Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Hyggelig's China Travel Tips...

While I was in China,
I kept having moments when I thought to myself,
someone else might want to know this.
So here we go...

My Hyggelig's China Travel Tips:

I am sure there is good Coffee somewhere in China, I just didn't have it.  China and Tea go back just a weeee bit, so do yourself a favor and drink it while you are there.  I always had really good tea, no matter where I was (and that is coming from someone who is not big on drinking tea, unless I am sick, which by the way I was the whole time I was in China...but that's another story).
I had multiple packs of tissues with me as I had a cold before the trip, but they were a life saver in moments where I was in a toilet situation where Toilet Paper was not provided.  Yes, that is right.  It is still common in China for public restrooms not to provide toilet paper.  Sometimes there is a vending machine to buy packs of tissue, but do yourself a favor and have one on you at all times.  You never know when those little tissues are going to come in handy.
I always travel with hand sanitizer.  In China hand sanitizer can be a godsend.  You likely will be in a lot of public places, as mentioned in #2 common things such as toilet paper, handsoap, and paper towels/driers may not be a given where you are.  If you are there on business you may find yourself shaking hands with a lot of people.  And per #4 below, you may find yourself desperately reaching your hand in your snack pack during your travels.  For all these reasons, bring hand sanitizer.  Trust me, you'll be glad you did.
I eat all day long.  This tends to be a problem when I travel, so I always bring snacks with me.  I found this to be even more crucial during my China Trip.  I am essentially a vegetarian, this can be hard when you travel.  And as I found during my Taiwan trip, it is easier just to completely rule out meat during my travels in Asia.  I eat meat at home about 4 times a year and it sometimes makes me sick, so eating it in Asia would be a big gamble for my digestive system.  Unfortunately, sometimes when you sit down to the table meat may be the biggest offering and even though you say 'I don't eat meat', it may not quite sink in to your hosts - uh...oh...sooooo....hungry.  I also found myself quickly tiring of the breakfast 'buffet' at the hotel.  Lastly, if you are traveling to meetings the whole trip, the opportunity to eat may just simply not be there.  Snacks saved me.  I had Clif Bar Granola bars and Whole Foods Nuts with Cranberries.  Sometimes this was my breakfast and my lunch.  It saved my boss a few times too.  Just trust me - save some room in your suitcase for snacks.
Hotel food is difficult wherever you travel, but for me Asian Hotel food is even more difficult.  I received much of my sustenance during my trip at the Japanese restaurant in my hotel.  Being I was under the weather this trip, the tea, the udon, the miso, and when I was feeling better - the sushi...were all huge life savers for me.
Do yourself a favor so you do not get hopelessly lost in Shanghai.  Grab a few of the cards at the concierge desk that tell the cab driver to take you back to your hotel - in Chinese.  Also, if you are headed somewhere, have the concierge write down the destination for you in Chinese so you can hand it to the cab driver.
7.  I called my mobile carrier and had them turn on the International calling feature on my phone so I could use it in Asia.  You have to call in to do this because they want you to be very aware of what your roaming charges will be and your data charges.  Ok, fine.  I turned off my data access feature on my phone while I was in Asia, but did use my phone on a few occasions out of necessity.  It was nice to know I could use my phone.  Texting rates are much cheaper internationally, so I relied on texting much of my trip.  It's still not cheap - we are talking hundreds of dollars for contact likely (hopefully if you are there for work they are paying), so see #9.

8.  Some of the hotels I stayed at had wireless internet in the room, but this is often an upgrade or more likely not available.  It is typical to have a land line in your room that you actually have to plug into your computer for internet access (remember those days?...).  I haven't traveled with a laptop for years, only an iPad - so that makes things complicated.  I read about people who bring an airporter with and work wirelessly in their rooms that way.  I ended up just going down to the lobby, where there was wireless, to download my e-mail.  Sometimes this was a pain, but sometimes it was nice to be part of all the buzz in the hotel lobby with people from all over the world coming and going.  And frankly, I kind of liked the fact that I couldn't access the internet and e-mail 24/7 - it was nice just to be able to focus on where I was and what I was doing.

9.  Daily chats with H on Skype were a real treat.  To be able to see the ones you love, including my pups, moving around, breathing, talking... is THE best thing when you are literally, on the other side of the world.  Skype works great in China.  I also used Skype without video to check in with people at the office back home on occasion.

10.  Fly in late.
I had a short 1.5 hour flight intra US and then a 15 hour flight to Shanghai.  That's a freakin' long time!  I was so glad that our flight got in later in the day to Shanghai (6 pm) so that by the time we got to the hotel we could essentially eat, and go to bed.
Combine some Lululemon Wunder Under Pants with a Patagonia tunic and capilene top and of course a pair of slip-on/off Camper's for fashionable comfort, fresh smell, versatility between cold and hot, and no wrinkles during your 24 hours of travel there, and back home.

12.  Be Patient.
During my visit I felt like I was constantly in lines and transportation was constantly delayed.

And most importantly...
13.  Think of your Health before you go.
More on this one in a separate blog post...