Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Bunch of Random Tips for the Silk Route Bike Tour in No Particular Order

English: The skyline of Shanghai, China.
Image via Wikipedia

I learned a lot of things on my scouting trip to China.  Here is a random assortment you may find helpful if you are joining us on our Silk Route Bike Tour. These tips obviously apply to China. I'll share some tips for the other 6 countries we'll be riding through later on.

-Shanghai has two Airports.  One is largely domestic, the other largely international (but not exclusively).  Be sure you know which one you fly into because they are 30 km apart.  

-Most of our hotels in China do not have laundry service.  Local laundries require 24 hours to wash your clothes.  

-Don’t ever stop in middle of a road/bike path, unless you are fond of being run over by an electric scooter. 

-Bring a bell or horn.  A really loud one. Also bring mirror and handlebar bag that has a map case.

-Wean yourself off of coffee before coming.  Get used to drinking tea.  

-Carry the name of each hotel we stay in written in Mandarin with you each day. Believe me, at some point this will save your ass. Especially if you follow the advice at the end of this list.

-Internet in most of the hotels we stay in is cable only, no wifi, so iPad and Mac Air users are out of luck 

-If you enter your hotel and the lights don’t work it is because you didn’t insert your key card into the automatic cut off switch at the door.  

-Hotels charge for dirty towels and sheets.  A lot. They will check your room thoroughly before you check out. So don't clean your bike with a towel and don't steal anything.

Hornjoserbsce: A sim card
Image via Wikipedia

-SIM cards and phones are cheap in Shanghai, you should plan on getting one. 

-Every time you take a cab take picture the cab’s ID and phone number, just in case you forget something.

-You will have to carry your bags upstairs at most hotels in china so pack accordingly.

-Always carry Toilet paper. (this is a good rule for all our tours actually).

-If you don’t like noodles, I hope you like rice.

English: Images of bottled water
Image via Wikipedia

-Drink bottled water or boiled water.  A lot of the water is not safe to drink.

-Learn to use chopsticks. Long chopsticks were easier for me to use than short ones. Wooden ones were easier to use than plastic or metal. I've heard the reusable plastic chopsticks restaurants use are rarely cleaned well so its best to use the disposable ones or bring your own.

-Buy a filter mask for dust and smog (if you have allergies or asthma take extra precautions)

-No skinny tires.  All tires should be 28mm or wider.  You've been warned.

And Finally: Get lost.  It’s fun and China is very safe and fun to explore.  Just get found again before I have to come looking for you!


Well there you go. I told you they were assorted!  More coherent info about preparing for the Silk Route Bike Tour coming soon, including a food decoder and some awesome language tips.  

Been to China? Have some tips of your own? Love to hear them in the comments.

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oldultrarunner said...

Paul, as someone who has lived in China for several years on two different stints (Ford), many cities in China have Starbucks, including many of them in Shanghai, Beijing, Ningbo, Qingdao, Chengdu and other cities. I also found other great coffee shops in China that were no name but had great coffee.

Also I would strongly suggest people bring throat lozenges. In many of the big cities (like Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, etc.,) the air pollution is awful and people will find quickly that they will sore throats. I'd also suggest everyone get their flu shots because if not, the chances of getting it are much greater if they haven't had one.

Massages are plentiful in almost all the cities in China, you just have to know what to look for. Many massage places will have a red/white pole like a barber shot to indicate massage available. Need to be careful though in the bigger cities, (like Shanghia, Beijing, etc) as that can also provide other services you may not want ;)

Chinese people are very curious about Westerner's, so be prepared for a crowd around you if you're speaking English with someone. I once had a crowd of over 100 people surrounding me and a Chinese student talking English. The people all take English in school but have little opportunity to practice using it so there's a lot of curiosity. Also, people might want to take pictures of their hometowns and bring with them to show Chinese people. Chinese people have a difficult time understanding that there actually are villages and towns in the US as they all think our cities are like theirs. My 2 Chinese translators in Jinan (near Shanghai) refused to believe that I actually grew up in a town of 700 people in Iowa as a boy.

But China is fun and the people are warm, curious, and wonderful to be around. Also, be prepared for a lot of gross behavior like people spitting constantly on the sidewalks, inside elevators, or coughing up big hawkers and letting it fly. Smoking is a big problem as they smoke everywhere, including elevators, regardless if the elevator has a sign saying no smoking.

I have always enjoyed my stints in China.

Len DeMoss

Paul McManus said...

Thanks Len, I will pass those tips along to the 2012 Riders.