Without further ado, here is my third and final list of tips and tricks for people emigrating from the USA to Beijing. I hope it was of great help, and your travels are seamless.

 

- When commuting via Subway, avoid LINE 1 during rush hour, unless you wish to be packed like a can of sardines
- Rent, Internet, Cable, etc. bills are not paid in monthly installments in China. They are most commonly paid for three months at a time in advance, which can be a nasty surprise if you planned your finances on the monthly billing system popular in the U.S.
- Learn how to pronounce some popular Chinese dishes so you know what you’re ordering. Americanized Chinese food and Authentic Chinese food are worlds apart. Being familiar with a handful of – Chinese cuisine dishes will make eating much less stressful.
- If you are a regular coffee drinker, import it yourself. Premium coffee is not popular in China the way it is in the western world, and may be hard to find.
- If you’re a regular smoker, welcome to heaven. If you aren’t, prepare to constantly second-hand smoke. Smoking is legal almost everywhere here, including bars, restaurants, gyms, hotels, elevators, etc.
- If you miss your peers in the U.S., invest in a proper VPN Client to log into Facebook.
- Pollution masks with an authentic HEPA filter are invaluable, but a major hassle to travel with. The medical filter masks you see most people wearing are mostly ineffective.

http://www.myhealthbeijing.com/children/pollution-masks-which-are-best

Share

Most importantly, begin actively learning the Mandarin language. It will make your life much easier here.
It should go without saying, but be friendly to your neighbors! Beijing is a big city founded on small neighborhoods and circles. Be prepared to people repeatedly who share a similar schedule to you.
You’re a foreigner, and people will stare at you. Be gracious about it, and smile back. Don’t be rude, and don’t feel outcasted. Enjoy the novelty of being different.
Bring your own pillow that suits your comfort level, like a soft down pillow. Unless, of course, you like cold, hard pillows. Also, get used to mattresses much firmer than whats typical in the U.S.
Bring your own boxers/briefs underwear and denim jeans! The rest of clothing is very cheap in China, and you won’t have any issue with that
Tooth paste, cosmetics, toothbrush, shaving supplies, body-wash, moisturizer, etc. are different here than the U.S. If you wish to have the comforts of home, bring your own!
Pollution is unavoidable, especially in Beijing. Don’t let the pollution bring you down. You WILL get an upset stomach and headaches as your body acclimates to new conditions, it’s almost unavoidable. Bring good cough and cold medicine.
The Winter season can be harsh. It is cold, smoggy, and very dry. Many people carry a portable moisturiser lotion to avoid painfully dry skin. Moisturizers from Chinese brands can be hit or miss, and many buy imported brands from other countries.

Share

Currently, the country holding the largest number of box office hits is the United States. China is now on track to overtake the United States as the world’s largest film market by 2017. It has been estimated that China would not become the world’s largest film market until many years later but China’s film industry is growing faster than expected. Ticket sales are projected to reach $6.5 billion this year, up 35% from 2014. Ticket sales in the United States and Canada together last year were $10.4 billion.

There may have been a recent economic slowdown in China, but the country’s film market is growing even faster than anticipated. The growing market has made China increasingly attractive to the major Hollywood studios. Recently, Warner Bros announced a deal with China Media Capital, a state-backed investment fund, to produce Chinese-language movies. Most of the growth has come from the overwhelming popularity of Hollywood blockbusters such as “Jurassic World” and “Avengers” and China’s rapid growth of multiplex cinemas.

Not only has China been climbing the charts in the entertainment industry, it also has always had a few obstacles. With its mix of government-controlled independent companies and enterprises, the Chinese film industry looks very little like Hollywood.  Powerful state-owned entities such as China Film Group, which controls the importing and distribution of foreign films and produces its own. However, internet companies such as Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and others are getting in on the action as producers and distributors.

With all of these positive changes happening in China’s film industry amongst some of the country’s latest hardships, we can safely say that moviegoing tends to be recession-proof.  Despite the turmoil in China’s economy, people are still buying tickets to see movies at the box office.

Share

As an American accustomed to cruising through the winding freeways of Los Angeles, adapting to the roads of China’s capital city was a rather daunting experience. For this reason, I have put together this guide of what to expect during your first time behind the wheel in the PRC.

First and foremost, China is one of the few developed that countries that does NOT permit visitors with foreign driver’s licenses to operate a motor vehicle. Despite this, you can apply in advance for a temporary driver’s license and exchange it for your actual driver’s license, alongside a sizeable amount of RMB.

Just like LA, Beijing traffic does not abide to the typical rush hour schedule, and traffic is to be expected any time of the day. Traffic at midnight, two in the afternoon on a weekday, or the peak of rush hour are near indistinguishable. To help clear the mass congestion, each Beijing-registered license plate cannot enter the roads inside the 5th Ring Road one day out of the working week, dictated by the last numeral on the license tag. Reminders of what tags are and are not permitted inside the 5th Ring Road are posted regularly on most local news outlets. Additionally, if your car is not registered in Beijing, you are not permitted to drive inside the 5th Ring Road between 06:00 to 09:00 and 16:00 to 20:00 any day of the week.

Traffic rules do exist, although they are seldom followed. Driving on the shoulder and disregarding pedestrians are common, if not normal. Which driver has the right of way is determined by defacto law based on the size and weight of your vehicle (don’t mess with trucks and busses), or more commonly whether or not whose front end got into an intersection first.

Despite this, the police and highway patrolmen are very strict about certain isses. In particular, Drunk Driving and Speeding is highly policed. The BAC limit in China is 0.03 ABV (the U.S. is 0.04 ABV), and random sobriety checkpoints are scattered throughout the city any night of the week. The sobriety checkpoints require everyone to blow into the same tube, albeit without their lips touching the straw.

There are speeding surveillance cameras everywhere. To be aware of their locations, download the phone app ‘Baidu’ to warn you if you are approaching a speed camera. Speeding tickets are received via SMS text message to the mobile phone number associated with your License Plate.

In conclusion… take the subway, taxi, bus, hire a driver opposed to driving in Beijing if you can. As stressful as driving in Beijing may be, it is still much better than the chaotic roads of the Chinese countryside. People drive unpredictably in all corners of the world, but even more so in Beijing. You just have to be alert at all times, and beware for aggressive drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and who-knows-what else.

Share

Familiarizing yourself with a new city can prove to be difficult for anyone. For most Laowai (foreigners) who plan to spend an extended time in Beijing, the contrasting practices and cultures of this historic Chinese city will surely be overwhelming. After spending years dividing my time between Los Angeles and Beijing, I have picked up some personal tips and tricks along the way to ease the transition for newcomers. Here is the first post in a series of these tips and tricks, I hope it helps.

 

- Get a Beijing MetroCard and refill it often. This will save you a significant amount of money when traveling in the city.

- Learn how to pronounce Chinese locations in a Beijing accent for your taxi drivers.

- Subscribe to a VPN client for international internet access without Chinese restrictions. Learn how to operate the VPN on your computer and phone. Just a reminder: using a VPN uses extra cellular data on your phone, so be mindful.

- Familiarize yourself with the San-Li-Tun area, it is a lively place for younger crowds to congregate with many bars and restaurants.

- For clean water, the best bang-for-your-buck is NongFu Springs 4L Water Bottles. Additionally, boiled Tap Water works just fine.

- Learn the Chinese numerical hand signals of 1-10. This will always supersede the language barrier.

Pleco app is invaluable as a Mandarin/English dictionary and translator

- Download WeChat and Weibo apps (and maybe QQ, depending on your social group). They are the most popular social networks amongst Beijing locals.

- Never enter a black taxi. They are illegal taxi scams who prey on and extort the Laowai.

Share

IMG_1692[5]

Frogs stew really does taste like chicken. Frog stew in Sichuan tastes like spicy chicken. Many things in China taste like chicken.

Share

I went to a city called Fuling which is in western China. It’s home to a few million people yet it doesn’t have a single Starbucks (at least none that I noticed). I was there to discuss the possibility of a entertainment related theme park. When meeting with the powers of the city I asked what is it about the city would make  tourists travel there as its clearly a bit out of the way from visiting the known places like Beijing and Shanghai. The first part of their answer astounded me. “people come here from all over China to see the home of the famous Fuling pickles”. I restrained my smirking out off politeness. I had never heard of Fuling before let alone Fuling pickles. In my own head I dismissed the idea that this could be a viable location for anything. Now after returning to Beijing, I recounted the experience to many of my Chinese friends and just about all of them said ‘Fuling pickles are known throughout China” or “I love Fuling pickles”.

So I have now changed my tune and once again realize that China is not the US and people think different. You cant make judgements about what will work in China from your desk in Burbank. Maybe Fuling wont be the right location for the next Disneyland but between the incredible lakefront, forests, clean air, and yes those pickles there are many possibilities for sustainable business in cities we westerners have never heard of.

Share

Alright I’m missing it again and no cooking matzo ball soup and beef brisket for me. Ill be in Shanghai which is not exactly the place to celebrate passover but it could be worse. Shanghai actually has a very big history of connection to Jews. During the early days of WWII when Hitler was marching over Europe, China took in thousands of Jews when very few countries would. The formed what was known as the Shanghai Ghetto. Better a ghetto than a gas chamber. Even today you can find the temple in operation. Last year we got a ice surprise when a nice Jewish boy from Toronto opened a Jewish deli called TOCS. Good soup and the pastrami is home made and very respectable. He even found a place to bake rye bread to his specifications. Now of course its that Toronto style rye not NY rye but as they say beggars cant be choosers.

Share

It amazes me how many China experts have come out of the woodwork in the  last  year. There are now China film blogs and doing business in China blogs everywhere. So many experts became experts overnight. Its funny how I have never seen any of them in Beijing and when I do meet up with them in the US you can not pin them down on when exactly they were in China and what it is that qualifies them as experts.

Share

Img214590708You know how sometimes in Hollywood a celebrity will do something illegal and completely get away with it? The director of Hero had better hope the same rules apply in Beijing.

 

As we reported earlier, famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou became the subject of an incriminating rumor that he had violated China’s notorious one child-policy by having as many as seven children with four or more wives. After several months of investigation and no word on the matter from the director himself, Zhang took to his official Weibo account to address the allegations. In an open letter issued from his office, Zhang admits that he did, in fact, father more than one child with his wife, Chen Ting. The two had three children in all: two sons, and a daughter.

 

The Chinese director is now fully prepared to cooperate with the investigation, going so far as to send representatives to the family planning office in the Binhu district of Wuxi. In addition to confirming that he has one or two children too many, Zhang goes on in his letter to deny having any further children with any other women. He goes on to say that any speculation that he fathered seven children and paid the mothers off is simply people trying to bring him down. Besides, seven kids? No one but ancient monarchs and Stellan Skarsgard do that.

 

If proven guilty (which he omitted to), Zhang will have to pay what is called a “social compensation fee,” which could run him up to $26 million. And you thought your child support payments were steep.

Share