How to Spend the Mid-Autumn Festival

You might already know that China is preparing for a celebration, given the National Holiday taking place on Friday, September 13th. What is this celebration about, what are the customs surrounding it, but also what to do during this long week-end? Let’s find out.

ASI Movers has been helping expats in their relocation projects from, to and within China for more than 10 years. It’s international, strong of a renown expertise in moving and accompanying individuals and families. From origin to your final destination, we handle your move with care to ensure your peace of mind, and let you enjoy your new home and its customs freely!

What Is the Mid-Autumn Festival About?

  • Names: Mid-Autumn Festival, Moon Festival, East Asian Harvest Festival
  • What to say: 中秋节快乐!"zhongqiujie kuaile’" (Happy Mid-Autumn Festival)
  • When: 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar
  • Where: China, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia with other look-alike festivals in Korea or Japan.

In the ancient times (it started around 1046 BC), people noticed the correlation between the movements of the moon and the change of seasons, which is linked to the agricultural production, and thus started to express their thanks to the moon.  At the beginning, it was more of a royal class’ celebration during the Autumn equinox. Then it reached the common people, merged with the moon sacrifice ceremony, and the date moved to 15th day of 8th month of the Lunar Calendar.

The Moon Festival is also related to a very famous Chinese legend, the one of Chang’E flying to the moon. Her husband, an archer, shot down 9 of the 10 suns which were causing great damage to hearth and to the people. To reward him, he received an elixir of immortality. He accepted the gift but refused to take it as to stay with his wife. One day, a robber tried to still the elixir. To prevent him from drinking it, Chang’E drank it. She became immortal and flew to heaven, choosing the moon as residence as to stay near her husband. Saddened, her husband displaced food she liked outside and gave sacrifice to her.

What Do People Traditionally Do?

Gather With Friends and Families

Traditionally, people visit their family and friends during the festival. The moon itself, with its round shape, is a symbol of reunion and being together. It comes with bringing gifts to the loved ones, especially moon cakes, which we present you just after.

People used to cook and dine at home. Nowadays, it is more about going out in a nice restaurant. If you are planning on eating outside this week-end, better book in advance!

Eat Moon Cakes

What is more normal than to eat moon cakes during the Moon Festival? You have probably already seen this small round cake decorated with elegant drawings. Moon cakes are made from wheat or rice flour and sugar, and come with different fillings, notably red-bean and lotus paste.

Before, the family members use to make them together, nowadays you can find them in every store, making this tradition disappear.

Lanterns

Traditionally, people were making and decorating lanterns, especially with riddles that one could have fun solving. Nowadays, you will probably see lanterns in parks, or floating on rivers.

Offerings

The custom is to put a table outside of the house with offerings for the moon (fruit, incense and candlesticks). It faded away, however you might be able to see it in some old towns or touristy places, yet it is not really genuine and more of a tourist attraction.

What Activities Can You Do?

As for every Chinese holiday, people are going home and thus the trains, planes and buses are quite crowded. If you feel like resting home, that is thus a very valid option to avoid the crowd.

If you have children, you might consider decorating lanterns with them. They come in all forms and shapes, some of them resemble animals or flowers. Traditionally, children will write good wishes on them, but you can get creative!

Recently, people are more and more keen to go traveling nearby home. Consider short trips to a nearby town or village you never had the occasion to go to. However, tickets are likely to be sold out very quickly. If you live in Shanghai, you can explore one of the nearby water towns such as Suzhou or Hangzhou, or even the more rural Tongli. You might also want to escape the city and enjoy the nature at Moganshan, or even choose a more atypical scenery and book a ticket to the abandoned fishermen village of the Shengsi Islands.

Not too keen to leave the city? Consider doing some shopping. As often during any holiday, malls display discounts. It’s also the end of the Summer Season, so you will probably find good deals for Summer clothes, which comes handy while the weather is still quite warm.

You can also comply with the Chinese tradition and gather with friends for dinner or lunch, a great occasion to take time to enjoy your loved ones!

ASI Movers wishes you a happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

What To Do in Shanghai in September

September is here! Whether you just arrived in Shanghai for the first time, are returning from well-deserved vacations outside the country, or are prolonging a Summer at the office, it is time to take advantage of the many activities as to offer. With the new scholar year, come new habits but also the will to avoid the “back-to-school” blues.

That is the reason why ASI Movers has decided to recommend you 4 events for you to make the month of September the most enjoyable possible! And there is one for every taste!

At ASI Movers, we have been helping expats move to Shanghai for more than 10 years and also know how difficult it can be to get familiar with a city, understand its atmosphere and get involved in its cultural life. We hope that these recommendations will make it easier for you!

For Families:

(Même) Pas Peur

Looking to a fun activity to start the scholar year with your children? There is the perfect event for you and your family!

(Même) Pas Peur is film-concert centered around the story of a not that scary wolf going through a lot of adventures. Funny and friendly, this spectacle will certainly seduce you as well!

The movie is thus accompanied by instrumentals from musicians Anne-Laura Bourget and Ollivier Leroy. Made with percussions from around the world, unusual instruments, keyboards (Indian harmonium, toy, piano), diverted objects and vocals; the music will provide you and your child with a unique experience.

September 7th

10:30am and 3:30pm

1862 Theatre, 1777 Binjiang Dadao, Rizhao Road.

Nb: the performance is in French with Chinese subtitles.

For Jazz Lovers:

JZ Festival

Eager to enjoy experiment a jazzy vibe in Shanghai? Then you should head to the JZ festival, which indeed is China biggest jazz and blues festival, one of Asia’s most famous, and which is also celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

This year, it brings to you artists such as Lalah Hathaway, Jacob Collier, The Heart Wind & Fire Experience Featuring the Al McKay Allstars, Marcus Miller, Jaga Jazzist, Tia Ray, Cui Jian, Li Quan, the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertbouw Amsterdam, Viento Terral with Andy Hunter. All in all, 75 musicians and bands will be performing over the course for the festival.

The music will cover a lot of styles, ranging from jazz, blues, funk, latin, fusion, r&b to hip-hop.

September 13th-15th

Shanghai Maxus Datong Music Valley

177 Sendi South Road, Shanghai

For Sportspeople & Fashion Aficionados

Fashion RunRunRun

“Fashion x Sport”, pretty self-explanatory! If you are the kind of person who would run a marathon all dressed up in your coolest outfit, then this event is definitely for you! Even if you are not, you should definitely have a look at this unique show!

Two separate runs will be held: the Fashion Run and the Family Run. Consider bringing your friends and/or family along with you!

September 14th-15th  

Fashion Run:

Sep 14th & 15th, 1pm-6pm, RMB200 for one adult.

 

Family Run:    Sep 14th & 15th, 10am-1pm, RMB300 for one adult and one kid, RMB 500 for two adults and one kid.

 

Fashion Run Package:

Sep 14th & 15th: 1pm-6pm, RMB900 for five adults, RMB1,600 for ten adults.

Jing’An Kerry Centre, 1515 Nanjing Xi Lu, by Changle Lu, Shanghai.

For Exhibitions Addicts

International Photography Fair

For the sixth year, PHOTOFAIRS comes back to Shanghai. This is a unique exhibition in China, since it is the only international art fair dedicated to photography in the country. It has become a driver of Chinese photography market. During three days, you can have a look at the work of famous artists such as Marina Abramovic, Yang Fudong, Vivan Maier and Robert Mapplethorpe.

September 20th-22nd

Standard tickets: RMB98 before September 18th, RMB125 after September 18th

VIP tickets: RMB580 before September 18th, RMB620 after September 18th

Shanghai Exhibition Center, 1000 Yan’an Zhong Lu, by Shaanxi Lu

How to Send Your Money Overseas If You Live in China?

As an expat working in Shanghai, you might consider sending money to your family abroad. Sending the money out of the country might be challenging. ASI Movers compiled advices and tips that might be useful to you during the process.

Through Your Bank:

When it comes to money transactions, China is very strict! Using Alipay, Paypal or even sending a Chinese bank card overseas and withdrawing from a foreign country are all considered ILLEGAL!
China has a suitable system if you are willing to send money abroad. You basically need to show that you earned your money in a legal way, and you have paid tax on it.
On your way to the bank, you need to bring your work contract and the yearly income tax statement (you can get this document from the HR or finance department of the company you’re working at). Additionally you will need your passport with a valid Chinese visa (your visa must not expire soon) otherwise the bank will refuse to carry out any kind of transaction. Moreover, you need to provide the bank with the foreign account details: such as the account holder number, name, address, telephone number, the bank Swift and the bank phone number.

the bank teller will certainly be thorough and will reject your application if even one document is missing,so be diligent and make sure you go in prepared!

Once you make sure your taxes are paid and you have all the documents mentioned above, you are good to go, you can send up to 50,000 USD annually, and the limit can vary from bank to bank, so make sure to do some research first.

Note: you might spend a considerable amount of time at the bank, patience is the key!

Taking the cash on a plane:

One other way to send your cash outside China, would be through airplanes, yet the rules are clear, for Chinese and non Chinese citizens the maximum amount that could be carried is 5000 USD.

For more than 10 years, ASI Movers has been accompanying expats and helping them with their relocation from, to and within China. We are aware of the struggles expats might face when moving in or out of China and are dedicated to providing you with the most accurate information regarding your life in the Middle Kingdom, as for your international journey to be the smoothest possible!

Healthcare for Expats in Shanghai:Everything you Need to Know!

Planning to move to Shanghai soon, alone or with your family? You want to know more about the healthcare system in China? ASI Movers delivers you a full guide to facilitate your journey!

About the Insurance

First thing first, before looking for hospitals, you need to fully understand your insurance policy and see what it covers. Keep in mind that, you cannot use a simplified travel insurance once you become a resident. You will have to consider additional fees for certain services (e.g : maternity, mental health, orthodontics..). Generally the cost per person can range between 5 500 RMB and 20 000 RMB annually, the out-patient coverage will be everything else and makes up the majority of insurance claims.

ASI Movers would advise you to consult an insurance provider and choose the package that suits you the most!

Which hospital to choose in Shanghai?

Now what happens if you are sick or need to consult a specialist for any other reasons? ASI Movers has decided to provide a handful guide regarding hospitality facilities foreigner-friendly in Shanghai.

This cosmopolitan city has a wide range of hospitals & clinics to offer. Main options consist in International Hospitals, Local Hospitals and VIP Clinics.

International hospitals

Shanghai United family hospital

  • The price ranges between 1500 RMB and 2000 RMB;

  • They offer services like dental, sports medicine, etc.;

  • Address : 1139 Xianxia Road, Changning District, Shanghai 200336
    上海和睦家医院上海市长宁区仙霞路1139号 邮编:200336

  • Phone number:400 639 3900

Jiahui Health

  • Prices are reasonable for an international hospital however they do not have emergency services;

  • Prices range from 300 RMB up to 1000 RMB;

  • Address : 689 Guiping Lu, by Qinjiang Lu,
    桂平路689号, 近钦江路;

  • Phone number:400 868 3000

Local hospitals

Usually not the option an expat would opt for. Local hospitals do not accept international insurance. They may be very crowded, but you are still likely to find an English speaking doctor and staff in the biggest ones.

Here are some top ranked local hospital, ASI Movers would recommend you:

Huashan Hospital

  • One of Shanghai’s biggest hospitals;

  • Specialized in neurology;

  • Prices range from 38 RMB up to 318 RMB;

  • Address : 12 Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, near Huashan Lu , 华山医院 乌鲁木齐中路12号15楼, 近华山路

  • Phone number:5288 9999

Ruijing Hospital

  • Very easy access and affordable;

  • More specialized in hematology and infection diseases;

  • Prices range from90 RMB up to 300 RMB;

  • Address:197 Ruijing Er Lu ,near Shaoxing Lu瑞金二路197号, 近绍兴路

  • Phone number:6437 0045

VIP clinics

VIP clinics’ concept consists in local hospitals having international divisions. , It is a great alternative to international hospitals which offers very convenient options for expats, as it provides premium services with a medium price. All the VIP clinics are present in most local hospitals.

After having spent 10 years helping expats relocating from, to and within China, we know how essential knowing where and how to find reliable healthcare services is when moving to a new country or city is. For choosing your best healthcare provider as for moving your belongings, ASI Movers is here to provide you with accurate information, expertise & recommendations!

Relocating Abroad With Children: Which School to Choose?

Managing your children's education is obviously one of the most important task as a parent. But when relocating in a new country, it can be hard to make the right choice.

Especially when you do not know the local system, the options available, and if you do not have the opportunity to go on site check the facilities.

That is the reason why ASI Movers has decided to provide you a handful guide as to help you choose the right education system for your kids. More precisely, since our main office is based in Shanghai, enabling us to deliver you a firsthand source of information based on our experience and network, we prepared a comprehensive summary of the options you have on hand in China.

With Summer already being here, it's time for newcomers to investigate their options, and for those already established to learn more about the upcoming back-to-school period!

Which school system to choose for your child in China? ASI Movers will help you make the right decision!

Four options are available for you:

  • Public School (also called State School or Government School);

  • Private School;

  • International School;

  • Homeschooling.

Public School

Public Schools are the ones major part of the local population attends.

ASI Movers would advise you to choose this system if you are considering staying long term in China, as it will enable your child to grasp the local language quickly, become instantly and naturally familiar with the host culture, and merge in the country.

 

How Does the Chinese School System Work?

The Secondary School content can be divided in two parts:

  • Subject courses such as math, science, foreign languages, etc.;

  • Activities

If your child wants to pursue Undergraduate or Graduate Program in China, within the traditional Chinese framework, they will be required to have at least HSK 6 level. Otherwise, English-taught programs for non-Mandarin speakers exist.

 

Features, Pros and Cons

The Chinese educational system is oriented toward preparing for the高考(Gaokao), the local curriculum. Unlike the International Schools, your child will not prepare and pass the International Baccalaureate or you home country’s curriculum.

The courses will only be taught in Chinese, if your child is not familiar with Mandarin, he/she might be held back a few grades as to be able to catch up.

The priority and philosophy are different from the ones in the West: Chinese system relies on rote memorizing, is exam-driven, emphasizes on results and discipline, and primarily focuses on math and science.

Classes are hold 5 to 6 days a week from 7-8am to 4-5pm.

Chinese children usually enroll in extra-courses after class and on weekends, tutoring-like system with extra-curriculum activities (art, sport) is widely spread.

International students will be required (unlike Chinese citizens) to pay a tuition fee of approximately ¥28,000 (~$4,415), which is significantly less than the other options.

As stated before it will enable your child to grasp the local language and customs more easily and to merge into the local culture.

Nevertheless, being the only foreign child in the school can be psychologically challenging (beware of bullying or them feeling excluded).

 

Admission

State Schools are obligated to accept foreign applicants.

The requirements depend on the school, nevertheless you will be asked to provide:

  • Formal application;

  • Passport and visa;

  • Health records;

  • Previous school(s) records;

  • Work and residence permit;

  • (Recommendation letter);

  • (Assessments);

  • (On site interviews and language examination can be held).

Private School

Features, Pros and Cons

Private Schools, like Public Schools, prepare for高考(Gaokao).

They sometimes integrate aspects of international programs or offer courses in English.

Private schools are generally known for their students performing better at the exams.

Most of them provide a boarding option, which can be interesting for expats having heavy loads of work or having to live/work in rural areas with no suitable schools available.

The infrastructures are usually better than those of Public Schools.

They charge tuition fees both for locals and foreigners.

The students are from diverse backgrounds but you usually find foreigners and wealthy Chinese.

 

Admission

Private school decide autonomously who they accept.

The process of admission:

  • Examination;

  • Upfront payment of the tuition fees;

  • (Reports from previous school(s));

  • (Formal interview).

International School

ASI Movers would advise you to choose this system if you want to make the transition the smoothest possible for your child, will not stay for an extensive period in the host country, or if you want your child to easily reintegrate into your home country’s school system.

Features, Pros and Cons

Some International Schools adopt the curriculum of the country they depend on, others are fully international and follow the IB (International Baccalaureate).

International Schools organizations and accreditations:

Teachers are qualified, the schools are often inspected (relevant reports are available on the Internet), and accreditations or school partnership enrollment account for International Schools’ academic level. All in all, the latter is generally high.

Courses are taught in English or home country tongue.

They usually provide host country’s language and culture classes.

Tuition fees are pretty high, ranging from $10,000 (~¥63,500) to $33,000 (~¥209,500).

Nb: Your company can offer to bear the costs of your child’s education.

International Schools are used to receive new students every year from all over the world and will thus easily handle your situation.

These children are from a similar background thus the integration is facilitated.

There are very few (if any) Chinese natives in International Schools.

 

Admission

China counts 340 international schools in total, major part being located in big cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou.

Nevertheless, due to the increasing number of expats coming to China, the demand for these schools is high and there often are waiting lists. Be sure to contact them way ahead of your arrival.

Documents and formalities required:

  • Passport and visa;

  • Previous school(s) records;

  • Health records;

  • Recommendation letter;

  • (Interview);

  • (Entrance Exam).

Homeschooling

Even though gaining popularity among expats, homeschooling is still unlawful in China (due to the fact that every child should complete at least 9 years of compulsory public education) thus, one should carefully investigate the consequences of such a choice on the child’s future academic life.

To make your final decision, your moving partner ASI Movers would advise you to go to your embassy or consulate web page as to gather information about the school options in your area, as well as hanging out on expat forums as to collect firsthand testimonies.

For choosing a school as for moving your belongings ASI Movers is here to provide you with clear information, expertise, and advice!

We have been helping expats families move abroad for more than 10 years, and understand your concerns as well as the specific challenges coming with moving with children.

Where to live in … Shanghai!

At ASI Movers, we know how important it is to have our “home sweet home”. It is not an easy task to find a new one, especially in a big and unknown city. Furthermore, depending on your family status, your age, and your priorities, many criteria will ponder your choice.

Thanks to its 10-year experience in moving, as a Shanghai based relocation company, ASI Movers is now happy to provide you a small and comprehensive guide the main features and characteristics of Shanghai's main areas.

The Former French Concession

The Former French Concession (also called FFC) is one of the fanciest areas to live in. It is compound by Xuhui district, and a part of Huangpu district.

The FFC is filled with colonial style villas, most of the architecture is reminiscent of the art deco era (1920-40s), with their interior completely renovated for many of them. The streets are pretty silent, peaceful and lined with plane trees (as you can often see in the South of France). In some areas, you would not believe you are in China. This area is appreciated by the young expats,  also because you can find many little shops, bars and fancy restaurant serving occidental food.

However, due to its central geographic positioning and success, the FFC is quite expensive, considered rather upper class residential area.

  • Price range: Expensive
  • Life in the district: Many fancy cafes, bars and restaurants. Chinese alternatives can also be found.
  • Who: Young couple, it remains upper class. Not so many family live there, as many of the villas are divided in smaller apartments.
  • Transportation: Centrally located, the FCC is well served by the metro and buses. You can also easily access the city center walking or biking.
  • International Schools: No main international school is located in the FFC, but school buses exist, and the transportation system is convenient.

Jing'an

Jing’an is a popular district, close to the FFC. It is a great compromise for those who are interested in being in the core of the city, have a rather westernized way of living (due to the numerous occidental options available in terms of food, cafés, boutiques, etc.), for a lower budget than a house in the FFC.

Jing’an being busy and active (with fashionable boutiques, bars, and cafés), it is busier and less quiet than the FFC for instance. You can find there classical and pretty recent compounds, sometimes equipped with gyms and other facilities, as well as high-end houses.

  • Price range: Average to upper.
  • Life in the district: The most popular bars and restaurants are located there and some streets get quite animated at night with expats gathering to have dinner or a drink (the atmosphere remains healthy however). The neighborhood directly surrounding the Jing’an Temple itself also offers access to many shopping malls.
  • Who: Jing’an is popular among expat students, interns, young actives and couples.
  • Transportation: This district is well deserved by the metro. The fact that is central prevents its inhabitants for long journeys across the city.
  • International Schools: No major international school is located in the Jing’an district, and the latter is not close to the areas they developed in either.

Minhang

Out of the city, Minhang district is well appreciated by the expatriates family for its houses and villas, located inside secure compounds. Mostly comprised with a private garden, they offer some facilities for the whole family, and kids can go out of the home to visit their neighbor friends quite safely. However, offering larger green space and mansion options means being far from the city center, which might be inconvenient for the parents, taking into consideration the traffic congestion.

  • Transportation: This district is deserved by the end of some line subway, but you may have to consider take your car, at least to do a part of the trip.
  • International Schools: Major international school are located in Minhang district, such as the Lycée français de Shanghai, the British International School Shanghai and the American Shanghai School.

Changning

Two of the main places you would be looking for to live in are Hongqiao, which includes Gubei; and the surroundings of Zhongshan park. These residential areas are located in the Western part of Shanghai, a little bit out of the city center. These are rather popular area among expats, filled with high-end housing facilities. The perfect compromise for the family, at mid-way from the international school and the city center.

  • Price range: Average.
  • Life in the district: Western supermarkets and medical facilities are easily found in Changning, as well as chain restaurants and bars popular among adult expats. Nevertheless it is more of a residential and quiet area where you can find green spaces and pedestrian streets to hang around.
  • Who: Expat families, with an important population of Korean and Japanese in Gubei.
  • Transportation: Better served by public transportation than its west neighbor Minhang and Qingpu.
  • International Schools: A large panel of International Schools can be found in the area (Shanghai Community International School, Livingston American School, Shanghai United International School, among others).

Pudong

Located on the Eastern side of the Huangpu (river), it is also one of the largest districts: indeed, this district is as large as Singapour. Being very recent (before 1990s it looked nothing like today), you will easily spot the very modern architecture of the area closest to the river, which also is the financial and industrial heart of the city.

  • Price range: Average, this side of the river is generally cheaper than the other.
  • Life in the district: Office building but the district is becoming more and more residential if you are going further east, with a general aspect somehow reminiscent of the suburban American communities.
  • Who: Expat families eager to find a comfortable westernized life, being close to their office and schools.
  • Transportation: Far from the city center, yet well-deserved by the metro. It is also close to the Pudong International Airport.
  • International Schools: Many international schools also have a campus located in Pudong (Yew Chung International School, Lycée Français de Shanghai, British International School, Dulwich College, Shanghai Japanese School, among others). Even if you decide not to settle in the Pudong area, International Schools usually arrange buses to help to children living in the city to come to class.