Difficulties as a Foreign Visitor

I am back from the chaos (happy chaos) brought by the baby boy, and getting back to the normal life. Well, you can never say its “normal” life again, since it is so different.

I am back to the top of “Events in Shanghai that affect my life”.

Here is this kind of topic.

What is the Biggest Headache to be a Foreign Visitor in Shanghai?

Zhao Ning from Shanghai Travel Times called and sent me an email about a topic: Foreign Visitors Facing Problems in Shanghai. In that article, the author listed many common problems foreign visitors face in Shanghai:

1. Pronounciation of the name of places and roads. (like Xujiahui, Puxi, Putuo are very hard to pronounce.

2. Cheap hostels

3. Booking travel package online.

Interesting article! These are really top issues people face in Shanghai.

You can Help!

So, Ning is asking me to recruit a foreign visitor in Shanghai, so she can interview, and write article and post it onto Shanghai Travel Times.

A little bit background of Shanghai Travel Time – the news paper is the official newspaper for the Shanghai Bureau of Tourism. I had the honor to chat with officials from the bureau, and they are doing really good job in listening to what tourists say.

If you are a

1. A foreign tourism in Shanghai in this week.

2. Have some tough problems when you visit Shanghai.

3. Feel comfortable to be interviewed

Please let Ning know by posting after this message. (It is OK to leave your email (or phone number in the same field in email). No other people except me can see it. You also authorize me to forward your contact information to Ning if need (this is only for this page).

Ning will arrange photographer and reporter to go with you to your favorite places in Shanghai, and take some pictures and interview you about the pain you experience as a tourist in Shanghai. Then the article will be posted to Shanghai Travel Times.

Interesting enough? You can sign up now to help make Shanghai a more tourist-friendly city.

P.S. A reader sent me his newly launched website at http://www.unisticky.com. I didn’t really check it out, but I think I should do him the favor to post at least a link. Enjoy it.

27 thoughts on “Difficulties as a Foreign Visitor

  1. Jian Shuo Wang

    Above is Zhao Ning’s email. If anyone is interested in the interview, please directly write to the email posted above. I believe it must be interesting experience.

  2. Давид

    The first major problem I had in Shanghai is the perpetual haze in the air. Breathing that air can’t possibly be good for your lungs.

  3. stephen

    Why don’t you do a survey and ask all your oversea readers to itemize the things that are most difficult to endure during their visit to Shanghai. I am sure you’ll surprise from the reflections of the laowais.

  4. Michael

    Most tourists will face the flwg problems:

    1) Tout – Try walking down Nanjing Road and tourists will be harrassed by touts every few steps.

    The touts are very persistent and out to cheat the tourists. This will only give Shanghai a bad name.

    2) Beggars – Most streets have beggars. Some beggars even chased the tourist for money.

    3) Spitting – They even spat in restaurants not just on the streets.

    4) Traffic – Pedestrain have no right of way even though the green traffic lights are in their favour. Some cars dont stop at

    red traffic lights.

    5) People can be more polite in Shanghai.

    6) Lastly – Why have a Maglev train for only 30 km journey costing billion of dollars ???

  5. Давид

    I mostly agree with Michael.

    1) The touts certainly get very annoying, especially at tourist traps.

    2) They are always there.

    3) Go back to my comment about air quality.

    4) My friend and I looked at traffic in awe from our hotel room window.

    5) Is it just me or are people always shouting at each other in China?

    6) That’s not really a problem for foreigners. They can spend money however they want to. I think the maglev is pretty cool.

  6. xge

    If you are coming from an foreign city/country and driving in Shanghai, the road signs are very hard to follow with just a map. The signs only mark the road you are entering, and a destination. Most of the time the destination makes no sense to a foreigner. It is not the place he is going, is difficult to find on the map, and he has to make a decision on a split of a second. I would suggest adding the immediate direction. For example, if you are entering A20 from LuoShan road, the sign should be (A20 东,浦东机场)/(A20 east, Pudong Airport) and(A20 西,辛庄)/(A20 west, XinZhuang), and if you are entering A20 from 金海/JinHai road the sign should be (A20 north, 外环隧道), (A20 south, Pudong Airport)

  7. Michael

    Definitely the Maglev is cool to the tune of billion dollars for 30 km journey. There is not enough ridership even to cover the cost of daily operations.

    Personally I think is a wrong decision to build Maglev

    for such a short distance with that kind of money.

    Sure is cool for tourist to cover that distance for less than US$7.00

  8. ilya

    Hi, Wang!

    I want to visit Shanghai in July… If the promotion will be still up, I’ll be happy to be interviewed! Sure, if anyone will be offering help with hostels, places, etc. I’ll be glad to accept any help.

  9. Les Izmore

    As someone who has lived in Shanghai for 8 months learn to say a few things in Chinese… Hello, Thank you, What’s your name, Goodbye and smile a lot. Shanghai is a very welcoming place and if you are a polite and respectful English speaker there are many folks here who know enough English to help you. The more you know about Chinese language and customs the better an experience you will have. Like anywhere else in the world there are some unfriendly people and people who want to take advantage of you. Learn xie xie (thank you), and wo bu shi wan (I don’t want) and you’ll do much better with the touts and beggars.

  10. stephen

    The installation of Maglev at Pudong was an intention to show the advancement of Shanghai and hope such technology will and can revolutionize the transportation network of China, however, due to hefty construction cost and the new advancement of wheel technology by TGV, the Maglev is no longer a technology bears both feasible in operation and speed record. The cancellation of south extension to Hangzhou proves Maglev is not longer the future in the transportation of China.

    Maglev at Pudong is only a proving ground and China contributed at least US$1.5 billion and it is likely the project can be dismantled after Expo 2010 to make room for the real airport shuttle.

    Should the fund for Maglev be shared among the people of Shanghai, each can receive up to Rmb700, what a waste!

  11. Давид

    stephen: The United States spends $1.5 billion in Iraq every two days (no comment about that). China’s trade surplus with the United States is $22+ billion per month. $1.5 billion is pocket change to an economy as big as China’s.

    Илия: Why are you begging on a blog?

  12. stephen

    Давид , if you take the GDP of China and divided by her population, I am sure you’ll find $1.5 billion is not a loose change for any bureaucrat and for any region.

    For the same amount, Shanghai can build the PVG ph1 by herself without seeking grant from Japan.

  13. Давид

    stephen: China’s GDP is about $2.6 trillion in 2006. Of that, Shanghai’s economic activities is worth about $121 billion.

    $1.5 billion is about 1.2% or so of the city’s annual economic activities.

    $1.5 billion is a rounding error of $2.6 trillion.

    I know $1.5 billion is a lot of money to you and me, but it’s really not a lot of money if you look at the big picture.

    By the way, if you don’t like what your government is doing with your money, vote for a new government.

    Oh… wait…

  14. Давид

    stephen: Of course I am comparing GDP to expenditure. GDP is basically the value of all goods and services produced in a country.

    In words you can understand: The more you produce, the more you can spend.

    Why do I bother explaining this?

  15. stephen

    Давид ,Do you know what percentage of GDP can become the revenue, and what percentage of revenue can transform into expenditure. Most government expediture are fixed cost, and what percentage of expenditure can be spend items of no useful purpose?

  16. bickeringbob

    Hey Давид,

    I have no idea how much China spent on the Maglev. It sounds like a cool concept and it must be a real thrill to travel in. However, ask any chinese on the street and they will tell how much much debt china is putting itself into because of the Maglev and how unsensible that decision is. Germany, USA and Japan all have the technology and money to build the Maglev by why didnt they do it? Because it doesnt make sense economically. Shanghai is JUST trying to use the Maglev to showcase Shanghai and thats it.

    You shouldn’t caompare 1.5 billions USD in monentary value to an economy such as the USA. Thats like Bill Gate telling an average Shanghai white collar that 1000 USD is peanuts!

    I agree with you Stephen.

  17. Давид

    stephen: “no useful purpose?” You are talking about whether the money was well spent. There is no correct answer for that. We all have our own opinions.

    We are talking about whether China can afford such a construction project. And I am saying, clearly, yes. A 30-km Maglev is easily affordable.

    bickeringbob: The Chinese government is not poor. It is sitting on more than $1.2 trillion in foreign reserves. Bet you did not know that!

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_exchange_reserves

    Every month, more than 30 billion dollars of foreign money flows into China, most of it from the trade surplus. The Chinese government is printing Yuan as fast as it can to buy up that excess money. Still, the Yuan is getting stronger by the day. I know it is hard to understand. But $1.5 billion is not that big of a number to China.

  18. stephen

    Давид , China’ hugh trade surplus with US means American can afford to buy from China and yet Chinese consumers cannot afford the reciprocal. Should the trade surplus hurts US economy in any way, US congress will without hestitation slam the trading door shut.

    If you read the GDP per capita, you’ll find many people in China still live under poverty line, so amount like US$1.5 billion can benefit many people for a considerable duration.

    Sitting on US$1.2 trillion does not reflect the true financial situation of China. The real wealth people usually know how to manage their portfolio and usually have little cash in circulation.

    By the way, the revenue received by Pudong Maglev cannot even offset the operating cost nor it is serving as a useful airport shultte, should I call it a white elephant?

  19. Давид

    stephen: I talk about how a $1.5 billion construction project can easily be afforded by the world’s fourth largest economy (GDP $2.6 trillion, huge amount of capital inflows, world’s largest pool of foreign reserves). By the way, $1.5 billion nothing compared to the amount they are spending in Beijing for two weeks of Olympics.

    You are talking about trade hurting the US economy? Get back on topic!

  20. Давид

    stephen: You said “Sitting on US$1.2 trillion does not reflect the true financial situation of China. The real wealth people usually know how to manage their portfolio and usually have little cash in circulation.”

    This shows how little you know. The huge reserve is held by the government, not in private hands.

    By the way, if you include Hong Kong, China’s reserves is larger than the combined foreign reserves of Germany, Brazil, the European Union, Russia and India together.

    I agree with you that some investments are bad. A Maglev may not be the best thing to spend money on. Just like it’s stupid for the US to drain billions in Iraq.

    In the end, China can afford a Maglev. The US can afford to waste the money. That’s because both are very large economies.

  21. stephen

    Давид , “The huge reserve is held by the government, not in private hands.”

    Now you are getting my point, how does the hugh reserve can benefit the average Chinese? not much! but when Chinese see their investments went bad, what repercussion do you think will arise in regardless of whatever amount may involved.

    The province where I am residing had a hugh revenue surplus from the oil boom last year, and everyone in the province including infants received Can$400 per head plus many reductions in energy cost and tax. This is how a government should tackle the surplus and reserve.

    By the way, US campaign at Iraq may not be a bad investment as long as US can prevail at the end, then many ‘oily’ returns thereafter. China in the end may pay hugh forfeit to Germany in the event the Maglev need to be scrapped.

  22. bob

    Having lived in china for the past 8 years, speak the language, and drive myself on the streets of Shanghai. Things to remember in China.

    Everything is FAKE, 99.99%

    Everything is cheap except Tai Tai

    Tourists are going to get ripped off, offer 8-12% of the asking price and they will make the deal.

    Real Estate is the best investment. Currently own 48 condo’s in shanghai, government won’t allow me to buy anymore as of August 1, 2006.

    Currency keep all your money in RMB as it gets stronger against the dollar, you get wealthier.

    Shanghai stock market even with it’s us and downs will prevail for the next 25 years.

    I’m bailing out in 2011, after the Worlds Fair.

  23. bob

    Having lived in china for the past 8 years, speak the language, and drive myself on the streets of Shanghai. Things to remember in China.

    Everything is FAKE, 99.99%

    Everything is cheap except Tai Tai

    Tourists are going to get ripped off, offer 8-12% of the asking price and they will make the deal.

    Real Estate is the best investment. Currently own 48 condo’s in shanghai, government won’t allow me to buy anymore as of August 1, 2006.

    Currency keep all your money in RMB as it gets stronger against the dollar, you get wealthier.

    Shanghai stock market even with it’s us and downs will prevail for the next 25 years.

    I’m bailing out in 2011, after the Worlds Fair.

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