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  1. Custom-made clothing is widely available in China, due to moderate labor costs and plentiful fabrics – but they do require some time and a little patience (and sometimes a lot of patience). The fabric market at 399 Lujiabang Lu is the spot where tailors and fabrics converge. Hundreds of vendors line aisles of stalls where bolt upon bolt of every imaginable fabric await perusal. Bargaining over the price per meter of the fabrics is expected, and as always, the more you buy, the lower they’ll go. The tailor will take measurements, and if necessary, request a fitting for a few days after the initial measurements. Most pieces can be finished within a week – but often some adjustments need to be made, which can draw out the process. Many of the stalls have samples of ready made clothing, such as winter coats, which can be customized with the fabric of your choosing. Chinese tend to wear clothing tighter and narrow than Westerners, so make sure to tell the tailor how tight or loose you want the piece to fit. Unless you already have a trusted tailor that you have used before, it is generally not a good idea to take a magazine photo or drawing of a piece of clothing that you want made to fit. A better idea is to take a piece of clothing that you already really like and merely want reproduced. You will need to leave it with the tailor. * For custom-tailored men’s suits, the most respected place in town is Dave’s Custom Tailoring, Wuyuan Lu, Lane 288, No.6 (5404 0001), where suits typically cost from RMB 3,000 – 8,000, depending on the material, and the process will take several fittings. * Hanyi Cheongsam makes cheongsams, the classical tightly fitting Chinese dress, for a price that ranges from RMB 800-10,000, with embroidered cheongsams at the upper end. There are three branches in town, located at 21 Changle Lu (5404 4727), 227 Changle Lu (5404 2303) and 73 Yandang Lu (5383 3793).
  2. 1) Everyone will assume you don’t speak Mandarin. I’d like to try and be fair about this, as the honest truth is most of us here do not speak the language. And if we did, we wouldn’t speak it very well. Still, please give some of us credit. A few of us can not only only speak the language, but we speak it better than you do. 2) Everyone will assume you are a teacher. Yep! The abundance of English schools in China for sure is overflowing. Just because I don’t wear a pinstriped suit with leather shoes and a black briefcase doesn’t mean I’m a teacher. Some of us actually have other jobs that have nothing to do with our ability to speak English. 3) Everyone will assume you don’t know a damn thing about China. I was very embarrassed when some of my colleagues from a former life didn’t know who Mao was, let alone who the guy on the huge Deng Xiaoping billboard(Shenzhen) was. Yet(sigh), believe it or not, more than a few of us do know who these people were, along with their significance. This would include Qianlong and Kangxi, Cixi, etc. Please don’t think we’re all totally illiterate about your long history. 4) Everyone will assume you don’t know how to use chopsticks. The dumbest damn question I get everyday in China is are you used to the food? This is often after I’ve told them that I’ve lived here for years. Do you think I go to McDonald’s everyday? Do you think I act like Chinese in America and ignore the native cuisine of the culture I live in?… But back to chopsticks: yes, I actually learned to use chopsticks. That would be because when in Rome do what the Romans do, and btw, very few Chinese restaurants have a fork and knife. Asides, Chinese food honestly speaking tastes better with chopsticks. Please though, don’t fall out of your chair when you see me using them. It’s learn to use them or starve to death. 5) Everyone will assume you are here to screw as many Chinese girls as possible. In the West we have a saying, It takes two to tango. If the West wasn’t always being demonized all the time, maybe we wouldn’t be looked upon as so exotic. 5b) Everyone will assume you go to a bar every night to screw as many Chinese girls as possible. Actually, a pub is a good place to relax and unwind after a day of work. (I prefer to go to popular Chinese hangouts) This can be done because…wait for it; no one thinks you speak Chinese! Thus they leave you alone… If they knew I could speak Chinese, I’d be mobbed. Why we can’t go to a club unless we have a hard on, though is beyond me. 6) Someone will say hello to you every damn day you are here. Unless you have an ability to move beyond hello and converse in my native tongue, like a grownup, don’t feign to have an interest in conversing with me at all, please, unless it’s in Chinese. What if I actually answered back in English? Than what? Oh, I know what happens next! You look like a dumb-ass! At first, it was all about being the good soldier and representing the West well. And I honestly tried with all my heart to answer back hello as well. But I’m human. Just because you haven’t been within actual eye contact of a Westerner before doesn’t mean you have to jump out of your britches to say hello to me in English. And please don’t go and pout if I don’t answer back. 7) South China doesn’t have central heating. Your apartment is a glorified concrete box, and you will freeze. This is especially true in Shenzhen. When you pour yourself Chinese tea just to warm your hands on the cup, rather than drinking it, you’ll know what I mean. When it’s warmer outside than it is inside the box, you’ll know what I mean. When you can see your own breathe inside your apartment, you’ll know! When you wear 3 sweaters and the chill still kicks your ass, you’ll know! When you don’t even want to take a shower, because that means you have to get naked first! 8 ) You will be stared at quite a bit. It will be an experience you’ve probably never encountered in your life, and it will make you uncomfortable. 9) You will be expected to hate the Japanese for a 1000 generations… Well, don’t the Russians and Germans get along??? The Germans and the French?? The French and the Vietnamese? ? Abbot and Costello? ?Leno and Lettermen? China isn’t the only country that was bullied by the Japanese. Why do I not hear the same angst coming from Korea? I do agree, the extent to which your country was humiliated by Japan is beyond pale… But the Japanese walking the street in China today weren’t at Nanjing. They weren’t at Pearl Harbor and they weren’t at Bataan. As a collective, the country actually embarrasses itself when it shows how easily it’s feelings can be manipulated en masse. It’s like Pavlov and the Dog. Have you ever considered looking up on the internet how many jobs Japanese companies create in China? It would be easier if they were allowed to buy advertising in your local newspaper to advertise that number, like they do in my native country, but apparently they are not allowed to. Japan would’ve gladly paid reparations to China, but some fellow by the name of Mao told them to forget it. 10) You will run into a lot of people that don’t speak Mandarin very well. Someone forgot to tell me I shouldn’t take it so hard when they don’t understand me. And they all neglected to tell me that China isn’t like America, where we all speak the same, from North to South, and East to West. There is a little thing called dialect that my Chinese friends back in school fucking forgot to mention before I came here. Did I mention that I was sent to learn Mandarin in Guangzhou?
  3. I heard that Jin Cai has a good curriculum but the students that go there are not really enthusiastic about learning. My friend was considering that school (since it is only 3 minutes by car from where we live), but was worried that her child won't study hard. Also, it's basically only for Asian children, so if you are of Western culture, I heard the child may be thrown out of the loop.
  4. I just started investing. I don't have a 'huge wad of money'. I don't work in the financial industry, nor do i and my boyfriend care to sit watching figures every morning. We are happy with our Austen Morris advisor, who has explained everything very simply and my Boyfriend has consistently made decent returns with him for the last 5 years. There are no 'astronomical fees' with my scheme, and my boyfriend was able to withdraw money to buy 2 more cars to add to his collection, without "massive penalties". I guess each person is different, but we are happy with our experiences.
  5. I have colleagues who are not Chinese citizens and whose kids attend public school here in Suzhou. (Both a Korean child and two American kids). I would see if someone at your school can help you figure out how to get your kid into a Chinese school if that is what you would like to do. I know HR at XJTLU (where I work) helped with getting my colleagues’ kids enrolled..
  6. There is a widespread assumption that cities — especially megacities — are not meant for kids. Children, it is commonly believed, are better off in the open spaces of the countryside. Throughout the developed world families, influenced by this idea, have fled the urban core, preferring to settle instead in the relative peace and tranquility of the suburbs. Faced with demographic decline, policy makers and urban planners have shifted focus, arguing that cities should compete to attract the young and single of the ‘creative or entrepreneurial class’ as well as empty nesters who, having finished raising their children, return to the cities with lots of money to spend. Yet, as urban theorist Joel Kotkin writes, if cities are to retain their vibrancy and ensure a dynamic level of population growth, they must also reassert themselves as places where families want to live. For Kotkin this involves three central features: safety, good parks and good schools. Shanghai has all these and more. For a giant metropolis in the developing world Shanghai is remarkably kid friendly. Except for the traffic (which is far from a trivial concern) the city is astoundingly safe. Women and children freely wander the streets, stroll in the parks and play in the back lanes and alleys, even at night. The safety of the city — which should be of interest to urban theorists everywhere — is no doubt in part attributed to strict policing and to a cultural climate that abominates, instead of glorifying crime. But also, and perhaps most importantly, the unthreatening, nonaggresive, even relaxed atmosphere of the city arises because Shanghai’s culture is so intensely child friendly. Throughout the city children are welcome pretty much everywhere. It is not uncommon to see kids accompany their parents to art galleries or fancy restaurants. At classical music concerts, visitors to Shanghai are surprised to see children sitting quietly listening attentively to a piano or violin recital. On the street it is not only the old ladies and young girls that coo at a pretty baby. Even businessmen and trendy young men will put down their mp3 players and cell phones to trade a smile with a cute toddler. When cities are friendly to children, children are free to take delight in cities. For kids the city itself becomes a playground. Shanghai, with its neon lights, noisy markets, hawkers and street peddlers, narrow lanes, green spaces and science fiction skyscrapers is overflowing with fun and adventure. Moreover, Shanghai has a growing middle class that is all too eager to please — some say spoil — their only children. Coupled with this is an ever-expanding expat community many of who take advantage of the city’s child friendly culture to enlarge their families during their time in Shanghai. These factors have combined to ensure that ever more places are opening in the city with the aim to entertain families and youngsters.
  7. As far as i know i can lower my taxable income with a living allowance (housing) and a cost of living allowance (meaning dinners, my bills, taxi rides, super market receipt??? what else?) These amounts will both have to put in my employment contract for or i won't be able to use this What are the max percentages for this based on a gross salary? 30/40/50% What about medical insurance - this is a yearly bill - can this be deducted? same for yearly trip home - can the ticket price be deducted? How does this work on monthly bases since these get paid once a year and only a single fapiao? What are others on here doing for this? The PRC has cracked down on allowances for expats. The normal value is about 25% of monthly income now from what I've seen. This includes housing, food (groceries or restaurants), laundry, domestic travel. Education costs may be a separate issue as are plane tickets home if its part of your contract. To claim the monthly tax-free allowance you need to provide fapiaos. Employer-paid portions of Medical and Life insurance is fully taxable. Also employers portions of SS and or pension plans is now fully taxable by your friendly Uncle CCP For the monthly claims your company must agree to do the work if they done you are pretty much done also. I'm starting work for a new Chinese company. I read here that deductions need to be mentioned in the work contract. 1. How to mention tax deductible benefits on the employment contract (to reduce the amount of income tax paid)? I know that I will have to provide fapiaos to the tax office. Does each separate item like living expenses, flights home etc. need to be mentioned? If so, where can I get a list of what is deductible? 2. Does a total amount for all this need to be mentioned in the contract? 2. How much social insurance will the company need to pay for me? How much will I need to pay? Thanks in advance
  8. Which city is better, Hong Kong or Shanghai? I’ve lived in both and for quite a fair old while I always thought Hong Kong was much better. It was so far removed from The Grim Mainland© that it seemed a million miles from it, not just over the border. After moving to Shanghai I would find that I’d have to do the dreaded visa run every year. I’d fly down to Shenzhen , jump on the KCR and as the train headed into Kowloon it just seemed – oh I don’t know – more civilised. I’d arrive in Central and immediately I was in another world. Everything looked clean and sparkly, the sun was shining and the skies were blue. The people in Hong Kong had nice clothes – they were wearing fashionable clothes. Real fashion, not that acid-casualty fashion found in Shanghai. Plus all their clothes seemed to fit them properly whereas girls in Shanghai were wearing off-duty stripper outfits two sizes too small. Back then, there were 7/11′s everywhere in Hong Kong. I’d saunter in and out of them as I made my way to my very low budget hotel inbetween Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, picking up whatever alcoholic beverage took my fancy. Apple cider? Mmm, yes please. Wine cooler? Oh go on then. Pre-mixed Jack Daniels and Coke? Why not? In Shanghai’s misery-infested Lawsons, the choices were as sparse as the number of subway lines. There was TsingTao or Suntory. Usually room temperature. Every year, I’d spend a few days in Hong Kong, savouring the ‘togetherness’ of the place – everything seemed to work and everyone spoke English. People would say excuse me and do you mind and crossing the road was not so taxing on the nerves as in grim old Shanghai. Jaywalking was, and still is, illegal in Hong Kong (I got an on the spot fine once), whereas jaywalking was just crossing the road in Shanghai. I used to love the bars in Hong Kong. Real bars with great vistas of views across exotic South East Asian streets. The music was subtle and sophisticated. Waitresses – not bar girls – would smile warmly and chat with the customers in English with a casual Canto-accent. I can remember going into a bar in Shanghai back then and they decided to play nose-bleed techno at bowel-shaking levels to a crowd of three patrons. The girls working in the bar eyeing the customers with suspicion and fear. Shanghai had no customer service at all, whereas Hong Kong could charm the pants off all customers and tickle it’s feet. Then things gradually began to reverse. I think this happened, for me at least, around 2009 or so. I’d go to Hong Kong and things didn’t seem quite so chipper. I’d come back to Shanghai and it seemed more relaxed and quiet. Things in Hong Kong started to look trashy, high rise buildings looked dilapidated and dirty. The subway especially started to resemble something from Russia except there was crass advertising in every available space. Shanghai now appeared to have pristine tower blocks that gleamed in the sunlight. The subway stations were like vast palaces – and all squeaky clean with just a modicum of advertising. The subway had lines everywhere and all clearly showing where you were going. In Hong Kong I still get lost on the MTR. The last time I went to Hong Kong was the final straw. I was in a small restaurant (actually, ALL restaurants in Hong Kong are small) and from my tiny table I looked across the street straight into the apartment of an old man staring back at me. He had a look of deep despair on his face. I could see why. Who would want to live in a tiny concrete box centremetres from your neighbours and surrounded by traffic? The next day I came back to Shanghai and the streets appeared like wide, spacious boulevards, tree lined and quiet. I arrived outside my complex and as I walked amongst the houses everything seemed quiet and peaceful. Hong Kong was like living in a clattering tin can being kicked down the street. These days I like Hong Kong but to be honest living there now is out of the question for me. A lot of people complain about Shanghai but it feels a much more comfortable place to live.
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