Monthly Archives: October 2006

Chinese Blogger Conference

Backed from the Chinese Blogger Conference via a late bus from Hangzhou to Shanghai on Sunday.

Although I enjoy meeting many friends again in Hangzhou, I feel the blogger conference this year is not as “pure” as last year. I remember the last year, most people attended under the identity of a blogger, while this time, most people represent the company. Thus turned the conference to something like China Web 2.0 Conference…

Photograph by Aether

Photograph by Aether

Photograph by Aether

I am not a Big Fan of Hate…

I got an email. It encourages me to act as “a patriot”, and writing something to boycott Japanese goods. I don’t like to mention this topic. Since people asked, this is my personal opinion of why I don’t like to do that.

The Topic of Patriotism, or Love to my Country

It is trendy to spread one’s love to the country by showing how much they hate a foreign country or a foreigner. It is very common, especially in the younger generation in China. I don’t think some government are doing the right thing, but I am not a big fan of hating something.

Patriotism means love. It means genuinely love people in your hometown, around you. It means to love the places you live in, the relationship you have. It can mean many things, but all around love, instead of hate.

In the blogger conference in Hangzhou, I met many old friends, and when I write the blog, each vivid face appears in my mind, and I do enjoy being with them, and love the land where all these lovely people live on, and enjoy being part of them. This is my cultural identity that I enjoy to have. When I think about this, I feel so happy about being in China, and feel proud about it. I guess, this can be called a feeling of “patriot”, if you want to abstract it to that level.

However, for whatever reason, people not translate patriotism to hate to anything against China. It is right that one has the responsibility to keep one’s country safe, strong, and enjoyable, but it does not mean to harm other countries, or draw an evil image of another country. People should show more love to his/her own land, instead of hate to people on other land.

I am aware of history. I am clearly aware of history. However, it is exactly what I learnt from WWII that we should not start WWIII. Anything leading to that direction concerns me. There are a strong intention to start war or something on BBS in China. I simply not a big fan of it, and I am proud (instead of feel bad) of not thinking that way.

Well. That is a simple note about my stake on this issue. It is not political correct for many people, and I know if I post it onto any of Chinese BBS, it will make many people so comfortable (how sad!). However, it works for me. When I am thinking about love, I am willing to do a lot of things to make the people around me feel better. If I think about hate, I really don’t have the incentive to do some positive contribution to the small piece of land in this world I am living on.

At the Blogger Conference in Hangzhou

I at sitting on the carpet of the China Blogger Conference – just on the right side, near the podium.

Just like the last year, I enjoy this conference very much, even better than yesterday.

Several points I like:

1. Diversity

2. No center of the meeting

3. Non-commercial atmosphere

4. Meet with old friends

5. Easy and relaxed

6. Cool

Where are You – Part II

It is amazing! I got so many high quality and genuine introduction about people from around the world in this blog entry: Where are You?. Thanks for the great comments.

Hey,

I am from Finland. A small, population a little bit above 5 million people, country in the Northern Europe. The neighbours in the map are Sweden, Russia, Norway and Estonia (Estonia doesn’t share any land with us in the borders).

Finland is part of the European Union and nowadays has Euro as the currency, we used to have our own currency, markka. Finland has been ruled by Sweden and Russia in the history but we have been independent since 1917.

They say that Finnish people are shy and quiet but if you get to know us then you will make a friend for a lifetime. I don’t know about that, I think the younger people are not so shy any longer but we still tend to appreciate friendship very much.

Finland is known to be a country of thousands lakes, it is actually true. According to some general definition for size of a lake, we actually have thousands of lakes, which are bigger than the definition. As we are small country by population, then there is still lots of land untouched and nature is one of the beautiful reasons for living or visiting here.

Winter time is a little bit depressing as sun will set very early and rise quite late. You get used to live in the darkness but it gets easier when it snows and everything turns white. During the summer time, people get really happy as sun practically doesn’t set so well. It is so nice to walk out from the nightclub at 4am and see that there is still lots of light available and temperature is such that you don’t feel chilly at all.

Posted by: Miikka on October 22, 2006 12:35 AM

I live just outside Washington, D.C. It is a very international city. One out of every eight residents here were not born in the United States. You can meet people from just about very part of the world. I have roommates who are Indian and Bulgarian. I love it here!

Давид <-- My name in Bulgarian Posted by: Dave G. on October 22, 2006 01:31 AM

Hello! Mabuhay! Greetings from Manila,Philippines.we are located on the southeastern part

of Asia, between south china sea and Philippine sea. I am from an archipelago consisting of

more than 7000 islands. Aside from the year round warm and summer like weather, beautiful beaches and great hideaways, the filipino people are what really is the real deal.

From a long history of Western colonial rule, interspersed with the visits of merchants and traders, evolved a people of a unique blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture.

The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. It’s hard to distinguish, accurately. but who cares, we are unique, both in

appearance and character. You have to visit us, to see, feel, and get the vibe!!

BTW, Thank you Mr.Wang for giving us, your readers, a chance to be known and heard.

You are doing wonderful.

Posted by: mariz on October 22, 2006 03:43 AM

Hallo, my name is Andrea. I am a psychologist in a childrens hospital in Stuttgart (600 000 people), Germany. 30 Years before I have studied Chinese at the university of Tübingen, but I never had the opportunity to go to China… Now will my husband go to Hangzhou (and Shanghai) tomorrow. He will meet people of the BOSCH plant there, because he is the chairman of the workers council (Betriebsratsvorsitzender) in the German plant in Leinfelden/Stuttgart.

I am excited to hear about the China of today.

Today we had a big manifastation against the government in Germany, also in Stuttgart, Munich, Dortmund and Berlin!

Many greetings, Andrea

Posted by: Andrea on October 22, 2006 04:36 AM

Hi,

I’m from Düsseldorf, Germany. Düsseldorf is the Capital of North- Rhine- Westfalia, the biggest Country of Germany (17 Mill. Residents, Germany: 80 Mill.). You may look at this Website for more information about Düsseldorf: http://www.duesseldorf.de/zh/index.shtml (in Chineese) and: http://www.duesseldorf.de/en/index.shtml (in english).

Düsseldorf is associated with Chonqing, so we have a lot of chineese People here – and also a lot of Chineese Restaurants, Supermarkets, Taiji- Chuan- Teacher (My taiji- chuan- master is from Shanghai), etc. There is also a direkt Flight Chonqing- Düsseldorf.

So, if you want to visit Germany, I would be happy to welcome you…

Xiong Shui

Posted by: Xiong Shui on October 22, 2006 05:08 AM

Hi,

my name’s Gabyu, I’m from Paris, France, used to travel back and forth from Shanghai to Paris since 10 years by now. Well, The world is much more smaller than we think, especially using the internet and jets …

Paris is full of many different foreigners, from northern African people to Southern asian people, and also Chinese people for sure. 2 chinatowns in Paris, essentially made from Wenzhounese. The city is very quiet compared to Shanghai… Less pollution, less CO2 et definitely less hot.

Here, people’s concern is to avoid polluting, to feel as quiet as they can, to hear silence, to avoid wastes, and to go to cafés after office time :)

Gabyu

Posted by: gabyu on October 22, 2006 06:28 AM

你好,

My name is Ben. I am originally from Shanghai, and now in Austin, the state capital of Texas. It’s a beautiful city with many mountains and lakes with blue water, though there are few Chinese people or restaurants. Life here revolves around live music performances (check out austinist.com) and enjoying nature. :)

Thanks for writing this awesome blog, it makes me want to return to Shanghai and do something big, bigger than myself. There are definitely more professional opportunities there.

~Ben

Posted by: Ben on October 22, 2006 08:37 AM

I am in New Zealand, the South Island. Air New Zealand has just started (or will very soon start) direct flights to Shanghai so next time to Shanghai it will be much faster and less tiring :-). I live in Christchurch and frequently eat at Chinese eateries without any other Europeans around. There are also lots of Chinese shops and the Mayor of Dunedin is Chinese.

Since my first visit to Shanghai I check your blog daily, there is always something interesting and relevant. Since my second visit I feel I “know” Shanghai a little (!) and feel very comfortable there.

Posted by: kiwiuncle on October 22, 2006 11:51 AM

Hi

I am from Chicago Illinois USA and visit China on Furniture business often. I really enjoy your blog

Lee Rosenberg

Posted by: lee rosenberg on October 22, 2006 12:11 PM

Hi,

I am from Singapore. I came to know your blog through a friend working in Suzhou in 2003, just a day before I left for Shanghai. I had stayed there for a month. Since then on my second trip to Shanghai, I moved around very comfortable like a local. Thanks all these to your blog. The next thing I want to do is to learn Shanghainese and plan for my next trip to Shanghai..

Jian Shuo, if you have chance to come to Singapore, please email me. I wish to give you a treat.

With Best wishes

Joyce

Posted by: Joyce on October 22, 2006 07:02 PM

Hi to all!

I’m also from Singapore, typically described as a ‘tiny red dot’ (on the world map). We are just 1/10 the size of Shanghai with a population of 4 million hence it is little wonder that many people don’t know our existence!

Like any other places on earth, there are good and bad comments about Singapore, the most common one being it a very clean country. Negative one would be that our government is too strict (think of the chewing gum ban, caning and death sentences) though I personally don’t think it is necessarily bad.

Although I stay in Shanghai for my work now, hopefully there will be an opportunity in future to show you or any readers on this blog around in Singapore!

Posted by: zee on October 22, 2006 11:21 PM

I come from Melbourne, Australia. U visited here a couples of week before. Do u like it? U really good in observe things.

I would definitely want to come to shanghai try the maglev.

Posted by: Ryan on October 23, 2006 07:49 PM

Hi, I’m Ying.

I was born in Shanghai, then moved to the UK. I lived roughly half my life in China and half in the UK. Currently I live in Manchester.

I’m really facinated by the difference between cultures and also discovering how much similarity there are. I enjoy travelling. The last time I visited China was in 2005.

Posted by: Ying Zhang on October 23, 2006 08:02 PM

Hi, I’m from Italy…seems like I’m the only one here :-) I studied Chinese and like to keep updated on all kind of things about China, that’s how I stumbled into your blog…months ago, can’t stop reading it now! keep up the good job please.

Ciao!

Posted by: elena on October 23, 2006 10:29 PM

Hi, I am from Kentucky in the USA. I live in a very small town, less than 1000 people. I have visited Shanghai twice, the most recent time being in July of 2006. My husband and I have three daughters adopted in China. We hope someday to live in China for a while.

I enjoy reading your blog and learning more about China.

Posted by: Carolyn on October 24, 2006 12:44 PM

Hello, I am from San Francisco. I really enjoy your blog and learned many things about Shanghai. The first time I was in Shanghai was in 1980, just when China opened up. The 1980 version of the city clouded my vision of Shanghai for many years. I returned in late 2003 on a business trip, and on arriving at the airport I was amazed. I could not believe the change. Taking the highway into town and checking in to the Grand Hyatt was a fantastic eye opener.

I took my family to Shanghai just to let them experience the transformation. Have returned a few times and Shanghai is now one of my favorite cities. I love your blog, thank you for your time and you effort.

Posted by: Alex Lee on October 24, 2006 01:51 PM

Hi, I’m from the Portuguese Island of Madeira!

It lies about 360 miles from the coast of Africa, 535 miles from Lisbon, 230 from Gran Canaria. More info (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeira_Islands).

Nowadays my HQ’s is Barcelona but I had a chance to spend 6 days in shanghai last week.

Posted by: Paulo Martins on October 25, 2006 06:52 AM

Hi, I am a Chinese originally from Malaysia, and now in Busan, South Korea.

Malaysia is a federation of 13 states in Southeast Asia.Although politically dominated by the Malays, modern Malaysian society is heterogeneous, with substantial Chinese and Indian minorities. Nonetheless, Malaysia is considered to be a model of racial harmony.

I enjoy traveling a lot and my last trip was to Shanghai in April 2006.

Thanks for writing this blog and it make me understand more about China especially Shanghai. Keep up the good job.

Posted by: Teresa on October 25, 2006 10:21 AM

I am so excited to see people from around the world gather on this small blog and share their lives, and know more about others’ lives. Among the list, I have been to some places, like Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, U.S., and there are so many for me to explorer: Finland, Germany, New Zealand, and France…

The early days of my travel was mainly triggered by the desire to see “how different people are” in many places, and my recent travel is more about enjoying the commonality between people around the world – nice, friendly, having dream, and enjoy small happiness like sitting in the Sunshine. That is just so beautiful!

Kudos to everyone who posted on that entry.

P.S. I just checked my site log, and found out the top 20 countries/regions where my reader came from.

United States

China

United Kingdom

Canada

Australia

Singapore

India

Hong Kong

Germany

Thailand

Malaysia

France

Italy

Netherlands

Japan

Turkey

Brazil

Sweden

Spain

Taiwan

screen-wangjianshuo.blog-geo.PNG

Source: Google Analytics data for Wangjianshuo’s blog for 2006 (from 2006-1-1 to 2006-10-25)

This is the Geo overlay so we have some idea about how global this community is. :-)

screen-wangjianshuo.blog-geo.overlay.PNG

Source: Google Analytics data for Wangjianshuo’s blog for 2006 (from 2006-1-1 to 2006-10-25)

Suggest a Topic

I write blog to help visitors and expats in Shanghai. I write daily, but sometimes I am lack of topic (not surprisingly). If you think there is any topic that I should write about, please post it here. Whenever I am out of topic, I will look at this page. This is also a central page to capture all topic suggestions. Otherwise, they will be randomly posted under unrelated posts.

Thanks.

China Eastern Airlines

To ask the right question is more important than answering it, isn’t it. Here is the question of today:

What is flying with China Eastern like? I’ve booked to fly from Shanghai to Beijing. Are there weight limits with baggage with domestic flights? 20kgs? Long queues for checking in? Any seat allocations? I tried www.ce-air.com but couldn’t get the English web page to show up.

My Knowledge about China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlines is the most frequent airlines I fly with, since I only took two mileage programs serious: one is China Eastern Airlines, and the other is United Airlines. Compared to Air China, I’d say air crafts of Air China is usually bigger than China Eastern Airlines, so more comfortable, and the service is better, but since I am based in Shanghai, and China Eastern Airlines is a Shanghai based airlines, it offers more choices for me.

How Flying with China Eastern Airlines Like?

It is nothing new. The airline industry is pretty standardized already. The same aircraft – Boeing 737 or 747, the same safety instruction, and even same food – you can expect bread in the morning, beef with rice or chicken with noodle for lunch or dinner. Not surprisingly, they also offer water, orange juice, apple juice, coke, and beer. To be short, there is nothing that is obviously different.

If you talk about Hainan Airlines, or Chunqiu Airlines, they may offer something different, a little bit different.

Weight Limit on China Eastern Airlines

5 Kg is allowed for carry-on baggage for economy class. Check-in baggage are limited to 20 Kg for economy, 30 kg for business, and 40 kg for first class. Above is all for domestic flight.

Checking in with China Eastern Airlines

Typically China Eastern Airlines don’t have long queues to check-in. In my previous experience, it should be around 5 persons. Of cause this is just some impression. Sometimes it is long, sometimes short, but basically, you don’t need to expect long queue for domestic flight.

Seat Allocation?

It is allocated by the person at check-in counter. Call them (95108) in advance to give you the seat you prefer.

Happy flying!

Cash on Delivery Still Preferred

Got an email today asking me whether he has successfully booked air ticket via elong.net. The question was, he was not asked for details of credit card information (such as credit card number, holders name) while the system just reported the hotel and flights were booked successfully. He thought it was strange and want to confirm whether he booked it or not.

I checked elong.net and found out it may be a common question for people using websites in China.

Cash on Delivery Still a Good Collection Model

On the checkout page of elong, they have two options for getting the ticket – one is Deliver to door, the other is self-pickup. To deliver the paper ticket (may not be necessary now), they send a person to the address you specify. For the pickup, you have to go to one of their two offices in Beijing to get it.

For the payment, there is only one option: cash on delivery. That means, you have your cash (please note, cash, instead of credit card) ready, and when they deliver the ticket to you, or when you pickup your ticket at your counter, you pay the cash.

Cash on delivery is still a mainstream payment method for flight booking sites like ctrip.com, and online book store dangdang.com (joyo.com is almost over after acquired by amazon.com).

Obviously these two methods are not suitable for people outside China. However, it is a very good way to do business in China. Considering the very low adoption rate of credit card, and even rare of customer acceptance, cash on delivery is a good option. Now, many people have debit cards, but credit cards still have a long way to go.

Where are You?

I found I have readers from all around the world. Every new commentor on the blog bring my interest to his/her own country if they mentioned about the name of the country. The world is so big. People tend to think of several highlighted countries, like U.S. and Canada in American, China, and India in east Asia, and UK, Germany in Europe. Recent, I met more people from Denmark, so I start to read the history of Denmark, and meet with good people from Holland, so I started to know that in the year of 1630, a tulip cost more than 50 Holland dollars. There are so many examples. So if you don’t mind, where do you live? Do you want to share more about your country with me and the rest of the community members?

To have a personal connection makes such a big difference to one’s view to the world. For example, now if someone talks about Holland, instead of a symbolic scenery picture, now I get excited and say: “Hey! I know someone in Holland!”. That is my personal connection with a country linked by my friend.

P.S. Get back to Shanghai, spend the wonderful day with Michael, and wonderful dinner. Thanks Limin, and Duib.

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy birthday to me. It is my 29th birthday.

Thanks for Henry, Grace, Xiaofeng, Hengge, Robert, Xiaoxiong, Edward and Wendy to be at dinner with me. Wonderful friends, and wonderful gathering.

P.S. I found every birthday, I started the entry with “Happy brithday to me. It is my ??th brithday”, and the number just changed from 25, to 26, 27, 28 and 29…

Happy Birthday to Me in 2002

Happy Birthday to Me in 2003

Happy Birthday to Me in 2004

Happy Birthday to Me in 2005

Happy Birthday to Me in 2006

Blue Check (Check-in) for Virgin Blue

When I talked about the abandon of paper ticket in China, I thought of my experience with Virgin Blue in Australia. Virgin Blue is a low cost airline, and they highly depend on Internet, and automatic processes to do their business.

Here are some pictures I took about the wonderful self-serve check in system.

Below: all you need to know is the six-number confirmation ID: ENTDAC (I guess I have completed the travel and this code is not confidential any more). Enter the code using the onscreen keyboard.

Below: With the code, they know everything about our trip and showed us our names. I selected both.

Below: I can also change my seat allocation. One point to notice is, after I choose 6A and 6B for the first trip, the seats remain the same on our other two flights with Virgin Blue.

Below: We don’t have luggage, so we choose 0. If I choose other than 0, that is the time I need to see the person in the counter and deposit my luggage.

Below: Print boarding pass. Fast, and easy.

Below: I got my boarding pass (newly printed).

Below: it is done. The boarding gate is 6.

Below. The Virgin Blue flight waiting for getting aboard.

What a wonderful experience (when it worked).

Say Goodbye to Paper Ticket

From yesterday, CATA (China Air Transportation Association) stopped providing paper ticket to ticket agents. This is an event that will eventually affect my life, and many others.

This is a great achievement. When the Southern China Airlines started e-ticket testing in 2000, 6 years past. The user behavior changes slowly, and till now, paper ticket is still 70% of all tickets.

My guess is, from today, travel agents cannot purchase blank paper ticket from CATA. They must have a lot of tickets in stock that they can continue to print out. However, by the end of this year, when most of the paper tickets in stock are used up, the travel agencies have to transit to using electronic tickets.

I am expecting more people using e-tickets and recognize e-ticket.

Reimbursement?

One of the key issue with e-ticket is, it does not work with the current reimbursement practice. In U.S. and other countries, a receipt can be of any form – a piece of paper with handwriting numbers, or printed receipt from a teller machine. In China, however, only government agencies can issue blank invoices, and merchants fill in the blanks on the standard format invoice. Originally paper tickets are type of that “official invoice”.

My friends in U.S. thought the invoice in China is like money note. That is true (with very high-tech anti-fake technology in it).

The e-ticket caused the problem. In many countries, you can just print out the receipt and reimburse with the paper. This is not working.

To meet this need, the travel agents are thinking of ways to workaround it. I believe finally, people still have to go somewhere to get a paper ticket. The blank tickets may still be bought from government, and the travel agents fill in the departing, arriving cities, and the price. This may be even done after the travel. In this case, the paper ticket is not used as part of the travel experience, it is all about the reimbursement (and sometimes tax) experience.

Another example of how the less-developed industry/process (the tax and reimbursement) stops fast pacing industry (airlines) from going faster.

Featured on China Daily

There is a half-page article about this blog on China Daily. Carsten was the first one to notify me this morning, and Ida, the journalist is the second. :-) Thans Ida for the wonderfuo article.

The original article is here.

This is a copy of the artilce. Full credit goes to Ida Relsted, and China Daily.

Shanghai blogger just wants to help

Citizens bloggers website provides millions with useful information about the city he loves to share

Ida Relsted

Shanghai_Delta

page04 2006-10-17

shanghai-jianshuo-ida.china.daily.jpgI started my blog to help foreigners survive in the city, because Shanghai is not so easily accessible for people who don’t know it well,” explains 28 year old blogger Wang Jianshuo.

“In 2000 I had a website, both in Chinese and English, and here I wrote an article about Pudong International Airport. When I later searched the Internet for the topic of Pudong International Airport, my article came up as hit number one, which was odd for such an important place. Why had nobody else written about it? When I heard the term “blogger” in 2002, I decided to start a blog to fill the gap, because there seemed to be a lack of information about the city. I truly love Shanghai. Now I have a lot of readers, it is not easy to give up,” Wang says laughing.

His blog does have quite some readership, registering one million hits each month and featuring lively debate between commentators from all over the world. There were an estimated 17.5 million bloggers in China by the end of August 2006, almost 30 times the 2002 figure. Among those, some stand out, like Wang’s blog which not only has many readers, but also offers information on life in Shanghai. The blog has been mentioned in MSNBC, BBC, BusinessWeek, and voted one of the top ten blogs in China in 2003.

The title of the blog is “Events (in Shanghai) that affect my life (and the life of others)”. The blog is a time consuming task as Wang updates it almost daily. “It’s a part of my life, like e-mails and sleep. I also think of it like writing a very big book about my world.”

Commenting on his style, Wang points to the fact that some commentators on the blog have criticized him for only focusing on the positive aspects of life. “My basic philosophy is only to write what I have personally experienced, and to pay attention to details. What distinguishes blogs from traditional media is exactly the way a blog can pay attention to detail. I also always write what I currently believe is true, but my observations may change over time.”

In his job as CEO of Kijiji in China, Wang Jianshuo has had the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures. He is impressed with how different people think, and his ambition is for the blog to be a virtual place for people to be able to debate. On the blog, East meets West, and vice versa.

“As a matter of principle, I don’t delete comments on the blog, because it is a place for sharing views. The beauty of the blog is that when people think so differently from me, it makes me think. It made me write an entry on the topic that common sense is not always common,” says Wang giving the example: Maybe saving money makes sense for the older generation, whereas it makes more sense for the younger generation to have experiences.

“When we are arguing, I ask myself: are we using the same language?” he says about communication gaps.

To the question of how the blog has Changed his life, Wang answers that it has had an impact on his career. When he started blogging in 2002, he worked for Microsoft and was conscious that he was respected because he was a representative of an internationally known company. But he did not want to remain in the shadow of the company, so with the ambition of achieving something for himself, he set out to write the blog. What he wanted to accumulate was writings on small things like advice on transportation – two of the most popular topics are Shanghai taxis and Pudong International Airport – and personal thoughts.

“I also wanted to help, because it seems meaningful. For people who know the blog and arrive here, maybe Shanghai seems not so unfamiliar, and I can give them a feeling of knowing somebody here, before they have arrived,” Wang says.

But also in another, more indirect way, blogging has affected Wang’s life, because, as a result of writing about the minutiae of Shanghai life he has become more sensitive to the things around him. It causes him to think about topics he might never otherwise have considered.

“In order to write a blog you have to have a reason to write. For most bloggers, they don’t have many readers, and I know many frustrated bloggers without visitors on their blogs. Some will even write 40 entries a day trying to attract readers. But you shouldn’t start a blog just to get the attention of readers. You are the most important reader of your own blog, which also means you get to choose the topics of interest.”

One of the humorous downsides of writing the blog is people misunderstanding the concept and e-mailing complaints about lack of specific information or a slow response time from what they expect is an official office. Since this has happened several times, Wang decided to post a small picture of himself on each entry, with the intent of attracting attention to the fact that is merely a free, one-man service.

A much more serious side to the blog came about in 2003, when China experienced the outbreak of SARS. Before this, Wang’s blog did not have that many visitors, but during the outbreak, Jian discovered that many people wanted to hear the point of view of a normal person living in Shanghai. “People in China were very nervous, and we got a lot of attention from media from outside China at that time. I did not start to blog in order to write about politics, on the contrary. Everything was very sensitive, so the only thing I could say was that I could not guarantee I was giving the whole picture, I was only able to tell people a fraction of the story, which was all I could see. So I wrote about how my friends reacted and how restaurants cleaned all the time.”

What really seems to stir Wang’s passion is revealed when he writes details of his life in Shanghai, because in the end, it all comes down to little things: “To report the fact does not always mean to report the truth,” he says.

Beggars in China and People’s Attitude

Ying Zhang commented:

Hi Jian Shuo,

I have been reading your blog for a few years now, I found your blog while planning a trip to China in 2004, and your post on the Shanghai Beijing train time table really helped me. Keep up the good work.

I have always wanted to seek your opinion on an issue that troubles me – about the attitude people have, towards beggars and the homeless in big cities like Shanghai.

If I can’t finish the food in a restaurant, I tend to pack them up and give them to homeless people I met. On rare occasions, if the person is particularly venerable, such as an elderly woman, I will also give out some money. I have done this while I traveled in China, but I have been told by Chinese friends to not do this as ‘all those beggars are faking it’.

One particularly memorable example was when I traveled in the Anhui province. I saw this elderly lady collecting plastic drink bottles, to exchange for a little cash at a recycle point I guess, was teased upon by some youth. She was literally begging the kids (in their teens) to give her the empty bottle they have just finished, but instead of doing the decent thing, they kicked the empty bottle into a lake so she can’t reach it. I had to pull her away from the side of the lake when she tried to get to that bottle to prevent her from falling in. I was furious about this incident for a long time.

In my view she is doing everyone a favor by collecting these bottles and takes them to recycle. It helps keep the environment clean and free from plastic thatmall never be bio-degraded. I have respect for people like these – who are down in their life but still struggles on, doing what little they can (and must) do to survive. Which is the total opposite of a bunch of rich and spoilt kids who probably haven’t worked a single day and only knows how to spend mom and dad’s money. The attitude of people who tease those who are less fortunate than themselves are sickening.

I wonder if you can tell me if this is a common problem / view (that the homeless deserves it) in China. Do you, or have you done anything personally to give them a little help?

All these thoughts came up when I read your comments in today’s post about how Starbucks is the ‘cheapest’ place to enjoy the view of the Bund, and that a cup of coffee cost merely 25RMB (which I’m sure can buy a homeless person a few meals). This reminded me the gap between the well off and the poor are getting increasingly wider in China. I wonder if it will one day become an incurable problem?

Anyway, it’s a long rant, I hope you can give me your thoughts on these issues. Cheers.

Posted by: Ying Zhang on October 16, 2006 08:30 PM

Beggar is Always not an easy topic to discuss. It is a universally controversial topic. Let me try to add more to this heated discussion.

Beggars and People’s Attitude are Mirrors of the Country

Unfortunately, the current society has a lot of problems. Every society has its own problem, but China’s is more obvious. The fast changing pace in economy but slower pace in social insurance system and medical care system makes the life of many people very tough, and without the right supporting system, and common wealth system, it is easy that someone suddenly lose all their income and become a beggar.

The gap between the rich and the poor are bigger day by day, instead of smaller. I don’t want to pretend to know China well, since every time when I put my own steps into the vast west land of China, or even my home town, and see it using my own eyes (not from media inside or outside China), I realize how little I know about my own country. The reality is just worse than I thought. For a big country like China, we are always a learner to know more about it, and cannot claim to know it all.

In the last few years, at least, I witnessed my home town became poorer and poorer. The old houses look so nice with decent decoration, which is never seen in new (can I call it new?) houses. In cities, many workers lost their jobs, but have a family to support, they really don’t have too much choices to make a living. I believe a big portion of them are very risky to be a beggar.

There must be more beggars than before (the true beggars), and we should try everything to help them.

People’s Attitude

It is said: “The Media is the king without a crown”. It is so at least when the media attackes the weak – the beggars. I don’t know when it started, the “fake beggar” became a hot topic. In media reports, some beggars were caught blood-handed to be fake beggar. They either have luxurious life after “working hours”, or pretend to be disabled, or pretend to be stolen.

This kind of report appeared on newspaper and TV, and successfully bulit an evil image for the beggars as a group.

That must be one of the important reasons that people are more and more hesitate to offer some help. For them, beggars equal to fake beggars. I myself also held the opinion in 2003 when I wrote my first article on beggar (my current view changed a lot).

Among all the cheating beggars, there are even a group called “Child beggars”. Their stories are really heart-breaking. I believe many people experienced being approached by little child (5 – 8 years old), and embrace your legs so you cannot move, and beg for money. Chances are, the little poor children are just a tool for their boss to make money. They were beaten to work, and if they don’t get enough money back, they don’t have meal. How hard a decision whether to give money to them or not. On one hand, to give the money enables their “boss” to gain money and finance them to caught, or steal more children to do their business, on the other hand, if you don’t help the little children by giving them one or two RMB, they face starving that night.

OK. Enough about fake beggars. There are many of them. HOWEVER, my point is, fake beggars are not the whole story. There are so many people who need help and cannot find any help beside people on the street. The number of the later must be bigger than the fake beggars.No data to support. I just guessed.

How to Treat the Beggars?

In this diversified world, everyone has their own rules. This is my rule.

There must be someone who take beggar as a profession. They are mainly disabled people who cannot make a living. Their life line is maintained by small money people gave them. Typically, I unconditionally support them.

For many other beggars that you have no idea about whether they are truly in need of help or just pretend to be a beggar and take your money, currently I just gave coins without judgement. This seems stupid. I know many times I was cheated, but just according to the story of the movie Eight Below, it is not about the beggars, it is about you.

Some people have strong rules, like this is very funny:

If they ask for money,

I gave them food;

If they ask for food,

I gave them money

Everyone has their own rules. For the matter of treating beggars, there is no universally correct answer. How someone behave is just how they treat their own lives, instead of the beggars’ lives.

How to Help Them?

Everyone wants to help. The question is, how to help? Giving some coins help (which I usually do), however, is there better ways to help?

I once wrote an entry in February 2005, named Life in a Low Cost Labor World. That is maybe the most criticised article on this blog. I wrote another article to clarify: Helping by Hiring. The point I’d like to make in the second article is,

Simply giving money does not help Ayi who need a job, only by hiring them, and encourage more people to hire them makes lasting and positive impact.

The rule also applies for beggars. There must be better way to help them.

Lend Money to Beggars? Sounds Crazy?

It is announced that these days, the Nobel Peace Prize went to Muhammad Yunus, who did microfinance for the poor, and those who need help. I studied his microfinance bank thoroughly, and found how amazing Muhammad’s idea is.

Muhammad never gave a penny to beggar. This is from a report:

So he never responds when a blind or crippled beggar or a mother cradling her baby holds out a hand for money. “I feel bad – sometimes I feel terrible – that I’m denying the person. But I restrain myself. I never give them anything” Yunus told Reuters in a recent interview at Grameen head office. “I would rather try to solve the problem than just give them a hand and take care of them for the day.”

He thought of the idea to lend (please note: not to give, but just lend) a mobile phone to the beggar, such enable the beggar to ask “Do you need to use a mobile phone?” before he/she ask for money. People can use the mobile phone and pay minimum money. This way, he helped many beggar to stand on their own, make a living and even get to a much better life.

This is the way I really admire and think about.

Coverage of Beggar, and other Dark Side of the City, on this Blog

I talked about beggar in this entry: Crime and Beggars in Shanghai, in which I claimed the even tough problem in Shanghai are the false beggars, or fake beggars who pretend to be beggars.

I was strongly against “No beggars permitted in Metro station” in 2005, but changed my mind one year later.

Again, beggar is not an easy topic to discuss.

In this blog, as everyone may notice (and some complained) that it focuses on Shanghai, especially some good part of it (the beautiful scene of the Bund is one example). This is true, and it is just my life. I don’t shy away to write about it, because one of the three principle for this blog is, “Be Truthful”, which means I don’t write down anything I know is not truth. (If you are interested, the other two principles are: Be Personal, and Show Details.) The light part is just as true as the dark side of a city.

Must See – Coffee Facing the Bund

If you are a visitor to Shanghai and there is nothing to do for one night, I suggest you to spend the night in a bar or restaurant on the riverside, along the Huangpu River. It is opposite to the Bund.

Location

The Bund is symbolic scene for Shanghai. Most visitors view the Bund on the Bund side. To see the Bund from the other side is as excite, if more, than to see it in Puxi.

The area is called Fucheng Road Riverside (浦东滨江富城路段). From the Bund, you can clearly identify the area by looking for Starbucks logo. There are also two McDonald’s ice cream shops there.

Walking Route

This walking route include a ferry ride, when you can view both side of the river on the ferry, and a short walk to see all the bars and restaurants, so you can choose your favorite bar and sit down.

map-the.bund.to.pudnog.PNG

1. Start from the Ferry Station at the East Jinling Road (金陵东路). Take the ferry (2 RMB for the air-conditioned one) to the other side. It takes about 10 minutes (1 km long)

2. Walking out of the Ferry station in Pudong, and turn left to the Fucheng Road (富城路), heading north for a short walk. On immediate right hand are the Tomson Riviera (汤臣一品), a residential building clusters famous for both great view (as you can see it when you walk by), and high price (13,750 USD per sq. meter). The smallest apartment in the building costs 6 million USD, and many is more than 10 million USD.

3. Then after the CitiGroup building, you arrive at the Shangri-La hotel. On the left, there is a small gate with “Red Dot” advertisement. That is the place you should enter the riverside.

Choices of Bars

My favorite are Starbucks and Haagen-Daze. The key reason is, they are maybe the cheapest place and have the best view.

A cup of coffee in Starbucks is the same as others in the city, even similar with stores around the world – 22 – 26 RMB. If it is too crowded for the Starbucks (a seat is not easy after 8:00 PM), you may try Haagen-Daze. Spend 25 RMB to get a cup of “English Breakfast” (it is the name of the tea), and you can stay with the nice beautiful scene for hours.

If you want to have dinner, I highly recommend Paulaner. The beer is German genuine (according to Wendy who enjoyed German beer very much), and they have plenty of seats outside along the river.

Others to Consider

All the lights were turned off at 10:30 PM sharp. Schedule your stay according to the lights. Without lights, the Bund seems mysterious, and is no longer splendid, magnificent, wonderful, breathtaking… (the words people use to describe it).

2006 Asian Gaelic Games in Shanghai

Autumn arrives in Shanghai. When Wendy and I passed the garden before my apartment in Pudong, yellow leafs were falling to grassland with wind. There is an old Chinese saying: You see autumn just from a leaf. It is very true.

It is the nice weather for us to go to Biyun International District. I love that area very much, especially on sunny weekend. That is an international district, and there are many good restaurants, coffee shop, and nice greenlands. I bought a copy of Lonelyplanet Travel Writing from the foreign language store there.

Strange Football

At the football field, many teams are playing an interesting game. It is something between football and volleyball. The playground is a football ground, the ball is a football, but the players just use hands to take the ball and run, and sometimes use foot to kick the ball to pass it to other player. The other player get the ball with hands, run with it, and use foot sometimes. The wear just like football players.

Image credit: Shanghaistreets. Note: I didn’t take this photo. Also, it is the photo of 2005, not this year.

On the other field, I saw the logo: 2006 Asia Gaelic Games. I have no idea about what Gaelic, until I did some research back home.

Gaelic football (Irish: peil ghaelach), commonly referred to as “football”, “Gaelic” or “gah”, is a form of football played mainly in Ireland. Teams of 15 players kick or punch a round ball toward goals at either end of a grass pitch. Gaelic football is one of four Gaelic sports run by the Gaelic Athletic Association also called the ‘GAA’.

While not widely known, those who do know it recognise this sport as a strong, skillful, fast paced game. As one commentator put it, “It’s like ballet, but more poetic”.

Source: Wikipedia

Many Countries Participated

On site, I saw country flag of Korea. How interesting that a not-so-widely-known game like Gaelic has an Asia competition in Shanghai. Weired.

Many local people stood near the game field and watched this “strange” game.

More Gaelic Football photos in Shanghai by Shanghaistreets.

It Continues Tomorrow

What to see this “rare” game? It is still there tomorrow.

screen-gaelicfootball-shanghai.jpg

Image credit: asiagaelicgames

Location: Dulwich International School (just near the Carrefour in Jinqiao.

Transportation: Taxi (the nearest metro station is Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, or bus 777

My Personality Test

I received an interesting test on personality, and here is my answer to some of the questions. It seems I am not an organized person.

When you go somewhere for the day, would you rather

[ ] plan what you will do and when, or

[X] just go?

If you were a teacher, would you rather teach

[ ] fact courses, or

[X] courses involving theory?

Do you prefer to

[ ] arrange dates, parties, etc., well in advance, or

[X] be free to do whatever looks like fun when the time comes?

Do you prefer to do many things

[X] on the spur of the moment, or

[ ] according to your plans?

Does following a schedule

[ ] appeal to you, or

[X] cramp you?

Does the idea of making a list of what you should get done over a weekend

[ ] appeal to you, or

[X] leave you cold?

In doing something that many other people do, does it appeal to you more to

[ ] do it in the accepted way, or

[X] invent a way of your own?

The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel

There is a tunnel connecting the two banks of the Huang Pu River – the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. It is a great way to get across the Huangpu River if you are on any side of the river and want to go to the other. BTW, beside this, you may take ferry or take the metro to get cross – to take a taxi is not so wise since the taxi has to get back toward west from the Bund, enter the tunnel to the east, and get back to west after going out of the Yan’An Road Tunnel…

Back to the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. The price is 30 RMB single trip and 40 RMB round trip. It basically is a tunnel with rails in it and small carts like those on the cable cart in mountains run on the rail. The tunnel is not well decorated – or to better put it, it is decorated using the technology 30 years go – just some colorful lights shining on the wall of the tunnel. It is kind of funny to see this if you have high expectation about what a “Sightseeing” tunnel will be. Of cause there is no transparent glasses which you can see the water of the river.

Have a try for the tunnel as a tourist. No local in Shanghai really take it as a way to go across the river.

In comparision to the single trip price 30 RMB, the most expensive ferry costs 2 RMB and metro (Lujiazui Station to Middle Henan Road Station) cost 2 RMB also. Taxi costs like 20 RMB. A point to make here – it is only 646.7 meters for the tunnel, but for a taxi to get to the same location, it may takes up to 5000 meters.

Z Series Train in China

Z-Series of trains are fastest and among the best trains in China. Z means “Zhida” in Chinese, or “Direct Express”. Typically they don’t stop in the middle, and is very effecient to travel for long distance, like from Shanghai to Beijing, without stopping in the middle.

These are all Z Trains in China (data is updated on July 2006)

Train # Seq Station Name Arrive Depart Distance
Z1 1 Beijing 1935 0
Z1 2 Wuxi 0638 0649 1337
Z1 3 Shanghai 0747 1463
Z10 1 Hangzhou 1803 0
Z10 2 Beijing 0733 1664
Z11 1 Beijing West 2049 0
Z11 2 Wuchang 0714 1225
Z12 1 Wuchang 2049 0
Z12 2 Beijing West 0714 1225
Z13 1 Beijing 1907 0
Z13 2 Shanghai 0705 1463
Z14 1 Shanghai 1900 0
Z14 2 Beijing 0658 1463
Z15 1 Beijing 2030 0
Z15 2 Harbin 0710 1248
Z16 1 Harbin 2032 0
Z16 2 Beijing 0707 1248
Z17 1 Beijing West 1800 0
Z17 2 Changsha 0740 1587
Z18 1 Changsha 1748 0
Z18 2 Beijing West 0728 1587
Z19 1 Beijing West 2028 0
Z19 2 Xian 0758 1200
Z2 1 Shanghai 1847 0
Z2 2 Wuxi 1946 1949 126
Z2 3 Beijing 0651 1463
Z20 1 Xian 1923 0
Z20 2 Beijing West 0653 1200
Z21 1 Beijing 1900 0
Z21 2 Shanghai 0658 1463
Z22 1 Shanghai 1907 0
Z22 2 Beijing 0705 1463
Z29 1 Beijing 2137 0
Z29 2 Yangzhou 0804 1227
Z3 1 Beijing West 2042 0
Z3 2 Hankou 0652 1205
Z30 1 Yangzhou 2010 0
Z30 2 Beijing 0620 1227
Z37 1 Beijing West 2035 0
Z37 2 Wuchang 0700 1225
Z38 1 Wuchang 2035 0
Z38 2 Beijing West 0700 1225
Z4 1 Hankou 2111 0
Z4 2 Beijing West 0721 1205
Z41 1 Tianjin 2040 0
Z41 2 Shanghai 0740 1326
Z42 1 Shanghai 1942 0
Z42 2 Tianjin 0641 1326
Z49 1 Beijing 2144 0
Z49 2 Nanjing 0722 1160
Z5 1 Beijing 1914 0
Z5 2 Shanghai 0712 1463
Z50 1 Nanjing 2106 0
Z50 2 Beijing 0644 1160
Z6 1 Shanghai 1914 0
Z6 2 Beijing 0712 1463
Z61 1 Beijing 2240 0
Z61 2 Changchun 0702 1006
Z62 1 Changchun 2235 0
Z62 2 Beijing 0700 1006
Z7 1 Beijing 1921 0
Z7 2 Shanghai 0719 1463
Z73 1 Beijing 2130 0
Z73 2 Hefei 0725 1110
Z74 1 Hefei 2035 0
Z74 2 Beijing 0630 1110
Z77 1 Beijing West 2056 0
Z77 2 Luohe 0342 0344 829
Z77 3 Xingyang 0501 0503 991
Z77 4 Xiaogan 0640 0642 1135
Z77 5 Hankou 0721 1205
Z78 1 Hankou 2029 0
Z78 2 Xiaogan 2110 2112 70
Z78 3 Xingyang 2251 2253 214
Z78 4 Luohe 0010 0020 376
Z78 5 Beijing West 0707 1205
Z8 1 Shanghai 1928 0
Z8 2 Beijing 0726 1463
Z85 1 Beijing 1928 0
Z85 2 Suzhou 0648 1379
Z86 1 Suzhou 2000 0
Z86 2 Beijing 0719 1379
Z9 1 Beijing 1853 0
Z9 2 Hangzhou 0823 1664

It may be a little bit hard to read, since if a train passes two stations, there will be two rows in this table, and the return train has a different number as the other way train.

Look at this page to check out some pictures of one of the Z-train:

To answer Amanda’s question at October 11, 2006 11:17 PM:

First, Jian Shuo Wang, this is a great source of information! Thank you for keeping this up!!!

My family and I (4 people) are hoping to travel from Suzhou or Shanghai to Beijing on 10/26 and return to Suzhou or Shanghai on 10/30.

My main questions are:

1. We want to get on the Z trains (cleaner, newer, more comfort–we will have our 3 1/2 yr. old son) what is the best Z train to book for Suzhou/Shanghai to Beijing and Beijing back to Suzhou/Shangai?

2. We need a 4 bunk room, do the 4 bunks have doors that lock?

3. Do all 4 bunk cars share a communal bathroom? Or do the 4 bunks have private baths?

4. Another person on another forum suggested bringing bed bug spray…honestly that suggestion freaked me out!! Are the trains clean….are bed bugs something we should be concerned about?

5. Is it best to buy tickets in China or online through a website?

Also, if you have other suggestions please feel free to share!

Thank you!

Amanda

Here are my answers:

Z86

goes from Suzhou to Beijing (the only Z train in Suzhou) and there are many Z train from Shanghai to Beijng. It is easy.

There are 4 beds in a cub, and they have door, so leave it private room perfectly for a family. But check with the people selling the ticket to you, and make sure you are in the same room.

They have public bath room – shared by the same train cart, but it is as clean as hotel – at least by my standard.

Personally, I don’t think a sleeping bag is neccessary for a Z train. It MAY be needed for other very old style train, but not on Z train. Check out the picture thought to see if your standards need a bag.

You can buy the ticket either online or in China. Online price typically are more expensive (since they typically are travel agents and there is no website for the train company), and if you can get a ticket, the ticket price is the same everywhere in China. There is no discount, no different whether you buy it one month in advance or just buy it the same day.

Have a good trip.