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Travelling in China

Travelling in China

Old Jun 5, 18, 6:59 am
  #1  
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Travelling in China

I plan to go to China visiting a friend who is working in Hong-Kong since 1 year now. I don't speak chinese and I am afraid to not be able to communicate with the local population. But, I have the opportunity to work in China but I don't know in which city yet. I have the possibility to work in Guangzhou, Shanghai or Shenzhen. I am going to visit my friend before do a choice. Could you help me to chose between those 3 differents places?
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Old Jun 5, 18, 7:41 am
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It's hard to opine without more details about the job opportunities, but all things being equal, I'd probably rule out GZ because it isn't as nice as SZ, and the economy is much more local than SH. I've lived in all three places. SZ definitely offers a more relaxed lifestyle than SH, but I'm not really into manufacturing related work, so I came back to SH. It's also easier to get by here without strong Chinese skills.
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Old Jun 5, 18, 11:23 am
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I would suggest for Westerners:
1. Shenzhen has the feel of Singapore -- young, vibrant, and organized (by Chinese city standards). There are many Westerners. Excellent access to high speed rail to the rest of China. Day trips to Hong Kong are possible. IMO it's the most Westerner-friendly city in China, although I can't comment on the language barrier.
2. Shanghai is much more cosmopolitan, with mixtures of old and new, good and mediocre food, very rich people and the very poor. There is much more chaos, but Shanghai offers a more culturally enriching experience of living in China.
3. Guangzhou is sprawling, historic, but IMO pales in comparison to Shenzhen with foreign investments, and thus is more difficult to navigate without speaking Mandarin or Cantonese.
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Old Jun 5, 18, 4:31 pm
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Since everyone has a different taste, there's no substitute for seeing these places firsthand. As you'll be in Hong Kong, a trip to Shenzhen and Guangzhou will be very easy, and you should be able to find round-trip flights to Shanghai for around US$200 if you're flexible, especially on Spring Airlines from Hong Kong or Shenzhen.

Shanghai, as said, is very large and cosmopolitan -- a world city, certainly -- and if you thrive in that sort of place, then Shanghai it is for you. But remember that Shanghai people tend to have the same big-city airs as Parisians and New Yorkers. They'll keep you in your place. Myself, I don't particularly enjoy Shanghai.

Shenzhen is a new city, new as can be, where it's all about commerce. That is, the city lacks a soul. Comfortable living, with a great metro and shopping. Cosmopolitan in the Chinese sense, since it's populated by immigrants from other parts of China. Easy enough to drop down into Hong Kong, but with the crowds and border crossings that can get tiresome after a couple of trips.

Guangzhou is a large historical city that hasn't progressed in recent decades to quite the extent as other Chinese cities, probably because of the attraction of Shenzhen. I like Guangzhou. It has character. And it's not difficult to reach Hong Kong from Guangzhou if you want an escape.

If climate matters, note that Shenzhen and Guangzhou are subtropical and quite a bit warmer than Shanghai.

Finally, remember that wherever you are in China, you'll find that they speak Chinese of various sorts. Some language skills will make a whale of a difference in the China you experience.

Last edited by 889; Jun 5, 18 at 4:37 pm
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Old Jun 5, 18, 11:25 pm
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@LiliT: Nobody has brought up the visa issue yet, but most reputable companies require work visas, and the current process isn't easy. As such, I suggest that you research documents you need to get from your home country before heading over. That having been said, many foreigners still get by okay on lesser visas.
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Old Jun 7, 18, 12:35 am
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@moondog It is for assisting a saler in international business.. Thank you for the advices. It seems SZ or GZ will be the most attractive for me.. I am gonna to see during my travel.

Last edited by LiliT; Jun 7, 18 at 12:38 am Reason: forget to quote the user
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Old Jun 7, 18, 12:43 am
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
Since everyone has a different taste, there's no substitute for seeing these places firsthand. As you'll be in Hong Kong, a trip to Shenzhen and Guangzhou will be very easy, and you should be able to find round-trip flights to Shanghai for around US$200 if you're flexible, especially on Spring Airlines from Hong Kong or Shenzhen.

Shanghai, as said, is very large and cosmopolitan -- a world city, certainly -- and if you thrive in that sort of place, then Shanghai it is for you. But remember that Shanghai people tend to have the same big-city airs as Parisians and New Yorkers. They'll keep you in your place. Myself, I don't particularly enjoy Shanghai.

Shenzhen is a new city, new as can be, where it's all about commerce. That is, the city lacks a soul. Comfortable living, with a great metro and shopping. Cosmopolitan in the Chinese sense, since it's populated by immigrants from other parts of China. Easy enough to drop down into Hong Kong, but with the crowds and border crossings that can get tiresome after a couple of trips.

Guangzhou is a large historical city that hasn't progressed in recent decades to quite the extent as other Chinese cities, probably because of the attraction of Shenzhen. I like Guangzhou. It has character. And it's not difficult to reach Hong Kong from Guangzhou if you want an escape.

If climate matters, note that Shenzhen and Guangzhou are subtropical and quite a bit warmer than Shanghai.

Finally, remember that wherever you are in China, you'll find that they speak Chinese of various sorts. Some language skills will make a whale of a difference in the China you experience.
Thanks a lot!! You right I will do it.. I am thinking to visit SZ and GZ to make a decision.. Shanghai seems to be nice but maybe for few days no more.. For the climate I had forgot this detail but I want first a city where I feel good but nice to know it!! Is it easy to learn Chinese?
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Old Jun 7, 18, 12:46 am
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Originally Posted by sinoflyer View Post
I would suggest for Westerners:
1. Shenzhen has the feel of Singapore -- young, vibrant, and organized (by Chinese city standards). There are many Westerners. Excellent access to high speed rail to the rest of China. Day trips to Hong Kong are possible. IMO it's the most Westerner-friendly city in China, although I can't comment on the language barrier.
2. Shanghai is much more cosmopolitan, with mixtures of old and new, good and mediocre food, very rich people and the very poor. There is much more chaos, but Shanghai offers a more culturally enriching experience of living in China.
3. Guangzhou is sprawling, historic, but IMO pales in comparison to Shenzhen with foreign investments, and thus is more difficult to navigate without speaking Mandarin or Cantonese.
Thanks a lot!! I will see after my trip but these advices were very helpfull
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Old Jun 7, 18, 3:57 am
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Hi ! Yes as Moondog said we need maybe more a few details to help you, I think you should visit these 3 cities before doing a choice, you have the opportunity to visit your friend it is cool because it can help you to know more about the local culture, but what kind of job are you doing ? according to that, it can oriented you because each city is different (salary, way of living, prices etc).
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Old Jun 8, 18, 7:20 am
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Shenzhen has a fairly large expat community in Shekou with a lot of English speakers, also in Futian but considerably smaller. I spend 50% of my time in Shenzhen with very little Chinese language skill, basically numbers, greetings and food. My workplace is mostly local staff but almost all speak English. I have a girlfriend in Shenzhen and she helps me out a lot in situations. However, if you are not shy, you can get by without language. Google or Baidu translate can help out a lot. If I take a taxi alone and can't tell the driver where to go, I can usually point out the location on Baidu map. Only very rarely has a taxi driver had a problem with this. A lot of restaurants have picture menus where you can point out what you want.

I'd say your success more depends upon your personality as opposed to your language skills. Most of my American co-workers (the ones who can't speak Chinese) are less adventurous and as a result try to minimize their time on business trips. They are intimidated by using taxis without help and tend to go to expat restaurants or even worse McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut. They don't tend to explore the city or the culture. It's more about their attitude or fear than anything else.

On the first day I arrived on my first trip to Shenzhen, I had forgotten to pack a few toiletries and knew nothing about local shops where I could find these things. I found a Walmart on google maps, showed a taxi driver and got what I needed. Trying to get back to the hotel, I couldn't figure out the magic of getting a taxi. But there were a bunch of scooter drivers nearby. I showed one of them the hotel address, he nodded yes, We used hand gestures to negotiate price and off I was on the back of a scooter holding my shopping bags. My co-workers were very surprised that I would do this. By the end of my first trip I had already met my girlfriend and by the next trip were together.

So after that way too long story, don't let the lack of language put you off. If you're ready to jump in and embrace it, you'll be fine.
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Old Jun 9, 18, 1:13 am
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@synthkeys

I've never had any language issues in China, so I can't fully appreciate what it's like getting around here without being able to read/speak, but I have had good luck with the map thing in countries where I couldn't read/speak a single word.

With respect to Shenzhen restaurants, I must admit that I love a lot of expat places down there; Bubba Mac's is my favorite Western bbq place in China (even better than Home Plate), for example. And, if I have something important to do the following day, I'd rather not roll the dice on questionable meats or 地沟油. You might describe this is as "fear", but to me it's more about risk aversion based on historical evidence.
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Old Jun 11, 18, 12:16 am
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Originally Posted by JennyT View Post
Hi ! Yes as Moondog said we need maybe more a few details to help you, I think you should visit these 3 cities before doing a choice, you have the opportunity to visit your friend it is cool because it can help you to know more about the local culture, but what kind of job are you doing ? according to that, it can oriented you because each city is different (salary, way of living, prices etc).
Thanks you for your answer, after reading all the advices I am thinking to visit SZ and GZ to make a decision as I said. Where do you live?
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Old Jun 11, 18, 2:45 am
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If you are selling into China, Shanghai is worthy of a look see.
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Old Jun 11, 18, 3:13 am
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I would have to say Shenzhen conclusively will be the best choice.

Shanghai is the most expensive city among all three. So it is obviously out. As a foreigner, the close proximity of Shenzhen from Hong Kong is your biggest advantage. Some people may find it difficult to live in a city where they can't communicate. With SZ, at least you will have the luxury going to Hong Kong during the weekend to "balance" yourself. Also, depending on you job, living in Hong Kong could be a remote possibility. Guangzhou is a center of the province. But it is simply too far away from other major cities.
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Old Jun 11, 18, 3:42 am
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I'm not sure about other parts of Shenzhen, but Shekou real estate is every bit as expensive as anywhere in Shanghai, and food costs are actually higher.

As I said upthread, sz is definitely a nicer place to live than Shanghai. The problem I found when I was living there is that I needed to visit Shanghai almost weekly when I was living there. Now, I do the reverse once a month, which is much more civilized.
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