Ask Beijing Today is our weekly attempt to make life in China less confusing. Whether it’s tracking down the papers to apply for a Chinese green card, dealing with KTV-crazy neighbors or finding the best buy on saffron, we are happy to help.
Q. I am looking for somewhere to get a haircut for less than 70 yuan. I have been to the expensive places and they hardly seem worth it. But the really cheap places – 20 yuan and under – have been less than satisfying. Is there a “middle-of-the-road” option?
A. You can try salons that offer different prices for their haircut, for example, 38, 58, 78, 128 and 188 yuan. The difference is which stylist who will do the cut. The 38 yuan cuts are usually new apprentices. Pick something in the middle for an experience and affordable stylist.
Q. This may seem absurd as I’ve not arrived yet, but I wonder how far in advance should I book my tickets back out of China? I’m looking to visit Australia around Christmas time. I found reasonable flight last week, and this week, when I looked again, the price dropped nearly 10 percent.
A. Generally speaking, the earlier you book the cheaper. This is how the airline industry worldwide rolls so it applies to China as well. Keep in mind that the Chinese holidays can drive prices up by 50 percent. The website and app Momondo offers more options and better pricing for flights.
Q. I just got a job in Beijing and start next month. I am a little apprehensive about moving, as I don’t speak Chinese. If you could give me any information about Beijing it would really help me.
A. Don’t worry. You will meet plenty of English speakers in Beijing. It can be really tough at first to live alone in a foreign country, but it’s worth the challenge. The subway system is excellent outside the peak hours of 7–9:30 am and 6-8 pm on work days. The best way to get settled is to go to events around the city. You can get some ideas from the Beijinger, City Weekend and Internations.
Q. Do you have any suggestions on a taxi company that can arrange pick-ups in English? I am in an inconvenient location (near Ciyunsi Bridge) in a housing complex and I have to walk to Fourth Ring Road or Chaoyang Road to find a taxi. My leg is broke, which makes the walk a serious challenge. I’m hoping to find a taxi company that can pick me up closer to home.
A. Try downloading the Uber app. Prices are cheap, and most of its taxi drivers can speak a little English. You can also try to call 96103 for a taxi reservation or log onto www.96103.cn to make your booking online. The taxi company is called Jin Jian.
Q. Can you recommend a good beauty massage spot? Anything in Chaoyang District? It would be perfect if I could find something between Dongzhimen and Sunlitun.
A. Actually there are a lot of beauty massage spots near Dongzhimen and Sanlitun. The Liangzi flagship store by Tuanjiehu offers professional massage and fitness services with group rate price of 100 yuan. Puti, located across from the north gate of Gongti, has a quiet environment and pleasant incense. Massages that begin before 4 pm are priced 95 yuan.