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. Can you recommend some good Chinese hip-hop artists? I’ve heard about Mc Hotdog, Jay Chou and Maji, but are there any others, underground or mainstream, worth listening to? I’m more curious about underground artists since they’re more likely to have the raw, gritty stuff that I’m looking for. Just finished listening to Dr Dre’s new album – is there a Chinese equivalent?!
A. Of course there are some good Chinese hip-hop singers, especially those in indie bands. We recommend Jiaojin, one of the most popular Beijing-style hip-hop groups founded by locals. Beijing Today has published an article on them. You can listen to them on Douban.
Q. As an experienced foreign driver (American) in Beijing, is it likely to find many driving service opportunities, specifically catering to other English-speaking foreigners in the area?
A. It’s been quite common in China that high-ranking executives hire full-time drivers. Since you are looking for an English-speaking boss, we suggest you go to LinkedIn China, a professional networking platform where most users speak fluent English.
Q. How can I exchange a somewhat significant sum of RMB within the next week? What are the possibilities of this happening? If so, will I be required to place an order in advance? Also, where can I get a good rate?
A. If you want to exchange more than the equivalent of $10,000, you should tell the bank in advance, especially if you’re in a smaller city. To set up a bank account, you’ll need a passport with a residence permit and another document such as a Foreign Expert Certificate.
Q. I plan to travel and need to find a decent place to stay. However, I’m traveling with family, so shabby hostels are out of the question. Are there any good apps or websites for renting an apartment for a short-term stay?
A. For larger cities, try AirBnb. They have quite a few listings for larger Chinese cities. Other websites like couchsurfing.com and ganji.com are also worth a try.
Q: I would like to take both tennis and climbing classes. Any recommendations for facilities in the Chaoyang district (Dongzhimen)?
A: For climbing/bouldering classes, you can check out oleclimbing.com. We know someone who has had a good experience with them.