Re: From what I've been told at university...
McDonalds, KFC, Hanting Inn hotel, and plastic kit models definitely are the same price as in the USA. If you build kit models, go to a model hobby shop in People's Square station in Shanghai. Ship models are NOT cheap there. The "Trumpeter"-made models, especially of modern naval destroyers, cost around USD $30+, some around $60, and IIUC, that is to prevent mass-hoarding and resales outside of China by non-authorized distributors.
Western-style hotels I used, which I actually like MORE than USA-style hotels, have ample electrical outlets, easy-access toilets, glass-walled showers, free-standing wash bowls, remote control of TV as well as the AC unit, and credit-card-style room access. Roughly USD $35-45 per night short stay.
McDonalds was roughly the same price. In fact, McDonalds in SF is criminally more expensive than McDs in Korea. All over SF: Chicken Sandwich with fries, and substituting a milk shake instead of having the soda will generously set one back about $9.17. In Korea, a Shanghai Spice Chicken Sandwich set, having milk shake vic soda is only KRW 5,300. IIRC, in Shanghai, it was roughly Y15-21, depending on size and substitutions.
Thai food in Shanghai was also high, as well as Japanese food. In Shanghai, if you go there, check out Pepper Lunch. Only one in Shanghi, and if your stomach disagrees with the local cuisine, eat at Pepper Lunch, if your pay permits. I ate there 6 or 7 times in under 5 days, and had not one problem. MSG sprinkled liberally over food by street vendors and fixed-shop restaurants wrough havoc on my bowel tract. Pepper Lunch was far to go to, but was well worth itj -- even though I had to ride 20 minutes and walk 10 more to get to it. I understand Pepper Lunch imports all its ingredients. The Japanese Curry place (CoCo?) did not taste nearly as appealing as it would in Japan. Might have been store-specific, but for what I paid, I felt underwhelmed.
As a foreigner, you will find that even Starbucks or McDs, offering "free" wifi will demand your mobile number at the very least. So, even if you think you are MrMs cute-ass and will VPN out, think again. Your phone -- if not set up by some clandestine broker or facilitator -- will be tied to your passport, work visa, or something that will zero in on YOU.
If you bank foreign, be SURE to get one of those RNG devices from your banke BEFORE landing in China. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES use an open router if you value your privacy. Some death-worthy asshole injected him/herself between me and my friend in Korea in the middle of our Google chat. I for once in my life actually wanted to commit full-on murder. It was a surreal feeling. But, i had to accept that *I* chose to use the unsecure router because I *needed* to log in to some certain social site. Turns out that each passing day without fb was a damned blessing, and allowed me to achieve more without that fracking time vampire sucking away hours of my day.
The trains in Shanghai are awesome. Well, most of them. One line is particularly rail-car noisey, but most are newish. They have gasoline and bomb/incendiary detectors because some mental job took gasoline onto a bus and ignited it, reducing the transit bus to a twisted hulking shell. Do NOT be like one of the several local twit assholes who condescended the scanner operators -- that ass scoffed and refused to put his bag onto the scanner. ALL rail stations have them, display signs in multiple languages asking compliance, and the workers are non-intrusive. Or, they are bored, but, they tend to let travelers bring through all sorts of "stufff". I am surprised the USA and ROK do not employ these scanners. Wait.... They might -- the just might be embedded backscatter-types not disclosed to the public, in sensitive stations. WOULD create more jobs for DHLS and the scanner makers, though. Only requires the government staging a few bus-burnings by a "forgotten" cannister, but where SWAT in a "timely" manner uses a "tip" to clear the buses just before a SWAT-triggered or DHLS-triggered ignition. So long as no on dies, it would be a pretty nifty trick. Burn a half-mil bus to the ground a few times and in 4 months cause contracts that circulate a ffew billions of dollars in jobs and manufacturing. But, I die...Ummm, digress.
If you get the runs or have a weak bladder and mustt use the subways, then know that in Shanghai, you need not worry. Sanely, and heart-warmingly, the subways have on-platform toilets. Not necessarily 100% clean, but at leastt it is not something stupid like in SF where you must go up 2 or 3 levels from the platform just to get to the toilet level. IF the station is underground, then the toilet is either outside the paid area, locked, or both, "locked due to heightened security concerns" bullshit of an excuse. If China, with far more domestic terrrorists than the USA can allow u/g toilets in 2 to 3 locations, on platform, in almost every station, then BART/MUNI excuses are either outright lies, or are meant to reduce use of unionized cleaning crews. At LEAST Japan, South Korea, and PRC employ the elderly to sweep, mop, de-litter, and change overhead lighting. (Was impressive in Seoul to see 55+yo Ajummas not only changing lights and cleaning ventilation grilles in the overheads, they also pushed the damned rolling platforms, too.
What amount "half" is to someone's pay check determines how that "one" alters his or her spending habits.
If you sweat a lot, take with you at LEAST one stick per month of your favorite anti-perspirant or deodorant. In Shg, a stick is about US $11 -- and the only place i found it was in that ritzy, pricey, underground mall near Century Plaza. Be careful, though, as Customs might wonder whether you are trying to sell some illegally. But, Ii think that any government that restricts a sweat-maker to one stick per 3 months is insane. Duties on deodorant, used only by foreigners, pushing the price to $12 a stick, a stick that seems intentionally formulated by western companies to run down 2x as fast as the doomestic stick, is outlandish.
If you have to accept a pay cut, then import as household goods (or, demand tthat your prospective employer clears through customs your household or hygiene goods that you SHOULD REFUSE to pay duties on) as essential items and get them exempted from limitations as long as you can demonstrate them. Avoid toothpates having xyletol, or other sugar substitutes in them. You might get the runs if you swallow the stuff. But, at least getting the critical hygienic stuff in means you will save loads of money.
Smog was not terrible in Shg to the point of irritating me. Nights were interesting, as it appears to me that buildings are excessively mulit-color strip illuminated to compensate for the gray/terraforming-dome-like canopy of haze at night. By day, especially with rains, the skies were stunningly clear and it was possible to see more than 4 or 5 miles from 20-30-storeys vantage points.