The weather is warming up, and it’s now beautiful in Shanghai. Kyle and I were walking to Sunny Donuts when I noticed this statue is of a guy named Tien. Hmm, famous relative of ours???
And the DongHu hotel’s outside fountain looked particularly good today…
Love this picture, taken off Nanjing Lu, center of Shanghai. Explain to me how this is Good Housekeeping? It’s MY idea of good housekeeping to have a roomful of beautiful women all dressed up but I don’t think I’m the target market.
Now that I have my driver’s license, I’m ready to embark on my next China Process enlightenment. Thank god I have friends who have already done the process and can give me references.
We were renting a pretty new Buick GL8 with driver for 12,000 RMB/month. We negotiated it as all-inclusive so we didn’t pay gas or tolls. It’s a bit more expensive than owning, considering that the resale value of cars are quite good right now in China, but I would’ve probably continued renting for the convenience, but the driver was getting on our nerves.
So I went to the recommended sales consultant at the Buick dealership, and she explained the process in Chinese.
Getting the License Plate
Shanghai has an auction for license plates, ostensibly to limit the number of cars on the road, but many people skirt this by buying much cheaper license plates from other regions. The primary benefit of the SH license plate is that you can drive on the highways during rush hour, but supposedly the ticket for not having the right plates is not that much, maybe 200 RMB, so you can get a lot of tickets before it justifies the cost of the SH plate. However, that doesn’t factor in the inconvenience of being pulled over.
Shanghai is revamping the process because the price was getting too high, almost 50,000 RMB. In January and February 2008, supposedly 40,000 people tried to bid for a license, but only 20,000 got thru the internet or phone. It’s a 2 stage bidding process in the monthly auction. In the first half hour time slot, you put in your bid. In the 2nd half hour slot, they show the lowest bid that still got one of the fixed number of license plates available. In Feb, there were 16,000 available plates, and the lowest bid for #16,000 was 8000 RMB. Then, IF you can get in the internet or phone, you can change your bid to plus or minus 300 RMB from 8000. However, since the access is quite bottlenecked, is very possible you’re stuck with your first bid.
To bid, you have to know when the auction is taking place. A week before the auction, you have to go to the office in XinZhuang to register. You need 2000 RMB cash, passport, visa, temporary residence and some ID showing your Chinese name, like your drivers license.
If you are successful in your bid, then you have a week to make your payments. You take the piece of paper back to your dealership to have them get you the actual plates, which of course needs your passport for 2 business days to complete.
Buying the Car
Once you’ve registered for the license plate auction, you can go to your dealership to make the deposit of 5000 RMB and sign the contract.
Once you’ve successfully bid, you can go into the dealership to inspect the car and pay the remainder.
Once you’ve gotten the license plate paperwork, you bring it to the dealer to get the plates. They’ll do the upgrades at the same time.
2008 Buick GL8
I followed the instructions below to get my drivers license in Shanghai. It’s like a wild goose chase just to get the test date scheduled. I go in today to take it. I’ve scanned the test guide.
[Update] Yay, I passed the test. The hardest part is getting to the station. Takes forever with all the traffic. My appointment was at 2:50 and I left at 2 thinking the roads would be pretty clear at that time of day, but it still took 40 minutes. I took the metro because the station is right around the corner from the traffic regulations office and I couldn’t find a cab, but that took over an hour, including the long walk home from the line #1 station - but the weather here is finally warming up so it was a pleasant walk and I was inordinately proud of myself for completing this seemingly simple task.
So the test is on a computer but they do jumble up the order of the questions so you can’t just memorize the answers in order. I seemed to think they may have even jumbled the order of the answers within a question but maybe not. Once you past 90 correct answers, the test stops. You then go downstairs to pay your 55RMB for the license, go back up and wait like at a bank teller, and then - voila - you get your very own Chinese drivers license.
The translation of the test guide has some funny stuff in it like “zebra crossing” for “pedestrian crosswalk.” I thought it was the translator making a joke at first. #15c is hilarious:
15. Before driving motor vehicles, drivers….
a. may drink a little alcoholic drinks
b. must not drink alcoholic drinks
c. are only allowed to drink beer
Most of the test answers are expressly not followed by 90% of the drivers on the road. In fact, I can see many of the test takers being confused by what seem very legit answers like “drivers may smoke when tired” and “a running vehicle should speed up, not letting the vehicle behind to overtake, when it finds another vehicle behind it signaling to overtake.”
1 set of instructions fowarded to me by my friends:
Services in China are ridiculously affordable. In other words, labor is cheap. We pay our ayi (nanny, maid, cook all in one) double the going rate, and it’s still a great deal, at least half to a quarter of US costs. We get massages all the time, not just because we invested in Diva Life. And haircuts include a long massage and hairwash. Here’s Kyle at our favorite hair salon:
Taxi rides start at 11 RMB. I still think that’s only slightly more than a dollar, but with the dollar is devaluing so quickly, it’s $1.50 now. Rides in town center only add a few “kuai” to the bill, so we never worry about bar hopping or visiting friends after we’ve sent our driver home - yes, we have a driver, but it’s really like leasing a car and the driver comes with it. The great side benefit of cabs is that you can drink and not drive.
Also, there’s no tipping, except included service charges at hotels and fine restaurants. It’s galling to go back to the US and have to add another 15% onto restaurant bill. If you try to tip here, half the time they want to give it back to you. There’s one time when a waiter ran after our party for a block to give the tip back.
Yes we feel spoiled and pampered here. But it makes up for all the annoyances of living in China, well-documented in the government’s attempt to teach the whole country manners before the Olympics.