I described the rush hours of Shanghai in the morning yesterday, not surprisingly, the rush hours in the afternoon are also interesting. Here we go.
Definition of Rush Hours in the Afternoon
The rush hours in the afternoon are not as “rush” as those in the morning. Some services and government organizations closes as early as 4:00 PM so lots of people will take buses home at that period of time. Most businesses closes at 6:00 PM.
Unlike in the morning, people tend to stay in office late. When I step out of the office today, it is 6:30 PM. It is the earliest time I left office these months. I used to leave office as late as 10:00 PM or 12:00 PM, but situation get better recently.
My job today is to get some grocery in the supermarket and bring it back. The supermarket is part of my life. It is interesting that the Hiu Jin Supermarket opens in the basement floor of Hiu Jin Shopping Mall in the Xujiahui Area. The rental fee for shops in this “golden” commercial area is extremely, but the supermarket selling grocery and fruit can still make a living. :-) It is very convenient to buy some and take the bus No. 43 in front of the shopping mall back home.
I felt a little bit embarrassed when I found I didn’t bring a penny with me when I have put all I needed into the shopping cart. I do have a credit card. The good thing is, this supermarket accepts credit card, while most others just accept RMB in cash.
I was still not at ease when I present my Bank of China Great Wall credit card to the lady when I checked out. Seldom did she see anyone to pay the 31 RMB groceries. People who buy a house at hundreds of thousands are still using cash these year. I missed the time when I was on business trip to Seattle where I can always use my credit card. Of cause there is still exception. It was when I took taxi from Redmond Microsoft campus to nearby Fairfield Inn. The Indian driver told me in his strange English when I attempted to use my ICBC international credit card: “It is small money. It is not big money….” So I know the 5% credit card charge still means a lot for him. In China, the credit card service charge is 1%. However, only large shopping malls accept credit card. That is a very big problem now. I am happy that this situation, like other problems in Shanghai, is becoming better and better. You see, even this supermarket accept my credit card.
I was happy the lady didn’t say a word about my card. Typically, they will always ask: “Do you have cash?” before trying to swap my card. The card reader works very fine after I inputted my 6-digit password. The printer gave out the shopping list and the confirmation page happily. After I signed my name on the confirmation page, my check-out process succeeded. BTW, there is a hot debate about whether the credit card without a password is safe or not in Shanghai, since people feel unsafe if they are not asked for the password. They think the signature itself is not strong enough to protect their bank account. It is true since seldom did I see too many salesperson check the signature against that on the back of the credit card. :-)
Bus No. 43
Soon, I was seated on the upper deck of the double-deck bus No. 43, heading to my home. At around 7:00 PM, the upper desk is not crowded. Only about 10 people were there while there are about 40 seats there. It may because the bus is not equipped with air conditioning. If I wait two minutes later, I can get on board an air conditioned No. 43. I just don’t want to wait and to have A/C or not is not a big deal for me. This one without A/C is cheap – only 1 RMB for the whole trip while the A/C bus costs 2 RMB. I actually don’t care about the difference – there seems no big difference for me. That is, if I choose to take bus instead of taxi, I have saved at least 12 RMB already, so why bother care about the 1 RMB?
If you want me to list the top ten bad things about the city of Shanghai, traffic and noise should be on the list. The bus No. 43 runs under the elevated highway. The noise generated by the engines of cars reflected between the road and the roof (elevated highway) and become worse. So does the dust. Thank God that there is only about 1000 meters of such painful road. Soon we turned into the Caobao Rd. – a major road connecting Caohejing and Qibao town. My home is just beside the road.
The short trip lasted for 15 minutes and when I got off the bus at Xiqin Rd. Station, it almost dark and I can see the lamp in my house. It is nice and sweet. It paid off all the 15-minute hot, noisy and dusty journey. //sign. This is the real life in the big metropolitan of Shanghai.
Ha, I just love reading about these little tidbids of life in Shanghai. I often wondered about how people bought expensive items in China, especially when most places took cash only. In the US, they take credit cards pretty much anywhere. When I buy a $3 coffee from Starbucks (FYI, Shanghai Starbucks take credit card too), I use my credit card. But I often wondered how people feel safe carrying around so much cash when they go buy something. The fact that the largest denomination in RMB is 100 makes it even worse, because you would have to carry even more, and spend tons of time counting the bills. For example, when you buy a car, do you carry loads of cash bundled in a bag? Do these car dealerships have money counting machines too? It would be great if there were a larger denomination of RMB, but I hear counterfeiting is a big issue in China.
I later discovered that more and more people are able to use bank cards (we call them ATM cards in the US) and more places are gradually accepting credit cards. ;)
The credit card is still the pain for large cities like Shanghai. The sytem is still not realiable and sometime I feel very bad when I was told that my card does not work on the POS machine while I don’t have enough cash on hand. Everytime when this happens, I will swear not to use Credit Card again and withdraw all the cashes with me. Just kidding. :-)
For small amount transaction, the dealer just feel it is to troublesome to use card. I don’t think so though.
For huge amount transaction, the 1% transaction fee will be a very large number and the merchants just don’t want to pay for the bank. So there is a demand for cash.
It is really scary to carry more than 10,000 RMB with you on the street.
i love this kind of writng too! please keep it coming.
Hiu Jin? You mean Hui Jin?
In China, you can only pay no more than 5000 RMB per day using your credit card. So you must use cash to buy a TV set, washing machine, etc.
To buy a house or car, people always use deposit book instead.
I am afraid I cannot agree with you on the credit limit. There is a limit of 5000 RMB limit for some back for withdrawing money from ATM (most bank set the limit to 4500 RMB). For payment, there is no limit. Correct me if I am wrong.
Thanks for the topic. I have the same experience that I am not welcome to pay by credit card.
Now I know why – it’s because of the 1% transaction fee! In China it is cheaper to employ a casher than to deploy the card paying system.
Also I agree that there is no limit for credit card payment.
I will be moving to Shanghai in December 2004 for about a year. Any tips, anything that I can do to prepare for this move? I will not have a Z-visa as I am going with my husband and his company is arranging a visa for me; will I then be able to teach english without having the proper work visa’s? I am really looking forward to this move. Any suggestions?
Regarding putting money TO the bank, I usually get 5000US$, or recently 5000 (euro), as these have a quite higher rate (10,54 to 1 RMB).
A bad experience was, that they made a mistake, they changed my euro’s by using US$ rate !
So, check your slip carefully after the transaction, if you just transfer to the ATM-valid account,
and don’t get real cash.
I was in Shanghai in 1995 and credit card use was exceptional (except in hotels). Later I bought a laptop in Beijing and made several errors in checking and rechecking the piles of cash. The cash was drawn from ATM with several cards over several days… I felt foolish as I had just flown in from Hong Kong where I could have bought the same laptop at about the same price (as it was an international brand). Hey ho – that’s travel for you.