Weather: spring (Apr-may) is dry but pleasant with occasional sandstorms; summer (Jun-mid Sep) is like a moist oven; autumn (mid Sep-nov) is delightful; your fridge will be warmer in winter (Dec-mar) The currency is Renminbi/yuan (RMB/¥). US$1 ≈ ¥6.3 If you stray from the guide, have your hotel write your destinations in Chinese for your driver/taxi Beijing Capital airport to town: 45 mins / ~RMB100 Taxis are scarce (call/pre-order 96106), the best bet is to hire a car and driver (see V. Useful) – just don’t expect to get anywhere fast during rush hour... Beijing street names can often seem meaningless, however, jie means street, lu and dao are road, dajie is avenue, xiang is alley, and hutong is an alley around trad courtyard houses, or a cluster of such houses Befriend your Google Maps app (Chinese/english) Keep in mind, in this town the 1/F is the G/F Many kitchens close early, so don’t arrive too late Do expect plenty of spitting and staring, ugh! Avoid the use of public toilets like you would a night with Steven Seagal, but do carry tissues in the unfortunate event that you’re horridly caught short Expect variable service in hotels and restaurants Credit cards will often NOT do nicely, sir, except in hotels, larger stores and restaurants Have back-up cash, even if it says they take credit ATMS have low transaction limits, cash up when you can Country code is +86 then 10 for Beijing, which doesn’t have to be dialled locally nor for mobiles (nationwide) In emergencies, call 119 for fire and 110 for police
The following Mandarin phrases will come in handy…
Nee how / Zai je-an : Howdy / Laters Shyeah-shyeah : Thanks, honey Boo Yao! : I am afraid I am uninterested in your cheap socks, crappy DVDS or dreadful trinkets!
…’kay, let’s party