China Travel Tips

Beijing Bits

Shanghai Bits

Hong Kong Bits

China Bits

Shanghai Travel Tips coming soon

Hong Kong Travel Tips coming soon

Beijing Travel Tips  coming soon.

Power Adapters: Although China’s electrical system is different from the USA some devices are compatible, however I wound up buying two adapters for plugs – one for Hong Kong and one for mainland.   The 240 voltage was not a problem with my eeePC or electric shaver or our cell phone or camera chargers, but prongs were an issue in some locations.   Wal Mart has a 9.95 universal adapter so if you want to make sure you can access power that might be a good option.  If you have problems the hotel may be able to provide you with an adapter or if you are worried buy one in USA before the trip.

Jet lag:  Most people do pretty well adjusting to the new time after *going* to China.  The time difference is about *minus 8 hours* depending on the Chinese city.   This is consistent with the general rule that going west is easier than going east, though some people (about 15% of you) may find the opposite problem with Jet lag and better handle travelling east and back to USA.

Language:  In Hong Kong English is spoken in many venues since this was an English colony for over 100 years, returning to Chinese rule in 1997.    In Shanghai my friend who spoke Mandarin had no trouble at all even though he had thought he’d have trouble because historically Shanghai’s dialect was different.

Hong Kong’s Cantonese dialect is very different from the Mandarin you find in Beijing and many other parts of the country.

Franklin has a pocket sized universal translator  for about $60 that provides audible outputs and keyboard input.   There are many sites on the internet to learn Chinese such as “ChinesePod”, but the language can be daunting for some because inflections are more important than in other languages.

9 thoughts on “China Travel Tips

  1. It’s Hong Kong, not Shanghai, where the main dialect is Cantonese. In Shanghai, Mandarin is the main spoken language.

    Cantonese isn’t merely a different “style” of language. Cantonese and Mandarin are different dialects, and aren’t even mutually intelligible. They’re related, but less similar than say Italian and Spanish.

    The old saying goes “A language is a dialect with an army” … if Guang Dong (sometimes Anglicized as Canton) were a separate country, Cantonese would definitely be considered a distinct language. Cantonese and Mandarin are dialects of Chinese in the same way that English and Dutch are dialects of the Germanic language.

    A friend of mine grew up in Hong Kong speaking Cantonese fluently, but he only speaks a few words of Mandarin. He was in Shanghai and thought that maybe he could try speaking Cantonese slowly and with a Mandarin accent and hoped there were enough cognates to get the message across. Unfortunately, he got a grand total of about zero words across.

    However, owing to their logographic/ideographic rather than phonetic writing system, Cantonese speakers and Mandarin speakers can write each other notes. The central Chinese government requires all students to learn Mandarin these days. I guess that’s why such a complicated writing system managed to survive for so long when much simpler alternatives exist.

  2. Oops… that sentence about all Chinese kids learning Mandarin in school doesn’t belong in the middle of that paragraph. Sorry for any confusion.

  3. Comment number one is partially incorrect. Your friend was referring to the fact that people in Shanghai speak the local dialect (“Shanghai hua” or Shanhainese). Most of them will, of course, also speak Mandarin.

  4. I should clarify…my point is that there is nothing in the original post that refers people in Shanghai speaking Cantonese, so there is no reason to believe your friend was referring to that dialect, rather than Shanghai’s dialect.

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