When I arrive in a new country, there are three things I immediately need:
- local currency, because taxi or transportation card usually requires cash
- prepaid SIM card with a data plan, because with google map (or equivalent) on my phone, I know exactly where I need to be
- transportation card, most cities has this, a prepaid special debit card that you can use on subway, sometimes taxi, as well as convenience stores
When I arrive in Pudong International Airport, I headed towards the Maglev train station because the information lady said they also sell the transportation card -- Shanghai public transportation card (上海公共交通卡). The citibank ATM is also there. (For American with an American bank like Bank of America, the citibank ATM works well for withdrawing local currencies). The Maglev train station ticket office has two sides. The main side is on the left as you heads towards it, and there is a smaller office on the right. The ATM is near the right side. However they only sell the transportation card on the main side. So I walked back and forth to get the two things done.
I ran out of time so I ended up getting a China Unicom SIM card from a local shop in the pacific digital mall. Chinese SIM card is a pain in the neck in that they require you to register your name within 72 hours of using data on the card. I could not figure out how to do this online so I found a local China Unicom store and they did it for me. I gave them my travel document, and they happily made up an address since I am only staying at a hotel short term.
The Maglev train ride was something. Once started, it went all the way up to 430 km/hour. But soon after it decelerate back to zero because the distance was not that far (when you are traveling at that speed).
Once arrived at the end of the ride, I decided to just catch a taxi to the hotel instead of switching subway line. My bag was too heavy and taxi in Shanghai actually is pretty cheap (for a major city). Once I got into the cab, the driver wants to talk me into going off meter! I told him since I have no cash, and only the Jiao Tong card, there is no point. He was disappointed but afterwards he was fine. We chatted about Hong Kong vs Korean vs China TV drama shows. We both agree that one of the best way to pick up a local language is to watch local TV!