Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pre-Travel Plans

Other than preparing the budget for your travel, there are essential things that you need before traveling to Hangzhou.

1. A VALID PASSPORT:  Make sure it's more than 6 months before its expiry date, or else, I don't think you'll make it out of the country.

2. VISA: Yes, you'll need a Visa to get into China.  If you're in Malaysia, go to the China Embassy over there, and if you're somewhere else in the world, go to the respective China Embassy near you.  You can search for Visa application process and payment online.  If you're traveling for holiday, they will probably ask where you will be staying and your travel itinerary over your stay there.  So it's good to plan out roughly what you where you will be going each day, especially if you're going on your own and not with a tour agency.  If you're going for a business trip or attending a conference, then you will need to have an invitation letter from the organizer in China, indicating that you're a participant in that event.  It takes about 3-4 working days to process the Visa, but it's good to do it early once you get your tickets and accommodation confirmed.

3.  FOOD:  Finding Halal food in Hangzhou is not too difficult, but there's not a lot of options.  Now with Walk Walk Hangzhou, you'll get to know of THREE Halal restaurants.  Great, isn't it?  Makes traveling much easier :) But, since the immigration is not as strict as Australia, it would be good to supplement your food stock some of those instant dishes/lauk.  Some bread/crackers/buns would be good too if you're not sure of the ingredients of food at the shops there.  And don't forget the ever-favourite Malaysian instant noodles, if you're into that like we are from time to time.

4. CUTLERY: If you're staying in a hotel, most likely they will only have cups, saucers, glasses.  So just in case you brought those instant food with you, bring along some containers, fork, spoon, and butter knife if you need.  Containers are useful if you want to bring something while you're out walking around the city, and you can also use them as plates.

5. COMPASS & PRAYER MAT: You'll need one to find the Qiblat direction.  If you have iPhone or other phones that have a compass, then you're all geared up!  We found that the hotel in Hangzhou asked us to wear slippers inside the room, unlike hotels in Malaysia where walking barefooted on the carpet is clean enough.  So a prayer mat or a piece of cloth that you can lay on the floor should be sufficient.

6. PLUG CONVERTER: China uses different plug points than Malaysia and Australia.  If you find a cheap on to bring, that would be good.  We didn't bring any because we didn't know it was different, but luckily we could borrow one from the hotel.  So just in case you didn't bring one, ask the hotel.

7. LAPTOP/PHONE WITH INTERNET: We found this to be VERY helpful during our stay there.  Try to look for a hotel that has free wifi.  Our hotel even had FREE internet connection from our room.  This had made our trip much easier in terms of looking at Google Map and planning our city adventures there.  But unfortunately, you cannot access any blog sites from there, and that includes our Walk Walk Blogs.  You can't access most social networks either like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

8. ROAMING FOR YOUR MOBILE: Most prepaid number in Malaysia would have auto-roaming.  If you haven't already done so, it is good to activate one.  Just in case you need to call the hotel, or text your friend/family members during traveling, a mobile phone is a life-saver.  Don't expect to buy the local prepaid over there, because with gaps in communication (us not being to speak Chinese and they not being able to speak English), that would be very much troublesome for you.

9. A POCKET NOTEBOOK & PEN: Yes, as much as we love digital things, basic tools are necessary.  You can use a pocket notebook to keep track of your expenses, and most importantly, you can ask the hotel or the info centre to write the places that you want to go in Chinese.

10. CHECK THE WEATHER: If it's Autumn, which is the time that we went in November, you will need a light jacket because it can get windy at times.  A light windbreaker will do, unless if you in the Winter.

11. MAKE A PHOTOCOPY OF YOUR PASSPORT: A MUST when traveling abroad.  This is something we somehow forgot to do, but thanks to a fellow Malaysian we met at the conference who reminded us to do so before we went to Shanghai.  We were lucky that the hotel had a place where we could do a photocopy.


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