I Got my U.S. Visa

I went to American Consulate for Visa interview and (I hate it) leave my fingerprint there. I waited four hours to get my visa, among which, one hour was spent outside the building, in the cold winter wind. I arrived at the gate of the Westgate Building, 1038 Nanjing West Road at around 1:00 PM, waited there in a long line (about 100 people) for one hour. The afternoon session mainly opens to American Chamber of Commerce Corporate Member employees. The morning session is opened for general public. I guess their situation should be much worse. Behind me are employees from Dell, Coca-cola, IBM and Intel…..

The security check for entering the visa section was strict. Mobile phones, electronic devices, bags are all not allowed. I don’t think anybody in the line came without a mobile. I paid 10 RMB to have mine deposited. It seems the American Consulate is an aircraft, floating on the 8th floor of the building.

The visa applicants scheduled for the morning have not been interviewed yet so it is crowded inside the room. I read through all the magazines in the room and learnt some new ideas – it is said pets can help to improve people’s family relationship, health…. After I read everything, I heard my named called in the speaker. It was already 4:30 PM – 3 hours and a half after I got there. Within the three and a half hours, the sentence I heard most frequently was “I am sorry, but according to American laws, I cannot grant you a visa…..” followed by the angry argument and, sometimes, the sound of falling curtain before the applicants.

The lives for employees of AmChamber are much easier. I heard that after 911, visa rejection rate is too high and broke the business of American companies. The American Chamber of Commerce complained seriously so the American Chamber of Commerce Cooperate Business Visa Program emerged. By this program, it is quicker to get visa.

This service, designed in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy, allows qualified member companies of AmCham-China to quickly and conveniently apply for U.S. visas for their Chinese staff and business associates.

I handed in my application on Nov 10 and got the appointment today (one week). For others, it may take up to 2 months for the appointment.

In contrast with the interview process for other applicants, the questions and answers for my interview were concise and quick:

    “Mr. Wang, is this your passport?”

    “Yes.”

    “Would you please put your left index finger on the sensor flat?”

    I did.

    “Very well! For the right finger, do the same”.

    I did.

    “Good. So you work for Microsoft?”

    “Yes, I do.”

    “Did they give you stock?”

    “Yes.”

    “Please take your receipt and go to window No. 11 for your visa. Have a good trip!”

    “Thanks.”

That’s it.

Budget Travelers are the Majority

I realized my article Shanghai Hotel Guide and Shanghai Hotel Guide – Part II are not so helpful for the majority of travelers. When I am planning my trip to U.S., I found either Hilton, Ritz Carlton, nor Sheraton hotels are attractive to me. When budget is of higher priority, they are simply filtered out. I realized budget travelers are the much most than those business travelers. Business travelers may not try as hard as backpackers – they just ask their companies to book flights and hotels for them. No questions asked about price.

In Shanghai, there are many good hotels offers 200 RMB – 300 RMB (30 USD?) per night rooms (with two beds). There are some OK hotel at 40 – 100 RMB. I will talk about it when I am back and I believe the hostel information is better than the big names in the hotel industry.

Carroll recommend me to look at GlobalFreeloaders.com. I checked and found it a great website and (more importantly) a great idea to pool the free offering. I believe I share the belief that travel contributes to peace. I registered and hope to find some good match in New York or Chicago, Washington D.C. so we can stay at someone’s home. It may bring more value to my trip other than the cost save. I have the opportunity to get in touch the local people! Lack of local touch is the reason why business trip is boring.

Meanwhile, I also made the commitment to contribute something to other visitors to Shanghai. Remember, I am the GlobalFreeloaders.com member now. Here is my contribution:

1. If anyone needs a bicycle in Shanghai, feel free to find me in GlobalFreeloaders.com website. Here is my bike. It is in very good status. Riding is interesting in Pudong and Xuhui District – may not be as interesting in Huangpu District. It has been spare for quite some time after I bought my car.

2. If anyone needs a mobile phone in Shanghai, feel free to ask for it. I have spare mobile phone that you can use. Please ask for it via GlobalFreeloaders.com.

:-D

My Functional Spec

In Micrososft, I have been the training on software development processes for many years. I prompt the use of 3P4S (3 processes + 4 servers) software method – Daily Build process, Source Control process and Bug Tracking process + source server, build server, release server, and bug database….. I also worked a lot on stuff like team model, functional spec, code review…

When I talk with new developers and program managers the other day, I found the development process is not good and there is almost no document. I joked that “Your functional spec for a large project is not as complete as spec for my personal website.”

I was not kidding. I have a functional spec document before I started to work on the new homepage. It was the planning work and thought before I actually worked on it. I altogether 4 hours (several minutes to one hour each time at my spare time) on the spec and it took less than 1 hour to implement the idea.

Here is the document:

After you review the document, you know all the secret behind my homepage. I hope the MoveType code will be helpful.

Jian Shuo Wang is Going to U.S.

Breaking news! Jian Shuo Wang is going to U.S.

I will attend a business meeting in Seattle from Dec 7 to Dec 9, 2004. After that, I will start my vacation, the longest vacation since I graduated. I will be in America for two more weeks and get back to Shanghai after X’mas. My vacation will expire by the end of this year so I have to use it up quickly. My current project happens to end by the end of November, and it is good time to take a rest. The reason I choose U.S. (I thought of Tokyo before) is, I can combine it with the business trip – so I don’t have to worry about the visa. It is not easy to get a visa for U.S.

I am going to visit as many places as possible, across America. Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington are on my list. I am interested in visiting cities instead of nature scenery (like Grand Canyon, Yellow Stone).

I can safely claim that I have many friends in U.S., right? Some frequent readers emailed me to offer help when I go to his/her area one day. I appreciate it. I do need some help to prepare the trip and I am sure I can get your help.

Schedule

The schedule is not finalized, but here are some dates I have decided:

Dec 4 – Dec 6: Tokyo

Dec 7 – Dec 10: Seattle

Dec 11 – ??? Chicago

??? – ??? Not planned yet

Dec 14 – Dec 15: Boston

Dec 16 – Dec 19: New York

Dec 20 – Dec 22: Washington D.C.

Dec 23 – Dec 26: Chicago

There is a very good U.S. rail route map on AmTrak’s website.

My Question List. Abridged Version

Here is my list of questions so far.

Q1: Is there any other great places I should not miss in the trip?

Besides the cities I listed, is there any place that is so special that I need to stop by? I am taking the east route and won’t stop in California (sorry, carroll). I will visit it the next time. I take the trip as a great opportunity to really dive into the lives in U.S. so I have better understanding about some discussion on this blog regarding the different between U.S. and China. I am particularly interested in Metro systems, the public transportation (buses/ferries) and tourism guide boards there…

Q2: Is there better way to stay in Youth Hostel? What about Greyhound? What about AmTrak? Any one happens to know very cheap tickets or website?

Transportation and accommodation are the largest portion of the travel expense. It is interesting that when I plan the trip, I ask exactly the same kind of questions others would ask me about Shanghai. I guess after the trip, I know the needs of travelers to Shanghai better and therefore, be able to provide better public service to foreign visitors and help make Shanghai friendlier.

Q3: I am going to spend 3 days in Chicago, 3 days in New York, 2 days in Washington D.C., 2 days in Boston… Is it enough? Should it be longer, or shorter, considering my 2 week schedule?

Q4: Should I visit Texas or other south areas? I guess it is warmer there and it may be good to drive there.

Like Dan Washburn’s Cross China Trip, I am considering to find contact person before I visit any city. The route may also change based on whether I have a contact there. Send me an email if you would like to propose a meet.

Blogging on the Road

I decided no matter how tough the budgeted travel is, I will try to keep up blogging everyday during the trip and share the pictures. Can anyone suggest a good way to get connected? I will bring my laptop with me.

Going Back to China?

I got this email today.

I found your blog in Google. It is a very interesting and informative web site. My salute to you.

My wife and I are both Chinese living in the U.S. We are planning to move to shanghai early next year. When I talked with my family about the move, they all said it’s a very bad idea. They said to live comfortably in Shanghai you have to at least earn 500,000 RMB yearly. Also, unlike in the U.S. people in China usually work harder and with a lot of overtime. Is it

really true that you have to earn that much? How does people with average income manage their life then? How do you think about it? My wife already got an offer from a top fortune 500 company to be research scientist. I have yet to find my job but it probable will be in IT or computer software field. The work hard and overtime part really scares me. I don’t mind

work hard but to be forced to work hard will be another story. Here I work as a software engineer in a small company in a small collage town. Life is really slow and peaceful. Can you post something about your life and work? I mean, when do you go to work, how late will you come home, is your boss pushy, are you coworkers work abnormally hard, how do you spend you weed ends, evenings, Do you write all your post at work? It doesn’t have to be about yourself, just the life of regular white collar worker will be very helpful to us.

Going back to China is a hot topic among overseas Chinese these years. It is as hot as the topics of going aboard in the previous years. It is due to the booming economy in China and the big changes in the country. I have many close friends who just came back to Shanghai. This is what I heard and what I saw.

How Comfortable do you Mean by “Comfortable”

“Does it need 500,000 RMB annual income to lead comfortable lives in Shanghai?” Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on how you define “comfortable” life. What is your standard?

Think about how much $$$$ 500,000 RMB is in a city where the overall average annual salary 17,904 RMB (1492 RMB * 12) (src). That is 30 times more than the city’s average income. Even the white collar’s average salary just reached 38,447 (src).

Many people with 1400 RMB income claim they are leading comfortable life already. But I guess you may think they are leading miserable life according to your standard.

Does an apartment of 150 sq. meter for a family means comfortable?

    You can buy some good apartment at 7000 RMB/sq. meter or some nice apartment at 10,000 RMB/sq. meter. Monthly payment is about 7000 RMB for 20 years… Use this calculator. People with 1000 RMB per month don’t buy houses. They rent.

Is a car included in your definition of comfortable life?

    Budge for 100,000 – 200,000 RMB. If you take public transportation, 2 RMB per ride for many buses, and 3 RMB on Metro.

Do you think you have to send your child to really good schools?

    Local schools charge 1000 – 2000 RMB per semester. Meanwhile in the same city, some good American schools charges 15,000 – 50,000 RMB. My friend spent 1000 USD on the school bus for his child alone, not to mention the tuition. So, it is all about your own choice.

Do you want to eat the foreign way or the local way?

    Local white collars go to BigBite (or Dashidai). The average cost per meal is 20 RMB. 50 RMB per person is considered reasonable price in restaurants. Poorer people go to cheap food stores. They charge 5 – 6 RMB per meal. They don’t go to restaurants.

    If you want to eat the foreign way, there are many places a cup of ice water costs you 75 RMB. An average working lunch costs 70 – 150 RMB. I went to one in Xintiandi before. The life in that restaraunt is really too expensive to be comfortable for me. Where to eat and how well you eat is all about your choice again.

Do you want to dress the local way or the “international” way?

    150 – 300 RMB for woman dress (white collar) is considered good, or common (ladies, correct me if I am wrong here). White collars buy it. Parkson Shopping Center claimed their major targeted customers are young ladies with monthly income around 6000 RMB. People with 1000 RMB income buy clothes at 30 RMB to 50 RMB at places like Tianlin Road, where I have lived nearby. All the brands are local. If you want to dress up like you do in New York, or Paris, just go directly to Armani in the Three on the Bund. A shirt can easily cost you 2000 RMB. If you call it comfortable life, 500,000 RMB does not look like a decent number. What is your choice?

Want movies? Want bars? Want drama?

    Movie costs 30 – 60 RMB. Average cost in bars varies from 10 RMB (beer) to 100. Drama costs 100 – 200 RMB. Make a plan of how many times you want to go there and you get the number yourself.

What else?

I just listed some costs for your life, in the order of money needed. Please note: this is only in Shanghai. Keep in mind that Shanghai is among the most expensive cities in China already. Beijing is similar. If you want to try smaller cities, like Luoyang, where I was born, life is completely different again. I can guarantee you that with 1500 RMB, you can lead very nice life there. The “very nice life” is by the local standard, not the Shanghai standard, not the western standard….

Do I Have a Conclusion?

To answer your question about whether 500,000 is good enough, basically, it is good enough. If you know the average monthly salary for a 4-year university undergraduate is 1800 – 3000 RMB, or 3000 – 5000 RMB for graduates (masters); if you also know that MBA’s salary is only half of the number you gave, you may have the idea of whether it can lead a comfortable life.

Going Back? A Bad Idea?

At least from all my friends who just returned, it turned out to be very good idea to get back. I had a friend who returned to Shanghai months ago. He came back and had a two week vacation in Shanghai. Soon after he returned to U.S., he relocated his whole family to Shanghai. The only thing he regretted was he didn’t buy a house during the two weeks in Shanghai. The price raise in the 6 months surprised him a lot.

Work Hard?

In IT industry, undergraduate students have to work hard to earn 36,000 RMB per year, and I don’t know how hard you need to work if you aim at making 500,000 RMB or higher. :-D

Shanghai is such an interesting city. The pay is not the same for the same work. The best situation to relocate back to Shanghai is to find a position in U.S. company and the company send the person to China, typically, the person will enjoy the U.S. pay (sometimes higher due to the relocation package), which is much higher than China. These positions generally do not need you to work hard. From what I heard, many of the positions are just a local representative of the head quarter, and there is no real work to do. (I do not mean to offend anybody. It is the conclusion of my limited survey to some friends). Go to haiguinet.com for more information. Many returnees are there.

It is not about Comfortable Life. It is about Opportunities

If you want comfortable life – in the U.S. Standard, stay there. If you want to reach exactly the same standard of life in Shanghai, the cost is higher than in U.S. For example, I read a foreigner didn’t want to use the local water from the pipeline because it does not reach “his standard”, he built the private water supplying system and feed the system with canned purified water. He is just crazy and I bet his water is more expensive than in his hometown.

If you want to embrace the change and opportunity, come back. China is a huge market and there are so few players on so many fields. Let me try to show you some examples:

  • It is not easy to rent a car yet. There is no good rental company like Avis.
  • It is not easy to book train tickets online (like Amtrak, or Eurorail);
  • There is almost no local good canned cat food (this is the problem the two cats brought me);
  • Something that costs 0.5 RMB are traded at several Euro in Europe (I am talking about the decoration balls on the X’mas tree);
  • More and more people coming to China but there is no good service to help them (the reason why this website became popular);
  • In IT industry, there is no good broad band application yet, although near 20 million people are connected to the Internet already. Miracles like Shanda (SNDA) emerge every day..

The blank areas need some one who knows the land to fill in. My friend who just came back told me: “I can clearly see what I look like after 30 years if I stay in U.S. – everything is well planned and preciously calculated. However, I don’t have any idea of what my life will be in 5 years in China. It started to change everyday from day one after I set my foot back to this land.” I agree.

If you are not interested in these, stay where you are now.

My Work? My Life?

If you want to know my work and life, take some time to check this blog if you have time. I have more than 800 articles like this one on my blog. There are 181 articles in Life category.

In the articles, I talked about my Car, my Friends, interesting things in my life, and where I go during weekends, and Holidays. I also included new things I Learn. I guess you know better about Me from the articles.

Last Question

“Do you write all your post at work?” I don’t, most of the time. It does take me quite some time every night to write something. I sometimes sleep as late as 2:00 AM. It is 1:58 am already and I have spent one hour on this article.

(Top secret: I will change the time for this post to November 11, 23:mm, to make sure this post still falls into the previous day. I am trying to keep the one post every day rule. Some previous entires posted at 23:mm are very likely to be posted later than that time. :-D)

The choice is yours.

Basic Geographic Knowledge about China – Part II

Previous entry: Basic Geographic Knowledge about China

Directions and Provinces

东 Dong (Dong1) means east

西 Xi (Xi1) means west

南 Nan (Nan2) means south

北 Bei (Bei3) means north

As Jens Leo Malmqvist already found out, knowing it will help a lot to understand the Chinese province names.

There is Shan Dong and Shan Xi (Shan means the Mountain).

There is He Nan and He Bei (He means the river – The Yellow River)

There is Hu Nan and Hu Bei (Hu means the lake, or the Dong Ting Lake)

There is Guang Xi and Guang Dong. Guang may refer to that area, south China.

There is Xi Zhang (or Tibet), which means it is west most part of the country….

Regarding Cities, the most famous city Beijing means the north capital. Jing means capital. There is another city called Nanjing, which is also an capital. Tokyo is called Dongjing. Xian in the Shaanxi province implies the city is in the west…

Interesting, isn’t it? I agree that Chinese langauge is easier to learn than English – just put two word (very simple word, like Xi, Bei, Nan, Dong) together and there is a meaning.

Areas

Bigbro‘s useful comment:

Kaili’s point about north-east and south-east reminds us that it is probably much useful to introduce the “big-regions” that Chinese conventionally refer to. Furthermore, it is informative, to the Americans anyway (not to Kaili), to relate locations of Chinese cities to locations of American ones, as China and US are geographically somewhat similar. For example, China has a Northeast (Dong Bei) region, referring to Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces, including cities of Shenyang and Dalian. It’s location relative to the rest of China is that of New England relative to the rest of US. China’s Southeast (Dong Nan) region is similar to US’s south. Guangzhou (Canton), Shengshen, Hong Kong, Fushou, Xiamen, Quilin, Kunming are in this region. China has a Northwest (Xi Bei) that covers a larger area than does the US northwest. It has five provinces: Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Xian, Dunhuang, Lanzhou are in this region. China has a vast Southwest where Sichuan and Tibet are, so does the US but Texas is part of the South. China has Central (Hua Zhong) and North (Hua Bei), the US has a Midwest. And then there is the east coast (Hua Dong).

It is true. Xinjiang, Xizang, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia…. the latitude of these provinces are two high so the population density is too low. So we call Sichuan the Southwest China, aalthough it is geographically located in the central south.

Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning – these three provinces on the north-east part of China are called Northeast in general. The region shares the same ascent.

Suggested Places to Visit

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are the three major cities. You have to visit Beijing. You are suggested to visit Shanghai if you want to experience the modern China more clearly. Xi’an is a typical Chinese old city. Guilin is beautiful. The most beautiful area in China are in the southeast and Xinjiang (for example, Daocheng and Kanas)

By the way, do you know that the old Chinese map are drawn with south at the top and north at the bottom? We call compass Zhi-Nan-Zhen. In Beijing’s Forbidden city, the west door is called Right Door and the east door is called Left Door, which shows us vividly who the old Chinese map were drawn.

Basic Geographic Knowledge about China

I read a book about travel in U.S. I learnt some new ideas, like the Amtrak in America that connects all major cities. I was quite excited to find out another way besides air travel in U.S. If you ask me to list some cities I think are most important in U.S, I will give the following list

  • Washington D.C.
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • San Francisco
  • L.A….

They are just the names pop up in my brain when I listed them, in no particular order. I can draw a relative location map for these cities, but sometimes, I still make mistakes. I made bet with a friend on where Detroit is. I insisted that it is in South Texas. It turned out, without doubt, that I lost the bet. I was talking about Huston, TX….

China v.s. U.S.: Unbalanced Level of Understanding

This experience helped me get an idea of the situation first time visitors China is facing. Where is Guangzhou? Where is Hangzhou? Is Hangzhou nearer to Guangzhou or Shanghai? These simple questions may not be easy for foreigners.

I remember one question the student in Beijing asked President Clinton when he visited Beijing was: “The young generation in China knows about America much better than those in America do about China. Do you have any plan for that?”

The situation is very true. I guess many people in China at least know New York is on the east coast and San Francisco is on the west but not many people in U.S know where exactly China is.

China Cities

So here is a brief introduction about important cities in China.

Beijing is on the north, near the sea, but not a port. It is in the north area, a location similiar with Philadelphia.

Shanghai is in the east of China.

Guangzhou is on the south, near Hong Kong.

The distance between Beijing and Shanghai, Shanghai and Guangzhou are almost the same (Guangzhou-Shanghai distance is longer).

Chengdu is in the south-west.

Hangzhou, Suzhou is very near Shanghai – they almost merge with each other. The distance is 2 hour and 1 hour train’s ride.

Here is a China mapfrom Encarta. It is good enough to get some idea of the cities. Here is another map.

Transportation

Travel between Beijing and Shanghai? Train and Air are both preferred.

Travel between Beijing and Guangzhou? Only Air. Train is too tiring.

Travel between Guangzhou and Shanghai? Air preferred.

Travel between Shanghai and Hangzhou/Suzhou? Train or Bus. It is too near to operate a flight….

From Shanghai to Chengdu? Air – definitely air. Don’t try train since it is among the most crowded train lines in China. Don’t take taxi. I got an email this morning, asking me how much it costs to take a taxi from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Chengdu. It is the third email on the same question since I started this site. Well. My answer is, I don’t suggest anyone to take taxi to Chengdu. It is 1600 KM away from Shanghai. If you do want to have a try, I guess it costs at least 5000 RMB and three days (if the car does not break down in the middle way)… This is also a trigger for me to write this elementary level China Geographic Knowledge Book.

Auto Industry Enters Winter in Shanghai

I went to maintain the car the other day. When my dearest Goudaner were pulled into the maintenance area for its 8000 KM regular check, I chatted with my friends at the car dealership. The numbers of newly sold cars are increasing and every figure in the auto-industry are showing very positive trend, the message I got at the auto-dealer shop is just on the contrary. The message I got from my friend was, the automobile industry entered its winter.

It was not a busy morning for them. The big exhibition hall was almost empty. I didn’t see any new customer coming in the two hours. The salespersons could hardly see customers at weekdays. Sometimes they only talk with two customers per day. To be more accurate, I should call them “visitors” or “potential customers” because they just drop by and have a look.

The scene is completely different from the time when I bought my car in this March. The hall was full of curious and excited customers. I even have to sit into the same showcase car with other three strangers to experience the car. I had to since more customers were waiting outside to have a try.

My friend, a salesperson, was considering change a job and move out of auto industry. They were not comfortable to make a living with the base salary (which is about 1000 RMB or so) and there were no bonuses. In the current salary structure, the income of a salespersons large depends on the car they sell. They can easily get 10,000 RMB if the auto market is good, but now, it is the winter for them, and the company.

I didn’t know that.

Before I visited the same 4S shop, I didn’t see any hint of the big change from the newspaper. I though my friends inside the dealer company must be very happy to enjoy the booming of demand for cars. The fact is not.

P.S. After I post this article, I checked some news paper and found it was myself who saw only one side of the information. There are also some negative comments on the current auto industry of Shanghai.

The car I got for 99,000 can be purchased at 78,000 already and the price continues to drop.

P.S. Comment Spam

CNBlog and Eric complained about the comment Spam these days. To fight against this kind of spam, Eric removed the post button and ask all users to press Preview before they can see the Post button to post. CNBlog requires all comments to be reviewed before they are posted.

I am not going to implement anything like that on my blog. I won’t consider asking every commenter to enter a image verification code or other CAPTCHA methods in the future. (CAPTCHA is There are more than 200 comment spam attempts on this site every day (if I count my hosted sites, like /mvm, /fanfan, /claire, /gao, the number will reach 500 times everyday). Most of them are blocked by MT-Blacklist, which I can see from the activity log.

I still believe in open discussion – the not-censored real time communication. Wiki and MovableType’s open comment leaves a hole for those advertisers. However, I don’t want to scarify the community’s open discussion just for those annoying spams. I have other ways.

I strengthen the MT-Blacklist blacklist. I have added the following Strong filter patterns to my blacklist, for example:

[a-z\-\.]{2,20}\.{biz|info|name} #.biz, .info and .name domains are not welcome

I found in all my 6000+ comments, only those spammers uses .biz, .info and .name domains and there is no real readers are using them. So I banned these domains. I also banned the comments with certain sensitive words in URL. It turned out to be very effective. Here is my blacklist. Ironically, some sites on my blacklist are also on the Great Firewall’s blacklist. So when it appears in my binary stream from my server to my client, the Great Firewall sensed it and disconnected me from the Internet. So I never really be able to complete load the txt file I linked just now. The story is, Spammer A is my enemy. Spammer A is also Great Firewall’s enemy. So I am the Great Firewall’s enemy. :-D

My approach is not perfect. New spammers graduate everyday. So I need to keep an eye on the comments and delete those spams. The good thing is, I read every single comment on my blog, and it is not big burden for me. I have easy way to delete a spam with a single click of mouse.

Posted in Car

Homepage Version 3

Anyone noticed the change of the homepage? It is 3rd major change in the design. I added some key elements that have been requested for a long time, including links, archives, recent comment preview… It is still in beta, which means I may still change it when I have time and some part may not work perfectly.

What do you think of the new homepage?

Youth Hostels in Shanghai

For budget travellers, Youth Hostel is a good choice. I stayed in the Youth Hotel in Hong Kong and the experience was wonderful. I just didn’t find time to post the pictures and my experience with that Youth Hostel yet. I promise I will do it when I visit the next Youth Hostel.

According to International Youth Hostel Federation’s website, there are two hostels in Shanghai: The Pu Jiang and the Captain.

(They seems to redirect their hostel page to hostelbooking.com, which is out of their website)

Locations

The two hostels are within walk distance. They are all at the Bund, the most historical area of the city. To be more accurate, one is 50 meters west of the Bund and the other is on the other side of the Suzhou River, connected to the Bund with a 100 meter long bridge. Both of the hostels are located in very old buildings.

Captain Youth Hostel

The Captain Youth Hostel is located at

No. 37 Fuzhou Rd,

Shanghai City, 200080 CHINA

Here is the map:

It is relatively better than the Pu Jiang Hostel. The equipments are newer and it seems more like a typical Youth Hostel.

Be warned that although that area is the heart of the city, there were no good restraurants nearby. Shanghai may leave you an image of old fashioned, crowded and dirty city if you don’t walk around to see the whole city.

The Pu Jiang Hostel

The Pu Jiang Hostel, or Aster House Hotel (as its old name) WAS one of the most lurxious hotel in far east in 1900’s. It was the first foreign hotel in China when it was built in 1846. Many big names arrived and stayed there, including Einstein, US President Grant, Bertrand Russell and Scott Joplin. There were a nice small plate near the door of the rooms they stayed. For example, Einsteins’ room is Room 404. I paid a visit to the door days before and was quite impressed by the nice architecture.

The Astor House Hotel is still a splendid hotel with today’s standard. There are 5 stories in that hotel. The Youth Hostel is located on the 6th floor. Insteresting? Actually it is some simple rooms built on top of the original hotel. The rooms are not as good as other Youth Hotel. I wondered why there is no youth hotel sign any where in the building. I didn’t see the message boards there either.

Prices

One bed costs 50 RMB (or 6 USD) in both hostels. The website quoted 8 USD. If you pay by the counter, it should be only 50 RMB with your YHA card.

More Choices

I would recommend budegeted traveller to try either Motel 168, Rujia or Jin Jiang Inn. Their standard rooms are 156 RMB to 268 RMB, but they are really good.

Two Cats in my Garden

I saw the two cats in my garden again. Poor little pets! The winter came and they don’t have a place to stay. They were very cold in the morning wind. I guess they are abandoned since I frequently saw them in my garden. Wendy took picture (I, II) of them last month, when it was pretty warm.

shanghai-two.cats-staring.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang

Above: The baby cat hide under its month’s body to keep warm.

shanghai-mother.cat.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang

shanghai-baby.cat.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang

Above: I gave them some cookie and they enjoyed it very much.

Later, I setup a temp home for them with a big box. After I arrived home, I found the two little cats have settled down in the paper box. It is by any means better than nothing. The boxes protected them from cold winter wind.

Top Commenters of Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct

Jul 2004:

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Aug 2004:

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Sep 2004

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Oct 2004

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Thanks for everyone’s great contribution.

1 Million Page View in October 2004

With everyone’s contribution, Wangjianshuo’s blog reached the first 1 million page view in October 2004 for the first time. According to the report of iPowerWeb, the page view at home.wangjianshuo.com alone is 0.977 million (page served). With hits on other Wangjianshuo’s Blog property, like www.wangjianshuo.com, blog.wangjianshuo.com and bbs.wangjianshuo.com, the total page view exceeded 1 million. 0.12 million people visited the site in the last month. For the first time in the site history, it experienced bandwidth crisis last month by serving more than 50G of data. I still wonder why iPowerWeb didn’t paused my site after it exceeded the limit.

This is an important milestone for the site.

Planning to Travel to Tokyo

I am planning to travel to Tokyo by the end of this year. I have never been to Japan before. I even didn’t transfer flight in Tokyo. Many people will fly from Shanghai to Tokyo first and there are more international flights in Tokyo than in Shanghai. For example, Tokyo has direct flight to Seattle while Shanghai only has flights to SFO and I need to transit in SFO. The only impression of Tokyo is some pictures I took when my flight to SFO went over Japan.

I am thinking of the plan to pay a personal visit to Tokyo this December. I didn’t figure out the detailed plan yet. I just started to look for cheap flight tickets there.

Based on the information I got, the cheapest round trip flight to Tokyo is 2760 RMB, from East China Airlines.

I have no idea about the city yet. If you have any suggestions about the trip, please let me know.

Winter in Shanghai

Shanghai continue to cool down these days. The steps of winter are closer and closer each day. The current temperature in Xujiahui is 15°C.

Some readers will relocate to Shanghai within two months – at least there are 5 persons on my list to have the plan to migrate to Shanghai this November. I know it because most of the emails I got started with a sentence like “I am planning to move to Shanghai this November with my husband/wife/dog/family….” Let me talk a little bit about the weather of Shanghai Winter.

Shanghai Winter is Cold

Believe it or not, Shanghai’s winter is extremely cold. It is colder than Guangzhou (in south China) and it is even colder than Beijing (in north China).

I still remember the first winter I spent in Shanghai. It was 1995 and I was in SJTU Minhang Campus. There was no air-conditioner in my dorm.

Although the temperature very rarely drop to under freezing point (0°C), it feels colder than it actually is. The air is wet, cold and wet in winter. It feels lie standing in the ice water without any protection. The quilt is also wet and feels like a piece of ice. It takes quite some time to warm up the quilt.

Reasons

Lack of heating equipments is an important reason. Shanghai is the north most city that does not have heating equipments. In cities north of Shanghai, steam heaters are installed in every home and every office. In Beijing, which is 1000 km north of Shanghai, almost every room has heater installed. The central heat supply keeps the rooms warm, dorms, offices, homes, public areas, 24 hours a day. It is very cold outside, but very warm inside. People can wear T-shirt in their houses in winter.

In Shanghai, heating equipment is not a standard configuration for a room. Although most of the rooms have air-condition, it is not as effective as central heating system. It is much more expensive than central heating system. Not every house owner/business are rich enough to turn it on 24 hours a day.

Another reason is the wet air. Located near the sea, the air is wet in Shanghai and it rains often in winter. Wet air feels colder. In Beijing, the main reason for feeling cold is the heavy wind. When you enter a building that is free of heavy wind, it is much warmer. Shanghai is another story. Back to the times when I was living in a dorm, we kept the window during the night since it does not make much difference to keep it open or closed. The window didn’t keep any heat inside the room. So you get some idea of what the Shanghai winter looks like.

No only windows. Wearing more clothes seem does not work either. It is still cold no matter how much you wear – the wet air has its way to reach your body….

3500 USD: The Summit

The following information was submitted:

Name:

CINDY Lee

Location of your apartment:

No.99 Wulumuqi M. Rd, Xuhui District, Shanghai

Facilities:

Two apartments there.

All brand new facilities.

One is 162 sq. meter

One is 149 sq. meter

3 bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Decoration:

Brand new

Is it near Metro?

Expected price per month:

US$3500-4000.

Other comments:

Email address:

cindylee6276@hotmail.com

Name of the apartment:

The Summit