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A few tips for the first time traveller in Shanghai

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French Tuesdays will be opening in Shanghai on May 29th 2012, and as for each new city, the groundwork to organize such an event requires a lot of time on site.

Scouting venues, meeting sponsors, processing application requests and understanding the basic principles of the city requires a team to be set up locally for a few weeks.

Of course you can imagine that establishing ourselves in a new country implies a lot of challenges to overcome as mush as unique experiences to enjoy.

For someone who does not speak a word of Mandarin or Shanghainese, upon arrival at Pudong airport you are immediately sent back to your early childhood where communication with the world required uncountable efforts.

I do not remember the exact details of my first years but from later observations, young kids have this strong will to express themselves in their own language, convinced that everyone will finally get the point of their sophisticated babbling.

Lesson number one: have your destination written in Chinese character at all time.

Just imagine for one second what would be the reaction of a NY cab is you are to show him an address in Chinese,, you would probably last no more than 20 seconds in the back seat. Well do not worry Shanghainese cabs are more understanding and will give you at least one minute before showing uncontestable signs of exasperation.

For those who do not have the help of a local assistant, just take a picture of the address with your smartphone and show it to the driver (pronounce Cheefo) they are quite used to this gymnastic.

You can also keep the phone number of your destination in case your “cheefo” gets lost, he will be happy to speak with them.

Another useful trick, but reserved to the more advanced traveller: “the smartshangha”i app, a wonder of technology allowing you to find any address in Chinese Character.

Lesson number two: Once in the city, you will note the intense usage of electric bikes. When preparing yourself to cross a street, remember that the “creative” shanghai traffic requires you to look both sides before moving forward. Silence is not synonym of safety anymore; danger can be very quietly electric these days.

As for pedestrians versus cars, priority comes with the size, now you know.

Lesson number three is about payment facilities. American express is not the preferred card here; Most of the establishments will accept MasterCard and Visa.

This said, to avoid any surprise, cash is always the best solution. Make sure to change some money at the airport; change offices are hard to find once it the city, as well as the ATM machines.

Now that you have some cash and a way to take a cab, some basic principle to stay alive in the traffic, you can enjoy the wonders of this exceptionally vibrant city.

Among other addresses, you want to have a drink at Kastel before dinner, enjoy the culinary wonders of Lost Heaven before dancing the night away at Mint.

Of course, no one should forget to visit Bar Rouge, Haven, Franck, Sinan Road, the cool docks, the Puli Hotel, Flair, the Roosevelt house or 3 on the Bund.

My favorite: a glass of wine before dinner on the outdoor terrace of Pudao wines.

Bldg 102, 376 Wukang Lu, Ferguson Lane, near Taian Lu, Xuhui district

Shanghai I already love you!

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