expect to be able to do any banking in small towns, regardless of what you are told, and do not expect that your hosts will know what an American Express card or travelers' check is. You will not be able to use them outside large urban areas. (See Appendix K for a list of places where American Express services are available.) Bring enough money to conduct all your transactions in cash. If you will stay several weeks or months in one place and have large amounts of cash, you should consider opening a local bank account for the deposit of renminbi.
Advanced medical facilities will also be unavailable. Many researchers suggest bringing along Where There Is No Doctor, and fieldworkers should follow the medical advice offered in Chapter 2. In addition, rabies is common in small animals in some areas of China; you are advised not to pet dogs in rural areas. The American doctor in Beijing recommends a rabies series (the embassy stores the serum) for anyone bitten by a small animal there. The first injection, administered intramuscularly, must begin within ten days after being bitten. You would either have to return to Beijing for the shots or have the frozen serum delivered to you on site to be administered by a local doctor.
Your hosts will attempt to house you in the best hotels or guest houses available. Some research stations have guest quarters and cooks on site. Most accommodations, while simple, are clean and adequate, though some will not have running hot water or modern plumbing. On the other hand, some researchers have described their housing as squalid. Fieldworkers with experience in developing countries recognize that difficult living conditions often come with the territory. If cleanliness is important to you and you are planning to stay any length of time in out-of-the-way places, you might want to bring your own bed sheets and strong bleach, cleansing powder, and rubber gloves to clean your room yourself.
Local people in out-of-the-way places may have little or no experience with foreigners. You may be the first to have visited in decades and hence the only foreigner most people in your area will have seen. Most researchers report that the people in remote areas are curious, friendly, and generous beyond their means. These researchers have greatly enjoyed the opportunity for interaction despite an occasional thirst for privacy.
You can expect banquets to be given in your honor. Alcohol consumption at rural banquets is high. Not only do the toasts, each drunk ''bottoms up," escalate during the evening, but the liquor may be a rough-and-ready local brew. Some researchers believe that abstinence is ungracious and a barrier to potential friendships; some also report becoming very drunk and sick. Other researchers insist that scholarly decorum is best maintained by sticking to fruit juice and soda. Do what is most comfortable.