Complicated Paying Process

I heard a very interesting story today. My friends (two foreigners to Shanghai) went to the DaShiDai (a mall of all kind of meal venders) for lunch. It may be the first time for them to visit thier and order lunch for themselves.

They waited in the line and when it was their turn, they pointed to the sample dishes (not unknowing Chinese) and wanted to order. The waitress said “No. No. No!”. Not knowing English, the waitress didn’t know how to explain to them the reason.

So my friends thought maybe the waitress complained that they didn’t follow the line. They get back to the end of the line and waited until they have the opportunity to see the waitress again. The answer was still NO! and No!.

Finally they realized that they didn’t accept cash or credit card! They only accept the card issued by the mall – the little gray plastic card. They were so happy to find out the secret and looked for the card dealer, bought the card, got back to the end of the line again. When they met the waitress for the third time, both of the three persons were so happy that they could finally complete the deal.

It was not rare that many shopping malls, restaurants have their own processes that the customers have to follow to complete the transaction.

In most shopping malls, for example, the process was complicated, although local people didn’t realize it any more. It looks like this:

1. You browse the goods and select what you like.

2. You ask the server to write an order for you.

3. You take the order, ask the server where you can find the check-out counter.

4. You go to the checkout counter by yourself with about 2-3 different documents (sometimes with a record sheet the shopping mall uses internally).

5. You wait in the line again and pay by cash, or credit card.

6. The person at the counter gets the documents (paper) they need, give you the documents you need and stamp all the documents.

7. You bring back everything – your credit card receipt (if you use CC), the record sheet, your receipt and the internal payment proof back to the place where you order the goods. Sometimes, the person at the counter will give you the bag you need to take the goods.

8. The server there will check everything, take whatever he/she needs and only leave the documents you needs. Then he/she put the goods into the bag you bring from the checkout counter, and smile: “Thanks for shopping with us and hope you will be back again”.

Well. It looks complicated for the first time visitor, but you will get used to it quickly. Most of the shopping malls are using this process, at least at Pacific Shopping Center, Parkson…

Any reason for this? :-)

How to Complain in Shanghai

Living in Shanghai is not easy. You often find out something does not work or you were treated badly, you need to know how to complain. My reader sent me the story that his wallet disappeared when he passed he security check of Shanghai Airport. He put the wallet into the X-Ray machine but it didn’t come out. The staff their didn’t do anything and they didn’t want to explain. He had his last choice to write to me to ask about how to complain.

Here are my suggestions.

Judge Type of the Business

Depending on the types of the business, you take different actions.

For private businesses, including those foreign invested businesses, to talk to the manager is an effective way. If the customer, which is you, is not happy, the business owner is losing money. They know that and they will try to fix it.

For state-owned business, well, forget about the idea to talk to the manager. I complained to Cui Gong Hotel, a five star hotel in Beijing for failing to ring my morning call and over charged me, I only got the response from their high level manager that “You know, it is a state-owned hotel. I hate to work here. I know many things went wrong, but there is nothing I can do to fix it. That is the reason I am looking for another job.” Ha. It was funny. I complained to Bank of China. I drove there that day only to find out their computer system of the specific business was shutdown already. The Branch General Manager met me and said “I accept what you are complaining and I understand it, but there is nothing we can do. We have complained many time. I suggest you to complain to the head quarter. If you do, you are doing a favor of us.” He even helped me on how to reach their complain department. I guess the Pudong Airport case falls into this category.

For specific industry, there are industry wide complain hotlines. For taxi service, call +86-21-63232150. They supervise all taxi companies in Shanghai. For consumer product, call Consumer Protection Line +86-21-12315.

Media Helps

If you cannot find the right channel to complain, try to call media. It sometime works. At least there is someone on the other side of the phone line, willing to listen to what you say. I called many times before (on the always-on-red-light, on the typo-in-Shanghao-metro), and reporters will come to talk with me.

Xin Min Wan Bao: 021-962288

Oriental TV: 021-58702626

East Radio Station: 021-62780792

To Tip or Not to Tip

Yesterday’s entry on tipping received many responses. It was a very interesting discussion and reflects the difference of culture.

I found the explanation of tip in Wikipidia

A tip (also known as gratuity) is a small amount of money received by some service sector professionals from persons they serve, in addition to or instead of a formally required payment.

Tipping is neither regulation, nor required; it is social custom. In China, it is pretty safe to claim that it is a general practice that you do NOT need to pay the tip. Meanwhile, it is high appreciated by the receiption if you do pay tip. It is the unexpected gift.”.

Bob pointed out that “It seems that some people in china target the westerners for request tips.”. It is true. With more and more visitors coming to China, people who pays tip in their country continue to pay the tip before they realize the difference. It helps the server to build the expectation for tips. So some may “request” tip. The bellmen are most likely to expect tips. Wendy and Grace once had unpleasant experience in Five Continent Hotel that the bellman refused to help them (two ladies with heavy boxes) without tip. The 10 RMB tip worked like a charm then.

Regarding the service charge, I agree with JH that it is not a good practice for hotels in China to charge the 15% service charge. For everything you consume in the hotel except the room fee, you are automatically charged 15% of what you consumed. It includes all the restaurants inside the hotel, in-room services, business centers…. I didn’t realize it is some forms of tip until JH reminded me. It seems the hotel has charged the tip on behalf of the servers.

I asked the bellman of Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Chendu where I stayed today. “Do you accept tips?” He answered: “Yes. If guests give us tips, we will be very happy. If not, it is common”. I asked: “Do you keep all the tips?” His answer was positive. I checked with other servers about 15% regular service charge, they answered there was no relationship between the charge and their salary. This obviously went to far from the spirit of tipping.

I treat tipping as a survey system. It is the chance to show the customer’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the service. I am a strong supporter of resuming tipping practices in China. With tipping, I can clearly show my feeling of the service I received. 1 RMB or 2 shows the difference. I don’t understand why some business spent millions of dollars to install expensive survey systems (like those in Banks) that very few people use it. Whenever I was treated badly by taxi drivers or restaurant servers, I think of tip – if I have the choice, I will pay very few tip or tip nothing for this service.

History of Tipping in China

China is actually a country with history of tipping. According to some documents I found, tips were accepted before 1950s. Hairdressers in Chengdu accepted tips [1]. In Shaoxing in Zhejiang province, the public bathroom (with many services) accepted tips, but it was abandoned in 1956. [2]. It was the same in hotel industry Shaoxing in the same year. [2]. The document attributed the improvement of service quality to the abandon of tipping. It is not rare to read about the extra money people gave to service people in old Chinese novels.

Voices of Forbidding Tipping

Regarding the newly emerged tipping practice of some tourism agents, China Consumer’s Association claimed that 1) There is no direct relationship between tipping and service quality. 2) Tipping is NOT a common practice worldwide. I do not agree with any of these two points.

Many business treat tip equally as cheating. In a regulation of China Tourism Bureau, which was published in 1987, “(For all staff in the tourism industry), those who didn’t request but accepted tips will be educated and the tips accepted will be confiscated”. Also, “those who denied tips will be praised and awarded.” “Those who requested, or implied to request tips, will be fined at 3 times of the tipping amount”. Obviously, this is an out-of-date document, but still in use.

Why We Use English Signs?

When I am pushing on correction of the misspellings in Shanghai Metro, I hear about debate whether we should put on English signs in Shanghai. For me, there is no doubt that we have to do it. It is interesting to see why people want to pull English signs out of the direction boards.

The Arguments

The following comments are quoted from the thread under Is English Skill That Important, in courtesy of the commenter.

Mark said:

Reading this post made me feel a little sad. I’m from the southwestern part of the US, and I’m really interested in foreign languages. I grew up with Spanish around (since more than 15% of the people in my state speak Spanish, not English at home). Later, I studied Japanese in college.

Anyway, my experience with Chinese has been terrible. As I grew up I really loved Chinese culture, Chinese movies, Chinese food, etc… My school didn’t offer Chinese language classes, but after I graduated from college I moved to Taiwan, hoping to learn Chinese. After moving here, I’ve been taking Chinese classes at Shifandaxue for nearly a year. The classes are ok, and my reading is improving, but I’m learning almost NOTHING from daily life!

Why? It’s because Taiwanese are so f#$@ing obsessed with English, that as soon as they see a foreign-looking (i.e. WHITE) guy, they use English. Even though I gave up my job, and traveled 10,000 miles from home, I still can’t have a Chinese language environment, and it’s all because of how crazy they are about English. I guess there’s a racial element too. I have an ABC friend who speaks much worse Chinese than me, but nobody pushes her to switch to English when they talk with her. People don’t even know where I’m from, they just see the color of my skin and then assume I MUST speak English. I’d give anything just to be able to find a place where people would just speak to me in Chinese (even if my Chinese is only so-so).

One last thing I’ve thought of… English is actually only the world’s 3rd most spoken langague, according to

#3 English 470,000,000 speakers

#2 Spanish 490,000,000 speakers

#1 Mandarin 1,200,000,000 speakers

Look at that. 60 years ago, French was considered the world langauge of diplomacy. Now, it’s become English. If China ever becomes a rich country, I think I know what langauge will be dominant 60 years from now…

Posted by: Mark on January 16, 2004 11:19 AM

Nick added:

I work for Pearson Education the largest English Language Publisher in the world. I have been to Shanghai to bring english teaching software to Mainland China. My opinions maybe biased however I feel strongly:

You can learn other languages without losing your culture. China has been around a long time and the culture has remained in tact. I think people confuse american cultural invasion with the fact that people everywhere want prosperity they want cars, nice homes, good life. Having more prosperity is not an inport of america. We have a developed country and we have all these things. One hundred years or more Europe was the envy and Britain was the ideal before that it was France.

English is not the world language because of america. Britain established english in many places of the world during the colonial period. Post WWII American economy and business dealings made English the language of business and commerce. Now English is taught pretty much as a second language. Why?

English is simply an easy language to learn. I know many people in Shanghai who are self taught. Something that would be almost impossible with Mandarin. Because of the tonal qualities of Chinese, Japanese and other asian languages it makes it very hard for europeans and americans to speak these languages properly. The romance languages like english, spanish, french etc are very similiar so they can pick up english quickly and we share a common alphabet. The written languages of asia especially china are not aligned with the spoken language making it even more difficult.

In asia in particular there are so many numerous dialects which are so different they are like a foreign language to each other. Take cantonese versus mandarin. As stated above english is a simple common format for everyone to be able to communicate with.

Does knowing english give you a better life in China. The answer depends on the person. It definitely gives you better work opportunities but its up to the person to seek those opportunities out. This would be especially true in areas where people interface with people in other countries like the big costal cities etc.

History has shown people borrow from each other’s cultures. I dont thing there is a need to worry the Chinese will all become Americans like some of the phobic comments made above. I do believe that there are many misperceptions about China in the states and in China about America. The bottom line is the more people can communicate with each other the better off we will all be and the safer the world will be.

Posted by: Nick on July 25, 2003 07:46 AM

Anna’s oppion:

Great website! I was looking for info about PUDONG and stumbled upon it. Wonderful information and thanks for being so kind and friendly! As for learning English, it does help open up doors of communication of others. I do think it is important to have your own dialect/language as well. I can’t speak my mom’s dialect but I understand it and Mandarin/Cantonese. I studied Japanese, Vietnamese and Spanish (but I am able to do small talk at best with the others). I believe communication with others is vital for international understanding but “when in rome, do what romans do” I do agree. Or at least have people aware of this. Just my small two cents worth.

Posted by: Anna on September 3, 2004 03:27 AM

Geno’s long arguement that English should NOT be the world language

Dear Nick,

No offense here, but I have to disagree with just about everything in your post. I’m a Korean-American who’s traveled thru much of the world, both as my parents moved around and on my own for business and vacation. If there’s one thing I’ve learned with certainty, it’s that this claim that people utter all the time– that “English is the international language of business, pop culture, diplomacy, and just about everything else”– is totally false. TOTALLY BOGUS. In fact, the more I hear this myth about English taking over the world, the more I become convinced that it’s a thinly veiled attempt at commercial imperialism by the USA and UK, a way to pry loose and ruin longstanding business relationships that many non-English speaking countries have with each other so as to draw them into the commercial sphere of the US, UK, and other English-speaking countries. Oh, and also to force the poorer countries of the world to bear the cost of language-learning and translation, so that the US in particular gets to boost its profit margin even higher. English is popular as an international language but not nearly to the extent that people play it up, yet USAers in particular repeat this lie so often that many people become duped into believing that it’s a truth, to the advantage of USA companies and at the expense of home-grown firms.

I heard a story on the radio recently about an American businessman– Jeffrey Jones– who’s actually pushing hard to make English the official language of South Korea, claiming that he’s acting benevolently in Korea’s self-interest and increasing their national wealth. It made my blood boil to hear this carpetbagging jerk from the USA try to push something that would essentially ruin my country’s ancient culture and split us from our own history, and even more angry that there are apparently enough gullible idiots in the Korean government and school system to help this guy along. Look, I’m all for Koreans doing the English-immersion programs and improving their command of English (and other languages too), but I’m disgusted by this misguided infatuation with the language.

I for one think that Koreans would benefit more by learning Japanese and Mandarin, since these are the two countries that Koreans will predominantly be doing business with. China particularly will be very powerful and in 20 years Mandarin may be even more important than English both on the Asian Pacific coast and worldwide, so it would be foolish to get obsessed with English as a foreign language at the expense of Mandarin. Nick, you yourself point out that French used to be the ideal language, which goes to show that “world languages” change over all the time, and we shouldn’t get caught up in the fad of the moment. I spent a good deal of time in various countries of Europe, and while there are a lot of people who can speak good English there, English isn’t nearly as much of a common standard as a lot of people pretend. In most of southern and southeastern Europe, places like Italy, Romania, and Greece, they tend to use French as the lingua franca, not English. In most of northern and eastern Europe, in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, and many of the other former Soviet Republics, German is the lingua franca much more than English. Some of the best German literature and movies these days come from Eastern Europe! German is also the main second language in Serbia, Croatia, Turkey, and some other places farther away from Germany because of all the immigrant and business contacts between Germany and those countries. In much of Central Asia and some other former Soviet republics, Russian is still a lingua franca. (And a lot of Russians speak perfect German and French and actively use them, again with a lot of Russian immigrants going to France and Germany recently.) In North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, French is more of a lingua franca than English, and in East Africa it’s Swahili. In India English is not widely spoken– I’ve been to India and while some elites do speak it, Tamil is a sort-of lingua franca for the south while Hindi is the lingua franca for the north and center. (I’ve actually seen statistics showing that Hindi is spoken by millions more people than English, and in a lot of different countries.) Spanish is the lingua franca for Latin America. The point being that in the EU French and German are both shaping up as important lingua francas, with Russian, Swahili, Hindi, and Spanish having that role elsewhere, and probably Mandarin soon in East Asia.

Nick, you claimed that “English is not the world language because of america. Britain established english in many places of the world during the colonial period.” That’s totally wrong. In the vast majority of places that Britain ruled, they are not using English as their principal or official language. In Singapore English is co-official, it’s also co-official in African countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe (though not very widely spoken), and of course English is used in the white settler colonies like Australia, but in most former Brit colonies they’ve switched back to their indigenous languages. In Burma, Malaysia and Pakistan for example they may use English at times as a second-language but English is definitely not the main language used. As I pointed out in India, Hindi is official and Hindi and Tamil share lingua franca status in different regions of the country. Up to the fall of the British Empire after World War 2, English wasn’t very widely used, and so the popularity of English today is entirely a result of the US, American business, military and pop culture particularly. If US gets weak for whatever reason, English won’t be nearly as widespread.

Nick, you also claim that “English is simply an easy language to learn.” This is simply outrageous and totally wrong. I’ve talked to a lot of Japanese and Koreans who say that English is extremely difficult to learn– in fact, most Japanese and Koreans say that German is a lot easier since they have similar grammar structure. English has a totally nonsensical spelling and difficult pronunciation, plus it has some very complicated grammar in many places, and vocabulary that’s all over the place. Asian languages by contrast (particularly Chinese) have very simple grammar, no tenses or weird changes of verbs, nouns, or pronouns, plus a rich but easy-to-learn vocabulary.

You go on to say that “I know many people in Shanghai who are self taught (in English). Something that would be almost impossible with Mandarin. Because of the tonal qualities of Chinese, Japanese and other asian languages it makes it very hard for europeans and americans to speak these languages properly.” Again, totally false. I know a large number of Americans who can speak fluent Chinese, Japanese and Korean and who in some cases are self-taught (usually spent some time in East Asia too of course to get fluent). Some Americans and Europeans have studied many foreign languages, and they’ve told me that Chinese is actually the easiest of all to learn because of the very simple grammar and easy-to-learn vocabulary. They’re not bothered by the tones nearly as much as you think. It’s unfamiliar at first but you get used to it. Remember that tones aren’t in Korean either, but lots of Koreans and Korean-Americans learn Chinese dialects, and it’s not too hard to do it.

You also say that “The romance languages like english, spanish, french etc are very similiar so they can pick up english quickly and we share a common alphabet. The written languages of asia especially china are not aligned with the spoken language making it even more difficult.” First of all Nick, English is not a Romance language, it’s a Germanic language. Second, Chinese written language is aligned with the spoken language (each character consists of a phonetic as well as a meaning radical), and if anything the Chinese written system actually makes it a lot easier for Asian countries to communicate with each other, since they can use the writing even if they don’t speak each other’s language. It does take some years to master the writing but again, it’s not as hard as you make it out to be. Most of the characters are pretty unique and it’s not too tough to learn them and tell them apart. In addition for many purposes both native and non-native Chinese speakers just use pinyin Romanization of Chinese which is also popular, so Chinese has the advantage that it can be written both with the characters and with the pinyin phonetic romanization, and people understand it.

You say that “In asia in particular there are so many numerous dialects which are so different they are like a foreign language to each other. Take cantonese versus mandarin. As stated above english is a simple common format for everyone to be able to communicate with.” First of all, as someone who’s been to UK and Australia I can tell you that there are many places in those English-speaking countries where an American won’t know what in the world anyone is saying, since the dialect is so strong. Second, why do you assume that English would be a better common format than any of the Asian languages? As far as a common language goes, East Asian countries have a strong historical connection to Chinese culture and language and in fact over 40% of the words in Korean, Japanese, and some other languages come from Chinese originally. Plus the cultural features of Chinese language are a lot closer for us. So it’s much easier for us to use Mandarin as a common language than English there. On the other side of the coin, in many parts of USA we don’t even use English as the main language. In a lot of states, including in California where I grew up and other states that used to be part of Mexico, Spanish is used more than English, and you’d better know it. (In my middle school our teachers all told us that Spanish was the language that everybody had to learn and speak fluently to get ahead.)

The one place where I agree with you is here-“The bottom line is the more people can communicate with each other the better off we will all be and the safer the world will be.” Yes, I agree. But this has to work going both ways. I’m sick of so many of my fellow Americans being so lazy that they expect everybody in foreign countries to speak English to them-they should at least make some effort to learn the main languages of the places they visit. I think it’s fine that people in Asia and Europe learn English-I think it’s also fine and helpful that many of them get fluent in French, German and Hindi too. But in return, we Americans have to stop being so lazy and spoiled about languages ourselves. If more Americans actually made the effort to learn French, German, Spanish, Hindi, Chinese, Swahili, and many other important languages, this would help communication just as much as other countries learning American English. (I’m obviously not saying that every American should learn 10 languages-I’m saying that learning foreign languages should be more valued in general for Americans, and each American should work hard to get fluent in at least one or two foreign languages, the way most Europeans and Asians do.) My parents taught me Korean but I also worked hard to learn Spanish and German at school, and I take a lot of pride in speaking them. In return, people from other countries appreciate it a lot when I speak their languages rather than demanding that they speak mine all the time. Communication goes in two directions, and we Americans need to do more on our side of the bargain. In addition to other advantages, it would also help Americans to stop being so narrow-minded. A lot of our stupid foreign policy mistakes and arrogant actions recently are probably the result of a self-centeredness, the fact that many Americans think the world revolves around them. We’ll help ourselves as well as the rest of the world by breaking out of this.

Posted by: Geno on September 29, 2004 04:23 PM

Kwong blamed why an American came to Shanghai for 5 years but didn’t show effort to learn the language.


you are so freaking right about “communication goes in two directions”. I have been working in US for over 10 years, and recently relocate back to Shanghai on a new assignment, it really pissed me off to see whole bunch of Chinese folk need to speak English in a meeting just because there is one dude from US who never makes real effort to learn the language, he has been in Shanghai for over 5 years and he knew he has to deal with Chinese people 24-7, like most of of American, they take it for granted.

Posted by: kwong on September 29, 2004 10:37 PM

Bigbro’s post is interesting to claim that the buyer’s language provails:

The language for international communications evolves around commercial activities. In trade dealings, usually there is a buyer (customer) and a seller (supplier) and over time the buyer’s language provails. This stems from the natural law of “customer is king.” In today’s world, the US is still the largest buyer in terms of dollar value of its market, so English is the leading-brand tool of communication. That could change over time after (if) other markets surpass the US in buying power.

This CNN article talked about the English vs. Mandarin issue: The following paragraphs were taken the article.

Nonetheless, English is strong as a second language, and teaching it has become a growth industry, said Montgomery, a Seattle-based geologist and energy consultant.

Graddol noted, though that employers in parts of Asia are already looking beyond English. “In the next decade the new ‘must learn’ language is likely to be Mandarin.”


“The expectation that someone should always aspire to native speaker competence when learning a foreign language is under challenge,” he comments.

Posted by: bigbro on September 30, 2004 01:23 PM

Why English? Buyer’s Language?

I agree with Bigbro that the root of the popularity of English is economic reasons. People won’t choose a language because it is simple, or more people speak it. The buyer’s language rules – I agree on that.

I saw some interesting examples. In the Xiang Yang Market, the venders can speak good English, because most buyers can speak English. In Tailand, venders can speak Mandarin, because there are so many visitors from China visiting the place. In Paris, it is the same. With increasing number of visitors from China so the shopping malls are broadcasting using Chinese.

It is the power – the buying power, and the economic powers, that made the choice.

I talked with my brother yesterday and he described what happened in Toronto. Two years ago, Cantonese are the most used “Chinese” there. The new comers from mainland have to learn some Cantonese to survive. The local Canadian salespersons in shops have to learn some Cantonese to gain business. Very soon, with more and more people (or “customers”) migrate to that city; mandarin has become the official Chinese language. The English/French speaking sales persons just found the language they learnt so many years is not called Chinese any more and they have to learn completely a new language to keep the customers. It is interesting story that proofs the buyers’ language becomes THE language.

Another example is Japanese. When Wicresoft starts to provide software development services for Japanese companies, the signature of the Engineers becomes Japanese. Well. No body made the choice – it is the choice everyone would make – to provide easy access to the customers.

English is not the Preferred Language for Local People

Recently, I saw an article in the newspaper criticizing the greetings in hotels and big companies. They use English first and repeat it in Chinese. He argued “It turned out most customers in the hotel or companies are Chinese and how many time was wasted to listen to English?”

I agree that every business should follow “Customers first” rule, but do follow which language the customer prefers. English is not always the preferred language, especially both party can speak the local language. It is ridiculous for two persons who can speak Mandarin to talk in English – for whatever reason.

English Signs

After so many years, English became the most popular language for international communication because of the strong buying power of English speaking countries. I believe it is proper to add English signs to airports, to Metro and to other public transportation to make the city more accessible. The visitors are the buyers and buy making the city more accessible and friendly to them, the city can grow and so does the country. When the country becomes stronger, the language can be more popular… That is how the world works in the last century.

I do agree that putting more languages in Airport and Metro is better. However, it is not possible to put every language onto the same board. It is not acceptable to use only one language so making other people who cannot read it totally lost. English seems a good choice, even for visitors whose language is not English.

This is the reason why I spent effort to talk to the Metro to make sure they put on the CORRECT English signs on the boards.

Public Transportation in Shanghai

There are the following options for a visitor to get around in Shanghai.

Public Transportation Card

If you stay in Shanghai for more than one week, I suggest you to buy a public transportation card immediately after you arrive in Shanghai. It is a nice light-blue IC card that stores money value. It can be used in most public transportation vehicles:

  • Taxi
  • Buses
  • Ferry
  • Metro
  • Light-Rail

You can buy one at any Metro Station ticket counter. You can deposit as much money as you want (upper limit is 999 RMB), and there will be a 30 RMB card cost, which is refundable after you return the card to the dealer.

Typically, 100 RMB card is a good choice.

I am very happy about the little plastic card. I always bring it with me and feel very cool when I swipe the card on the ticket checking system. This is one of the reasons I think Shanghai is very andvanced in the hardware public infrustructure. Well, I didn’t say software is also good – the people working in the metro need to improve their service level. At least, put some smile on their face. Last time, when CCTV reporter interviewed Shanghai Mayor Chen Liang Yu, he said, many Shanghainese have 3 cards – the national ID card, the public transportation card and the social medicial insurance card (the card I can swipe in the hospital’s cash counter so I don’t need to pay for medical services).


There are basically two types of buses – urban buses and longer-distance buses. Most urban buses charges 1 RMB or 2 RMB (those with AirCon) no matter how many stops you take. For longer-distance buses – those buses connecting to counties, it charges higher (1 RMB to 6 RMB). The most expensive buses are the Airport Shuttle Bus.


Taxis charges 10 RMB as base fee and 2 RMB per more km. Check this article for detailed calculation: Shanghai Taxi Tickets


Metro is the most convenience public transportation. It costs 2 RMB at minimum and up to 6 RMB for Metro Line #1 and Line #2. There are line #3 and #5 too. Here is the Shanghai Metro Map and Timetable.

Website (Chinese site) is the official government website for public transportation.

Frequently Used Phone Numbers in Shanghai

Here are important phone numbers you need to be aware of in Shanghai.

Police – 110

Although Shanghai is rated as the safest city in China (according to, you still need to be aware which number to call during emergency. I call this number once every two months. :-D When I see any emergency on the street, no matter whether I am involved, I just pickup the phone and call them. The last time, I got spam advertisement SMS to sell fake certificates to me (they claimed they can create all kinds of certificate and document, including marriage certificate, national ID, graduation cerficate… anything you can imagine). 110 was happy to get my report and I suppose they will call the number in the SMS.

Fire – 119

I never dialed 119 since I have never failed to put off fires I made in my kitchen. :-D. I have called 119 in Beijing once by mistake. It was a funny story. Someone sent me a SMS from number 10119. I called back but the number was invalid. I thought, “maybe it is a phone number out of Shanghai”. As the dialling rule specified, I tried to add a 0 in front of the number and dialed again. 0 – 1 – 0 – 1 – 1 – 9 ——-. Then someone answered the phone “Hello. How can I help you?”. I realized I have called the 119 in Beijing. Now I understand that 10119 means a SMS from a SP with ID 1011.

Hospital – 120

Never called, and hope don’t need to call this number. Why there is no single number like 911 for 110, 120, or 119? It is rare that people need to call 119, but don’t need 120.

Internet Service – 16300

No matter where you are, 16300 is the number to help you connected to Internet. Create a dial-up network and loging with user name: 16300 and password: 16300. You are just 10 seconds away from Internet. The fee will be included in your (or the telephone owner’s) telephone bill. After struggling to install brandband and wireless, I finally returned to the 16300 Internet age in my home.

Consumer Complain – 12315

Are you a tough customer? If you are, dial this number when you feel angry about any product or service to complain. It (sometimes) works.

Legal Consultants – 12348

Having questions about law? Dial this number. China is changing its style. People like to go to court to settle things down. It helps me to learn my rights before I talk to a manufacture or service provider.

Transportation – 96900

For all your transportation questions, dial this number about how to go from one point to the other in the city – by driving, bus, metro… It is useful. The last time I called this service is the day before yesterday, when I was in bad need of a gasoline station.

Yellow Page – 114

Ops. 114 is the number I dial before I dial the other number for most of time. :-D Just kidding, but they are very helpful to get a phone number by a name.

All these numbers are obvious to local residents, but as Shanghai Slim commented:

WJS, great work! Thanks also for the consumer hotline phone number! This kind of information is difficult for “foreigners” to find.

That is the reason I post these obvious information here.

I am a Tough Customer

Tough customers help to improve the service level in a country.” Michelle said. I love this idea. If there is no complain from customers and no feedback, the service industry cannot improve. I have been in the customer service business for 5 years and my bar for service is high. I tend to comment on the service level of any service provider in Shanghai. I was a really tough customer for LG last Sunday.

I bought a LG Air-Condition from Yongle, the largest home applicant shopping malls in Shanghai. They shipped the A/C to my home one day before and a group of worker came to install them the next day.

To my surprise, four persons rushed to my house to install one small A/C. They didn’t wear uniform and didn’t seem to receive any education. There are many details that I can tell that they didn’t get any training before they arrive. The result was, they installed the AirCon inproperly and made my wall very dirty.

I shouted and asked them to leave my house immediately. In the next 30 minutes, I placed three telephone calls: One to LG, one to Yongle and one to the manager of the installation company. I recorded the name of everyone I talked with and kept detailed reference. In the phone calls, I referenced the Consumer Protection Laws and evidence. I know the details because I often call the legal assistance hotline 12348 to learn legal knowledge. The manager of the installation service provider was very frightened because he knew my strong complain to LG will easily remove his company from the vender list from LG. LG was worried because they learnt, to send people (for whatever reason) without training and special certificate to install dangerous equipments like AirCon broke the laws and regulations.

The result was, the vender company sent two more persons to my house to repair the installation of the AirCon and a quality manager (in my term) or people in charge (in their term) came to my house 30 minutes later and agreed to reimburse my expense to repaint wall.

During the phone, I was tough, very tough. Maybe I was wrong, but now I believe, if I keep salience and not to complain, the training system in the AirCon installation company will never be established and the quality control of both LG, the manufacture, and Yongle, the dealer cannot be improved. The same group of people will continue to install AirCon to other customers. I don’t want to be tough with people, but I do want to do something as an individual to help improve the overall service level of an industry. This can be reached if more people in the country express their dissatisfaction more loudly and clearly.

Outdoor Theater in Pudong

I found an outdoor theater event in Pudong. It is in the square of a large residential area. People came out from their home and gathers to enjoy the fresh and cool breeze of the summer night and the film


© Jian Shuo Wang


© Jian Shuo Wang

Very cool. It recalls my sweet memories in childhood. The place for the event is marked on the map. It is not for every night. Just occassionally.


Call 96900 for Navigation Direction

If you are in Shanghai, and you don’t know which bus to take from one place to another, you can call 96900 for navigation instructions. They also provide foreign language service and for bus information to nearby cities.

They charge 1 RMB after an agent answers the call.

Their advertisements have been sticked to many bus stop plates and maps. Here is an example at Jin Qiao. Look at the three green advertisements tags on the map.

© Jian Shuo Wang.

Night Life in Shanghai

Night life in Shanghai? Nick commented:

I have been using your site for awhile and you have some of the best info on the city there is. All you lack is a nightlife guide.

I see two forms of night life expat night life and Chinese night life. The difference being the places cater to expats so staff speaks English etc. The Chinese night life you definitely need a Chinese friend with you. On my last trip in April my Chinese friends showed me their side and I showed them mine so Shanghai has much to offer especially if you have a Chinese friend. This was probably the most fun I had had ever!

It is a very interesting comment. From what I see, there are three types of night lifes in Shanghai:

  • western
  • modern
  • traditional

Western night style starts with bars and parties and full of expats. (Am I right here?)

Traditional style is for traditional older Shanghai people, who almost barely have any nightlife. Most them don’t go out. A short distance walk on the street will be good enough for the old and the poor.

Modern Night Life

This is the style most local young people choose. Here are a list of activities I can think of.

Over Time Working

Well. If you ask anyone in my circle (25-30 in age, good income, good education) about what do they do at night, most of them will say “Working” or Jia Ban (overtime working). It is true.


Restaurant is the No. 1 choice if night life starts at around 6:00 PM. Eating is everyone’s favorite. There are many good restaurants in Shanghai with varied food style.


There are some very nice cinemas in Shanghai. I would recommend:

  • Kodak Super Cinema, Metro City, Xujiahui
  • Shanghai Film and Art Center, Xinhua Rd
  • UME Cinema, in Xin Tian Di


It is not easy to find a country where its people like Karaoke better than China. Whenever we gather and ask where to go, the most possible choice that everyone agrees is Karaoke. Maybe singing is just part of the attraction – it offers a big comfortable room where friends can gather and enjoy snacks, drinks and ice creams.

Tea House

Tea house was traditional Chinese social place before it almost distinct in the last decade. However, it becomes more and more popular again. Inviting some friends and spend the whole night at tea house is very relaxing. Once we talked at a tea house till 2:00 AM in the morning. These tea houses open all night.


Drama is also a good place to go. The only place I know to serve good drama frequently is the Drama Center at Anfu Rd.


For girls, shopping are the top choice. Major shopping centers are:


Huai Hai Rd.

Nanjing Rd. (well, no. Nanjing Rd. attracts visitors better than Shanghai residents. Local people won’t go to Nanjing Rd. as night life)


Many people will go gym after work. Gyms are built near office buildings. For example, Physical opens in Metro City and Alexander opens in Xintiandi.

Did I forget anything?

P.S. A new business website is launched.

Shanghai Consolidated Guide

Tour to Shanghai? What you need to know about the city? I have spent two years working on this topic and now, I want to look back and give people some handy link to the most important stuff you must know before you set your foot to this city.

Air Ticket to Shanghai

Booking international flight from country in the world to Shanghai is simple. To book flight from Shanghai to other cities in China is not easy if you are outside China. Don’t try large booking system like – it suggests you to transit at San Francisco if you check for a flight from Shanghai to Beijing. :-D Check China Domestic Flight Booking Guide this page for more information.


If you take international flights to Shanghai, you must be landing at Shanghai Pudong Airport. There is another international airport, Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. It is used for backup to Pudong Airport on international flight. It mainly serves domestic flight. You may use this one if you transit to other China cities.


Only Chinese RMB is accepted in Shanghai. Exchange your money after you arrive at airport or visit a local bank.


Bring your Mobile and Internet to Shanghai.


You will like foods in Shanghai. Most of my foreign friends like foods here. I have a list of restaurant.


Taxi, Metro and Bus are major transportation methods.


Didn’t reserved a hotel yet? Here is my hotel guide


People in Shanghai speak mandarine. Local people speak Shanghainese. Young people can speak English.

Living Cost

Considering relcating to Shanghai? Read my Living Cost in Shanghai and Living Cost in Shanghai – Part II.


What you will miss when you arrive in Shanghai? Check Hardship of Living without Twix, 10 Things You Love/Hate About Shanghai and Discrimination Against Foreigners in Shanghai? (My answer is no).

Learn Shanghainese

I believe the first question jumping out when a foreigner decide to relocate to Shanghai is, should I learn some Chinese to survive there? The variation of the question for people who can speak Chinese is, should I learn some Shanghainese?

I talked about it in my Oct article: Mandarin or Shanghainese?. Today, I received an email from Bryan:

I recently stumbled upon your blog and really relished those informative bits that you care to share with us. In fact, they are rather useful in helping me gain some understanding of Shanghai since I will be working there in May.

Coming from Singapore and of Chinese descent, I have heard of the importance of learning to speak the native tongue in order to begin to establish good relations with the local business folks. How true is that? While I can speak Chinese decently, I am really baffled by my Shanghainese friend when he speaks in his native tongue.

Do you know if there are any radio stations in Shanghai that dish out programs in the native tongue? How can I prepare myself somewhat adequately in the language basics before leaving for Shanghai?

I’d like to talk more about Shanghainese.

I Don’t Speak Shanghainese

After living here for 9 years, I still cannot say simple words of Shanghainese. This is the case for most of friends who are not native. I am able to understand some Shanghainese. This happened after 3 or 4 years after I am here, since I didn’t intentionally try to learn the language.

People Here Speak Shanghainese All the Time, But Not to Me

People here prefer to speak Shanghainese, as long as there is a chance. You can hear Shanghainese everywhere on the street. However, the good thing is, if they know you cannot understand Shanghainese, they will switch to Mandarin rapidly. I appreciate it.

No Shanghainese Radio Station

There is no Shanghainese Radio Station (so far as I know). The city is encouraging using mandarin as first language. Students are required to use mandarin at school so there is not many chances to learn the language. Everyone in the city (with higher education background) can speak mandarin.

Shanghainese – Nice to Know

Although it is not required to survive in the city, it is a great plus if you know some, especially for those whose native language is not Chinese. You will definitely surprise your friends here.

Hardship of Living without Twix


Image courtesy of Twix. Twix logo is trademark of Mars, Incorporated

nostaljia’s blog described her boy friend’s life in Shanghai without Twix:

He’s American, and he really likes Twix. The times I was in the United States before, I had never noticed Twix at all. He told me that you can’t buy Twix in China, so he was conserving his Twix, eating them slowly and not letting me eat any. This made me realize the hardship of living in a foreign country so I felt “sympathy” for him. I bought him a whole bunch of Twix in the U.S., and then again in France. I hope that if he really likes Twix, he can eat them to his heart’s content, hahaha!

Ops. I never heard of Twix or saw one before. This smallest detail of live educated me that a foreigner living in Shanghai is definitely not as easy as I think from a local person’s perspective. There are so many stuff that I never saw or be aware but they are essential for their life.

BTW, what is Twix? Sounds like sort of candy.

Pudong or Puxi

I am facing the hard decision to move to Pudong or stay in Puxi. The decision leads to two completely different lifestyles.

Pudong is very attractive as an ideal place to live – the green lands, the fresh air, wide roads, and less population.

However, only Puxi (west band of the river) presents the amazing city of Shanghai – the history, the skyscrapers, decent stores, the culture, and the great restaurants.

Pudong means a big house with a car.

Puxi means the exciting life I am so passionate about.

So…… it is a hard decision.

Vegetarianism in Shanghai

There is a special restaurant on the 4th floor or Metor City (map) – Larbre de Provence. They only serve vegetables and they always have a lot of customer. Why not have a try? I didn’t yet. :-D


© Jian Shuo Wang


© Jian Shuo Wang

I got emails asking me about whether a vetanist can survive in Shanghai. Surely they can.

10 Things You Love/Hate About Shanghai

I found a very interesting thread titled 10 things you love/hate about Shanghai? on It looks so interesting to me as a local resident. I have request permission from the authors so I can publish the list here. Here are my summary. I’d better not to quote the interesting explaination about why they like or dislike without their permission first. But do read the original text to get a good laugh.


  • Safety
  • Food
  • Low Cost of Living
  • Public Transportation
  • Simple Lifestyle and Family Values


  • Being pushed and shoved around, queue jumpers
  • Poor hygiene
  • Night life is too expensive
  • No foreign language bookstore
  • Not being able to communicate

My Comment

They posted very good summery on their views to Shanghai as a foreigner. There is almost no surprise for me when I see the list. The only exception is “Public Transportation” in “likes” side and “lack of foreign language bookstore” in “dislikes” field.

So if you happen to be in Shanghai, what is your 10 Things You Love/Hate About Shanghai? Or 10 Things You Love/Hate About the City you Live?

Update January 15, 2003

After got kellian’s permission, I happily quote her wonderful article here. It is very interesting.

ok- Love:

1; FOOOOOD- Man they have the best food there- a vegetarian’s paradise, and so healthy compared to American stuff

2: Family values: yeah yeah cheesy I know, but I feel like it improves my quality of life just to see happy families of couples that like each-other taking care of their kids and parents and actually seeming to enjoy it.

3: Less in-your-face sex and violence marketing. No reality tv shows, you can go to the movies or open a magazine and not be embarrassed- I really feel like art and movies are better cause they’re small scale and can’t use sex or violence as back-ups. WHAT??! we need a script?!

4: Kids are kids- they play, they laugh, they don’t wear makeup till they’re in high school, they don’t dress like britney, they don’t ask for land rovers at 16, no serious drug or violence troubles- definitely a more innocent life

5: Opportunity: I can do stuff in China I could never do at home, I’m comfortable, I’ve been in a rock band and on TV and can teach what I want to teach and when, there’s a lot of freedom.

Don’t love:

1: Being so far from my family: I really like my family and it sucks being a 24 hour flight away from home.

2: Being a foreigner: sometimes it just really sucks always being the outsider

3: The expat community: sorry guys- I know there are lots of nice expats in the city, most of them probably on this forum- but I’ve met a lot of nasty, snobby, sleazy, weird-o expats in this town (and I’ve lived abroad before, why Shanghai gets ’em all, I don’t know). The Chinese have by far been friendlier and more accepting than “my own kind”, and boy is that a slap in the face sometimes.

4: Hygene: you get used to it, but it still gets me the way that people treat their houses and streets and selves…whooo..

5: Lack of straightforwardness in Chinese culture: This is just the culture, it’s just the way it is and I’ve learned to accept it, but the Chinese will lie through their teeth, they’ll cheat you and never think twice, nothing’s ever certain and you will never ever ever get a straight answer. That’s just how they do it and I’ll be damned if I ever make sense of it- or understand how anyone ever owns any sort of business in this country, but they seem to make it work somehow.

You’ll seldom hear anyone say “I Love it here!” or “I hate it here!” cause I’d probably say most people can’t even figure it out for themselves. Some days its amazing. Some days you hate everything Chinese. That’s what makes it fascinating I guess. I’ll never figure these people out, no matter how long I’m here I can never predict what they’ll do- sometimes someone will commit some amazing act of selflessness and nobility for no reason- and then a half hour later so something so small and slimy you just wanna smack them. But I’m still here, so I guess that means the good outweighs the bad for me!

Discrimination Against Foreigners in Shanghai?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely based on my personal observation. Always keep in mind that I am a young man with university education and living in Shanghai. Before you draw any general conclusion, be sure you understand that like in any large country, opinions vary greatly with ages, education background, economic status and regions.

One of my reader asked about the discrimination against foreigners she heard from a website:

I chanced upon a website (while looking for job opportunities) about how Asians, blacks, etc. are discriminated in China. Could you read the article in this website and give me your comments:

If you think it is worthwhile and helpful for those who are new in China like me, may I suggest that you open this topic for discussion among your readers in order for us to know the experiences of other foreigners in China, and thereby guide us in our job search.

Well. I don’t observe ANY discrimination for foreigners in Shanghai. I believe what I see through my eyes are perfectly real. However, still don’t draw a general conclusion just because of what I see.

What is the True Feelings for Foreigners

The majority of people in China are very friendly with foreigners, no matter of the colors of their skin. It is true that white people (with golden hairs and blue eyes) are more closer to the typical image of a foreigner in Chinese people’s minds than people from other countries in Asia, but there is definitely no discrimination against black people or other Asian people. I bet you can feel at home in Shanghai.

In Most Areas of China, Foreigners are Rare

Foreigners gathers in large cities like Beijing, Shanghai or Guanghzou. In other areas, such as middle and west part of China, people seldom see foreign people in their cities. They are just very curious about foreign people when they appear in their lives. As I described in my article Back From CultureXChina Party, expenses, passport and visa are main barriers for normal people in China to go out of the country to see the rest of the world. Foreigners coming to this land bring very good chances for people to learn the outside. So don’t feel strange if you are surrounded by a group of people to talk with you excitedly using their not-so-good English – they mean welcome to you instead of make fun of you. It is also a chance to talk with native speakers to practice oral English since English skills are important to succeed in China.

Here is a joke. When asked about his experience in Xi’an, Bill Gates said people there recognized him and talked with him just to practice their oral English. :-)

In Large Cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou

Of cause if you come to China, chances are you will visit one of these cities as the first stop (or the only stop). The situation in these cities is more important to you.

I am not sure you are aware of the fact that only 0.4% of the populations in Shanghai are foreigners [source (Chinese)]. That means, unlike in U.S, my neighbors, my friends are mostly local people. So foreigners are also relatively rare and be ready to response to people kindly if they say hey to you just want to improve their English.

As I perceive, most foreign people are very polite and with very good manner, and they get on very well with local people. After closing the door of the country for more than one centaury, people are very excited about opening up to the world and seeing more and more people from other countries coming the city, why will they discrimination any foreigners?

For non-English speaking people, don’t worry. You will feel that you are welcome equally. Generally speaking, my friends, especially those who are not finally wealthy, admire people who stepped out of the door of his/her country and enter a new country like China ?this implies independent and financial success.

Culture Shock

Certainly you will definitely feel culture shock of various degrees after you move to China. It is natural that you need sometime to get used to it.

“Background to Racism in Asia” is not the truth

The story described in the Background to Racism in Asia section of the article is not true, at least from my personal point of view.

‘White’ northern Chinese have for centuries looked down upon ‘black’ darker skinned Chinese as lesser, undesirable people.

This is the first time in my whole life to hear about this.

Welcome to the City

I personally welcome anyone to this opening city and experience the great lives here. I am also very interested in what foreigners feel in the city? Their experience is valueable and trustworthy to you since I can only see the matter from a local resident’s point of view. Please make comments about your experience that you think there is no discrimination or experiences that may be considered as discrimination. Thanks!

Discriminations Do Exist in China

Certain kinds of discrimination do exist in China. Japanese is discriminated to some extend. The Anti-Japanese Movement is a vivid reflection. It is largely because the Japanese government refused to admit what they did for neighboring Asian countries in the World War II, including Nanjing Massacre. People from Japan may have hard time in China. Japanese students going back to Japan told the Japanese media that taxi drivers in China often tell them “If I had known you are a Japanese, I won’t have let you get into my car!” Well. I didn’t want to talk about this special case, and think it totally wrong to discriminate for any reason. I finally decided to leave this comment here using smaller fonts just try to tell you the truth in the city.

Hand-Made Map of Pudong Area

Pudong Map

The result of last Saturday’s driving experience raises my interest in the Pudong Area. After I get off the Dapuqiao Tunnel, which is one of the 10 tunnel/bridges connecting the Pudong and Puxi, the roads become wider and the car speed raised dramatically. The road infrastructure has been well established. I practices a lot of time to get the most important roads out of the Pudong Area. To learn the roads in Pudong is just the same experience as I learnt the roads in Puxi when I first came here in 1995. I still remember the excitement when I realized Huaihai road and Nanjing road are paralle. This should be the most basic knowledge for any people living in Shanghai.

However, the situation for roads in Pudong is totally different. I bet 9 out of 10 people around me cannot tell the relationship between Yang Gao Road and Dong Fang Road, or the Zhang Yang Road – are they parallel, or intersecting? At least I didn’t know before. Now, I have successful drew the following map from my memory. After I can draw a map of a place without reference another map, I can declare that I know that place.


© Jian Shuo Wang

Here is the real map, showing the Jinxiu Road near the Century Park. I am personally interested in the houses there.



Updated: Interactive Map June 4, 2004

What to scroll the Shanghai map? Try the map below. Click on the arrows to navigate the map.

Went to Shanghai Community Church

Believe it or not, this is only the second time I visit a Christian church in my life. 5 years ago, I have been to the church at the Chendu road. It was a Christmas and we rushed to a church just to feel what a Christian evening for Christmas is. It was silly to be there without knowing anything about Christian.

I know in western, most people believe in Christian. That is a major culture shock when people visit China, since the majority of people in China do not believe in God. Actually, people believe in nothing currently. There is a major problem in the current Chinese society because there is no common belief. People did have common believe before 1970’s – the Party. The party was described as more powerful than the God – if you believe in party and show your believe in it, you will get peace. The theory sounds silly recently. However, the rule still lasts that people have religious belief are not permitted to join the Party.

The Shanghai Community Church is located at #53 Henshang Road. It is called Gui Ji Li Bai Tang in Chinese, which can be directly translated into English as International Church. It is one of my most favorite old houses in Shanghai. It was built in 1924.

I went there because my Mom went there this morning. She is a Christian. I drove them to the church before I returned the car to the Car Rental Club. After that, I found I don’t have the key to my door. So I walked 40 minutes along my favorite Hua Shan Road, Huai Hai Rd. West and Heng Shan Rd. to the church. It was a very good experience to walk along these streets in the weekend morning – the Sun was so warm and the streets are clear with less traffic. If it were not to return the car, I will not get up that early since I will typically stay late – so I missed so many wonderful Shanghai morning already.

The Church

I heard there is religious service every Sunday at the church. According to other Christian’s explaination, I went there today is not because of my own decision. It is because the God have chose me and guided me there. Wow. Seems reasonable.

The service starts on 7:30 for the first round and 10:00 AM for the second round. I believe it is a trade-off of traditional time-table and the demands of people. There are not many churches in Shanghai and there are so many Christian.

The church is a very nice one. It is the largest church in Shanghai. With the anthem, people pray before the God. It was a nice experience for me. I am very careful to comment anything related to religion. Although I claim not be believe in any religion, I do respect people who have their religious belief.

The Facial Mask

I notices a old woman sitting near me wore facial mask to come to church today. Later, I saw the second person wearing masks today. Does it mean that fear to SARS come back to the city again? Hope not.

Mandarin or Shanghaiese?

Question from Mike looks like this

Hi there Shanghi blogger …

My name is Mike and I am very seriously considering moving to China for a year or two. I had decided to move to Beijing but am now considering Shanghi because it is the business hub of China and a more modern city.

I have been taking classes from a tutor in Mandarin but I understand the people of Shanghi speak a different language – a derivative of cantonese I think.

My question to you is what language should I learn if I move to Shanghi ? If I learn Mandarin will I be able to speak to people in Shanghi ? My barber is a Chinese woman from Shanghi ans she says she speaks Mandarin but in a way that makes it difficult to communicate with people in Beijing because the accents ( tones ) are so different.

I would really appreciate any input you can give me on the languages in China and specifically in Shanghi.



Well. I would definitely suggest you to learn Mandarin, not the local Shanghai dialect – or Shanghainese. It is true that Shanghainese are different from the Mandarin. But almost all the people you can reach can speak Mandarin but not all speak Shanghainese.

Taking me as an example, I don’t speak Shanghainese and can hardly understand Shanghainese, but that does not infect my life. It is a nice place to live.

Unlike Cantonese, Shanghainese is only used in Shanghai, not even in nearby cities like Hangzhou and Suzhou. So it will be almost useless if you go out of Shanghai…

Hope it helps.

P.S. This entry is created on Oct 9, 2003, not the date listed above.