Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Practical tips

I know. I said I was going to talk culture and history.
But just for once, I thought I could share a few practical tips. A lot of us, getting settled in China, seem to have similar experiences: buying phones, renting apartments, opening bank accounts, shopping for food, etc.
So, here are our own experience:
- yes, beds are hard like rocks in China, when you rent an apartment. That is one of the key reasons why we decided to settle in a service apartment (they would call those condo-hotels in Montreal). Everything included: breakfast, cleaning, internet, TV, phone... and an English-speaking person at the reception for us. As we have our offices in the apartment itself, this is all worth it in our opinion!
- banking: seems like a lot of the day to day life is done with cash. We cannot get a debit card from HSBC, nor can we get a credit card from Bank of China, so we decided not to open an account and just get cash at the Bank of China ATM at the street corner. The exchange rate is good, and we will see if this is enough for us.
- phone calls: we are trying that unbelievable system which allows people to call our Vermont phone number and... it rings in China (we'd better disconnect the phone at night!)
- moving a lot of stuff to China: we settled for a locker in Hong-Kong, where we keep some stuff, for instance for our hiking trip to Bhutan.
- visas: we chose a multiple entry business visa with 30-day maximum stay at a time.
Hoping these tips will help new comers!


Anonymous said...

Hey read your blog today, yea the service apts are the easiest way to go. Of course we couldn't do that, what fun would it be? :) FYI, when you pull out cash at the local ATM, they will charge approx 3% plus approx $3.00 for non bank charge. We found that the HSBC gave us the most amount so that we do not have to continue taking a hit each time we pull money out.

If you go to Carrefour, they will accept foreign credit cards but Metro will not.

Have fun in Xiamen..Tina

Christine said...

Thanks Tina. Personally, we got the conversion rate of the Wall Street and yep, a $3.00 (or some banks $4.00 charge), which we are OK with (in Montreal, we are charged the same when we don't withdraw at our bank's ATM!).