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First trip to China and a couple questions.

From: United States Arizona Tempe @Jaguarguy Time : 2013-06-06 21:11:39
I will be flying to China next month to meet with the woman I met on CLM 9 months ago and just have a couple questions. Im only staying for 2 weeks, actually more like 10 days if you take out the travel days (shes in Nanchang so I will fly to Shanghi then go on to her town from there). Anyway, this is not a meet a few women trip, we have an absolute connection (weird when you think about someone 7000 miles away and a different nationality) and this trip is to confirm the next stage of what it needed to have her get a visa so she can come to the US and become my wife.

So here are the questions, please don't be offended if they sound weird but they are honest questions.

1. I am assuming I can use my Visa and Mastercard debt cards to pay for most everything ?

2. Should I bring some US currency and some converted to RMB's ?

3. I read I should bring my own toilet paper which I am fine with but is there a restriction as to how many you can bring in your luggage ? I was thinking standard 4 pack.

4. Everyone says pack light and do laundry more. Are most of the upper grade hotels equipped with laundry services ? Also, it will be warm there, can I wear mostly shorts and shirts ?

5. Since the total flight time is like 25 hours and when I arrive it will be 15 hours later then when I leave how should I deal with the time change ? I don't want to spend 2-3 days with jet lag while I'm there. I'm thinking I should at some point absolutely sleep on the plane but lets be honest, first time traveling to China (somewhere I've wanted to visit for 20 years), first time meeting this angel who has brought sunshine back into my life (I'm widowed so some will understand this). I am thinking they will have sleeping pills on the plane ? I know adrenaline will keep me partially awake but still this is a huge concern and do I need to bring my own pills ?

6. Are you allowed to bring vitamins into that country ? I don't take any meds for anything nor need any help in the penis department but I do take a vitamin pack everyday and really don't want to miss this for the 2 weeks Im gone.

7. Speaking of penis, I'm sure I can buy condoms in China but should I bring my own ? Are they sized the same in China as in the US ? Its really not a stupid question but one I had to ask.

8. Are most of the American type food franchises ok to eat at. I only ask this because Im a very boring, chicken and potato type eater and while she wants to make sure I eat good and healthy while I am there we all know Chinese food is very different from standard US food and at some point I will need something remotely American.

9. Will any of my devices work there, as in phone or I pad ? If not then how do I stay in contact with my family back in the US and my businesses ?

Any info would be appreciated and thank you CLM for opening some of us up to an opposite sex that had very different values then those in the US.
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From: China 江苏(jiang su) 苏州(su zhou ) @aussieghump Time : 2013-06-07 15:54:54 #1
Congrats....welcome to China.

1) visa yes, MasterCard less so....I'd suggest you have a way of putting cash through your Visa card so you can withdraw from an ATM (the main bank in the city will have this facility...also some hotels will allow it!...China is still a cash economy.

2) A little USD is helpful, even as gifts for the kids in the family! But you don't need much. Keep an 'emergency stash'

3) Toilet paper is ok...you can buy man places. You want to bring a little on your person in emergencies (away from home) so a smaller pack or hygienic wipes is useful...but really! The Chinese invented paper!

4) pack to travel - cotton and lightweight. Wearing shorts I not so common - find some permanent press lightweight pants or cargo pants...you do need to wear shoes most of the time...otherwise it's icky!
Wash your smalls nd rinse you shirt each day and dry in your hotel overnight...consider some mini-packs of washing powder...but you can buy here!

5) you will get jet lag, you can't do much about it...key is to know ths and plan day2-day3 around this... If it is daytime only sleep a few hours...one friend uses a 3 hour wakes cycle...sleep when you are tired, but if it is daytime, only 3 hours. Drugs on planes invariably stuff you up!

6) if you must use a particular brand, bring them in the origins container...otherwise you can buy here in most chemist stores

7) throw a few in...what is the weight anyway! If you are more comfortable, do it! I have not had issues in China but I am not John Holmes!

8) there are lots of choices and I recommend stoping out of your comfort zone - lots of steamed vegetables, dumplings, soups and other stuff you can eat...every city has at least 1 KFC, usually a Pizza Hut , mcDonalds and various others...you won't starve!

9) we have Internet! Wifi is everywhere in shops, bars, cafes and hotels...recommend you swap your phone to global roaming and also set the family up on Skype...advise the bank , creditcard that you are going to China...and the phone company...so they don't cut your service off or freeze the account.

If the worst comes, buy a cheap phone in China with a local number...


You are on the Eastern Seaboard so the services and products you can buy are equivalent to rural USA...so not so many issues.

BTW...check out the visa situation before you go...get copies of you wife's papers and photos of you together. Determine if a wedding in China is better for you than waiting to marry in USA (immigration rules)...go forearmed.

From the way you are talking you will be 'married' by day two! Make sure you can deliver on your promises or at least know what you have to do....paperwork and information you can take back with you is best! Also sort out your status on this as well!
From: Australia New South Wales Newcastle @Andypanda Time : 2013-06-07 22:24:13 #2
G'day mate. I'm not from the USA but I'm an Aussie and I can answer some of your questions for you. I have been twice to China to see my sweetheart (now fiance).
1. My visa card would not work in any ATM of any bank or China post. I took heaps of Chinese currency and some Aussie dollars that I was able to exchange while in China.
2. Yes and Yes.
3. I dont think this is necessary, I had no trouble getting "loo paper".
4.This is up to personal choice but clothes are very cheap to buy in China so it wont be a problem if you dont take enough. Use the extra space for taking gifts for her mama and baba etc.
5. I cant help with this one as we only have a few hours time difference in Australia. I know about the feelings though as I am also a widow. Funny thing that you say she has brought sunshine back into your life as I said those exact same words about my fiance.
6. I took many vitamins with me (although they were a gift for her mama and baba) I just declared them as vitamins and had no trouble.
7. Take some with you to save the hassle or potential embarrassment of trying to buy some ,but the do sell them.
8. If you like KFC you will have no problems haha there are several "western" type food chains there. Be aware "Chinese food" is not like Chinese food made in the west. It tastes very different. awww how cute, she wants to look after you and feed you well. Nice !
9. My mobile phone was useless. I was lucky as the power points would take Australian appliances but I dont know what US connections are like.
Hope this is of some help and I wish you and your girl the best of luck and happiness.
From: Australia @Queenhalen Time : 2013-06-07 23:17:37 #3
Hi Mr Jaguarguy:

congratulate for finding your partner.

I am a women from Nanchang as well, but now I am living in another country, anyway I think I can give you some advises.

First, u definitely need convert some $ to RMB before u come here, not much, either in airport or ur country, convert at a good FX rate; then after u arrive the final city, u can do it again in Bank of China.

Second, napkin yes, u need it, but this is quite easy to get from any store in Nanchang.u can keep some as back up on your trip.

For you checked luggage, my experience is for student is 40kg. normal adult is normally 20-25kg, it depends on the air firm.

I suggest u bring a u pillow for yourself. and buy a bottle of natural essential oil which help you fall sleep. the body shop has pretty of options for that.

Vitamins is fine, but u may need to point it out on the little paper when u arrive.

I stronge u try some authentic cuisine in Nanchang, lots of choice here.

For your phone, that is easy. use the prepay one, i remember some of the prepare do not need ID registration.

Hope can help you a bit.

QueenHalen
From: China 广东(guang dong) 广州(guang zhou ) @rainbowrain Time : 2013-06-08 01:23:58 #4
@Jaguarguy
Congratulations!
NanChang is my hometown, i am so glad you meet your angel there!
For your questions, write by my experience and opinion only, hope these will be useful for you.
1)&2)Credit card is possible in shopping centre and some stores. But not all stores accept credit card. Keeping some cash (both US dollors and RMB) is necessary for emergency or a small amount goods such as a bottle of water, snack etc. i supposed you know how your bank does exchange rate if you pay RMB by credit card and pay back by US dollor. Some ATMs also support to withdraw RMB from your debit card.

3)In many public places such as station,restaurant,shopping centre...., toliet papper is not available. It is not a bad idea to prepare some in advance. But if i were you i will take half dozen tissue in small package, which i can put it in pocket. In any hotel,toilet papper is available, please donot worry about that!

4)Landry service is available in most upper grade hotel. July and August will be very very hot in Nanchang. We call stove season.
5)No ideas about sleeping pills. i bet you will be very excited in that 2 weeks.Jet lag will not be problem.
6)Several bottles of Vitamins and some kinds of medicines are permitted. Sometimes i buy and carry from overseas.
7)No experience.
8)Local cuisine is spicy(chilli), perhaps it will be big challenge for you stomach. Chinese food is quite different from area.
9)3G(GSM, CDMA )service is available, depends on if you has applied international service from you phone agent. Or you can change your phone card (SIM or UIM)to local card, it would be more convenient to contact with your angel and more cheaper for international call. Internet access is availabe in most hotel.
From: Iceland Nordhurland Vestra Akureyri @Icekuma23 Time : 2013-06-08 02:40:42 #5
Long list but I'll try to answer.

1. Last time I was in Enshi/Beijing/Wuhan/Shanghai in 2009 they had ATM's that accepted pretty much any card and that included VISA. You still get charged for using it (i.e. 1.5$ I think)

2. I don't know what you will do with $ there apart from using it on your way to China?
I would convert your currency before arriving and get an idea of what each RMB note is worth (China uses coins and notes but some notes are only worth a cent...)

3. No idea about the toilet paper...

4. It's incredibly warm over there and if memory serves me right it probably is very warm this season. It does rain but even then the air is usually warm anyway.
Bring an umbrella. Yes you'll be fine with shorts and shirts.

5. I truly don't know if they can supply sleeping pills. For the record I never managed much sleep on those trips.

6. Can't answer but somehow doubt vitamins would be illegal.

7. I think it would be a LOT easier if you just bought and brought over. There certainly are pharmacies there.

8. Do you mean safe or good? If it's about the taste I would say it's fine but I only went to a KFC once.

9. I don't think this will be a problem if you purchase a sim card in China. They have wireless access in places.

Happy travels!
From: Canada British Columbia Victoria @bmccull Time : 2013-06-08 02:46:11 #6
1. Visa and MC are widely accepted but don't count on them. I would plan to use cash (RMB) for most things. You will be penalized by the CC company for the foreign transactions.

2. US$ is quite easy to exchange in China but useless to pay for things. On top of the exchange commission you will also be charged a fee. If you can negotiate a low fee deal on your debit card, the best way is to withdraw from the bank machines which are everywhere.

3. Don't waste the space. TP is normal in China. And you can learn some new tricks.

4. Laundries are everywhere. Much easier than the US.

5. I change my watch as soon as I sit down in the plane and act according to the destination time zone. The airline meals usually don't reflect the time of day anyway so the illusion is easy. I don't like being drugged so I don't bother with sleeping pills. Bring some books, play games on your phone, watch the movies, talk with other passengers, flirt with the cabin crew, practice your Chinese, sleep, and time goes by.

6. Vitamins will be fine. Bring them in the original container so as not to raise suspicions.

7. Definitely bring your own condoms. Lots of selection from places like condomdepot.com

8. Places like KFC and McD's have a slightly different menu in China but you will feel right at home. Get your GF to take you to some non-western places though. The food adventure in China is fantastic!

9. Yes all those devices work just fine. You can even recharge them from most wall sockets. They are built to take the different voltage. If you can, get your phone unlocked before you leave and buy a local SIM from China Unicom if you need data access. If you just want to phone the GF China Mobile is a good choice too. As in the US, wifi is everywhere so use a phone app like Vonage Mobile (free) or Skype (low cost) to make calls back home. I have several VOIP apps just in case one doesn't work.
From: China 上海(shang hai) 上海(shang hai) @lhui Time : 2013-06-08 10:28:52 #7
看到问题7我忍不住就笑了:这外国朋友是真萌还是卖萌啊?这么隐私的问题也当回事来问?再不济:量下尺寸不就得了。。。玩笑。。。哈哈哈哈。。。
Anonymous6273
@Anonymous6273 Time : 2013-06-08 11:44:13 #8
You probably want more opinions from foreign men...I think you'd better talk some question with your girlfriend first, maybe some question we onlooker agree or disagree would cause you trouble for you and your girl...LOL

Good luck!
From: China 浙江(zhe jiang) 金华(jin hua ) @slund Time : 2013-06-08 14:44:37 #9
He seemed quite serious about that question...@lhui
Anonymous6279
@Anonymous6279 Time : 2013-06-08 15:11:36 #10
@Anonymous6273 - good point when you wrote "I think you'd better talk some question with your girlfriend first"!
From: United States Michigan Rockford @Tyler72 Time : 2013-06-08 21:48:35 #11
Lol, you can buy condoms anywhere in China. Theres no weird stigma..

You can just walk into a store, grocery or drug store and ask... Na lee bee yun tao? (phonetic).. Others please feel free to correct any of my chinese, i wont be offended.. I dont consider my self that good, But im generally understood pretty well.

In fact i used to play this particular game when i was bored and wanted to practice my chinese or just talk to cute girls in the grocery store, LOL..

Walk around n look lost...
Very soon the shop girls will come try to help..
Look embarrased then lean in and ask bi yuntao zai nar? Or na li bi yun tao?
They will giggle and take you to the section.. To point them out..
Then you tell them you cant read chinese.. Get them to explain them all.. Ask which ones best.. Which one do you like? Lol... They will blush, point at their nose and say me?? Its fun.. And actually you will make their day and give them a great story to tell all their friends.

Zhonguo biyuntao, tai shao le! Na li hen da?

Lol, seriously bring your own.. I know they stretch big enought to pull one over your head and blow it up w your nose(ive seen drunk ppl do this, lol, but they are snug there and it just feels weird... Still you can buy them EVERYWHERE because thevone child thing has made birth control ubiquitous and a normal purchase.

Cash. Fancy places will take a visa.. But Chinas really to be considered a cash n carry place. Do get a supply of RMB... Your visa debt card will get you RMB from a major bank's atm.

Meds: i take several.. I have never had a problem with pills or insulin in either syringes or pens. Actually going from mainland China i to Hongkong is harder for me and always takes an extra 15 minutes in customs for me. But i carry a doctors note, written out clearly not in typical doctor handwriting and i keep my meds in their original containers. No problems at all, ever...

I dont carry TP.. never been an issue. I DO however carry a pack of anti diarhea pills. The very first hint of a rumble in your stomach take a double dose. ...and never use any water that isnt bottled. No ice and dont brush yr teeth w tap water. Ice in a fancy hotel in Shanghai will of course be fine. But i just avoid unboiled water at all times.

I dont really like the flavor of McDonalds in China, but KFC is great.. And I wont usually eat it in the States... I mostly eat Chinese...

From: China 江苏(jiang su) 苏州(su zhou ) @aussieghump Time : 2013-06-10 17:04:55 #12
Bank Of China is usually the easiest one to get cash from on International Accounts - you may have to go to ´tourist areas´or the Main City Branch to find an ATM that accepts the creditcard.

Agree with the water suggestion, I boil tap water - also be aware of ´poorly cooked´pork, especially in things that are steamed or boiled - sometimes they are not quite cooked through - always bite the dumpling etc, look at the meat filling and if it is pink, don´t swallow!


Vodka and salt for upset stomach! One shot of Vodka, stir in about half a teaspoon of salt! Skoll! Then have a little sleep!

If you feel upset stomach, remember ´better out than in´...that being, try to stay away from those drugs that ´stopper´you up - unless you need to travel. Make sure you keep your fluids up! You will usually go through a ´readjustment´due to different oils, bugs, fruits etc...but unless it it really uncomfortable keep away from meds!
From: China 陕西(shan xi) 西安(xi an ) @zhang77 Time : 2013-06-11 08:39:41 #13
Ha ha, first saw the post made me smile, every question is very interesting, I think if I go to north Korea trip, I will put forward more problems, I think you are totally unnecessary any worry, your girlfriend will you bring you a very happy trip to China.
From: China 浙江(zhe jiang) 杭州(hang zhou ) @JohnAbbot Time : 2013-06-11 16:56:14 #14
I'm coming in late but can't resist adding my two cents:

1. Find out from your bank which banks in China they have cross agreements with that will allow you to use your debit cards in their ATMs, then plan on using your cards to get cash from those ATMs. Ask your lady which of those banks are available in Nanchang (probably all of them is my guess). Last time I checked it was cheaper by far to take cash from a machine with the debit card than paying for things with it as a credit card. That assumes you'll take out maybe $500 at a shot so the fee doesn't add up to too much.

2. Bring enough USD for your travel outside of China. It's a pain in the ass to try to convert it inside China. I always buy enough RMB at the airport currency exchange on my way into China as opposed to dicking around looking for it in the banks in Canada. Either way bring just enough to get through the first day or so, because the last I checked the exchange rate is better at the ATMs than at the currency exchanges.

3. Once you get to China you are really going to laugh at yourself for this question, but we all made similar mistakes on our first time over. But think about it - do you think the Chinese wipe their butts with their fingers? There are 1.3 billion people here - of course there is toilet paper. The important thing is to carry some on your person when you're out and about because lots of public washrooms either don't stock it or are out because someone took it all home.

4. Everyone was right. Check the hotel rates - some are reasonable, others are a huge ripoff. As someone above said there are laundries everywhere and usually very reasonable.

5. For most people, myself included, jet lag is not so serious flying East to West, so it won't kill you on the China end. I personally grab a nap sometime during the day for 2 or 3 days and then am back to normal. However, returning to Canada I am barely conscious for 4 days to a week.

I suggest staying away from sleeping pills. People should move about frequently on long flights or suffer the real risk of blood clots. You're better to try to grab frequent short naps and try to walk around and do some exercises where you are rising to tiptoe and back down repeatedly for about 5 minutes every hour. Definitely try not to be sedentary for more then 3 hours.

6. I am a vitamin freak and have never traveled to China with less than at least a half suitcase full, and I've never been questioned on them.

7. Bring your condoms - they aren't exactly heavy or taking a lot of space, so why risk a bad fit or a bad product when you arrive in China. If you get lucky and things go so well that you run out, you can find condoms everywhere, but try for a name brand you recognize, and good luck with the sizing.

8. KFC is everywhere and better than in the USA, McDonalds is almost everywhere but the burgers are not up to much, although I don't like their burgers anywhere I've ever been, Burger King is coming into China and is definitely a big step up from McDonalds, Subway is coming in fast too and is close to as good as the USA, Pizza Hut is prevalent and better than in Canada (never been in one in the USA) but I personally prefer the Pizza at Papa Johns if you can find it, Starbucks is amazingly consistent between China and everywhere else. I am a coffee hound, and Starbucks is low on my list in Canada for coffee, but in China it is consistently the best place for coffee in my experience.

9. For a 6 week trip I'd tell you to buy a cheap phone and pay as you go sim card when you arrive, but for a 2 week stay I suggest you load up both Skype and QQ International on your tablet and have the important people back home do the same. You need QQ because sometimes Skype is being screwed with by China Telecom (or somebody important on their behalf). Of course your tablet has to have wifi and you need ear phones for it. Wifi is easy to find anywhere in China's bigger cities (Starbucks for example).

I would stay away from global roaming. I had a friend stay in China for about 10 days once who used global roaming to conduct his business on. Admittedly he talked a lot, but he was still pretty shocked when he arrived home to receive a phone bill for about $3,000.
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