I know. I said I was going to talk culture and history.
But just for once, I thought I could share a few practical tips. A lot of us, getting settled in China, seem to have similar experiences: buying phones, renting apartments, opening bank accounts, shopping for food, etc.
So, here are our own experience:
- yes, beds are hard as rocks in China, when you rent an apartment. That is one of the key reasons why we decided to settle in a service apartment (they would call those condo-hotels in Montreal). Everything included: breakfast, cleaning, internet, TV, phone… and an English-speaking person at the reception for us. As we have our offices in the apartment itself, this is all worth it in our opinion!
- banking: seems like a lot of the day-to-day life is done with cash. We cannot get a debit card from HSBC, nor can we get a credit card from the Bank of China, so we decided not to open an account and just get cash at the Bank of China ATM at the street corner. The exchange rate is good, and we will see if this is enough for us.
- phone calls: we are trying that unbelievable system that allows people to call our Vermont phone number and… it rings in China (we’d better disconnect the phone at night!)
- moving a lot of stuff to China: we settled for a locker in Hong-Kong, where we keep some stuff, for our upcoming hiking trip to Bhutan, for instance.
- visas: we chose multiple-entry business visas with a 30-day maximum stay at a time.
Hoping these tips will help newcomers!