From Shanghai to US – A Handbook

I am writing this short guide to friends who are going to U.S. for the first time. What I did in the last few years is a little bit different. I used to introduce Shanghai to first time visitors from foreign countries. To be honest, most of the articles answer questions I received from email, from my foriegn friends. For other topics, I just imagine what people may encounter, since I don’t have first hand experience about how the life of a foreigner looks like. What a pitty. For example, I totally have no idea about hotel information since I never stayed in any hotel in Shanghai.

For this short guide, it is more practical. They are problems I encountered myself and the solution I found out. (So don’t expect it to be the most accurate and perfect solution).

I am going to complete it in the next three months, with 5 to 10 articles. This is not my style though. I was not good at planning, or strategy in business term. I am practicing now. :-)

Here are the table of content.

  1. U.S. Visa Application (suggested by DC)
  2. Flight from Shanghai to U.S.
  3. What to Bring with You.
  4. The Airports (both in Shanghai and in San Francisco).
  5. Transportation without Renting cars.
  6. Renting a Car in U.S. with Chinese Driver’s License
  7. What to Buy, Where to Buy and What to Bring Back to China
  8. Food (suggested by Carroll)

The …’s are place holders. Let me know what questions you have. I won’t have complete answer to everything, just my very limited travel experience (6 times?) to the west coast of U.S.

Many topics were covered before. If so, I directly link to that entry. If I don’t have it already, I write it later.

13 Comments

  1. Although I’m an American, I’m really interested in this project. And I’m especially looking forward to the “what to bring back to China” since most of the presents I can think of to give Chinese friends have been made IN CHINA.

    Note, yesterday I found out two things that may be a sign of a big shift in U.S. perceptions. 1. Dragonsoft for webconferencing is a terrific program, better than the U.S. made products, and easier to use even for people like me who can’t read much Chinese. 2. Batteries for a Canon camera made in China for $11 US are better than the batteries from Canon that cost $80. This shift in quality is a big thing. There was a time in the US, 50 years ago, when Made in Japan meant “low quality”. Of course all that changed. Now things made in China are considered, by most people, to mean inexpensive and not as good. The second meaning is about to disappear. Wow.

  2. I believe people will find this to be very useful Jian Shuo! And I bet you’re better at planning and strategy than you give yourself credit for!

  3. I almost forgot, Happy May 1 holiday to Wendy and you!!!

  4. JS, maybe you would like to include th topic US Visa application from your previous articles. Especially the procedure like how to make payment and fill in the various type of forms. That will be helpful for those who are going to US for the first time.

    And, is it the same procedure for those who are not China citizen but staying in China? :)

  5. What a great project! Be sure to include a warning about all the “rabbit food” we eat over here ;-)

    Happy May Day to you and Wendy!!

  6. zjemi, low quality but cheap is the first stage in development. There must be enough quantitity of goods to produce to drive quality – when there are enough initial funding to support R&D, quality control and other expertise, the product can be better, and finally, bring its own brand. I believe it is the way to go.

    RC, welcome back, and it is good to know you finally have access to Intenret.

    DC, and Carroll, I have added your suggested topic to the list. Hope to complete it in the next two months (I seldom make plan for longer than 2 month for my personal life).

  7. You should also add “what not to bring into the US” and I imagine high on that list should be pirated DVDs. There are a number of stories moving around the grapevine in the Chinese expat community about people who got nabbed at the US border with some pirated DVDs and being fined on a per disk basis. And the fines are steep–something like $1,000 or $2,000 per DVD.

    You may also consider a section on general cultural attitudes and tipping when it comes to waitresses, hotels, and other service employees. It goes without saying that the tirades of abuse I’ve seen hurled at wait staff in many a restaurant on many a day in China would get you physically thrown out of many American restaurants.

  8. I’d also recommend taking a look at this article:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/10/21/business/tourists.php

    “Chinese tourists getting a bad image”–NY Times.

  9. I know it’s off the topic, but you mentioned hotels in Shanghai.

    I can recommend the Purple Mountain hotel. The rooms are very well designed and comfortable, and the hotel has a lot of amenities.

    If people do have questions regarding travel to various parts of the U.S., post it. Those of us who live here can probably help with answers.

  10. Yes. I heard about Purple Mountain Hotel, but never been there. Any information about this hotel?

  11. How about changing Chinese money into US dollars? Particularly if you don’t work full time (and therefor don’t have a tax receipt to show the bank).

    Customs is a good topic. In addition to tipping and not yelling at staff I suggest “don’t spit”, “don’t litter”, and “how to stand in line”.

  12. Now people in Shanghai can exchange USD up to 20,000 USD per year without other limitations. Just go to bank to exchange.

  13. California dream

    June 14, 2006 at 5:07 pm

    I wish I could be there someday.

    Many thanks for your information and I just find myself even getting addicted with your blog recently…

    Nice job, keep on going. :-)

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