Monthly Archives: February 2005

Life in a Low Cost Labor World

Living in a world where labor cost is relatively low – especially those low end labor like Ayi cleaning or Express man, is very different from the developed country.

Some people suffer from the absence of effective and secure way to transfer goods. The EMS by China Post Service does not work as I expected. A package from Shanghai to Changsha cost me 3 days. It is not even a guaranteed delivery time, while UPS or Fedex can deliver the same package to any large cities in the world in 24 hours. The surface mail with 0.60 RMB postage is worse. It is something like UDP package in the TCP/IP protocol – you send it but there is no guarantee that the package will be received. :-D

However, other people are enjoying the low cost delivery already if the destination is at the same city. It is called Kuai Di or the Express man. The market price for a common service is 5 RMB per delivery. They ride motor-cycle or even electronic empowered bicycle. They are flexible enough to deliver the good to everywhere – even somewhere without an address – they can find it by calling the recipient. :-) Express man has been the standard department for many organizations, no matter foreign-owned or small private business. The typical scenario is: “Hey. I have the contract ready. I can ask my Kuai Di to deliver it to you or you ask yours to come to my office to pick it up?”

Ayi is another good service that is not comparable in any city in the world. Due to the high demand, the large supply (many woman come to Shanghai and pick Ayi to be their first job), it has been a very powerful business. The standard price for one hour of work is 5 RMB in Xuhui district, and it is 7 RMB in Pudong (Why? I guess more Ayi wants to work in Puxi)

You can ask them to help – from cleaning the house to taking care of the baby, from cooking dinner to doing the repeatable work. It is quite amazing how Ayi changed the life of people in Shanghai.

Ayi as an occupation can be classified as servant in modern terms. But they are more flexible. They are paid by hour and one Ayi can serve more than one family or company at the same time. It is highly commercialized industry. Many companies hire Ayi to keep the office clean, serve tea, and help employees on their personal stuff, like paying the electricity bills or fetch the laundry clothes. As everyone is so busy with their own business, to ask an Ayi to help do the simple work seems to be effective than doing it by themselves. Companies, whether small or large, has find it very effective to hire Ayi.

Many broker help to connect the Ayi and the host together and charge commission. Some professional Ayi or Express man management companies emerge, so it is no longer the personal business of the Ayi or the Express man. It is the same for Safe Guards.

Express man is a frequently used method for e-commerce in Shanghai. Ayi has been a more cost effective way to do many things than IT solution. For example, I once thought of inputting all the ISBN number of the books I have into a database. Besides the system, I need to buy a bar code scanner, which is at least 200 RMB. Later, I found with 200 RMB, I can hire an Ayi to help me do the work. If they are given a computer and 10 minute of training, they can pick up a book, check the ISBN from the book cover and enter the ISBN numbe into my Excel. It only costs several hours. It reminded me the experience of my friend. After he moved to his new apartment, he paid 200 RMB for after-renovation clean up. That morning, 20 Ayi showed up at his door and worked for the whole morning. It was quite amazing.

My Favorites in Shanghai

My favorite place for afternoon tea: Xian Zhi Xuan (Ambroise)

My favorite book store: Ji Feng Book Store

My favorite working lunch restaurant: Wei Qian La Ma

My favorite bus line: 926

My favorite place for wireless Internet access: Starbucks

My favorite Starbucks store: People’s Square store

My favorite Hunan Cursion: San Xiang Masion

My favorite tea house: Tian Qu at Dong Fang road

My favorite restaurant in Pudong: Qin Feng Tang Yun

My favorite road: Hua Shang Road (the section between Urumuqi Road and Jiang Su road)

My favorite university campus: Shanghai Acdemic of Theatre

My favorite theatre: An Fu Road Theatre

My favorite hotel building: Ritz-Carlton Portman

My favorite office building: Corporate Avenue

My favorite car make: Volkswagon Polo

My favorite gallery: Shanghai Gallary of Three on the Bund

My favorite luxrous store: Three on the Bund

My favorite book: The Art of Travel

My favorite hotel to stay: Ressainance Hotel

My favorite airport for business: Hong Qiao Airport

My favorite express way: A30

My favorite new area: Biyun International Community

My favorite church: Shanghai Community Church

My favorite Sichuan Cusion: YuXing

My favorite gym: Physical

My favorite view: The turning point from Yan’an Elevated Highway to the Zhong Shan East Rd.

My favorite furniture design: IKEA

My favorite Karaok: Cashbox

My favorite swimming pool: Sports Hotel

My favorite tennis court: Shanghai Tennis Center

My favorite car rental: Shijong Rental

My favorite airline agent: ctrip

My favorite number to call: 114

My favorite newspaper: Oritental Morning Post

My favorite technology book store: Only Bookstore of Shanghai Jiaotong University

My favorite broadband provider: ADSL from Shanghai Telecom

My favorite mobile service provider: China Mobile

My favorite taxi company: Dazhong Taxi

My favorite hosptial: Hua Shan Hospital

My favorite English Magazine: That’s Shanghai

Update: Related posts on this topic Feb 28, 2005

  • Micah posted his favorite list immediately after my post.
  • BingFeng’s Tea House also posted a list
  • Fons proposed “My Favorites in Shanghai” as the next Shanghai Weblog Meetup topic
  • I encourage people to write on this topic and notify me so I can add your list to this update

I can Recognize Orders Now

I’m reading Shi Jian’s The Soul of the Land (《大地之灵》) (Chinese book, ISBN 7-80603-252-5). I learnt the three orders or organizational systems of classical western architecture. I am very happy about the new knowledge. Whenever I look at a western style building now, I can quickly recognize the language they use – it’s like a secret code between the architect and me, so I get more information about the building.

I browsed my old photo gallery on my computer. Many buildings in Shanghai borrowed the orders from Greek. I admire the small country who spread its culture to the world.

Photo 1: The transformed Doric Order of the Shanghai Exhibition Center:

shanghai-exhibition-doric.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang.

Photo 2: The Ionic order of the Shanghai Concert Hall:

shanghai-shanghai.musical.hall-doric.orders.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang. The Shanghai Concert Hall before it was moved to the new location

The Shanghai traditional resident buildings are mixture of both Chinese and western architectural style. I took the picture below on Oct 21, 2004 in the area near Xintiandi. Look at the Ionic orders on the second floor. It is a resident building with traditional Chinese roof and Ionic orders. This should be the last photo of this beautiful house. It was tore down about one month later. It is the typical fate of nice Shanghai traditional houses. When one small apartment of the building on the same land raises to 7000 USD/sq. meter, who can resist the offer to tear them down and build something new? When I was interviewed in New York, I talked about this issue.

shanghai-old.buildings-ionic.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang

The area in Luwan District still remains large areas of such houses. Take of the picture below. I hope after 2 years from now on, they are stil there.

shanghai-resident.buildings.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang. Large area of old houses in Shanghai. Taken from the top of the Corporate Avenue Building

Next time, I will visit the Bund again. I believe it will no longer be the previous Bund I saw.

I will continue to read about the Chinese traditional architecture part and hopefully, be able to read more from the silent houses. Maybe I will visit the Zhuo Zheng Yuan for the third time with the new knowledge.

Shanghai Weblogger Meetup – Feb

I am happy to meet K W (blog://K W in Shanghai). We talked about his first impression of Shanghai: “Not so boomed city with crazy taxi drivers.” :-)

Michel also blogged about the event. I am so happy that some one use eloquent to describe me (when I am talking in English). :-)

I missed Maria‘s other four cats who were sent to others. But I enjoy the drinks and the place as such as the previous meetup.

It was a great time to chat with Tek, Vicky, Lucy and others who attended the meetup. To view the same city in a traveller’s view or expat’s view help me to be more senstive, cheerful to stay in the city.

I LOL when Tek shared his story with Wendy – as a native speaker of English, he went to Jin Men of Hunan Province to teach English, but he really had hard time to communicate with the local English teachers. That is the reason why students studies English for 12 years but still cannot communicate with foreigners. :-D

Calling Card in Shanghai

Making phone calls using the fixed-line telephone for local calls is cheap (0.12 RMB per minute?) but it is expensive for international phone calls. Here is the standard price:

Normal time

International phone call: 0.48 RMB / 6 seconds

Domestic long distance call: 0.07 RMB / 6 seconds

Between 0:00 – 7:00

International phone call: 0.48 RMB / 6 seconds (for 15 countries, including U.S, Japan, Australia, France…)

Domestic long distance call: 0.04 RMB / 6 seconds

Source: Shanghai Telecom

Calling Card

I am not sure how the foreign carrier’s’ calling cards work in China, such as AT&T, MCI cards. In China, there are many IP cards that can save money. For example, Unicom 17910 IP Card (0.30 RMB/minute DDD or 2.40 RMB/minute IDD to U.S. and Canada (3.60 RMB/minute IDD to other countires), Unicom 193, China Mobile 17950 IP Cards… The best thing with these cards is, if you buy it online, you can easily get 50 RMB of value with less than 20 RMB. The website I use everyday is cnard.com. I can use my credit card to pay there and they send me the card number and the password. I can directly use the card at the fixed-line telephone in my home. No card deliver required. It is really cool.

Buy the Card?

Besides the online store, telephone card dealers can be found at Pudong or Hong Qiao Airport. You can find it at the Arrival Hall (Pudong, Hongqiao).

Alternative

Skype is a much better alternative to fixed-line. It offers around 0.20 RMB/minute to telephone everywhere around the world. It is even cheaper than the mobile phone in China (0.40 RMB/minute). Just use the SkypeOut feature.

Yes. It Snowed in Shanghai

My friends outside Shanghai didn’t believe it snowed in Shanghai. I can understand that, because the last time I clearly remember it snowed in Shanghai was in 1996. OK. Let me proof it.

shanghai-goudaner-snow.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang. Goudaner covered by snow.

The picture was taken at 1:01 PM, Feb 19, 2005. It snowed at the night of Feb 18 and my car looked like this when I walked to my car in the afternoon. It took me quite some time to clear part of the window so I can drive the car to somewhere in the Sun. Very soon, it all melt so I can start my journey.

It is rarely snow in Shanghai. The year of 2005 is abnormal. It snowed many times – I guess more than 5 times already. The temperature varience is big. It was 0°C on Sunday and today, it is 11°C already (all according to the meter in my car).

Professional Web Hosting

It is prooven that professional web hosting like iPowerWeb is really better than the hosting environment at my home :-D and better than my previous hosting company. I was suffering for server down [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] at the begining of 2004. Then I migrated the server to professional web hosting service. The cost doubled but the result is better than tripled. I checked the availiablity report today and the result is not bad:

screen-home.wangjianshuo.com-uptime.png

© netcraft.net

From the table, we can clearly see since April 2005, my server was not restarted so the uptime continued to grow. Before the migration, the uptime was in a mass, as shown in the number – the 90 day average never reached 15 days. :-(

Blogger Meetup this Wednesday

I will attend the Shanghai Blogger Meetup this Wednesday. This is the second time I join the meetup and I definitely enjoy my previous one. A new friend Matt is among one of the best archivements that night. The topic for this Wednesday night, as Fons put it, is:

What makes you blog? We already covered “making money” last time, now this seems a nice follow-up. How often do you write, and how do you pick your subjects every day? Do you have an audience in mind when you blog, and who is that? What is your philosophy for using links?

If you are a blogger and want to join, I guess it is OK to register on the website. RSVP required. I will be there around 7:00 PM.

More Cats in My Garden

Recently, it keeps snowing or raining in Shanghai. Meanwhile, I found more cats in my garden. Besides the original two (I have named them), three more often drop by and eat what I feed. Since my parents are here and they can cook something other than the cat food I bought from super market, we can offord to help more cats.

If you take my garden as a country, I will say, Huahua and Liangliang hold the passport of my garden, so they are the permenent citizen and enjoy the well fare I provide (including food, home, water and sometime my time with them). The other three are visitors holding visa I granted. They can enjoy the food, but there is no home for them. :-D

When looking at these small animals, I forget about all the troubles I have. Just like what William Wordsworth said: “Animal helps to keep the peace of our mind…” True.

P.S Shanghai News.

To keep the public service for those who comes here for real time Shanghai information, let me summarize what is going on in the city in short sentences.

1. It snowed. It is 0°C outside, according to the meter in my car.

2. It has been raining since end of Jan (with only two days exception)

3. The Spring Festival can be claimed to end by next Monday – many people will take vacation in the next few working days after the vacation.

Is This London Undergrand?

Microsoft launched series of “Realize Your Potential” print advertisements to communicate about its mission “Enable people and business to realize their full potential”. Among them, the ad named HAT got Eric‘s attention when we talked about Subways in New York. “Which subway station was the picture taken?” He asked.

screen-ulas-reaize.jpg

© Microsoft Corporation. Src

I didn’t know the answer before a picture on the Shanghai Weekly came into my sight. It was a report on the city of London with some pictures and a subtitle – “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – Samuel Johnson. The picture shows another underground station in London. It seems very similar with the one shown on the Ad.

From the Ad, I can only tell ULAS from the wall. I guess it may be a station near Universities of London Air Squadron (ULAS) in London? Is it the underground station in London named “Brompton Road Underground Station”? If anyone who can recognize this picture, it is appreciated if you can confirm where it is.

Curiosity on Life

This is a vivid example of curiosity for life – the rational motivation for many things we did. I enjoyed the time to search for the answer for the simple question “Where is this station”, and enjoyed the excitement when I happen to see the picture on my dinner table. The research time and the excitement moment are quite rewarding to me. It brings something new to life, so the life is not boring at all. Sometime the reason we travel, ask, research, and study is simply out of curiosity. Curiosity is the genuine human being’s instinct that must be satisfied. The city life, sometime, has killed the passion so people feel boring, while there are millions of poorer people who are happier.

To raise the question is more important than the research. Eric gave a good question (and interesting one) so I want to continue to research like a Sherlock Holmes. The other projects I participate sometimes are also started as good questions. For example, there is a question on the website of Confluence Project web page: What does the point 30N 119E look like? The only thing I knew was, it is a point in the Zhejiang Province which is 300+ km away from Shanghai. To find out the answer (or to satisfy my curiosity), I spent two days traveling there and one night at the miserable 10 RMB per night hotel. Upon my return, I recorded Incomplete Visit to 30N 119E. There is nothing to do with money, nothing to do with project schedule, or customer, or work item, or coding, or anything that is common in daily life.

London?

Samuel claimed that “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. It is true. I would rather further state the same sentence to be “When a man is tired of ______, he is tired of life”. There is a blank space there and you can put almost every place name or even any noun to the blank space and I still believe the statement is near the truth. For example, we can put the follow terms. Try to read it again with the new terms.

  • Shanghai
  • Xujiahui
  • Pudong
  • China
  • my neighborhood

It is a simple philosophy many books kept telling. Some uses extreme samples. Xavier de Maistre wrote the Journey Around my Bedroom (mentioned in Art of Travel) revealing how much he could discover within his own bedroom – he got more than people travel to the world. The same philosophy was repeated in Helen Keller’s Three Days to See. It is purely about the way we treat life. Both set us thinking, wondering what we do under similar circumstances.

Update It is Paris Subway Feb 20, 2005

Thanks DongXi and Carsten to confirm the subway on the poster is Paris Subway. To be more accurate, the Porte de Lilas Station. I recognized te Lilas to be ULAS. The subway of the subway in these two cities are so similar.

Look at this picture castern found for me. It is exactly the station the poster was taken – it is even from the same angle to take it.

paris-porte.de.lilas.png

Image in courtesy of CREDS report

Thanks! I know I will get an answer within two days.

A Chinese Blogger in America

I was called a Chinese Blogger in America. :-D The third installment of my audio blog in America was on air at KQED and other radio stations in U.S. Click the audio archive and click the a Chinese blogger in America (Part 3) to listen.

BTW, I have started to write on my Chinese blog. I suggested Christina not to write on two blogs, since I rarely see someone who successfully manage more than one blog. There will be a strong preference from the blogger about which one to post. Examples: Jian Shuo Wang (blog I, II), Eric (blog I, II), Isaac (blog I, II). Recently, when I read books on philosophy , art and traditional Chinese culture, it is not easy for me to translate it into English. So..

Grassroot Art in Shanghai

Art in Shanghai is also prosperous and is becoming better and better. Not many people noticed it. I have a private list of galleries that really attract me.

The Room with a View

The Room with a View gallery is a very famous one in Shanghai. It is on the 12nd floor of the Xianshi Building, No. 479 Nanjing East Road. It is very like the small gallery I saw in Seattle – a big empty room without any decoration in an old building. Although it is located in the Nanjing Road, there is only a misable elevator at the west side of the building to access it. Despite of the simply look, there are great exhibitions there. These days, there is an Lomo exhibition: Love . 37’2°C LOMO Show and Wedding Party. I heard of Lomo this time, remembered LOMO, feel the passion to try it, but later persuaded myself to get focused and don’t do too many things at the same time. :-) It was a perfect story that Zhang Qianli (the husband), and Tang Xiaomin (the wife) grew up together when they were very young in Shanghai and finally got married at their Lomo photography exhibition on the Valentine’s Day. Thanks for Holly to host me there and introduced Lomo to me. She thought all bloggers are wasting time and posting non-sense articles. :-)

Three on the Bund

There is a Shanghai Gallery of Art on the 3rd Floor of the Three on the Bund. That gallery is very fancy with nice decoration, nice equipment and located in the luxious building. It is what the traditional art gallery looks like.

Studio on Suzhou Creek

I heard of the art area along the Suzhou Creek. I didn’t visit it until recently. Many galleries and studios opened there. I guess there are more than 30. I have visited 798 Art District (mentioned) in Beijing and found those in Suzhou are very similiar. (BTW, Eric has a great video on 798 Art District). It was a old factory at 50 Moganshan Road, near the West Suzhou Creek Road. In the large factories, there are oil paintings (taller than a person) with strong and vivid colors, potery workshop (Mrs. Xie’s Studio there), and video/audio production studios.

The famous BizArt, Shanghart, ArtistLinks, eastlink are located in the same factory. I checked the rent price. A nice (in the eyes of artist) studio with 30 sq. meters only costed them about 1000 RMB per month, but allowing artists to work inside. The rent was 1 RMB per sq. meter per day, but now, it may doubled or even more expensive.

Passion for Life

When asked about what do you still remember for the previous year, many people cannot tell too many. So do I. The more memorable things in life are seldom work related. It can be something you really feel passionate about, such as travel, or competition.

In the year 2005, I will work on three areas in my private life: Art, Charity and Relationship.

Art

My friends and I are planning to hold a photo exhibition in the first half. It was inspired by the Grassroot Art in Seattle. I will also follow the practices from the Art of Travel. I am start to learn drawing and painting.

Charity

I will personally sponsor a funding in university to help few (less than 10 students) excellent students to realize their potential. The fund will help them to go to museums, art galleries, exhibitions, and get chances to talk with other great people in big companies or successful business owners, artists….

Relationship

I will use the year to strength my relationship with all my new, current and old friends. Spend time with them and get to know more people. I am organizing a classmates gathering in Qingdao this July after we graduated from Luoyang No.1 Middle School for one decade.

I will talk about more details about each of the projects later. I hope when I welcome 2006, I at least remember these three meaningful things in 2005.

Talking with Friends is Great

This is the last day of the Spring Festival. I caught the last chance to have tea or coffee with my friends. It is among the best things to do during holidays. I got to know more good places to meet and to have afternoon tea/evening tea. It is important part of knowledge for a city. I didn’t touch this area too much before, and I guess I will start to recommend restaurants, café, tea houses and bars soon.

I also better understood how lucky I am to have a bunch great friends around me. I know who to go to on specific topics. For example, for ideas on Confusions or the great thinkers, I will go to Steven. On the current society, I will see Hua. For great places to eat, I will pick up my phone and give Grace a call. For new ideas, I go to Isaac, and for travel and art, Claire and Edward are the best persons I can find around me.

The best part of life is to talk with friends. It gives new ideas or helps me to review my ideas to get a more systematic view. My mentor at middle school Zhu Hai Jun said to me for more than 10 times, that “people always ignore great people around them”. It is a good echo of Pascal’s “The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room” (my second time quoting this sentence in one week).

Some Observations

There are some very interesting observations in the Internet world that I haven’t put onto the blog yet.

Google loves XinhuaNews and China Daily

When you visit U.S. version of Google News, you will find a very interesting phenomena: About 1/3 of the pictures or one of the two biggest news pictures are often from Xinhua News or China Daily. According to Google’s rule, it implies these two sites are most frequently quoted sites, which is very true.

Forget about Google. Use Baidu

I found the frequency I use Google in the last month dramatically decreased. I almost pulled my hair off when I use Google to search some common terms and get DNS error. It seems more and more content are not suitable for me to read. The easy solution is, switch to Baidu. It is a cleaner environment and they provide good service to censor the content so I won’t click an “appropriate” link before I am aware of.

Google Maps

Google released beta version of Google Map. Google chanllenged people’s imagination of client scripts after it did with Gmail. It is a fantastic application. I love the drag and drop in IE and the navigation with keys. Google is a real Internet company!

203 Mining Workers Died

Liao Ning mine blaster killed 203 workers there. It is terrible news.

Happy Valentine’s Day

I enjoy the Art of Travel more when I read more. I especially love the chapter IX On Habit and chapter VIII On Pocessing of Beauty. It suggested people to draw pictures of the world as a great way to help observe the beauty in the details and look at daily life as a stranger or visitor does. I read the chapters twice in Starbucks in the Super Brand Mall in Lujiazui. I also spent 3 hours to draw the Valentine’s Card for Wendy – it is almost a project as big as the Balloons Reach the Roof. Just kidding. :D

This year’s valentine’s day falls into the Spring Festival long holiday, while the previous several V-Days are many days after Spring Festival. For example, the Valentine’s day is the 24th day of second month in Lunar calendar in 2004, and in 2003, it is the 14th day of the first month in Lunar calendar. That means, some people will have the opportunity to stay together the whole day this year, while more may be apart due to the long vacation. That affected the red rose price. This year’s rose is only at the half price of the last year, which is about 6 RMB per piece [1] [2]. I guess it is due to many people do not go to office so the senario of dating at night with rose in hand decreases. Meanwhile, the production of rose was raised this year.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday adopted from the western tradition. Just like Christmas, young people like to celebrate these western holidays instead of the traditional Chinese holidays. I am returning to the traditional value of old China, and appreciate the traditional Chinese new years.

The Rose House on the first floor of the Super Brand Mall is another great place to enjoy afternoon tea after I found Ambrosia. Unlike other days, today, all the seats were occupied and there were no more tables. The servers said: “It is because of the V-Day”.

It is the same in Starbucks. Waiters have to ask the youngh couples to find a seat inside the store before ordering coffee. Every details in the store – from the special menu, the hand-drawing on the black board in the store, to roses on girls hands or decorated in the store, imply it is a special day – a day of love.

Nice Afternoon Tea at Ambrosia

Wendy and I had great time with our close friends this afternoon. They happen to have blogs (some hosted on my site) and their blogs are famous. The name list is (in alphabetic order):

Claire http://home.wangjianshuo.com/claire

Eric http://home.wangjianshuo.com/mvm (Chinese blog) (with GF. Do you have a blog?)

Gao http://home.wangjianshuo.com/gao

Grace http://blog.joycode.com/grace

Jian Shuo http://home.wangjianshuo.com

Wendy http://home.wangjianshuo.com/fanfan

They are all excellent people with independ ideas and observation of life. Grace recommened the Ambrosia (Xian Zhi Xuan 仙炙轩) to us. It is the best place I can find out for afternoon tea so far. Located in a villa with large garden, it provides very good view, free parking (under a bridge of flowers) and large glass rooms on top of the flatform on the second floor. It is like a green house with sunlight (if there were sunlight) pouring into the room – warm and quite. The good view of the garden is clearly outside the huge glass from the top down to the floor.

The afternoon tea is only served on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 4:30 PM. There are 38 RMB coffee and 58 RMB tea (unlimited water refilling).

Claire just returned from her trip to Vietanan, Laos and Thailand, with excitement of the buddism and the mindation. The idea of ten day class of meditation in India seems to be a great course – to keep silent without talking for ten days to look into one’s soul… I am reading Aliain de Botton’s book named The Art of Travel (Thanks for Chen Wang to share it with me). There is a very wise quote in the book

The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room – Pascal, Pensées

We also talked about the idea to hold Photography Exhibition from our trips (hers trip and our trip to U.S.) in Shanghai. It seems a new idea for non-art related people like us. We call it grassroot art in Shanghai. BTW, any of my readers know how to organize it? How to finance it? and where is the a good place to host it?

XGAO is suffering from the two dogs adopted from his friend. To serve the two dogs is not an easy job for this IT professional. I guess it is not the only reason that he didn’t write on his blog these days (weeks or months).

Welcome back, Eric. The months in Beijing didn’t change a people as much as I imagined. Eric is still the Eric we are familiar.

P.S. Ambrosia 仙炙轩 is located at #150 Fen Yang Road 汾阳路, at the corner of Tai Yuan Road 太原路. Telephone: 021-64313935. It may be expensive (depending on how you define expensive) to have dinner, but for the afternoon tea at weekend, it is of super value. Map. This commentary on Shanghai old fashioned lunch restaraunt is a very good reference. (Chinese site)

Update Feb 15, 2004

Swing posted some photos of Ambrosia on her blog.

Welcome to the God of Fortune

As the clock just gets near to 24:00 today, the fireworks start everywhere outside my window. It seems the fireworks at the begining of the 5th day of Chinese New Year is more important to people in Shanghai than the New Year’s Eve. By tradition, it is the day to be the day to welcome the God of Fortune to arrive in everyone’s home. I believe the story is: it is to welcome the God of Fortune to *return*, because he has went to the heaven to report about how the family was doing before the New Year’s Eve, and on the 5th day, he return to the family to keep bringing more fortune into the family.

It is exciting to hear the all kinds of fireworks from all the directions of the city. The peak of the celebration starts from around 11:58 PM, according to my clock, and lasts for about 8 minutes. Now, at 0:06, the Ping and Pong are still heard but not that “astonishing”… I remember at the New Year’s Eve, Wendy and I took the risk to get hurt by the fireworks and rushed out to see if our car Goudaner was OK. When we just get out, we saw and smelled the smoke of gunpowder. The visibility was really low that we could hardly see what is going on outside 10 meters. My first impression was: “Even in Bagdad, it may be just as this.” (I don’t mean to be stone-hearted of the pain of people there. It was just what I felt immediately when I was there).

guangzhou-money.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang. Taken in Guangzhou. More.

Welcome, the God of Fortuen to my home, to this website (well…) and to the readers’ home.

World Time

World Time

It is fashinable to have a sense of world time. The time difference in different locations of the world is an amazing thing in the world. When I get up in the morning at 8:00 AM, the birds start to sing outside my window. At the same time, people in the west coast, like Seattle, California, are at the last two hours of yesterday’s work. It is 4:00 PM in the afternoon. When I am thinking of my breakfast, they may be thinking about where to go for dinner with their friends. At exactly the same time, most people in London may have fallen asleep, while some may still away, hanging out in bars or working in offices. It all happens at the same time. It inspired me to create a world clock and put it onto my website. It is based on the work of Shanghai-ed.com‘s Shanghai clock.

shanghai-tower-60.90.JPG

Shanghai Time. Time Zone: GMT +8.

seattle-needle-60.90.jpg

Seattle Time. Time Zone: GMT -8

london-big.ben-60.90.jpg

London Time. Time Zone GMT +0

Best Time to Call Me?

I am in GMT +8 time zone. It is OK to call me from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. That is a 15-hour time range. However, people in other part of the world cannot leverage all these 15 hours.

I have most friends and business partners in the west coast of America. Keeping in mind that I wake up at 4:00 PM Pacific Time helps people to find the right time to call me. The rule of thumb is, if you are after work, and you do not go to bed, neither do I. Sometimes, when my brother in Portland call me at mid-night Pacific Time, I am still 4:00 in the afternoon. So no matter how late it is, it is not late for me. This 8 hour time range is the best time for both side of the Pacific to make phone call, start MSN chat or exchange quick emails. If my friends prefer to call Shanghai early in their morning, start as early as possible because when people go to work in Seattle (9:00 AM?), it is already 1:00 AM in Shanghai. So if you want to call early in your time, get up as early as possible, before I fall asleep.

I don’t have as many chances of conferene call with people in Europe as Wendy does. They often have conference calls connecting Seattle, Shanghai and Europe. They picked the time to be either 9:00 AM, or 0:00 AM Shanghai time so the time is good for any of the three locations. If it is 0:00 AM, it is 8:00 AM in Seattle or 16:00 in British, (or 17:00 in German). It is the earlist possible time for people in Seattle – they already get to office one hour earlier and it is the latest possible time for people in Shanghai, since Wendy already delayed the time to go to bed by one hour. It is the same situation for 9:00 AM conference call.

To learn the time difference and to talk with someone with different mood is very interesting. I don’t like to talk with people and discuss tough business stuff in the morning, when I just arrived office, but it seems to be a good time for my counterparts in west coast. So, I would say, if it is for business, 9:30 AM Shanghai time, or 17:30Pacific Time is good for me.

It seems my friends in Seattle just wrap up everything and hand it over to me when they go home. When I finish my work at 17:30, I can hand over the work to people in London, and so do people in London. It is the concept of Follow the Sun, isn’t it?

Zhuo Zheng Yuan of Suzhou

Suzhou is famous for its gardens. This is the second time we visit a garden in Suzhou. We planned to visit some places none of us had visited, but finally, we chose the Zhuo Zheng Yuan or the Hamble Administrator’s Garden, which all of us visited already. We picked it because we want to refresh our memories of Suzhou Gardens, and this garden is among the best.

Suzhou Garden in New York

When Wendy and I visited the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, we saw a replica of Suzhou Garden in the exhibition. It was very interesting to see a place with so strong Chinese characters in the heart of New York. It raised our couriosity to visit the garden again. We often ignore what is around us until we find it again in an unfamiliar environment.

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Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang. Taken in the New York Metropolitain Museum of Art in New York

Please note: The image above is not a real Suzhou garden. It is a replica in New York.

Inside Zhuo Zheng Yuan

It is a nice experience to visit the Zhuo Zheng Yuan again. My understanding of the garden is better than the previous time, after visiting many museums and galleries. I still cannot tell why, exactly, this garden is so unique and beautiful, I just feel more at home this time.

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© Jian Shuo Wang

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© Jian Shuo Wang

About Suzhou Garden

Here is what my favorite architect I.M.Pei said about Suzhou Garden:

How to look at nature is also very important. I remember the windows we have in the Suzhou gardens. Sometimes they are in the shape of a vase, sometimes a bamboo bush, sometimes a fan. When we look out from our office windows on Madison Avenue, we want to see all the way to East River. In China, land is not that plentiful; there are so many people there. Gardens need not be very big. They cannot be big and all-encompassing. These windows are more like picture frames. If you go to the Metropolitan Museum here, you will see a replica of one of those gardens. Beyond the window there are some bamboo shoots, and behind the bamboo is a white wall. The distance between the window and the wall is only about five or six feet. I think it creates a very satisfying picture. Out of these ideas, one can begin to search the vernacular. That was how I started. [1]

It is exactly what I feel (but didn’t find out by myself).

Logistics

The administration fee is 50 RMB. Parking outside the garden is 5 RMB for one day. It is near the Suzhou Railway Station.

Drive to the City of Suzhou

If you have two or three days in Shanghai, I’d suggest you to pay a visit to Suzhou. Although a visit to Suzhou is not as rewarding as a visit to Hangzhou (personally, I love Hangzhou better), it is very worth the time. It is only 100 km away from Shanghai.

As previous visit, I could get up late in the morning, had my breakfast at home, drove to Suzhou within 2 hours (including one hour or more in Shanghai) and had lunch in Guan Qian Street in Suzhou. After visiting some local stores or Chinese garderns, I drove back via the Suzhou High-Tech Zone. Very soon, we were at our favorite Hunan Restaurant in San Xiang Building (at the corner of Zhong Shan Elevated Highway and Hong Qiao Road) in Shanghai. After that, we still had time to visit the East bank of the Huang Pu river, or the Bund in Pudong. Wendy even spent half an hour shopping in the Grand Band Mall.

I had the best of the two cities in my life in the same day!

Suzhou v.s. Hangzhou

If time permits, the best approach is to visit Suzhou first and go to Hangzhou directly from Suzhou (without returning to Shanghai). There are highways connecting Suzhou and Shanghai, Shanghai and Hangzhou, Hangzhou and Suzhou. I don’t know whether it is because “the further the city is, the better it is” or something else. Hangzhou is a bigger city, with more historic stories and places of interests. Hangzhou was, anyway, the capital of China and is the capital of Zhejiang Province. That may be the reason why there are much more inside Hangzhou than in Suzhou. I still like the city of Suzhou, a small town with nice gardens. By Suzhou, I mean the old town of Suzhou. I went to the Hi-tech Zone of Suzhou. It is quite another story.

Suzhou High-Tech Zone

The Suzhou High-Tech Zone is east of Suzhou, adjenct to Shanghai. Many Singaporean enterprises and Taiwan investment went there.

We went to an area near the Ji Chang Road (or Airport Road) in Suzhou. It is a street in the city of Suzhou, but named after the Hong Qiao Airport. It is funny that people in Suzhou can access the airport more convinient than some in Shanghai. It is true.

Tall residential areas and massive town houses and villas around the lake area. There are new business centers and commerical areas. It gave me the impression that another Xin Zhuang (the town at the south end of the Metro Line #1) is rising in Suzhou. Wait. It is better than Xin Zhuang.

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© Jian Shuo Wang. Photograph by Wendy Fan. The bulidings under construction along the road

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© Jian Shuo Wang. Photograph by Wendy Fan. Sample of the buildings just completed construction.