Monday, July 21, 2014

FAQ: Part 2

Today I present to you the second half of the questions I am most frequently asked. Click here for part one.

Should I bother bringing appliances like my espresso machine, Kitchen Aid Mixer, and food processor?
The short answer: No.

For any of the large kitchen appliances, the transformer would be just as large or larger than the appliance itself. You’d be smarter to buy the items here (check Shanghai Craigslist for secondhand options) or you’ll find yourself adapting to life without it (though I still dream about my Kitchen Aid).

What about curling irons, straighteners, blow dryers?
Again, no. General rule of thumb is that if it heats up or has a motor, you are better off leaving it behind.

Can I drink the tap water?
China’s water sources are amongst the most polluted in the world. A World Bank study found that 13 of the 15 major cities (including Shanghai) in China are affected by severely polluted water.

The most common pollutants in Shanghai drinking water are high levels of chlorine, bacteria, lead and toxic heavy metals. According to PureLiving, Shanghai’s water authorities have publicly acknowledged that tap water potability is compromised largely by secondary contamination from old piping. So no, you should not be drinking the tap water in Shanghai.

Can I drink the water if I boil it?
Nope. When heavy metals are the main concern in your water, boiling it will only concentrate the metals. Boiling water works to kill bacteria, but does nothing for removing heavy metals.

So is the water safe in bathe in? Can I rinse my toothbrush?
Other than the water being a hit hard on your hair and skin, it is absolutely fine to bathe with. And yes, I do rinse my toothbrush with tap water in Shanghai. When traveling to other areas of China however, I err on the side of caution and rise with bottled water.

Where can I find books in English to read?
You can buy Kindle books to download here (though you may need to be on a VPN, I’ve never tried without). Also, does your current library allow you to take out ebooks online? I’ve saved a ton of money by simply “checking out” ebooks via my small, hometown library.

There are also some book stores that stock English titles such as Shanghai Foreign Language Bookstore (390 Fuzhou Lu) or Garden Books (325 Changle Lu). Additionally, there are a number of spots where you can pick up second hand books. I recommend Apleines Mains, a charity which operates a used book sale on Jiangsu Lu or the small Shanghai Book Traders Used Books shop at 36 Shanxi Nan Lu.

How do I watch my favorite American TV show?
You can watch almost any TV show you want here. You can buy cable/satellite packages but to be honest, your best bet is to visit your neighborhood DVD store. As soon as movies are released in theaters, they will have a copy in the store (no, it’s not exactly legal but it’s what everyone does). For many series, you can watch them online via Youku (it’s like Hulu for China). I wrote an entire post on watching TV that you can read here.

Is there a question that I missed? Anything else you are wondering about? Feel free to shoot me an email or leave a question in the comments. Perhaps I'll even cover your question in a part 3 in the future!

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