Monthly Archives: December 2004

I am in Shanghai

Finally, I returned to my home in Shanghai. The excitement and expection for a long journey I have when I started in Dec 6 lasted for two weeks and gradually turned into homesick day by day afterward and became tireness mixed with excitement at last. I am happy to return to the starting point of the journey (which is also the ending point), companied with great stories, sweet memories and interesting pictures.

It is 7:39 PM in Shanghai while the time in my clock in the digital camera and also in my brain is still 6:39 AM in New York. There is a huge jump in time again. I may need to go to bed immediately after 2 hours flight from New York to Chicago and 14 hours from Chicago to Shanghai – I suspect 14 hours are approaching the longest journey on this planet. I believe when I wake up tomorrow morning, the jet lag should disappear and I can start to writing something in details about the journey.

There are something more important than to go to bed. I have to give my big “Thank You” to the following persons who made my trip possible.

  • My brother Jian Zhao and Jian Sheng who helped me to plan the trip and contacted their friends;
  • Robet in Seattle to arrange the meetup
  • Eric and James who gave me a ride from Redmond to Seattle
  • Irfan and Andy who picked me up in Chicago and hosted me;
  • Mr. Gong and Guo Hua who helped me on the first part of my stay in New York
  • Ngai’s family who hosted me in New York City

Cold New York

I am packing my luggage and will leave U.S. tomorrow at the LaGuadia Airport in New York. New York is super cold for me these days, but peopel say the winter of New York hasn’t really arrived yet. New York is around 40 degree in latitude while Shanghai is around 31 degrees.

It snowed the day before yesterday and the snow started to melt yesterday. It was around 29 °F (I started to use F after I came to U.S.). It is freezing everywhere.

Christmas Eve in New York City

What I did today:

  1. Amtrak from New Rochelle to Grand Central. The running time was exactly 35 minutes.
  2. From Grand Central to World Trade Center Site. The new Freedom Tower is under construction already.
  3. Visited Wall Street. I didn’t expect the most important street in financial world is so short. Due to the Christmas day, I didn’t see a single person on the street with suite and tie. Actually, I didn’t see many people there at all.
  4. Heading south, I reached the Hudson River but didn’t take ferry to the Statue of Liberty.
  5. Took Metro Line 5 and reached 86 st. Station. Then visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The most important exhibition there happened to be China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD. Many of the selections were found in Luoyang, my hometown.
  6. Finally, we took M1 to the New York Public Liberty and
  7. Went along the 42nd st. to Times Square.
  8. Then went along the 50th st. to Rockefeller Center. The huge Christmas tree is there and there are “people mountains and people seas”.
  9. We went to the Chinatown via Metro 6 (Canel st.) and had a wonderful dinner.
  10. Went back to Grand Central and took Amtrak back to New Rochelle. It ran for 31 minutes.

Chinatowns in U.S.

The travel is perfect, except the food. I am sorry but I still cannot enjoy the food in America. I tried different types of foods according to the recommendation from local listing, but I cannot find a good one for me. After eating American food for two days, I am feeling like I eat the food on the airplane everyday. You may imagine the feeling – hungry but don’t want to eat, eat but still feel hungry. I tried to stay at American restaurant at the beginning. Since I am here, I should do things like locals do. Food should be an important part of a journey, isn’t it.

I finally gave up and started to eat my favorite Chinese food at Chinatowns. In Washington D.C. we went to the Chinatown Express for three times. In Boston, we went to the Yan Jing Restaurant at the Harvard Square (just on the other side of the Harvard Widener Library). The second time, we took the red line directly from our hotel to that restaurant to have lunch before we start our tour that day.

Chinatown

I have visited the Chinatown in Washington D.C., in Boston, Chicago and New York. What amazed me most is that I saw so many people there who cannot speak or read English. Chinatown seems to be their jails that they can never step out. There are Chinese newspapers, Chinese signs and small businesses serving the local Chinese community. I saw many famous business names were translated into Chinese which I even didn’t see in China.

Meanwhile, I feel sad when I visit some local residents in the Chinatowns. The area in the big city seems to be a replica of old China’s streets – small shops, simple and cheap restaurants. The shops are good at lower the price for their service/good by decreasing the cost. Often, they decrease it at the cost of quality. It is for sure that any people who think China Town is a window for the current China will be misled. Of cause, for big countries like America and China, it is always risky to conclude situation in one sentence. I heard the conversation in Chinatown that went like this:

A: “It is cold, isn’t it?”

B: “Yes. In China, they still wear t-shirts”

The second person must forget China’s territery is large enough to cover the hot and the cold. It is the same to conclude on the economic or culture side.

Chinatown Buses

I had very high expectation on the Chinatown buses, but I was disappointed this time. Taking the Chinatown buses running between Boston and New York as an example, they are cheap (15 USD per trip) because they don’t accept credit card; there are no waiting room for passengers; they don’t run advertisement; they don’t have automatic ticket vendering machine (so don’t need to hire anyone to design the system); there is no customer service; they stops at cities in the middle without telling the customer about it; they don’t need to print flyers; and don’t need to rent a terminal at the Port Authority Bus Terminal – they use streets. I am not comfortable to see the Chinese bus owners do business like there. Finally, I was disappointed with the Chinese bus although I took the motivation to try it and help to promopt it after that.

It Snows in Washington D.C!

Snowing Washington

It is snowing in Washington D.C. When we got out of the Smithsonian Station of the Blue Line Metro and went to the National Art Gallery East Building (designed by I.M.Pei), it started to rain. When we finished our tour to the National Art Gallery, it was still raining but mixed with snow. Very soon, it was completely snowing. How exciting! This is the first snow I saw in America and it is also the first snow after I moved to Shanghai ten years ago.

At night, it started to snow heavily. I guess tomorrow, when I wake up, it should be completely white outside. I like to see the scene before I leave Washington but I worry a little bit about the Interstate Expressway tomorrow back to New York. It will be very bad if the highway is paused due to icy road. From Greyhound’s website, it has paused its operation in Chicago area. It was reported it will be windy and snowy in Boston tomorrow. What my friend reader said the only thing I can enjoy in Boston if it snows is to drink hot chocolate and enjoy the warm hotel room.

The Modern Millie

We went to the Kennedy Center for Performing Art for The Thoroughly Modern Millie. It was a wonderful musical, but of cause, it brought big challenges for my English listening comprehension. I could understand music part very well though. It is a funny story with a surprising ending. However, I am not feeling good that the bad guys in the play came from Hong Kong and they spoke Cantonese and whenever they came out, there had to be an English subtitle on top of the screen. The image normal American see about China is still at the old ages. I remember when we watched the Nutcrackers in Lincoln Center in NYC, the actors and actress for the tea dressed old fashioned Chinese clothes (which is very ugly).

Washinig Pictures

Here are some pictures I took in Washington D.C. Of cause, they are the pictures I took yesterday when it didn’t snow yet.

washington-building-reflection.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang.

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© Jian Shuo Wang. Lincoln Memorial before the reflection pool.

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© Jian Shuo Wang. Washington DAC Building

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© Jian Shuo Wang. Bench on the National Mall

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© Jian Shuo Wang. Metro Map of Washington. I really enjoy the metro system, especially the $6.50 One Day Pass Metro Card.

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© Jian Shuo Wang. Roof of the White House (in the middle of the image)

This Blog Mentioned by Big Media Again

P.S. Richard and Lisa informed me that my blog was mentioned on today’s New York Times. It is a big surprise for me. :D Thanks for notifying me about it.

I am in Washington, D.C

To my surprise, the price of hotel in Boston drops significantly in the weekdays than weekends. So we modified the route a little bit and chose to come to Washington D.C. during the weekend. I am in Hotel Washington, in Washington D.C. now. As always, to find sometime to sit down and write is not easy.

We took greyhound here. It took 4 and half hours. I am planning to leave for Boston on Dec 20 and go back to New York on Dec 23 to continue the Big Apply journey. The Hotel Washington is a very nice hotel. It is on the same street of White House, which is only one block away. The Washington Memorial is shining right outside my window and the huge Christmas tree Bush lit up is down there.

Washington D.C. is the type of city that I fall in love at my first step. Since the law requires no building can be higher than the capitol in this city, the buildings here are not tall but huge. It seems every building’s name starts with “National”, such as the National Press Building, National Theatre and National Museum of blah-blah around the hotel.

Due to the big contrast between Washington D.C. and New York City, it is even more quiet and here. It is a place where pedestrians have time to wait for red lights and drivers yield for pedestrians. People have time to say “excuse me” again. For us, it’s quite like an escape from New York City.

BTW, the Metro in Washington D.C. is among the best metro system I saw so far. The big halls of Metro and clear signs make it very friendly. The train carts are clean – they even have carpet on train!

P.S. Excuse me for not replying comments, or some emails recently. For those I do replied, sorry for conciseness of the reply. For a person with very strong Internet relationships like me, you can imagine how many emails in my mailbox after two or three days of absence. The dialup is slow here.

New York – Day 2

In the morning, after glanced my email in five minutes, I put the camera into my pocket and went out with Wendy. (If you sent me emails these days, my response will be delayed since the Internet access condition is not good here.)

New York and Shanghai

New York has many similarity with Shanghai. The living condition of many people, if not the majority, seems not easy. Rich people can only get an apartment (not house) in Manhattan and the poor can only get a place to settle down in Queens or New Jersey and spend the one hour more two on the train. I agree it is all about choice. There must be reasons for people stay and choose small rooms instead of large house in the west.

Art? Dirt?

The skin of New York is covered by colorful drawing. It is everywhere, on the walls, in the subways stations and inside the train carts. Look at this picture along the Metro Line 7.

© Jian Shuo Wang

It reminds of the advertisement on the wall in every village in China. The suburb of New York are similar with the villages in China.

I don’t like to look at the eyes of the passengers in the subway. People look tired or expressionless, if I don’t use the word of “hopeless”to describe what I saw. What people can expect in this fast-paced crowded and materialized city?

Subway

The public transportation system in New York is efficient. Please note that I used efficient instead of nice. It is a system that simply works. You cannot expect more from it – no art, no cleanness, no desire to stay there longer. I shouldn’t be too picky on a metro system that kept running from 1904 and a main stream public transportation system for people coming from every corner of the world. If the Metro in Shanghai symbolizes modernized city life in China, the subway in New York symbolizes the industrial development of the last century. It basically uses the same train system as those running on the ground. The noise and the turbulence are exactly the same as the trains for long distance transportation. To my surprise, I didn’t see a modern city from the subway of New York; instead, I saw history.

© Jian Shuo Wang

It is quite amazing that there are 4 – 6 tracks at the same station and there are so many platforms in one metro station. It is exactly typical train station in China. The only difference is, it is built underground.

What Metro system in Shanghai should learn from New York subway, which is at the age of its grandfather, is the naming and guidance system. At least there is no typo on the board. :-)

Park Ave. and 5th Ave.

The Park Ave. and the Upper East part of 5th Ave. are the splendid miles. Houses with the same heights line up there. I guess the old houses must have been destroyed and rebuilt for many times to form the current uniqueness of the street scene. I love to say in the Park Ave. a little bit longer since it is the only place I found in the entire Manhattan that has sunshine so far. Other streets look like the deep valley cut buy knives from the baseline of the top of the buildings. There is absolutely no sunshine there.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Guggenheim

© Jian Shuo Wang

It may be the most famous roof in the world.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Central Park

It is too cold today with the strong wind from the south. I found it impossible to march from the north-most to the south-most point. So we went across the park from the east to the west along the lake. It is a miracles that so huge a piece of land was reserved in the most expensive land in the world. On the other hand, the plan to reserve the land also helped to create the most expensive land.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Night Lincoln Center

New York wake up at night. When we arrived the Lincoln center at the Broadway and the 65th Street, it was already 5:30 PM. The exciting ballet The Nutcrackers would start in 30 minutes. We bought the tickets at $20 and entered the New York State Theater. It is among the cheapest tickets in the theater, located at the end of the level 4, which is basically the second furthest seats from the stage. Since Wed is the off-peak time and the price is lower than tomorrow’s. The more expensive tickets were all sold out.

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

The theater is huge. Since it is not allowed to take pictures inside the theater, I can only take some pictures at the lobby.

© Jian Shuo Wang

The ballet The Nutcracker is great. No wonder why this has been the 50th season for this ballet to serve as the holiday’s most splendid light. It will be performed at the theater six weeks around the Christmas. This is the forth time for me to visit a theatre. The previous one are the Holiday XXX, The Lion King, The Concert of Spanish Pianist and this, the Nutcrackers. It inspired my interest on performing art, and music. The number I visited museum, gallery and theatre is more than the whole year before. The most important take-away for my U.S. trip this time is art.

© Jian Shuo Wang

At night, the Lincon Center is like a crystal palace. More activities are still held in the other buildings concurently. What an exciting city! I love New York now.

Chicago is Amazing

I toured in Chicago one day. My friend Irfan was very kind to drive to me to downtown Chicago with his nice Benz car (I really like the seat heater on his car) and show me along the Lake Michigan. There are large parks along the waterfront. Some people were jagging there along the lake. The city and the nature mix perfectly. I don’t like the wind from the lake though.

Sears

The first stop is the Sears Tower. I read about this tower in an architecture book when I was in primary school. I totally agree that Chicago is architecturally the most important city in the United States. The Sears Tower looks so powerful. I can easily draw the diagram of the tower. Here it is: (x denotes the building itself and o represents the absence of the column)

xxx xxo oxo ooo

xxx xxx xxx xxo

xxx oxx oxo ooo

The 9 columns were cut by two first, then the other two were cut. With the cross-shaped tower rising to very high, the remaining 3 columns were cut and leaving the last two extending to the sky.

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© Jian Shuo Wang. Sears Tower from the Jasckon Street

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© Jian Shuo Wang. The designer of the Sears tower with my friend Irfan’s reflection in the image.

Park

There is a nice park by the Chicago Institute of Art. The huge steel ball stands there as a big mirror, reflecting the skyline of the city in a way people can see easily.

chicago-ball.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang.

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© Jian Shuo Wang.

The skyline of the image looks brighter and nicer in the reflection.

Chicago River

By the corner of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River, there is two very interesting building (satelite image). It has the parking area built into the building. Astonishing design! Did anyone drive down from the top by accident? I guess people may put the shift to R when they mean to use D.

chicago-cars-in.building.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang.

Chicago River at Night

The bridge on the Chicago River looks even more beautiful at night.

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© Jian Shuo Wang.

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© Jian Shuo Wang.

Chirstmas Season

It is Christmas season. Celebration is everywhere. The street artists even changed their songs to Christmas related. The windows of the shopping malls of Michigan Ave. become the display board for the Christmas spirit. I took the following picture at a Christmas gift market at the exit of Washington Station of Chicago Subway Red Line. I am considering using this as my Christmas card of this year. “Hey, Man. Remember the Christmas card of my last year – the one Wendy took?”

BTW, I learnt the slogan to add “Man” in Chicago. When I said to a black artist who sings very well, he replied: “Thanks, man.”

chicago-christmas-gift.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang.

Metro

As I prepared, I visited the subway system in Chicago. It is using color to name the lines, just as London (some reader pointed out before).

chicago-metro.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang.

The single ride is 1.75 USD. It is expensive – just as Hong Kong. In Shanghai, the most expensive metro ticket you can buy is 6 RMB, which is about 0.75 USD. I don’t mean to complain – how nature and cheap the ticket is after one completed the shopping (or window shopping) long the Michigan Ave.!

The entrance of the Red Line is decorated with a real Red Line.

chicago-red.line.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang.

The red line has a station named Chicago. So I understand how long the line is (because it may connects other cities), or how old the line is (because at that time, Chicago only refer to a small town?)

Public Radio is Really Public Radio

At the grand floor of the Chicago Tribune Tower (satelite image), there is a special room with two sides surrounded by glasses, so people can directly see what is going on inside. It is the studio for WDN 720 AM radio. The small speaker broadcasts the radio on real time while visitors can see the host inside and wave hands to say hi.

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© Jian Shuo Wang.

In the above image, the host Ralph Russell is broadcasting the program On the Money. It gives listener a great sense of where the audio come from.

Spring Board

The most unique thing in this windy city is the spring display board. Did you noticed the two springs at the foot of the board? When the wind blows, it blends and restores to its original position. It may be the invention of this windy city.

chicago-spring.board.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang.

I realized how strong the wind in Chicago blows this time. It is freezing outside. The temperature is 30°F but the wheather forecasted “Feels like” 18°F.

Want More Pictures?

I have put all my pictures here.

Acknoledgement

I’d like to thank Irfan and Andy for their kind host. It is part of the great memories in Chicago. Irfan drove me all around and waited me at the Sears Tower at 8:00 PM in the cold to send me back. The breakfast Andy prepared for me is super. Thanks you very much!

Hello Chicago

I am in Chicago now, the greatest in the world. The temperature here is lower than in Seattle, but it is not raining. I missed the sunny Seattle (only the last day when I left it) immediately when I am in Chicago. I fell in love with Chicago equally soon. I will start with the Michegon Ave. and the Chicago River tomorrow.

Back from Geek Diner in Bellevue

This is the last day of the three-day training in Seattle. The jat lag seemed to disappear from me. Tonight, Robert Scoble invited me to attend the Media Center team geek dinner in the crossroad mall. I was certainly happy to meet the most famous Microsoft blogger there.

When the training finished at around 5:45 pm, it was raining heavily outside. Althought to rent a car at Avis or Hertz nearby was an option, I just didn’t want to bet on my skills of driving in U.S. and the sense of locations. If I did rent a car, by the time I arrive there, everyone may had gone already. I used the King County Metro/Bus Trip Planner, and it gave a good suggestion:

Itinerary #1

Walk 0.2 mile NW from 1400 6TH AVE to

Depart WESTLAKE STA & BAY D At 05:56 PM On Route MT 229 Overlake Transit Center

Arrive 156 AV NE & NE 8 ST At 06:32 PM

Walk N to 15600 NE 8TH ST

It was a great result. Bingo. But finally, I chose taxi.

The taxi driver didn’t know the address. This was to my surprise. With the help to Robert over mobile, we finally found our way to hiway 520 via I-5 and turn to 405 and took 8th Street exit.

The Ethiopia Taxi Driver

The taxi driver was interesting. He came from Ethiopia. He was obvious excited when he learnt I am from China. He told me there are many Chinese in his country – the plants, the factories – are all opened by people in China. They buy Chinese shoes and clothes everyday. They are building their own road infrustructure like I-5 in his country, and all the technologies, the machinaries and the engineers come from China. It is amazing. I never heard about it before. I doubt there is any people from China go to Ethiopia before… He continued to tell his story in this country. It is quite an eye opener. In my memory, there are always wars there. I asked him about the wars (no offense here), and he acknowledged: Yes. There will always be wars but it is at the border, not the country. Well. How about pay a visit to this mysterious country? He promoted his country and said it is very cheap there. They even have Hilton there. I admit I am still very ignorance for world. I am looking into the details of a trip to Ethiopia.

Road Naming System of Washington State

The address of the destination is:

15600 NE 8th Street

Bellevue, WA

When we took the 8th Street exit and heading westward, the driver started to look for the 156 Ave. He talked about one hundred and fifty six, while I always look for fifteen thousand and six hundred. Later, I realized that I can find out the Ave name of by removing the two zeros at the end. So it is very sure that 15600 NE 8th Street is at the intersection off 8TH Street NE and 156th Ave. NE. This idea is cool!

Later, I found it works in the downtown seattle too. The address for Sheraton Hotel is

1400 6th Ave.

It can be translated to the corner of 14th Street and the 6th Ave, where the 14th Street is actually the Pike Street. They have this kind of translation on tour map and the number 1400 is on every plate of the street. Cool! I claimed the root of America’s/Greek’s/western culture is systematic thinking and reasoning, or the quatitive thinking, while the root of Chinese/eastern culture is literature or qualitive thinking. This is one good example of the difference.

The Dinner

The geek dinner was not in a restraunat, as I expected. People gathered at the lobby of the mall and sat in the public area. Everyone ordered some fast food and started to talk. I heard some very good idea there and saw a big OEM product there. I got a nice Channel 9 robot todady.

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The small Channel 9 Image in coutesy of Channel 9

The talk was simply great. It seems people are so interested in news in China. The contrast of the poor and the rich, the newly built skyscrapers and the nearby farm land is the hot topic there. It is interesting.

P.S. Bank Account

I created my first bank account in U.S. with Bank of America today. I asked for Versatel checking account and just before I sign my name for this account, the grace service lady found my employer is Microsoft and she offered to upgrade my account too FirstChoice Gold Checking, which is the top level account in Bank of America and 3 level higher than Versatel account. It was great. I also ordered my first check book in my life. Since the financial institude took a big jump in the last twenty years, it seems people directly jumped from saving account to credit card. There is almost no personal checking in the history.

Art Story 2: Lion King in Paramount Theater

My friend and I went to see Lion King in the historical Paramount Theatre last night. I am so happy that I visited the theater. From a website, I learnt the show started at 8:00 pm so I arrived there near 7:30 pm. The Paramount Theatre is located at 911 Pine Street, Seattle, WA 98101, just several blocks away. The tickets run from 25 USD to 100 USD. I remember someone posted on my blog to suggest me to try my luck to arrive the theatre at the last minute to get cheap tickets. It worked. A person in hotel uniform was selling his two tickets. The face value for the tickets was $49 and we got it at $20 each. Nice deal, isn’t it?

Before the show started, I was already so impressed by the architecture of the theatre. It was huge! There are many I happened to notice a computer screen at the entrance indicated 2656 persons entered the theatre that night. My seat was on the third mezzanine, 33W 4 to be exactly. It is very far from the stage but exactly in the middle so I can still enjoy the show very well. It is the most splendid place I have ever been in Seattle. See this picture! The elegant decor makes it a palace.

The show is even better: the typical broadway style. I especially love the musical and the way people simulate the lives of animals. Here are the scenes of the show: Act One and Act Two.

Many senior people went there. They dressed well, and behaved well. Parents brought their children. It is clear the tradition of fine arts pass along the generations. It is exactly as the vision of the Seattle Theatre Group stated: the theatre helped “To enrich, inspire, challenge and expand our world through the arts”.

Art Story 1: Dale Chihuly and Shareton

Story 1: Dale Chihuly in Shareton Hotel & Tower

In the lobby of Sheraton Hotel, they display Dale’s glass work and an instruction of the parntership between Sheraton and Dale Chihuly. Sheraton installed Dale’s work in every single room in that hotel! It is impressive. There are two 2-dimension work in the room I stay.

seattle-dale-sheraton.jpg

I saw Dale’s work at City Centre this noon. I was happy that I can easily relate the work with the one at the lobby of Sheraton Hotel before I read the author plate.

It is the art from the famous artists that makes the city more approachable and more sensational. The buildings are not stone any more. The artists gave lives to them.

Incredible Prosperity of Art in Seattle

I realized one very important thing Shanghai is lack of, while Seattle has is, art. To be more exactly, I should say I didn’t experience so many art works in Shanghai as I do in Seattle. Shanghai is also a nice place for art, but I may be too busy and didn’t spend too much time on it.

I was impressed by the art works around me in Seattle very hour. There are paintings in hotels and at lobbies of business building. There are many musical and comedy in the many theaters around town. There are tonies statues at many corners. The black beggars played drum on the street. Often, I enter a gallary before I realized it. Everything mixed together with the strong atmosphere of Christmas is just incredible.

Getting Shore Pass (Temp Visa) for Japan

Many people transit flight in Tokyo, as it is one of the three international flight hub in my mind. If ou are interested, the other two are Hong Kong and Singapore. Shanghai is still far away from them, even not at the same level of Beijing yet, in terms of access of International fights. People in Shanghai still need to find a hub airport to transit to Seattle. It can be Tokyo (It is the Northwest Airlines’ hub in Asia), or San Francisco (hub of United Airlines). From this trip, I learnt ANA is a really nice airline with much better service and maybe in the next trip, I will choose ANA. It provide personal entertainment equipments that allow you to select the movie you want and play it from the beginning on demand on the Shanghai – Tokyo flight. It is available only in the first class of Tokyo – Seattle flight in UA.

Temp Visa

Japan joined many visa waiver program. People from U.S., Canada, and many other countries don’t need a visa to enter Japan and can stay there up to 3 months. China just started to join these programs. The recent APEC Business Travel Card is the first step. China joined the program in 2002 so it is easier to travel to the following economies:

  • Australia
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Chile
  • China
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • The Philippines
  • Chinese Taipei
  • Thailand

I saw there is a special gate for APEC Business Travel Card holder at Pudong Airport. Only one person passed this gate while all the other 20+ gates are crowded with more than 20 people waiting in line.

This card seems like the Schengen visa, but only passport holder of participation economies can apply. I will consider applying one. I don’t understand how frequent does the criteria of “frequent traveler in Asia” mean yet.

OK. Back to main topic. According to the article 14/15 of Japan Immigration-Control and Refugee-Recognition Act, people who needs a visa can get a shore pass to stay in Japan for up to 72 hours.

Application by Captain of the Flight

When I enter the terminal of the Narita airport via the bridge, I saw two ways leading to two directions: One to immigration and one to international flight transition. I should take the transit way but I wanted to try my luck and turned right and go to immigration official. When I waited in line to see an immigration officer, the display board show that “For passengers for Visa required countries & regions (China, Taiwan, etc)…., you need to ask a staff of airline you came on to submit a shore pass application”. I followed the instruction to approach the staff at counter A. It doesn’t seem people who enter Japan using this kind of visa is rare, since the instruction is just above the immigration officers. People in counter A directed me to go to ANA counter, which is 50 meters away. Nice lady accepted my request. After checking my flight tickets and password, she wrote a small piece of paper and handed it over to me. It is smaller than my passport and the quality of the paper is not so good. It reads:

Application for Shore Pass H16/12/6

To Immigration Inspector at port of NRT

Under the provisions of Article 14/15 of the Immigration-Control and Refugee-Recognition Act, we hereby submit application for shore/transit pass for the personal mentioned below:

Name: WANG/JIA. Further, the schedule for departure is as follows: UA938 (flight) NRT (port of exit) SEA (destination) 6 Dec 04 (Date)

(Signature of Captain/Carrier)

ANA (Name of vessel/aircraft)

That’s it. She added: “What I can do is to write this application for you. It is the officer at the immigration gate who can grant you the shore pass.” Sure. I understand it.

The Shore Pass

Going back and waited in the line to see an immigration official. The well dressed young man asked me the reason to enter Japan. I told him frankly: “Just want to wander around during the 5 hour of transit.” I know it is dangerous to say so, but I am just curious about how they handle the situation like the one I have. The answer is very simple. He put a shore pass onto my passport.

Dec 6 – The Longest Day in 2004

Flying around the globe creates very interesting phenomenon regarding time. The time difference is one of them, and the International Date Line is another. The resulting jet lag is not-so-interesting one.

I got up at 6:00 AM, two hours earlier than average, to catch flight to Tokyo at 8:55 AM, Dec 6, 2004. When I arrived in Tokyo, I happily found it is already 12:35. The 2 hour and 40 minutes flight ate one hour of my day. I love to lose one hour in my schedule. It meant I was closer to my bed so I can have a nice sleep earlier, right?

I was somewhat tired after the trip, but still excited. In the next five hours, I waited in the long line of Japanese custom and took train to the city of Narita. It was 10 minute train’s ride from NRT (Narita airport). I was really tired after walking with my big bag on my back – I regretted that I hadn’t checked it in at Shanghai airport so I went to the United counter to check it before my NRTSEA trip. At 5:25 PM, it is already dark outside in Tokyo. It may because the latitude of Tokyo is higher than Beijing. The winter of Tokyo seems like Beijing. Seated on a Boeing 777 of flight UA876, I reviewed the 200 pictures I took in my short stay in Japan, concluding that the day just passed was a very meaningful day.

Night came. I fell asleep, dreamed, waked up, ate/drunk something, fell asleep again… I repeated the circle again and again on the plane. I guess I slept 50% of the trip, ate 30%, and idled 20% of the time on the aircraft. When I was so bored and I wanted to stop this journey as soon as possible, I found there were still 4 hours left in the journey. Long night!

The most interesting part of the story happened when I arrive in Seattle. After 8 hours of flight, the clock at Seattle airport indicated that it was 7:55 in early morning on December 6, 2004, the same day I left Shanghai. It was exactly the time when I completed the check-in procedure at Pudong Airport. It was so funny.

After that, I waited in the long line to pass the U.S. custom, claimed my baggage, rent a car at Avis, practiced driving on the foreign land for one hour and successfully drove to hotel via I-5. Since the training starts the next day, I conducted city tour in the afternoon, had simple lunch and dinner and bought a cup of coffee in the first Starbucks store in the world. I spent the night to watch an experiment drama named Holiday XXX from Live Girls!. It was fantastic. The two actors and two actresses performed the one-act drama three times according to three different scripts by three different writers. There are 10 audiences during the play.

When the drama ended, I chatted with the artists. I mentioned: “It is so nice to end the day of Dec 6 with such a beautiful drama. It is the longest day for me in 2004″. Someone asked road on my way back hotel. I laughed. “I’m afraid I have no idea. I just arrived in this city this morning.” I said. Meanwhile, it came into my mind that “If you asked me about the day of Dec 6, I am more confident to give you an answer because I have stayed in this day for 40 hours already.”

P.S. This page is published at 12:14 AM 12/8/2004

Arrived in Seattle

Just post a short notice onto this web before I go out for lunch. I have I arrived in Seattle safely and have checked in the Sheraton Hotel and Tower at 1400 6th Avenue, Seattle. It is among the best locations in Seattle – at the block between Union Street and the Pike Street. I rent a car from Avis and drove it here. It is so easy to drive in the States than in Shanghai. Stephen’s comment of the last day is correct – it is raining. When I watched out of the window of the B777 aircraft during its landinig, I realized that I would have to drive in the rush hours of a rainy Monday morning. It seemed crazy for first time drivers. To be safe, I drove on the local roads around the airport area for about one hour – first half an hour to get used to the new car and the new driving style, and the second half looking for ways to I-5. It turned out to be a very easy trip. I took 250 pictures on the way already, including those on the short stay in Tokyo. I successfully get the shore pass (or the temp visa) and took train to the nearby town — Narita. ANA shouldn’t have denied me two days before. According to the shore pass, I can stay in Tokyo and Chiba till Dec 9, 2004. I wandered in the town for one and half hour and get back to Terminal 1 of NRT to continue my journey to U.S. I am experiencing jet lag now. The clock on the right corner of the computer reminds me that the current Shanghai time is around 4:00 AM. So many interesting stories to share on the trip. I will take time to create some topics and write around them. I love travel since travel has the magic power to put more stuff into the same amount of time.

Temp share of the photo