TOP TIPS

TO LIVE 

WILL BE AN 

AWFULLY BIG 

ADVENTURE.”

Peter Pan

WELCOME! You’ve made it, now what?

1. Get a VPN server on your laptop/cellphone. They are very affordable too. That way you can connect to everything from home, aka: Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, YouTube, etc.

Best ones are Astrill and ExpressVPN.

2. Best way to stay connected to people you meet in Zhuhai is through WeChat. So get it on your phone’s app store. It’s the Chinese equivalent to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

3. Lost after getting off the ferry from Hong Kong? Or from Zhuhai airport? Look at the neighborhoods map. Will guide your way.

4. ALWAYS carry a pack of tissue with you. Most public toilets do not have toilet paper.

5. Learn some basic Mandarin, symbols or even common hand gestures. Helpful for any of those situations, like shopping, taxis or eating out. You will be a pro at the game of charades in no time!

6. Translator books can get heavy to carry, so download Chinese language apps. Example: Pleco, Mandarin Chinese by Nemo, Bravolol: Learn Chinese

7. Like anywhere else, keep your wallet and purse in the front of you and don’t even let it hang on a chair behind you. Pickpockets are everywhere, especially crowded places like Gongbei.

8. Try not to complain about where you are. It will only make your time miserable. Be open to new customs and the culture you are in. It is loud, crowded and dirty, but China is also beautiful, has great people, amazing food & experiences.

9. Craving fun, food and drinks? See the guides for help.

10.  To get secondhand furniture or appliances for your new apartment, join the Facebook: Zhuhai Buy/Sell/Swap page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/725314530866478/

11.  To connect with the Zhuhai locals and expats for specific questions and more advice, join the Facebook: Zhuhai Expat page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/zhuhaiexpats/

12. ENJOY YOUR TIME IN ZHUHAI!

Stay tuned on the website and upcoming issues for more tips.

FOR MORE BASIC TIPS ON WHAT TO HAVE WITH YOU:

   http://www.wikihow.com/Pack-for-a-Trip-to-China

               OR

   http://gobackpacking.com/tips-first-time-traveler-china/

HOW TO FIGHT BOREDOM DURING A TROPICAL STORM

  • Get Netflix (that’s pending a ban even WITH VPN, but I still have it!), Hulu, Putlocker, whatever! Binge watch to your heart’s content. Examples: Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Shameless, Narcos, Modern Family, Family Guy, South Park, etc.

  • Get creative in the kitchen….yummly.com is amazing.

  • Re-arrange the apartment, it’s always satisfying to have a new look. Or even just clean!

  • Read a book…old school with a real one, or be part of the sheep and use your Kindle.

  • Listen to music really loud and sing along/dance. Go wild!!

  • Work out, have sex, yoga, jumping jacks, whatever floats your boat.

  • Drink vino, beer, whatever you have. Even Baiju if you must!

  • And if you must go outside, bring a couple umbrellas. The wind gusts are strong! Although not classy, protect your shoes by tying plastic grocery sacks around them.

Need a translator in Mandarin? EASY PEASY. An expat personal help service. WeChat ID: EasyPeasyZH

How to send money home in China

     The closed currency of China can be difficult to get around. On top of this, the difficult and changing nature of Chinese bureaucracy ensures that there are plenty of rumors about the rules and regulations surrounding this subject. For example, when I first arrived, it was widely speculated among our group that you couldn’t exchange RMB whilst abroad. Fortunately, I’ve never experienced or even heard of a currency exchange that refuses Chinese money and, considering the fact that millions of Chinese travel abroad yearly, that worry seems more than a little naïve. I’ve also been advised to take bundles of cash to Hong Kong and go to Chungking Mansions, where you can supposedly transfer unlimited amounts instantly, to wherever you wish. I don’t doubt that that is true, as Chungking is famed as a place in which you can find any service or thing you desire. However, do you really want to lug a load of cash across a border, then trust your money in a place where it’s supposedly just as easy to buy heroin in?

       Other rumors revolve around the amount you are allowed to send home each day… 2000RMB? 4000RMB? Or, 10000RMB? Well, I recently found out that it is none of these and the whole process is actually a lot easier than I had thought. The following explains the process as I’ve found it in Zhuhai, Guangdong but should be also be applicable to cities across the country.

  1. Find the Bank of China branch in your city which has a currency exchange. As well as being the place where you should be able to send money home, it will also be useful for buying foreign money. If you would just like to buy another currency you do not need to open a bank account but you do need to take your passport. As of January 2015, you can buy a maximum of 3000RMB’s worth of foreign currency per day. The rates are good and closely reflect the going market rate. If you would like to send money home you will need to open a bank account – this just requires a small fee, signing myriad forms and a passport. It is relatively painless and took me a total of ten minutes.

  2. After you have your bank account you can then start the next process; buying money. This is the only confusing (and typically Chinese) part. You are only allowed to buy about 3000RMB’s worth of your chosen currency a day. The maximum (again, as of January 2015) you are allowed to transfer to your home bank account per day is 50,000RMB. The fee for each transfer to your home bank account is 200RMB. Therefore, if you need or want to transfer more than 3000RMB’s worth of your chosen currency, you have to make multiple trips to the bank. Assuming this is the case, each time you go to buy your currency, you should request that they put it straight into your Bank of China account. I will use myself as an example. I needed to send about 900 British Pounds to my English account. The exchange rate means, roughly, that 3000RMB = 300GBP. This meant that I had to go to the bank on three separate days to amass the 900GBP. Over this time, I never held British notes in my hand – you hand over your RMB and then they put the corresponding amount of GBP into your Bank of China account. Once you have done the final transaction, on the same day, you can transfer it home.

  3. On the final day of changing money, as well as your passport, you will need to bring a copy of your Swift Code and Iban number along with the other details of your home bank account. These numbers should be easily found on your bank statement but if you can’t see it there, ring your bank to ask. With all this to hand you will have to find the department/teller who is able to transfer the money home. In the Zhuhai branch you can exchange money on the ground floor but, to send the money home, you have to move to the first floor and find the right person. Once you have found the person you just need to tell him or her what you want to do and sign forms and give information, as required. This is the point in which you will also have to hand over the 200RMB talked about in point two. They will give you a bunch of receipts, most of which you do not need. Just make sure you keep the piece of paper with the Iban and Swift code on it, to ensure the process is quicker next time.

     And that’s it – a relatively straightforward, if long winded, process! It’s worth mentioning that, in the Zhuhai branch at least, no one spoke English apart from the lady at the last step, who was fluent. As well as this, for buying money, Chinese citizens don’t have a daily limit as low as us. So, if you have a helpful Chinese friend, you may be able to do it all a lot quicker.

By: Tom Litchfield