Where to Buy the Best Canned Tuna in China for Cheap

If you follow my blog, you know I love sushi. Sadly, I can’t eat it every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whenever I’m not eating raw fish, I’m stuffing my face with fish fillet, baked salmon and canned tuna! Yesterday I received a special delivery of 15 large cans of tuna for just 117 RMB ($18).

Don’t panic. I am not buying low quality tuna… I just spent several hours searching for the best deal online. Finally, I came across an online shop on Taobao that specializes in selling bulk supplies for Japanese restaurants. This means fresh fish that can be eaten raw right out of the box, kilos of tiny wasabi packages and *drum roll* canned tuna.

These 185 gram cans are filled with large, high quality pieces of tuna (not tuna shreds) in vegetable oil. For 39 RMB ($6) you get a package of five of these cans. Most canned tuna in China is only sold in foreign stores and prices can be as high as 38 RMB for just one generally 90 gram can. Any time I’ve bought cheap tuna, it was shredded and contained more oil than meat.

If you don’t believe me, just try it out for yourself. I’m almost 100% sure that this is the best, cheapest and most delicious canned tuna in China. This is not a sponsored post by the way, it’s just not fair to keep such deliciousness to myself! By the way… the shipping is free!

Here’s the magical link: https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a1z09.2.0.0.Cwaefv&id=537600224622&_u=c2qe98cc8dc8

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The Skyscanner Guide for Travel Addicts

Skyscanner has become one of the most popular websites for booking flights around the world. For the past five years, it has been my go-to whenever I’m planning (or just dreaming) of a new travel adventure. During this time I have learned a lot of great tricks and tips that I would love to share with you!

Skyscanner has become one of the most popular websites for booking flights around the world. For the past five years, it has been my go-to whenever I’m planning (or just dreaming) of a new travel adventure. During this time I have learned a lot of great tricks and tips that I would love to share with you!

I’m sure you’re sick of hearing how it’s cheaper to book flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. You can also get a VPN and pretend you’re in the location you are trying to get to (don’t forget to search prices in that currency). Then there’s that formula for getting the cheapest price by buying the ticket exactly six weeks before the trip. But that’s not always possible, so here are some useful tips.

If you’re looking to book on the spot, make sure you don’t start your search at 19:55. Every hour, airlines refresh their offers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the price will change, but it’s a pain to F5 your entire search. Despite knowing this, I always end up swearing and refreshing anyway… so try to be smarter than me.

Sometimes you have zero flexibility with when and where you need to go. If this happens far in advance, you should take advantage of Skyscanner’s notifications. All you need to do is search the day and place you want to go, and set an email alert for any price changes. This can easily be canceled at any point in time and it doesn’t let Skyscanner spam your email.

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Flexibility makes things a lot more interesting. If your dates are set but your destination is up in the air, you can just search “everywhere”. This will show you a list of countries/cities starting with the cheapest price. If your destination is set but you are looking for the cheapest time to go, you just need to select “cheapest month”. Best of all, you can select both “everywhere” AND “cheapest month”!

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There are easy and cheap ways to squeeze more out of your trip. For example, we knew we wanted to go to the Philippines for Chinese New Year 2018. Just to see what would happen, I searched a one-way flight from Manila to “everywhere” and found that it costs less than $100 to fly between Manila and Bali.

Most people would just search multi-city flights from Shanghai – Manila, Manila – Bali and then Bali – Manila. But that would be skipping a step! When you search multi-city, you can’t select “whole month” which lets you see the cheapest days to fly on. So open up Skyscanner in three tabs in your browser and search for each flight separately. Record the cheapest days to fly and input those into one multi-city search.*

*Disclaimer: this might still cost more than booking a three-in-one flighta. However, while you’re booking one flight, one of the other might sell out or change. There are just so many variables to consider based on what’s best for you.

Finally, there’s a magical inspiration map that Skyscanner keeps hidden away. I didn’t notice it until a few months ago. In the top right of the flight search is the word “map”. Click on it for your world to change. You can see for yourself below, but the map allows you to chose a departure city and departure month and it shows you the prices to fly to major destinations as well as lots of green and red dots.

Green shows direct flights while the red dots have layovers from your chosen departure city. Hover/click on any dot and you’ll get more information about the price and cheapest times to fly there. I don’t know about you, but I could spend an hour pretend trip planning on that inspiration map.

Why do you love Skyscanner? Share in the comments below!

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Booking Trips on Ctrip.com

While writing about the Dragon Boat Festival I found myself getting off topic by talking too much about Ctrip.com. If you’re going to live in China (or even if you’re just visiting), you should get familiar with Ctrip – the Skyscanner of China. You can download their app or just use their website that’s available in multiple languages including English.

As soon as you can you should sign up for an account to start collecting benefits. Any time you book a trip, you’ll get points towards accommodation, etc. What makes Ctrip truly great is that it’s not only for booking flights, train tickets or hotels. They also offer tours and information on things to do around China. Occasionally, they also offer great deals on packaged trips to nearby countries that include transportation and accommodation.

Things that are good to know about Ctrip:

  • If you’re searching for flights you always have the option of choosing multiple cities.
  • You can find hostels and hotels that aren’t even available on Western websites.
  • It remembers your passenger information which makes it easier to book flights. You can add up to several passengers to automatically input all of their info.
  • Flights from Shanghai to Beijing are generally cheaper than trains from Shanghai to Beijing.
  • You can’t book train tickets until 60 or sometimes 30 days before the trip. It will tell you the exact date and time that booking will become available. If it’s on a weekend or during a holiday, tickets will sell out fast… and I mean FAST.
  • Sometimes there are problems booking a flight on your phone. This can be solved by calling them and having them do the booking for you, which is time consuming but effective.
  • It’s very easy to cancel tickets and you get refunded immediately. Keep in mind that you don’t get the booking fee back.
  • Once or twice I saw better deals on Ctrip than on Skyscanner. Skyscanner does search Ctrip’s website, but if you’re flying within China you might as well search directly on Ctrip. However Skyscanner can be better if you’re flexible because by searching “everywhere”, “entire month” or “cheapest month” you can find the absolutely lowest price.

Ctrip is a truly great website that you should take advantage of. If you know any tips or hacks for using it, please share in the comment section below!

 

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Dragon Boat Festival in Shanghai

The Dragon Boat Festival is a popular Chinese tradition involving dragon-themed boats racing down the river. There are different types of boats that hold various amounts of rowers. Every team always one drummer who’s job it is to keep a steady rhythm for his team to row to.

Unless you plan weeks in advance, you won’t be able to snag train tickets to one of the popular places near Shanghai that go all out for the festival. Hangzhou is one of the top spots to celebrate the festival and it’s only about an hour away, costing around 100 RMB ($15.)

Ctrip.com only lets you buy tickets 60 or sometimes 30 days in advance. We set an alarm to the exact time that we could buy our ticket and the earliest ones were sold out within minutes – the return go even faster. Also keep in mind that Ctrip can have high booking fees, as high as 30 RMB per person ($5). Once you pay for it online, you still need to pick it up at the train station which requires the confirmation and a passport. We’ve gotten away with a digital photo of a passport twice, but you shouldn’t risk it.

Back to the dragon boat festival. We stayed in Shanghai and watched it from Zhongtan Lu. I’ve already experienced a dragon boat festival in Prague at a Rotary event and this wasn’t much different. It was pretty low key and there was a tiny stage on the other side of the bank where a few performers were performing simple dragon dances. It was cool, but I wasn’t especially impressed. But maybe I’m just spoiled!

The top places in China to see the dragon boat festival according to Wanna Travel are:

  • Yueyang International Dragon Boat Race: Miluo River Dragon Boat Race Center, Yueyang, Hunan.
  • Zigui Dragon Boat Racing: Xujiachong Bay, Zuigui Country, Yichang, Hubei
  • Miao People’s International Canoe Festival; Qingshui River, Guizhou
  • Hangzhou Xixi Dragon Boat Race: Xixi Wetland Park
  • Bamboo sea Dragon boat race in Anji

Just keep in mind that if ticket prices during this time are high – whether you are flying or taking the train. Plan your trip in advance to ensure a good place to stay. Finally, don’t forget to eat zongzi during the festival. Zongzi are those cute rice triangles wrapped (and cooked) in bamboo leaves. They are prepared differently around the country and they can be filled with sweet bean paste, savory meats, etc.

 

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Chinese Hair Salons: Cheap Haircuts, Pricey Hair Coloring

I’m the type of person who puts off getting a haircut in fear of a hairdresser butchering my hair. This fear is magnified in a country where I can’t communicate properly with the man holding the scissors – which is my fault, but that’s not the point. Getting a haircut in China involves repeatedly showing the same photo while everyone in the salon stares at you like you’re an alien.

Some unexpected facts about Chinese hair salons (at least those in Huaqiao):

  • 90% of the hairdressers are men! In fact, the closest salon to my house ONLY has male hairdressers and they are all great (and super stylish.)
  • Haircuts are insanely cheap, usually between 20 and 40 RMB (an average of $5).
  • Men and women pay the same fee for a haircut. My husband and I went in together, my knotted hair required three washes and 5x as more product and took four times as long as his trim. We each paid 30 RMB…
  • Many long-haired Chinese women get their hair washed at a hair salon. Our Chinese friend was shocked when I said I washed it myself. His wife goes for salon washes 2 or 3 times a week.
  • While haircuts are insanely cheap, hair coloring is extremely expensive in comparison and depends on the length of hair. So while a haircut will cost 30 RMB ($5), dyeing a full head of hair will cost around 1,000 RMB ($150). Luckily, you can do it yourself using quality products for around $10.
  • They don’t rush to sweep cut hair off the floor the way they do in the West. Expect to see piles of hair on the floor when you walk in.
  • There are as many salons around China as there are pubs in Prague!

If you hate getting your hair cut like I do, just know that you have nothing to worry about in China. As long as you explain exactly what you want, they will do exactly that. So far I’ve had better experiences here than in Prague where they always cut too much or Hawaii where they refused to cut as much as I asked them to.

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Celebrating One Year of Marriage in China

I remember waking up this time last year in a panic. Our wedding was going to be small & casual but my favorite white dress had a neon stain. I didn’t mind it until 5 hours before the ceremony, at which point I had no time to find a new one because my friend needed several hours to turn me into a blushing bride.

The groom was already assigned with picking up the mystery cake that he ordered and a bouquet of roses but I had to add one more major task to his list. I had recently done lots of dress shopping in H&M… so although I had never actually tried it on, I knew just the dress that would fit perfectly and would look great for the wedding (I hoped.)

Since describing a dress to a man would get me nowhere (especially when he can’t differentiate between the many different shades of white), I had to find the exact model number and send him a photo. He was absolutely terrified. As I went over to my friends house to get all dolled up, Isaac went dress shopping for the very first time.

It took hours but somehow, my friend performed a miracle on my face and hair. Nothing, not even a surge in Uber prices, could have dampened my spirit as we rushed to the municipal hall of Prague 6. We met up with my soon-to-be-husband at the nearby pub where we would cerebrate after the ceremony. Nervously, he handed me the dress he bought and I ran to the bathroom to try it on. It was perfect!

I felt like a million bucks in my $15 dress and that’s when it finally hit me that I was getting married. I may have felt differently if we hadn’t decided to get married just two months earlier. We were already engaged for four months but originally we had planned on getting married a year or two later. But when we made the spontaneous decision to move to China, everything had changed!

The ceremony was not what we expected. We thought we’d walk into a hall, sign a paper and be done with it. Since we’ll have a proper wedding with our families in a few years, we didn’t mind a quick unofficial wedding. As soon as we came in, they sat us down and had us pick out music and told us that we’d be walking down the aisle together. They took our rings, sat our guests down and instructed us to walk slowly as soon as the music started.

I wobbled down the aisle on jelly legs as our friends smiled at us. The minister was a friendly man with a twinkle in his eye and the ceremony itself was quick but sweet. The minister told us a moving anecdote that was translated accurately by the Czech to English and then went straight to business. I almost fell over from nerves when we said “yes” and then it was all laughs as we signed the paper’s to Maroon 5’s This Love.

Next it was time to celebrate at a pour-your-own-beer pub where we had our first dance on top of a table. It was definitely a non-traditional wedding. It only got better when the staff brought out the cake that Isaac had kept so secret. It was snail-themed because of our pet snails! We ate and laughed while Isaac showed us the emails he exchanged with the cake shop. They went something like…

Isaac: Hello, could you make a snail cake for our wedding?
Cake shop: Yes, we can make anything. Can you send us a photo?
Isaac: Here is a photo of our snail. *photo of our giant African land snail on top a mini skateboard*
Cake shop: Uhhhhh, we could make a cartoon version of a snail. Is that okay?
Isaac: Perfect! Please make it without a skateboard.
Cake shop: *facepalm*

It was a great day full of fun, laughter and enough beers to make it hard for a stumbling Isaac to carry me across the threshold. The guests were a great mix of people: one of my oldest childhood friends (who was dressed better than the jean-wearing groom), one of my best friends who I met in Middle School, Isaac’s adult students who we met up with every month, his best friend/metal festival buddy and our core group of friends who we spent practically every weekend with.

Last but not least, the person who made the wedding such a hit was my newest friend. I had only met two weeks before the wedding but it felt like we had known each other forever. She was also the one who dolled me up and took all the beautiful wedding photos! It was an amazing day that I will never forget <3

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How to Drink Delicious Western Alcohol Affordably

Needless to say, moving to China has been one huge culture shock after another. We’ve almost been here for a year now and it still happens sometime. One of the biggest shocks has been the lack of affordable yet tasty wine that was abundant in Prague.  Great Wall, Dynasty and Changyu are the popular cheap brands of Chinese red wine that are only great the first few times you drink them.

We also tried a bunch of Chinese rice wines and didn’t enjoy those either. Unfortunately, foreign imports are not quite affordable if you enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner every night. But even the expensive imports are hit and miss – some have been on the humid shelves for a while and taste sour or stale.

As always, I solved this problem the way I’ve solved all my others. By shopping on Taobao. You can buy quality imported foreign drinks for cheaper than you would abroad. Czech Becherovka, for example, is cheaper here than in Prague! Then there’s other drinks like Baileys, champagne, wine and beer are all unbelievably cheap online.

It gets even cheaper if you go for sets. For just 698 RMB you can get a fancy cocktail set including 11 bottles of liquor, some mixers, various glasses and mixing tools! If you don’t believe me, just take a look here. Wouldn’t this be a great purchase for a house party?

If liquor always makes you feel sicker, go for a more classic set of 12 bottles that include red wine, white wine and several different types of champagne. While this would cost hundreds in a super market, it only costs 309 RMB. When you buy these sets you need to keep an eye out on alcohol percentages, as they sometimes will try to scam you on those. This particular set only has one bottle of champagne under 10%; everything else is the standard 11-12%.

To find more liquor or wine sets, just Google translate “cocktail set” or “wine combinations” and search that. If this doesn’t work, then go to www.taobao.com and search a photo featuring several bottles. Another option is to add one of the items above to your cart and look through the suggestions based on it. I always fill up my cart with things I won’t be buying just for the recommendations that often lead to cheaper prices and more options!

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Electronics Market in Huaqiao

The famous Huaqiao electronics market is located just a few minutes walk from Zhaofeng Road metro station (line 11). You don’t even have to be a tech nerd to appreciate the hundreds of stalls selling everything from phones, laptops, cameras and all the individual bits and pieces required to build it all yourself.

Flashing neon signs and the typical chatter of bartering customers give the market a lively atmosphere. It’s a fun place to visit even if you’re just passing through, but it’s a great place to buy a phone or get your laptop fixed. Prices are low and the service is great. Unfortunately, no one at the market specializes in cleaning Mongolian sand out of my DSLR Nikon camera.

You can get to the electronics market by taking a bus: 100, 101 and 228 all go from the emart stop to the Zhaofeng transportation hub. You can also just take the metro a few stops. From there, you need to walk past KFC about two blocks until you get to a large building filled with all the electronic goodies that you can possibly imagine.

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