I will be traveling to China soon. The trip will be about 2 weeks and will be in a very populated region (just outside of Hong Kong).
I was wondering what gear people would recommend for a personal survival kit. I carry lots of stuff in my car in the States, but there is a limit to what I can carry on my person while traveling on business.
I travel to China almost every year during the summer so I guess I know a thing or two about the country.
Let's see, first thing, a microfilter might not really be necessary, after all you are only going to be there for two weeks in a large city, and bottled water is so cheap there (you can buy several liters for a dollar or so at large supermarkets). Otherwise you can always cook a lot of water the evening before and let it cool over night, it's what the locals do. The place you are staying might even have a water cooler, and a refill costs even less per liter and is almost always delivered to your door. A water filter would most likely just mean extra weight that you can't use to carry stuff back.
Someone on Equipped mentioned that you probably shouldn't bring fancy lights. I've been to China several times with an Arc4 and Arc AA, and it has been no problem at all, and might come in handy, as some large cities have electricity shortages with a few blackouts each summer (then again you could just buy candles there). Just make sure you don't loose your expensive light. AA batteries are really dirt cheap there, and cr123's (not always genuine brand name ones mind you)cost about a dollar a piece in eletronic markets (if you can haggle). Again don't bring anything you would really really really mind loosing, or just don't loose anything (goes for everything else really).
Bring deodorants. It will be warm where you are going, even well into the September or even later. In Beijing, and other northern cities I've been to it has been impossible to locate any deodorants except in really trendy and exclusive supermarkets for westerners, and there they cost quite a bit. Then again it's probably easier when you are close to HK. Or you can just smell like everyone else there. If you are a woman (can't see from your username can I?) or travelling with female friends, then you should definitely bring female hygiene products, as some of them are rare and others are of a bit dodgy quality (or so I've been told).
A good little knife could be great too for all the cutting chore and more. I had a Strider AR with me a couple of times, but have never used it, ever. Instead I used my single-blades SAK the most. So a small, non-dangerous-looking and cheap Spyderco or Benchmade (mini grip?) or SAK will be best in my experience (unless of course if you travel to the country side). As a foreigner you can probably get away with a lot, but the usual caution with knives applies here, i.e. be discret and find out where you can carry it, as it would really suck to have your favourite confiscated because some policeman saw it and fancied it himself (again being a foreigner would help a lot so don't worry too much). A multitool could be good too but if you are going to be in a city for two weeks I really don't know what to use it for.
Bring a money belt or a similar thing so you can have the cash and papers you don't need in there.
A first aid kit with all the medicine you use (and things like sunscreen, which is a bit diffcult to find) could be good too. You certainly can almost find everything at a good drug store, but again I wouldn't try buying them if I don't speak the language.
A cheap and good watch could be useful too. Wearing expensive watches are just asking for trouble, and in general don't try to show your wealth on the street, try to blend in. And southern China is like the counterfeit watch capital of the world, so you might pick up something cheap and cheerful there.
Oh and bring a bandana or or small towel so you can wipe the sweat off of your face.
Good English books are hard to find and expensive, so bring some good pocket books that you can just throw away when you leave. And although even non-pirate CD's are cheap (less than ten dollars if you dig a bit) but don't count on finding every band, so bring your own if you have too.
Most of the things you don't actually have to carry with you, personally I leave quite a bit at where I live. But then again I I don't EDC much in general, especially in cities, so you can take it with a shaker of salt if you like to carry more.
Just what I can think of now, but feel free to ask questions.
Be sure to have a way to transport chilled water with you! I used a Camelbak system every day I was there, and it is the one item that I would have missed the most if I didn't have it. I would find a way to chill the bladder each night, and I was the only one in our extended family (of 16) with cool water after noon. The insulation of the pack worked great, and I was the supplier of water for my family of three. If you're out and about in the summer, you'll need water constantly.
If you are taking a small child who is NOT Chinese, assume that everybody will want to touch him/her. THAT really freaked me out.
The one thing you should expect to leave at home is your personal space. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
The camelback sounds like a great idea, but I will be traveling around with my boss and it seems rather unprofessional. I will have to come up with an equivalent system that goes into a briefcase.
I didn't realize that the locals had to boil the water, also. I'm not sure how to do this in my hotel room.
Bottled water seems the way to go, but many of my coworkers have done thins and many of them have gotten sick, too.
Has anybody ever tried the Steri-Pen ultraviolet light for treating water?
Can I really carry something like a mini-Griptillian across the border?
What Cy said. All rooms I stayed in had a hot-water pot for this very purpose.
Hmm. Hadn't thought about needing to be "professional," - that's WAY out of my real of experience. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] That said, Camelbak makes an "unthermos" that is just the bladder in an insulated bag that can go anywhere - into a regular backpack, a briefcase...whatever.
[ QUOTE ] MicroE said:
Can I really carry something like a mini-Griptillian across the border?
[/ QUOTE ]
As I said I got a Strider AR across the boarder with no problem. As a foreigner the customs will generally be forgiving about what you bring in your checked in luggage. But again I had no use for it once I was there.
Second the suggestion about the respiration mask, if you can get away with it in a business environment. I've never had one in China, but have certainly felt like I needed one at times. Although I guess people will stare even more if you are wearing one.
It's common for people to get stomach sick when traveling to third world countries, even if you drink only clean, bottled water. You simply can't control everything you eat there. And China (and developing countries in general) definitely has a different definition of cleanliness. It's probably best to take some meds for the stomach too.
I was there for 2 weeks, about a month ago. We went to Shanghai, Yellow Mountains (absolutely amazing - but go for 3 days like we did, you can't do the whole thing in a day), Tunxi and some other cities whose names I can't spell at the moment. It's a great place to visit, hope you have fun!
Regarding a survival kit, I didn't take much myself (only one flashlight...). If you have an itinerary planned, I'd pack based on that. I would recommend that you take two medical kits with you though. I'd take one of those Adventure Medical Ultralight ones, the .5 or .7 being my choice. It's small enough to throw in a bag and cover scrapes/scratches if you skin a knee or something. Then leave at the hotel a bigger one with more bandages, some gauze pads, some polysporin etc. DEFINATELY take stuff for your stomach, if you are not accustomed to the food you may find you'll get a stomach upset the first day. We were a group of 12 people (family+friends), and we stayed at Sofitels (5-star) because my aunt works for an airline. We went out for local food, places working class chinese eat mostly and I think about 10 of 12 people got diarrhea at some point in the trip. I'd suggest you take a bottle of tums and some antacids for sure.
Bottled water is safe to drink if you buy it from the street, and you can get it chilled. It's about 5-6 yuan normally, whether chilled or not. That's $1 Canadian. Expect meals to be cheap too, especially if you eat from street vendors or "chinese places". Breakfast is about 8 yuan (this is in Shanghai). Boil the water in your hotel to brush your teeth with.
As well, I would carry a couple of packs of tissue with you at all times (the pre-packaged wallet sized ones of 10-15 pieces). Take some hand sanitizer with you as well to wash your hands. If you've never used a squat toilet before - start practicing! (squatting, that is). You can usually find a 3-5 star hotel to go into though, 4/5 star will definately have a western style toilet in their lobby. Some places have a combination of both.
It might be wet where you are going, so pack a small raincoat and hat. Pack as many or as little clothes as you want, but if it's really hot you'll want a lot of spare shirts to change into (before dinner etc).
I advise packing more on the light side, because stuff is so cheap to buy there, you'll probably need to buy an extra suitcase just to bring back all the stuff you bought. You'll probably end up going to an illegal/knock off market at some point too.
LEARN HOW TO BARTER. I REPEAT - LEARN HOW TO BARTER.
They give you a calculator, just type in the price you want. Tip: Start below 1/2 of what they quote you, or even a quarter of the price. I got a winter coat negotiated down from 900 yuan to 250. A watch from 500 to 100, and a sweater from 350 to 60. You won't be ripping them off, they'll still be making a hefty margin. My uncle does business in China (he imports chinese goods to Australia) and he told me how the factory owners negotiated the price of a chandelier down from 100000 to 10000 yuan. Buy stuff a plenty, it's the same thing as the original anyways half the time. Golf clubs are a steal as well, ask a guide or local for the location of a good shop. You can get a Callaway set for about 300 dollars Canadian.
If you need more info, just ask. I'm going to bed now.
[ QUOTE ] MicroE said:
How do you boil water in your hotel room?
[/ QUOTE ]
Either bring your own small plastic travel water cooker (though it only cooks so little at once), or buy a cheap one on the street when you get there and then throw it away when you leave.
Most hotels should have cooked water for free if you ask for it. I can imagine that it's possible that larger, more expensive hotels might not have it and rather charge you cart loads of money for mineral water. But again the more expensive hotels chains I've stayed in in Europe (all of whom I believe also have hotels in China, and probably will be where you'll be staying in if you are on business) have water cookers in the rooms so that the guests can make their own tea and coffee.
You may also want to be wary of bringing counterfeit CDs or DVDs back with you into the States. I live in Canada, and I've never gotten stopped or checked coming in, but my parents and relatives have been stopped clearing US customs before while coming back. A few shouldn't be a problem, but here's what you can do to minimize the risk:
1. Disperse whatever you have between multiple suitcases.
2. Don't carry in hand-luggage, a carry-on bag full of CDs looks a bit funny.
3. If you have a lot of them, you can try throwing away the packaging and slipping them inside a single CD carrier (like the ones people carry for discmans or in the car).
4. Be prepared that most (>50%) of them will be dud's anyway. Malaysia and Thailand have better quality for some reason from what I've found.
Regarding the water, if you are in Hong Kong it shouldn't be a problem, especially if you are staying at a business/designed for westerners hotel. You can always brush your teeth with Chinese beer too - most of it is 1-2% alcohol content. Tastes like water [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
Most people that have goten/get sick in China get it from food. Stay away from items like watermelon (sometimes served after dinner), as it's a fruit that's grown submersed in water, in the middle of rural China. So is rice, but it's cooked, so safe. I think it's just luck of the draw though, you might have a stomach of steel, others have weak ones. Just be careful what you eat, although the best and most authentic trip is to eat at places that the Chinese eat. Street stalls selling meat on a stick etc, are fun to eat from and it's also prepared in front of you so you can see what they are doing. But definately boil your water or buy bottled water. You probably won't need immunization shots for Hong Kong, but you can get your Hep A/B/C (never can remember which ones they do...) and tetanus etc boosted if need be and if time permits.
One should prepare a full survival kit when travelling to China. China water supply is not clean. The outdoor food vendor might not cook food well. You can expect diareha for sure. It is best to bring a full first aid kit with strong antibiotics for wounds infections.
There is a pig disease in China right now. Alot of people die due to poor hygiene.
If you check with the larger libraries in your area before you go and find a Government Documents section you can check for information on China and health issues from the CIA, National Institutes of Health, etc. That'll give you info on diseases and sanitation issues. Worth an hour or two of your time.
All this assumes you've talked with your doctor here (should be your first source for information), as well, but a good guide on health, hygiene, and sanitation for camping will provide you with good practices for food, water, and cleanliness for travel anywhere. Also good for getting an idea of what to include for making life easier and comfortable.
That should give you a wealth of information about what to include in your gear to keep you healthly and get you well if something does crop up and of course the usual "how do I deal with this situation" equipment list.
What, no recommendations for the UV Aquastar? If you travel a lot it might be worth it (www.uvaquastar.com). I bought one and I didn't bring it on my last trip to a developed country. I did drink from the tap but it crossed my mind each and every time that despite the tough standards applied to drinking water in the first world, it should be safe, but how could I be sure?
I didn't fall sick, thankfully the water treatment worked as expected, but it would sure have been better to be safe than sorry. Nobody wants any trip to be ruined by 'downtime'.
Incidentally I did get hit - that's just before I got home, thankfully. Bring a first aid kit. I was *DARN* glad I packed one. And next time, the Imodium goes, even though I did not need it this time. When you're on the road you have no time to stop and ask "where can I get paracetamol/aspirin?"
As said above, be prepared to bargain. Anybody whom they suspect is not a local is a target to be quoted what I call the "tourist price" (ie. inflated). I have experienced this phenomenon in the Asia Pacific while hosting visiting guests - the 'street vendors' don't bother to pull a fast one on me because I look like a local, but they're brazen enough to ask my overseas friends to look at their wares. I get quoted the "normal" price. I used to think I would have to prevent them from being taken for a ride, but then again, it seems they are sharp enough to turn the tables on the vendors so that is all good [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
Bring a small multitool. I won't be going anywhere without a Leatherman. Check it into your luggage, for obvious reasons (unless you like being asked very uncomfortable questions and detained). This applies anywhere in the world.
Bring a light. And EDC it. Make it an extremely-long-runtime one or variable-power light. I was intensely grateful to have my U2, whether finding street addresses, or riding out a blackout (again the last thing I could possibly have expected).
Bring a camera. Last trip I took a point and shoot, no battery charger, no spare memory. Didn't think I'd see anything worth shooting. Instead saw the most beautiful scenery on God's green and blue earth. Got home, bought a digital SLR, four lenses, three filters, two tripods, two bags and one quick release. Next time I won't screw it up!
was watching something the other day about food vendors. They said that most of the bacterial problems were actually caused by the sauces that sat out all day on the cart and had a thousand people's fingers dipped into it over the course of the day.
So if you have to eat from the street vendors or small shops, stay away from the sauce that is sitting on the counter...
Oh, come on, you people are just terrible. You scare MicroE so much that he (or she)might not want to take the trip at all. I am from HK (yes I am a chinese). I have been traveling in China for almost 11 years, well I am OK just by having some common sense.
After so many words and pages, no one suggest to bring a pair of "fork & spoon"?? I wonder?? I always have a set of titanium fork & spoon in my suitcase. Although I am a chinese, I prefer to use fork most of the time. And in China, sometime fork & spoon is hard to come by than you thought. You may use them to eat your say...... "room service".
Well, good luck to your trip. By the way, if your want to bring a knife, make sure it is not too big & aggressive in look. I am afraid not to the common people on the street, but the airport custom officier. Medium size folder would be much prefered (but I can assure you that you will have no use for it at all). No matter for knife or multitool, you cannot carry it on the plane, common sense!
But Mark, you gotta work with food for a while to see how little common sense about health people have. The stories I could tell!
Nothing to really fear, just stuff to be aware of. Much more important to have shots up to date.
If I travel anywhere, I just take a basic B.O.B. and my usual EDC stuff. But I always check out how food is handled and what current "bug" is going around. Why tempt fate or spoil a trip for not paying attention or just doing a small amount of research?
By the way, bacteria is one thing, oily food is another. Chinese like to use a lot of oil to cook their food (not just deepfry). You may not know it after you consume too much, just try to avoid oily food (but they usually taste good!!!).
Weather, over 30C upto 36-39 nowaday in Guangdong area & HK, plus extremely humid (99% or higher). Try to drink more water than you use to. Also, when you are sweating like hell, don't forget your body will not only lose a lot of water, but also "salt".
You can buy most of the common drug in HK, but not in China, or it is under a different name. So, bring your own drug is a very good idea (I am in Medical Business, so I know).
After reading all this advice here and on equipped, I'll just add in a different opinion from my own experience in travleing in asian countries. A lot of the of the advice here is good, some of it is a little extreme. In general I wouldn't worry so much about what to bring. You'll find it's just like every other big city in the world. For one, you're going on a business trip for what I asssume is a US company. You will be staying in populated areas, probably eating in western hotels and restaurants, and generally be in the more civilized areas. It's not like you're going to be on a survival mission in the jungles, you'll find you will have all the conviences of home over there, probably more so because it's a business trip.
As most people mentioned, the most important thing to look out for is the water. However, you'll be able to buy bottled water everywhere for next to nothing, it's not really worth bringing a filter or purifiers. If you have a particularly weak stomach, some medication like Cipro might help. I read all the warnings before I went, and I don't have a very strong stomach, so I was very wary at first. But I found a lot of those problems tend to be overexaggerated. I ate at the street vendors and smaller restaurants with no problems. I brushed my teeth with the tap water, never got sick. My girlfriend lived there for a year, doing a normal daily routine, never had a problem. I don't recommend drinking the tap water for obvious reasons, but it seems like most people think the water there is poison and any contact with it will make you sick. As long as you're relatively healthy, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
As far as a survival kit, barring any natural disaster, you probably won't need much. Don't bring a whole arsenal of flashlights, if you need one while you're over there, just go and buy one for $3. Similarly, don't even bother to bring batteries, you'll find them in every shopping area for less than what you can buy it here. That pretty much goes for everything else, clothes, snacks, toiletries, knives, etc. Unless you absolutely can't live without a particular item, I wouldn't bother bringing it because you can always buy something over there for about 1/10 the price. Even in some of the smaller villages, you could go there with absolutely nothing but the clothes on your back, and not have a problem. Don't forget it's a country of more than a billion people, somehow they find a way to live.
If you want to know what to carry on a daily basis, I'd say a bottle of water (because it's hot over there and you'll always be thirsty), and if you plan on taking some short trips, carry some tissue. Most places will have western style toilets with tp, but just in case. Also a bandana if you tend to sweat a lot, and a leatherman tool if that makes you feel comfortable. Don't weigh yourself down with a 2 week survival pack, you'll just be lugging around a lot of extra weight for no reason.
The only other thing I would recommend is get used to the different culture. Get used to people cutting in front of you in line. Chinese people don't know the concept of waiting in line, everyone just crowds around and pushes their way to the front. They're not being rude, that's just their way. Get used to overpaying. No matter what you bargain too, the locals will pay less. But you'll still be getting things really cheap. When bargaining, always keep it friendly. They'll start out at some outrageous price, counter offer 1/10 - 1/4, depending on what you want to pay. They won't get offended, although they will try and act that way. Just like everywhere else in the world, you're a tourist and they're going to try and make as much money off you as they can. Don't walk away pissed just because they won't drop the price another $.25, either pay it or go to another vendor. And last, don't be surprised if people stare at you, or point, or just generally act rude. What may be considered impolite or rude in the US is just their normal way or living.
If you like flashlight or other hardware & gadget, etc., and like to explore a bit. One street you must go visit in Hong Kong. There is a district in "Kowloon" called "Sham Shui Po". There you ask for a street call "APLIU" street. You will find a lot of fun thing from rare surefire to cheap China made flashlight, and lot of rechargable battery and lot more with reason price. You may get there by subway (or we called MTR=mass transit railway). Get off at the "Sham Shui Po MTR station" at C1 or C2 exist. Check the website below with English Map, all sign in HK are bilingual (Chinese & English), you can't miss. You may bump into some of the famous HK Flashaholics on CPF such as Auroralite or AW there on weekend. Other famous shopping area include Mongkok (Kowloon), Causeway bay (HK lsland), etc. In HK, subway is the easiest way to get around in the city. http://www.ypmap.com/en/viewer.asp?m...ce=LocationMap http://www.vectormap.com/eng/english.htm http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/...ongkok_YMT.pdf (Mongkok Map)
I am sorry to disappoint you. I was trained as a microbiologist. I work with bacteria, virus, fungi all the time. So, I might know just a little bit more than common people here. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
InTheDark, that's really good post. I sometimes cringe/laugh at the things people recommend one should take or do for a trip to the tropics, for example. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
Be prepared for stuff to be different and act accordingly, after all that's what travelling to other places is all about.
you need to bring what ever makes you comfortable. when we went to china, circumstance dictated when the trip occurred (winter).
temps veried from tropical in HK to freezing on great wall of china up north. We followed the simple rule of not eating anything unless it was boiled/cooked or unpeeled.
water was not an issue due to plentiful bottled water and constant supply of boiled water on trains and hotels.
keep a constant watch out for scams. once we were stuck trying to get train tickets. a friend of one of our relatives came by and offered to secure tickets. but wanted the cash for tickets and all our passports.
I said not no but HELL NO! No way we were giving up our passports.
Pricing for foreigner are automatically doubled or more. We got held hostage for a cab-ride on a mini-bus for 10X regular fare. my sister arranged it, but failed to barter. when we found out about it and protested. driver threaten to call the police. they know any encounter with the law is on their side.
at a concession shop in the forbidden city, signs written in chinese gave two prices. one for locals and one for foreigners. written in chinese, foreigner would know no difference.
only reason I knew was, my sister reads and write chinese.