Coming Soon: A Complete Chinese Etiquette and Travel Guide

Chinese Etiquette Guide by Robert Thompson

Update: Complete Chinese Etiquette Guide just added (or look to the navigation on the top right).

China is going through rapid change. Having said that, I have about 13 books on Chinese language and culture, and guess what? Most of them give dated advice. For example, one book mentions that “if you want to go camping in China, you’ll be on your own as there are no camping supply stores.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

So, in the next few weeks I’m going to be posting a Chinese travel and etiquette guide. It will address much more than what you can read in any Fodor’s travel book and will be, to say the least, current.

There are a lot of expatriates and foreigners who blog about little pieces of the culture here and there, documenting their experiences and pointing out the differences. It is definitely helpful, but I thought it would be good to have all the information (with pictures) in one place.

If you are about to come to China, have a friend or relative who just arrived in China, or you are going to the Olympics next year and you want to get the current inside scoop, check back soon.

Extending your Visa in China (one year, residence card, etc)

Cost Extend Visa in ChinaHow much does a one-year visa extension cost? As of July 2007, the price of a visa extension in China nearly doubled to 760 RMB. The price for a half-year extension and a one-year extension is the same (760 RMB). I checked at the Kunming visa center and at my city’s local visa center, and they both confirmed this.

Also, if you are going to extend your visa, you are now required to get a health check, or “ti jian”. Don’t worry, the health check is nothing more than a blood test to see if you have any diseases (HIV, hepatitis, etc). The health check costs anywhere from 0 to 100 RMB and you can go to a local hospital and they’ll give you the results back the same day. They will give your certificate with the doctor’s signature on it, along with your results and your blood type. Then take that back to the visa office and fill out the visa form (don’t forget your picture!)

If you own a house in China and you have the deed to your house (which can take over a year to get after you purchase it), you can apply for a three-year residence card. However, they require that you apply for the one-year visa first, to “show them that you don’t cause any trouble.”

From what I’ve learned, a marriage certificate is not is not enough to apply for a residence card, you must have a house deed with your name on it.

Also, after you purchase your house, get the deed with your name on it, and apply for your one-year visa, it is good for unlimited entries and exits and there are no duration limits (like say, a tourist L visa, which limits you to 30 days after entry).

Getting Married in China, How to Move Back to the US

If you would like me to write up an entry on this painstakingly long task (of getting a green card and moving back to the US), let me know.

We finally got our exit interview in Guangzhou and will be back in the US in November.

In other China news:

  • Wikipedia is blocked again (at this point though, who cares, really).
  • It’s been raining for the last 7 weeks.
  • Here in Chuxiong, the amount of tourists went from zero to about 100 per day in the last year, pretty amazing. (Mainly domestic travel, but a few foreigners here and there).
  • They are expanding Yi Ren Gu Zhen to seven sections now (we were the first, then they added the second, now they are adding five more. Each section represents about 200 high-end houses and storefronts).
  • They are going to reroute the train track that cuts through the development.
  • They are displacing the farmers without any compensation, even when they protest. Don’t you love capitalism?
  • (When I say they, I mean the developers and the government.)

Lugu Lake Panoramic [pic] and Other Shots of China

Lugu Lake in China, by Robert ThompsonView Large Panoramic Photo of Lugu Hu, Lugu Lake

The results are in for Lugu Lake. There is one thing that is stunning to see — the panoramic above. After you see that, and go on the 10 minute boat ride, there is absolutely nothing else to do there.

Another surprising factor is that it takes 14-16 hours to get there from Kunming. And not to mention that the road is dangerous! We saw five head-on collisions, and I counted 15 broken down cars on the total trip.

A four day trip, driving about 466 miles on a one-lane (but two-way) road with a series of sharp zigzags, and five head on collisions.

Here is a shot of what a one lane, two-way road looks like, with a huge dump truck lining the cliff, squeezing between a bunch of cars.


I can’t count the number of times the Chinese drivers would pass on a blind turn, at double the speed limit.

On to more happy things…

Boat Ride Photos

Boat Ride on Lugu Lake in China


via China Travel Guide on the local ethnic minorities, the Mosuo people:

Mosuo people who live there form a matriarchal society. There is no marriage. Children are brought up by women. Women operate production and management, and hold the principal position in the society, forming a modern day ‘woman’s kingdom’.

After this lady whipped out her brand new Sony Ericsson, I told her, “Wow, your cell phone is really nice!” She said she got two cell phones from two men in exchange for you-know-what. How personal, I thought. So it goes, the women are the rulers here.


Lugu Lake and China

See my panoramic shot of Lugu Hu, or Lugu Lake.


Lugu Lake, first impression. Wow I found wireless internet and a place to stay. The water is clear, the mountains are magnificent. Besides the free boat ride and a view of Sichuan, well. Ain’t much to do here.

Good place for photographers, though. But after 12 hours of driving from Chuxiong to Lijiang to Lugu Lake, I’m cool with walking up the side of any mountains.

Did I mention the drive? The one-lane road? The 18-wheeler trucks coming head on? The dilapidated roads, falling off the mountain side? Wow, was that stressful. Plus, you have to be aware of the “mountain people” who throw boards rigged with nails in the street, and after your tires pop, you get mobbed. (Happened to a friend of ours.) Let’s just say they have a little work to do here.