My co-laborer and I took a survey trip last month. I want to share about “how to take a survey trip” and “what it looked like for us”. I hope this will be a series of informative and practical post concerning how to survey a city from a missionaries point of view.
The pre-trip survey…
Pre-Trip Survey: First, it is helpful to find out all of the information that you can about the place you want to visit, or at least the important information that will help with the actually trip and area being surveyed.
Some of this information may include: basic city facts and introduction, history, transportation, geography, economy, culture, religion, education, popular places to visit, the way the city is divided and demographics of population.
Application: Before leaving for the trip, I searched several websites for information about the city and for places that we would like to visit. I printed over 40 pages of information that we reviewed on the train ride there.
This information helped us identify key parts of the city and helped us build an itinerary for the places that we wanted to visit once we arrived in the city.
Transportation: You will need to to plan your travel to and from the city, as well as, transportation once you are in the city. Your pre-trip survey should help with planning this stage.
Application: We decided to take an overnight train (about 9h 30m duration) to enter the city and leave on a plane (about 1h 45m duration). This would allow us to arrive at the earliest time in the morning and leave late at night (the trip being one day). Also, coming and going out of two different parts of the city allowed us to experience these two transportation options. Both seemed to be good.
Once we arrived in the city we planned on relying on taxis. Since we both can speak Chinese we didn’t foresee this as a problem and would also allow us to see if there are any differences in the local dialect. Though the city also had a light rail, trolley cars, buses, and cable cars we only used taxis as they were quick and inexpensive. (The local people also seemed to talk more “nasally” than what we are used to hearing.)
Also, upon leaving the train station we picked up a local map, not to mention already having our iPhone and iPad that helped us to see where we were in “real time”. (Note: Find the largest building in the city, then find it on the map/mobile device, and when you are in another part of the city you will know where you are in relation to other places.)