Resources for you and me the travelers; This page will focus on providing resources of all kinds for the adventure seeking traveler
Mapbar and Google Maps(Ditu)
1) If I am visiting Southern China, should I learn Cantonese or Mandarin:
Yes, go for Mandarin. In places like Shenzhen (across the border from Hong Kong) you can already speak Mandarin in most places. The cities in the South already have tons of people from the North (who are primarily Mandarin speakers) so Mandarin is very useful. Additionally, if you come across people from different provinces of China, Mandarin will be again the common language.
2) What are the things I should Do and Not Do when dining with Chinese hosts:
DO NOT stick your chopsticks vertical in the rice bowl at the table. Make sure you place them on the chopsticks holder or across the bowl. Make sure they are not pointing towards any of the guests or hosts – this is considered rude. Most dishes in a Chinese meal are shared among all at the table. Make sure you take small amounts from each dish at a time. Do not pile up a bunch of food on your plate. If there are serving spoon or serving chopsticks with each dish make sure you use those, otherwise if there are none, you could use your chopsticks to get food from the shared dishes. If you need to serve yourself tea from the teapot on the table, make sure you first serve your neighbours at the table. Then pour yourself. If someone else is pouring tea for you, you could use two fingers and drum on the table (with the tips of the fingers) — this is another way to say "Thank you" without words (this custom comes from an old Emperor situation, send me a note /comment and I will email you with more details). If you are visiting the home of a Chinese host for dinner, it is polite to bring some fruit, or flowers, or some sweets. But this is a rapidly changing custom as China becomes more cosmopolitan and influenced by multiple customs.
3) Should I drive / take a bus for travel between Chengdu, Xian, Beijing?
By all means you should plan on flights between Chengdu – Xian and Beijing…. You can buy tickets locally in China. The hotels where you stay would have business center or travel agent that could help you.
4) Where can I find low cost eye glasses in Beijing (prescription glasses)?
Go on South 3rd ring road (south of Guo Mao) and take the Panjiayuan exit and the eyeglasses stores will be to your immediate right on the access road. (You can park (if you have a car with you) on the sidewalk) There are also other stores around town but the Panjiayuan area is good. Based on your prescription they could turn around your glasses in one day (few hours). I just want to point out that frames are definitely cheaper than the US and the process of adding the lenses, but the lenses themselves could be no cheaper than the US — it depends on what prescription you have…. You may be able to find basic lenses for lower cost than the US.
BULGARIA RELATED RESOURCES
Useful Web sites:
Portal for Expats Living in Bulgaria
Bulgarian & Other Food
Good Web Portal for All Things Bulgaria (only in Bulgarian)
Do you have questions? Send us a note…