Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to: Use Didi Dache

Kristin December 2013: I hate taxi apps. They are ruining my life.

Kristin September 2014: I looooove taxi apps. They are the best thing ever.

Yes, that's right. I'm totally switched sides and am now addicted to using Didi Dache to get around Shanghai. I'd be hanging my head in shame if it weren't for the fact that I'm sniping taxi cabs off the street on a regular basis now.

The main reason I resisted the taxi apps for so long was because my ability to read Chinese characters is pitiful. However, Didi Dache is fairly straight forward and easy to use. You must be able to speak basic Chinese to use the app. Fair warning.

You can use Didi Dache to book taxis in advance or as needed. This tutorial will simply cover booking a taxi for immediate use.

Step 1: Download the app from the app store (available for both Android and iPhones)

You'll need to search for it using the Chinese name so either change your phone's language to Chinese or simply copy and paste the Chinese name (滴滴打车) into your search box.

Step 2: Register your phone

After you download the app, you'll need to sign up for an account. This simply means inputting your phone number the first time you open the app. If it doesn't automatically ask when you open the app, click on the person icon in top left corner.


After you enter your phone number, press the button immediately to the right of your number. Within seconds, you'll receive a text with a confirmation number in it. Enter the confirmation number as shown below and then press the button marked 开始 (Begin).


Step 3: Call a taxi

Yes, you are all ready to call your first taxi! The home screen will display a map showing your location (the blue dot) and the location of taxis in the area around you using the same app (the little taxi icons). Your address is technically listed in the middle, after the characters 我在, meaning "I'm at...". However, you can ignore this and state in your message where you are located. Make sure you know your current location as well as where you want to go. And yes, you must say it all in Chinese.


Press and hold the orange button with the microphone icon on it, located at the bottom on your screen.


The screen above will pop up, recording your voice. This is where you need to state your location (example: Wǒ zài Huaihai Zhong Lu Sinan Lu) and where you want to go (example: Wǒ yào qù Yueyang Lu Dongping Lu Lùkǒu).

When you are finished, release the microphone button. You will be brought to the following screen. If you press on the blue dot, you can listen to the message you recorded. If happy with it, press the orange button on the bottom on your screen. If you want to record again, press the < button in the top left corner. At this stage, you can also decide to leave a tip if you would like by pressing the ¥ icon. I usually do not.


Step 4: Wait

You screen will display how long you have been waiting in addition to the number of taxis that have received your message. If your wait time is long, you have the option of adding a tip again.


Step 5: Confirmation!

Fairly quickly, you should get a response from a driver. The following screen will pop up, showing you the license plate of the cab, the driver's rating, and a phone icon if you would like to call your driver. 


Step 6: Jump in your cab

Make sure you are in the location you specified to the driver. You can view the location of your driver on the screen and should look for the license plate number on the car. Your cab driver may call you so keep your phone out. Generally they just want to confirm your location. 

Step 7: Enjoy your ride

Technically, you can pay for your fare using Didi Dache but that gets more technical than most people want. When you ride ends, simply pay as usual. If you feel like it, leave your driver a review.


While it might seem complicated at first, using Didi Dache is quite simple. Try out my steps above and let me know if you have an easier time catching taxis in Shanghai.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Grasslands Extreme Marathon

The first weekend in July, fresh off a trip to the US, we boarded a plane with some friends for the Grasslands Extreme Marathon in Xiwuqi, Inner Mongolia.


Getting there was a bit of an adventure, so I'll save that for another post. But the half marathon itself? Well, that was also rough.

I should start by saying that Inner Mongolia is simply stunning. We left Shanghai among some intense pollution and grey skies. Inner Mongolia had none of that. Blue skies, fresh air, and rolling hills. Yes, I said hills.


Simply put, this was not my race. Having trained on the flat roads of Shanghai, I was challenged by the constant change in elevation. Additionally, it was hot. I don't do hot well. Previous years had seen more moderate temperatures, but the day of our run was quite steamy. This course isn't one for personal records, and I certainly did not set one that day.


But the scenery was beautiful. At numerous points along the route, we were greeted by sheep, cows, and horses, all seemingly immune to the race taking place around them. 


For someone who usually runs in the city, seeing endless green in front of me was a nice change. However, it also meant limited water stops and non existent bathroom facilities. For most of the race, the only spectators were the previously mentioned cattle.


Despite a less than ideal personal time, I enjoyed the Grassland Marathon. Would I do it again? Probably not, but it was a nice way to see an area of China that I otherwise might have missed.


Interested in taking part in the grasslands marathon? Registration is already open for the 2015 race.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Shanghai Supper Club

Last Saturday, Matthew and I were thrilled to be a part of August's Shanghai Supper Club.

Tonight's special #shsupperclub #shanghaieats #fields

What exactly is SSC? You can think of it as an underground foodie group that meets monthly around the city, each time boasting a new location, chef, and group of people. Founder Camden Hague started the club last fall and previous events have brought together graffiti and Mexican food as well as burgers and a skate park. For each dinner, Camden invites ten different people, each of whom brings one guest. The result is an eclectic mix from Shanghai's expat scene. Our dinner included well known faces from the F&B scene, teachers, and an adorable engineer (that would be my husband).

Shanghai Supper Club #shsupperclub #midsummernightsgreen

This month's event was held in a beautiful lane house, owned by Shanghai native and chef Anthony Zhao. The intimate setting had us laughing with other guests like old friends in no time and left me with some serious kitchen envy.

photo courtesy of Fields

Fields, an online grocery store, sponsored the evening. Looking to highlight their fresh produce, Fields partnered with chef Kimberly Ashton of Sprout Lifestyle to create a healthy vegan meal that left even the meat eaters at our table satisfied. Though I did miss the alcohol (Kimberly opted not to have any served in order to keep in line with her principles for healthy living).

Ending on a high note #shanghaieats #shsupperclub #midsummernightsgreen #parfait

While the food was good (not surprisingly, my favorite dish was dessert), the company was even better. We heard fascinating tales, met unique individuals, and even received a hot tip on where to buy the best coffee smoothie.

Want to join an upcoming Shanghai Supper Club? Fill out your information here and cross your fingers that Camden invites you to her next even in September.
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