When Jian Shuo Leaves his Car (in CA)

It is not a big deal in Shanghai when I don’t have a car. The life is the same, and sometimes, I have even more freedom than having a car if the destination is in downtown Shanghai. In San Jose, I missed Goudaner so much. The problem is, my driver’s license is with it.

The morning for my flight to SFO, I wake up, packed everything and walked to my car to get my driver’s license (the secret is, I always keep it in my car). I went to the car only to find out Wendy has already driven it to work. Sadly, I left Shanghai without a driver’s license.

It was not a well prepared trip that I had no idea about where San Jose is, and how I could get there. To take a taxi to San Jose may not be a good idea since it costs 120 USD I guess. Thanks to the sign of SFO, there is a direction of BART to Millbra and transfer to CalTrain to San Jose.

So… I took the CalTrain and I enjoyed the one hour trip to Santa Clara and then took a short taxi to Hamilton Ave. I didn’t feel anything wrong until I talked with my friends in eBay. Everyone laughed (if not laughed at me) and looked me like “Are you the guy who took CalTrain?” Well…. Is there anything wrong with the CalTrain?

Actually, it is great! It is great because there is almost no passengers on board besides me. The trip helped me to understand the relative locations of famous towns, like Palo Alto (where Stanford is located), Mount. View (Google), Santa Clara (Intel)…

Not like New York (I miss the subway in New York), to move around in San Jose is not easy. The good (and bad) thing is, I have more than enough things to do and a long list of people to meet. I am excited to talk with talented and passionate people in eBay and didn’t feel boring at all even if I never left eBay Park. Larkspur Landing hotel provide free shuttle. I booked the shuttle to send me from hotel to the park in the morning (1.6 miles), and took taxi back. The taxi took 15 minutes to arrive. It was not a good idea to wait for a taxi for 15 minutes at around 1:00 in the morning. :-)

Joanna from marketing team told me, in San Jose area, they messure locations by numbers of (freeway) exits instead of block. The team in marketing planned to shopping at night, and they discussed and found out it is very near – only 3 exits away. :-) I started to calculate: “If I walk, is there any chance that I arrive there before the sun rise the next day?” San Jose is not so walker-friendly. :-)

10 Comments

  1. Sigh, you forgot your license.

    You should drive in San Jose and even in San Francisco. The whole Bay area is very different from NYC. It is designed for cars. Subway is only an afterthought and it’s not univerally accessable so few people take it. Without a car you don’t get to see much.

    Bay area is large but if you compared it to LA metro, it becomes small. LA is outrageously and unbelievably large, it could intimate new comers a lot more.

    NYC on the otherside most resembles Shanghai. We could say that Shanghai was modeled after NYC. Architects in the 30s and 40s got the concept from NYC and made Shanghai’s HuangPu district a mini Manhattan. People from Shanghai love NYC, I love it too. The culture, the Broadway show, tens and thousands of specialty stores are unmatched in the world. Chinese food is great there too. And the best advantage of living in NYC is you don’t need to own a car.

  2. CalTrain — another adventure for you, Jian Shuo! But, I hope you have found San Jose to be friendly in other ways :-)

  3. Michael Chmilar

    April 23, 2005 at 2:04 am

    Jian Shuo,

    The driver’s test in California is very easy to pass. You could probably get a license while you are visiting.

    All you need is to read through the driver’s handbook (available from Department of Motor Vehicles) for an hour or two, and take the written test. Once you pass, then you can make an appointment to take the driving exam (you will need to borrow a car).

    If you are in San Jose, the Los Gatos DMV is nearby and not too busy. (The San Jose DMV is probably much busier.)

    California has around 1 million unlicensed drivers (DMV estimate) . This means around 4-5% of drivers do not have a license. Driving without a license is illegal, and I do not recommend that you do it.

  4. actually, almost all of the older cities in the US are places where cars are unnecessary. NYC, Boston, DC, Chicago are all examples of places where its better not to have a car…

  5. Boran, not exactly. Only NYC is the city that you truly don’t need to own a car because NYC has the best and universal subway system in the world. NYC’s MTA is not the newest and fanciest but it’s unmatchable in its functionality. It’s a life blood vein for the city. When I get to NYC with my family, I always lock up my car at the hotel and spend the weekend totally on subways.

    However, it’s not so for DC, Boston or anywhere else. Without a car in those cities, you will lose opportunites of all kinds.

    DC and Boston, like San Jose and San Francisco are different in that their suburban areas may be more vibrant than urban areas. In the SF Bay area, as well as the DC area, a majority of high paying professional jobs are in the suburbs. If you don’t have a car, it means you are shut out for these jobs. That’s why NYC is still a magnet for low still, low income immigrant because they can make a living without relying on cars, there are numerous service jobs for these people who speak no English.

    Shanghai in its current development stage, still emulate a NYC model where most people don’t need to own a car. But America in general has long transcended itself beyond this model. Demography and economy has long shifted toward the great suburban area. Although San Francisco still retains its urban vibrancy, but south Bay’s weight in overal economy has far outweigh the downtown area.

  6. Dont you know there is a company called Fedex?

  7. Or ‘fat ass’ as my assistant calls.

  8. Hey Jianshuo,

    I haven’t been paying attention, so I didn’t know you were coming to the Bay Area. If you come up to San Francisco, you can ignore what those suburbanites say: it is very easy to get around by public transportation and driving is no fun, especially because there is never any place to park.

  9. Well. To drive in San Francisco is a good idea, but to park is not. It is either more expensive than taxi, or hard to find. :-) But anyway, San Francisco is much more user friendly than New York and Boston…

  10. I have to respectfully disagree with the saying “SF is much more user friendly than New York…”. But you may be right to say that SF is more new comer user-friendly, at least it would appear less intimidating at first look for new comers. Afterall, SF Bay is a small metro compared to NYC with only 1/3th of NYC’s population.

    Once you get familiar with New York City, you will find that it’s extremely user friendly. Being familiar with both cities, I love both cities in different ways. Compared with NYC, San Francisco is really a small small town. NYC is very convenient if you live there and melt into the city culture for a while, you will find numerous convenience that other city can’t match.

    But I understand that it’s hard to get this impression from a few days visit because all you can see is the surface feature, not the inner quality. Some of the world’s biggest corporation and world’s largest financial operation are there, it can’t afford to be less user friendly. But you do need to read a “user manual” for that friendliness to appear obvious for you. There are so many services that are so good and so inexpensive that you can’t possibly find in other cities. But they are not advertised in newspaper.

    I love San Francisco for its “small town” feeling despite a big city. I also love it for its laidbackness. Although Silicon Valley is nearby, San Francisco does offer that feeling of ease and relaxation. That’s why that movie “Sweet November” (am I right in the name?) was filmed over there because this city is really sweet. However, one simply can’t compare the two cities adequately, there is no comparison

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