land

Zhuhai is quite a small city by China's standards but I can helpfully be broken up into 3 city centers as Jamie from Intern-China helpfully told me. To the North you have Xiangzhou, here there is 2 bars that are quite big with the Expat community and good for watching any sports, they are The Office Bar, and Micheal's Bar.

Zhuhai Map
Central and slightly to the East is JiDa, this is the central center as is a very nice place to live as you are in between the two other centers. Jida boasts a 'beach' of some sorts and the infamous JiDa bbq (both will be spoken about in later blogs).

To the south is Gongbei. This is where all the action happens (literally if you go to Lanpu Lu, but we will talk about that soon!). In Gongbei there is Bar Street a street that pretty much has all of the worthwhile clubs, 88's is a pretty good one, but like the rest of these places they deserve a blog of there own.

To the East of Giongbei there is Nanping and Huafa. At the time of writing there is not very much to talk about apart from the Fusion restaurant just off Shoufeng Lu Road, which is pretty good for western foods. These are up and coming places, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Zhuhai Electricity and Water

In Zhuhai, and the rest of China, the plugs sockets look similar to European ones, however they will not fit. You can pick up a travel adapter in and Chinese market for about 20p, so unless you desperately need power straight away, I would buy an adapter here.

Chinese Plug Socket

Water- Do not drink the water under any circumstances. Not even the locals drink the water. If you are looking for water purchase a water cooler (like you have in offices). It costs around 50 RMB the first bottle you buy, but this is a deposit, and bottles will cost you around 10 RMB a time as long as you keep the bottles.

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Wednesday 21 September 2011

Getting a Sim card in China

I have pretty much survived on Jigga (that), nihao (Hello), Chi Chi ni (thank you) and Sigh Gen (Goodbye) (note: this is not the correct spelling, but the words are written frenetically so you can pronounce) since I have got to China. Not because I am too lazy to learn, but because I have not started lessons yet. However, today I successfully brought a sim card from a shop with only using these words. This may seem rude to you, however the people are very pleasant, and as long as you thank them (chi chi) and be respectful they will stay that way.

There are apparently two Sim card companies in China; China Mobile and China Unicom. I have not seem China Unicom in Zhuhai yet, as everyone seems to use China Mobile. You can buy a sim card from pretty much any shop you see. As you walk in the will have a glass cabinet at the till, in this there will be a series of numbers in English. These are the phone numbers for each sim card. You will need to pick a number and the price is dependent on this. If you choose a number with the most amount of 4s, your sim card will be very cheap, as 4s are unlucky in China.

For my Sim card I paid 65 RMB, but have paid 50 RMB for others, it really does depend on the numbers. Point to the number you want say Jigga and they will pick out the sim card for you.

They should put the sim card in your phone automatically- this is important- you need them to set the phone up for you so that you know that it actually works. There are a lot of scams like this in China, and being a foreigner you are the perfect scamee.

Your phone number will be on the back of the packaging, so make sure they do not throw it all away. Make sure you say Chi Chi Ne (thank you) and you should be ready to go!

Sight-Seeing in Zhuhai- The Fisher Girl

One of the biggest sights to see in Zhuhai is definitely the Fisher Girl. If I'm completely honest I was a little disappointed and thought that I have seen chess pieces bigger, however I spoke to a friend and they said it was massive. Maybe its just because I'm so tall I get nose bleeds when I stand up due to the altitude. I'm pretty much a landmark in Zhuhai at the moment.

I have heard many stories about the Fisher Girl, all a little bit far fetched if you ask me, but still very nice. The original one I heard from a friend was pretty much the Chinese version of the little mermaid. It involved a mermaid who loved Zhuhai so much that she turned into a woman so that she could come ashore with here soon to be husband. Note: I do not think there are any singing crabs in this story.

Zhuhai Fisher girl
The other story starts off very nice- there was a massive storm when the Portugese tried to invade mainland China- the conquered Macoa but no where else, and all of the Portugese ships sank, killing everyone apart from a lone fisher girl. She swam to shore, survived and then walked up the nearby mountain and descended to heaven. I struggled to understand why you would want to ascend to climb up a mountain and die after being the lone survivor, but hey.

Regardless of the stories surrounding the Fisher Girl, it is very nice and you are hard pushed to find a day where it is not engulfed by a large swarm of tourists shouting at the sea (meant to release your bad energy).

It is a very nice landmark for Zhuhai and the people seem to love it. Definitely worth a see even if it is to watch the tourists singing along to the Chinese tunes coming from the homeless person who somehow can afford a PA system.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Mid-Autumn Day

Mid-Autumn Day is a national holiday in China for three days- this year it was on the 10th-12th of September signalling the middle autumn day (funnily enough). The Mid-Autumn day itself is the day that the moon is at its fullest, this year it was on Sunday 11th.
It is similar to Harvest Festival in the West; however Mid-Autumn Day has one doughy silver lining- Mooncakes.
A friend said to me that they make you feel like a cement mixer when you eat them, which isn’t far off the texture- very, very heavy.
The Mid-Autumn Day Festival is a time when pretty much everywhere in China closes down- the country gets three days to recharge it batteries- which if you have ever lived in China you will understand that they need this- everything goes at 100 mph.
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Tuesday 13 September 2011

Chinese Cuisine- Try something new today!

If you cannot read Chinese symbols then you may find this a little tricky. The best idea is to find a menu with pictures, and just point and say ching (please). I am lucky enough to have a friend who can read Chinese so I have a little more choice- but only when I am with them.
Like almost everything in China your money will go very far. Below is the equivalent to an authentic Chinese take away- fried dumplings, boiled dumplings and noodles in a peanut sauce. This cost 12 RMB (£1.20):

Perfect Takeaway food

Zhuhai is known in China for its seafood and I am yet to be disappointed, this is a fish split in half and cooked in front of you on top of burning coals, it was part of a meal consisting of 9 dishes, it came to 190 RMB and between 3 of us we still had some left for the morning afterwards!
The fish hot plate

You quickly learn not to ask what you are eating here- it’s the best way to be, try everything once and have an open mind when ordering.

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How to collect a Western Union(MoneyGram) in China

Around the rest of the world when you collect a Money Gram/Western Union payment, it is possible to go to shops and do this. As far as I can see in Zhuhai this is not possible, you will have to go to one of the many state banks such as; The Bank of China, The Postal Savings Bank of China, The China Construction Bank and The Agricultural Bank of China- there are many more.
If you cannot speak Chinese then go to the biggest bank you can find, and they should have an English speaker. When you get to the bank you will have to fill out a document called International Money Transfer Receive Form:
Fill this form in as much as you can with the information you have. Note: You need a passport to collect a MoneyGram/ Western Union. If you have a middle name you must put this in after your first name. After this you will need to fill out an Application Form for Personal Foreign Exchange Sale. You basically have to refill your details in this sheet to allow you to collect your money.
After you do this, if you are lucky you will get your money, if not so lucky you will be carted to other banks until someone knows what to do with you.
It is a very drawn out process, so if do not plan to do too much for the rest day- it took me two attempts to get my money, 2 hours on one day where at the end of filling out all of my application twice, they told me it was too late, and the second attempt where I was taken around to banks like I was on a bank tour of Zhuhai.
My best advice for you is to attend early afternoon and take as much information as you can possibly get.

Mid- Autumn day in Zhuhai- ChopperWood

For this Mid-Autumn day I went to a festival in Zhuhai called Chopperwood in Beishan Theatre. In memory of an excellent guitar player and fellow expat in Zhuhai, Ronnie Keelan- who unfortunately passed away in July 2011.
It really says something about a person who has a festival named after them, and from speaking to his friends, Ronnie Keelan definitely deserved this and more.

Sound Check Chopperwood 2011

This is also a perfect way to see how life in Zhuhai has a perfect mix of westerners and locals.

Second stage Chopperwood

A whole community of ex-pats from Zhuhai and bands coming from Hong Kong and Zhuhai came out to show their respects, it was a very memorable festival and I hope it will become an annual event, allowing expats and locals the perfect opportunity to mingle.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Rules for a successful relocation to China:

1. Learn the language- no one speaks English here so you need to learn, or fail that find a Chinese friend who will be your translator!

2. Crossing the Road- Do not wait for cars, simply weave in between them, or you could be waiting all day!

3. Restaurants- Order something you have never tried, most of the time it is delicious!

4. Money- It is cheap here, but it is easy to spend a lot of money- budget yourself around £10 (100RMB) a day, should be more than enough.

5. Egotistic- Get used to the fact that if you are a westerner everyone will look at you. Just don’t let this go to your head, be nice to everyone you meet and you will be fine.

6. Saving Face- This is a big problem. The Chinese cannot be seen to lose face, so if anything ever happens allow the Chinese people to win, bow down and continually say Duibuqi (Doohbooooshaai)(sorry).

This list will be updated weekly, so stay tuned, and if you have any ideas email us and yours could make the list!

Finding Apartments in Zhuhai

When trying to find apartments in Zhuhai, never go alone.
Especially if you cannot speak Mandarin - you will get taken to the cleaners. Remember you can bargain the price down on almost all apartments, but do not be so aggressive, as these people could be your landlord, and you do not want to annoy them before you move in.

Most contracts stipulate you must stay for a year, however you could get 6 months but more than likely will have to pay more for it.

According to people I have spoken to, Zhuhai is the equivalent of a new metropolis in Guangdong province.

Keep this in mind when looking for apartments. It is good to look for apartments around 2000RMB per month (1500 if you will be sharing), you can find very nice apartments for that!
When searching for apartments I was lucky enough to have a Chinese friend come with me, and we found an apartment in the centre of Jida on the 27th floor of a new building for 3000RMB per month. Below are some pictures of the apartment so you have an idea how far your money can go!

Balcony with a wonderful sea view

Apartment with spacious living room

Breathtaking into Zhuhai City from bedroom

Monday 5 September 2011

Hotels in Zhuhai

Hotels can be very cheap in China. I stayed at a hotel opposite the Times Square in central Jida, Zhuhai. I would love to tell you the name, but unfortunately I do not read Chinese.
I was lucky enough to get a standard room for a deluxe price 168RMB per night.
Thats roughly £16 per night.
According to friends of mine you can find hotels for around 100 RMB (£10) a night if you look around enough.
Note: In most hotels, your room card is used to power the electricity in your room. Most have a card reader you slot it into- make sure you remove this before you leave your room as you cannot get out!!

Thursday 1 September 2011

Ferries- Hong Kong to Zhuhai

To get a ferry from Hong Kong, make sure you visit The China Travel Service in Wan Chai.

Here you can get a ticket to Zhuhai for 202 HKD. This is a very good price to pay as the staff speak English and can help you with finding the port.

It is recommended that you arrive at any terminal at least 45 minutes before leaving as you need to go through Hong Kong customs. For this you will need to fill out a departure form which can be found in the customs hall at the back.

For Zhuhai you need to travel to the Macau Ferry terminal, ideally take a taxi, and it will cost you around 30 HKD.

Once at the ferry terminal you need to take the lift up to the 3rd floor, from here you can find out your ferries departure lounge from the monitors that display English every thirty seconds.

If you are lucky and get to your departure lounge early, you will be able to get a seat, and wait to board.

On the ferry find your seat and relax- to Zhuhai it will take you around 90 minutes.

When you get to China fill out a Entry card and line up for Chinese customs, this is quite quick it took me around 15 minutes and prepare to get your picture taken!

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