China Travel Notes, Part 1

I was so unprepared in so many ways for this trip. I can’t believe the things I forgot, or, perhaps said better, I can’t believe all the things that I take for granted.

* First, coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. Next time I will travel with some good instant coffee. The Nescafe packets in my room here at the Salt Lake Hotel in Geermu/Golmud aren’t terrible, but at 5 RMB a piece, they are a little expensive. (Nothing compared to the 50 RMB I ended up paying for “fresh ground” but very weak coffee in Beijing.)
* Second, an Airport Express or similar portable wireless router that can work off a wired Ethernet connection. (Or a USB Ethernet dongle for my computer, but a router would let me work through multiple devices.)
* To go with that router, especially in China, a good VPN service. Without it, you are sort of at the mercy of what the great firewall will let through. So, GMail’s web interface is working, for now, but I can’t connect to the iCloud server either from the web or through Mail.
* Cash. I am so used to using my credit card for almost anything that I left the house, and the country, with only $100 in my pocket for a two week trip? Stupid stupid stupid.
* Along those lines, make sure I bring a credit card with a working ATM network setup on it. The card I brought has no networks listed on the back, and, even worse, I don’t appear to have a PIN for it. No cash for me. Cash is still the dominant form of monetary exchange in China, as it is many other places. I am out of the loop for the time being.

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