A friend of mine recently got an email that went something like this: “Hi [friend’s name redacted], I’m coming to visit Shanghai in a few months and was put in contact with you by [redacted], as you’ve lived there a while! I’ve never traveled to Asia before – I’m quite excited, but also a little scared, so I’m asking for your advice. What are the essentials to put in my little backpack? Do I need water purification pills? Do you have any translation guides you recommend so that I can communicate with the locals? Are there any options for Western food – I like Chinese, but am afraid I’ll get a little sick of it by the end of my stay. Do I need to bring toilet paper?”
After we wiped our tears from cry-laughing, I advised that she give him this guide, organized by the folks at the British International School of Shanghai. Sure, we could have also recommended he google Shanghai, maybe… or read a Lonely Planet, but I feel this book has a few plusses even on our ol’ reliable LP:
- It’s online and you can download all 208 pages of it onto your computer from where ever you happen to be
- It’s got a crap ton of drop dead gorgeous photos from around Shanghai, you know, to convince people there are skyscrapers and stuff here.
- It goes into detail about things like visas & documents you need, tips for getting oriented, and – of course, considering the source – how to get your kids edumacated.
- It’s FREE.
So if you happen to have amazingly clueless pals of pals coming over here, I recommend you throw this at them too. You can see a pretty Flash-based preview here