Are you thinking of traveling to Batumi, Georgia? Batumi is a city on the Black Sea coast just an north of the Turkish/Georgian border and because of this it has quite a lot of Turkish investment and tourism. Batumi is either the second or third largest city in Georgia and during the Soviet Union period, Batumi was a resort city for East block citizens.
After the fall of the USSR, Batumi which is located in Adjara province was basically taken over by a mafia clan backed by Russia and was an autonomous and separatist region. When Mikheil Saakashvili was elected as the new leader of Georgia after the Rose revolution, he was able to peacefully re-establish control of Adjara and Batumi. Adjara is ethnically majority Georgian with small minorities of Armenians, Greeks, Turks and smattering of North Caucasus peoples and Russians. Unlike other separatist areas of Georgia, Adjara has no substantial ethnic or religious strife so it was quickly readopted and the security greatly improved(previously was an issue).
Ok, so enough history of Batumi. What is it like traveling to Batumi, Georgia? For starters unlike Tbilisi or the mountain areas, Batumi and Adjara in general has a more sub-tropical and Mediterranean feel to it.
If you visit Batumi in summer, many regional visitors(Armenia, Romania, Ukraine,etc) will be in Batumi during holiday periods and give the city a more multi-cultural feel, many residents speak Russian as well as Turkish as well as Georgian. English is growing but still at a far lower level and any attempt at Georgian will be very appreciated. Batumi restaurants are a great place to meet local people, enjoy the delicious cuisine and fine but I will go into a few tips on drinking. When accepting an offer of drinking from local Georgians, you should know that Georgian’s can drink a great deal of alcohol, it would be best to stick to beer which does not have a real toasting culture and it will be more acceptable to leave anytime.
What is there too see? Well, Batumi has nice old,new and slightly worn architecture along with a nice beachfront and botanical gardens.
Batumi is just large enough to be walk able but it can be uncomfortable with the heat at times, they do have buses that go up and down the main streets that are cheap by western standards and will help ease some sore feet.
If you are unsure of which bus to take, locals are more than happy to point you in the right direction. The center of Batumi is full of 4-5 star hotels, casinos and cafes. If you are in need of wifi, English speakers and food, there is a cafe called the Press Cafe near the waterfront that has good food and fast wifi(for Georgia).
How can a foreigner rent an apartment in China? Well yes of course but the details are more mysterious.
Moving to China for work or study and need to rent an apartment? Well it’s not quite the same as renting in the US/Canada and most likely many other countries. The first thing you have to realize is China has been pushing millions of people into cities over the last 20 years and it’s going to continue. The result? Well first off, competition is fierce for apartments and prices are higher than you would think for the relative income level of the majority of Chinese.
If you are a foreigner, you will need to go through some extra steps to get an apartment as well and I will list the steps and challenges below.
1. Find an Apartment, honestly the most difficult part is actually finding a place. If you speak Chinese, in almost any commercial area there will be real estate shops advertising apartments by size/cost in the windows. Most of these are text only(no pictures) unless they are higher end. I guess that would leave many to believe that for Chinese the most important is size vs. cost over aesthetics.
If you do not speak Chinese or have Chinese friends to assist you, you can go to craigslist in China in your city, for example http://shanghai.craigslist.com.cn/ and search there. In Beijing there is also a large popular site called the Beijinger. http://www.thebeijinger.com/ . The advantage of these for an intial search are most postings are in English and the contact usually speaks English.
Now for the disadvantages,sometimes to frequently the apartment shown in China will not resemble the real, actual apartment available. I went through several agents, each time telling them “If you send me fake photos, I walk out even if it looks fine”. It’s defiantly more of a challenge renting an apartment in China than other places in the world I have resided.
2. After you have found your apartment, the size fits you, etc. Now what? Well for the lease you are going to have to fork over more money than is typical for renting in the USA. In my case, I signed a series of 4 month leases and each time I had to pay all 4 months+a security deposit in advance. In regards to the security/cleaning deposit, be careful on this one. I would try to negotiate it keep it lower as there is a problem getting it back! If you cannot speak Chinese, make sure you know what you are signing, the English copy of the lease is meaningless.
3. After you have your lease all set, you will need to re-register with the local PSB(Public Security Bureau) aka the police. I say re-register because whether you came in on a tourist visa, stayed in a hotel on a Z/F visa prior to finding your apartment, you have already had your passport details sent to the police. I registered in Shanghai, near to Jing’An, an area with many foreigners and it was pretty straight forward. In my case I can speak some Chinese and the police also spoke English at the station but it pretty much will go like this: You give them the lease, you give them your passport, they copy your passport info, Chinese visa information, the lease and you are issued a housing permit. The end. I’m not saying you can’t run into a hangup but I never had any issues with the police and my household registration. FYI, Chinese citizens also have to register when they move to a new area/place of residence.
Those are the dirty details, now here are some personal considerations to think about.
Location? Well I personally love to be in the center of a city but in a real neighborhood with places to walk nearby like local bar, cafe, grocery stores. If you are in a city with good transit, which lucky for China, is most of the large cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Chongqing,etc. I’d strongly recommend trying to find as straight of a subway connection as possible. The subways are great and the street traffic is horrible but switching 3-4 lines to get to work daily can be stressful to some people as you can expect massive crowds for any peak hour train. Beijing subway, line 1 at rush hour is really a sight to behold….you will really be amazed how many people can fit on a platform or a subway car!
Services? If you live in an area with many Laowai(foreigners basically) well you will naturally see more bars, stores, etc that are geared towards that community. If you live in an area that is basically all local, don’t expect to find staples of home expect chain fast food stores like Starbucks, KFC,etc. I personally did not care if I was near other Americans or not but the area’s with foreigners tend to have more things to do.
Apartments lower than 7 floors(I have heard 6 as well) do not have lifts or elevators. Why? Well I’ve heard everything from it’s illegal to they authorities did not feel it was needed. If you hate stairs, well the good news is many low rise houses are being smashed into dust and replaced with giant towers of housing that do have a lift! .
The first day I moved into my place, my neighbor demanded to see my Huo Zhong(Passport) and family name. He first said it in Shanghainese, which I have and still have 0% comprehension of and second he yelled it in Putonghua, Mandarin. I found it all very curious because I doubt he could read English so he wouldn’t even know where it was from less the smallish waving US flags on some of the pages.
As you can see, I was pretty high up and to this day this is most defiantly the highest place I have ever resided.
I hope you enjoyed a breakdown on my experience on renting an apartment in China and if you are moving to China or already there and have any input, let me know!
Vang Vieng is known for a few things to different people. It could be tubing down a river, drinking every 100 meters until you pass out or it could be exploring the beautiful mountainous scenery of Laos.
I loved to fill up my water bottle, strap on a camera and go run into the surround areas.
Vang Vieng is a good town to go for a run because although the scenery is very mountainous, the roads, trails are not at a great incline generally and there are several small villages a long the way to check out.
The roads are dirt, so do not expect any running paths but outside of the main road, you will just see the occasional farmer driving by or other agricultural related vehicles.
Have fun out there!
I stayed right in the center for about $25 dollars right near the river, everything is walking distance and there is enough to do in the area to stay for a few days if you like rural towns.