San Jose Impression

It is the third time in San Jose in the last 12 months. My impression are not the first-impression, just some more deeper understanding.

1. Mountains are Great.

There are mountains whenever you drive. The mountains are just there, far at the horizon. No wonder at all, because the Silicon Valley is a valley anyway. There are mountains on both side. This time, I am closers to the mountain on the east side, because I move around places along the US-101 expressway. Mountains on the left reminds me of the saying “Old Wide West”, since there are not many trees on the mountains – just yellow surfaces.

2. Efficiency of Expressway.

It is not the first time I drive on highways like US-101, CA-17, I-280, CA-85… The efficiency of the expressway still impress me a lot. It is due to the very good order – one lane on which cars moves slowly does not prevent cars on the other lane to run up to 60 miles/hour. That is very impressive. Also, what I enjoy (and feel a little bit scary) is to drive the car very fast on the via-duct, especially those left or right turning via-duct. Its like drive a race car to have the slight leaning turning roads on viaduct.

The highway network connects places, and the difference of remote, urban are not clear. I live in the Double Tree near the San Jose airport, and there are many choices to go to the other place – I can take US-101 which is just beside the hotel or take CA-87, which is two blocks away. The choices are great. In rush hours, however, we may be in a position in which we regret not to take the other no matter which one we take.

3. Noise is not that big a problem.

I am amazing how noises work in San Jose. I stayed in places I would avoid before. For example, the Double Tree Hotel is just at the edge of the San Jose airport. Driving out of the hotel, I can see aircraft taking off or landing – very big one overhead. I can hear the landing or taking off, and see it from the window. However, for some reason, I didn’t feel it too annoying. On the other side of the hotel is the highly loaded US-101. The trees separate the highway and the hotel, and it helps a lot.

During the daytime, we had meeting in a conference with window facing the North First Street of San Jose. The trolley went outside the window. Inside, it sounds like a silent movie – we are not disturbed at all.

That is the benefit of having many trees, and the buildings are very distributed, so the noise (I think the cars and planes make a lot of noises) was well absorbed. In Shanghai, on the contrary, noises got bounced back and forth between the buildings and make situation worse.

P.S. Part of the impression may be out of curiosity. Things will change if you stay in one place for long enough – good things may be bad. Of cause, the other consistent feeling, as a person from Shanghai, is boring. The consistency of business simply drives me mad. You have Macy everywhere. You have all those stores everywhere sailing exactly the same thing… It is the same with supplies – just the Nortel phones, 3M stationary, Starbucks in-house coffee, and same brand of Kimberly-Clark napkin… Everything is just the same. You can imagine if the whole nation is using the same brand of product, the efficiency of producing them will be very low. However, the only problem is, higher efficiency causes a boring life. How painful…

17 thoughts on “San Jose Impression

  1. “Mountains on the left reminds me of the saying “Old Wide West”, since there are not many trees on the mountains – just yellow surfaces.” — The valley was still in the raining season just one month ago, the “yellow” mountains on the east side of the valley looked like those green rolling hills in Europe. The view was much better then.

    “… It is due to the very good order – one lane on which cars moves slowly does not prevent cars on the other lane to run up to 60 miles/hour. ” — There is usually a carpool lane in the busy sections. You need to have multiple people in the car to drive in that lane. The violation willl result a hefty $365 fine — this is most likely where the “very good order” comes from :)

  2. The funny thing in US is, that you can be standing and talking on your mobile phone in one city intersection describing which stores you see and the guy at the other end of the line standing in some other city would report that his intersection has exactly the same stores. Here in Shanghai you can go to Xujiahui to check out one vendor selling stuff and find that all the other 30 vendors sell exactly the same things but u still can’t find what you are looking for, even it’s made in Shanghai.

    Check out the 237/101 S-W corner Chinese shopping center and the one on Hostetter Rd/ Lundy Ave in East San Jose.

  3. Jian Shuo,

    If you ever come to Chicago, let me know. Last year I hosted WenXin when he was in town and we had a great time. I’d like to give you a tour of Oak Park also :)

    Enjoy your trip!

  4. a lot the noise reduction that you write of is a result of foam insulation in the buildings and better windows. the standard windows in new buildings, even residential, is two panes of glass filled with either xenon gas or vacumn, which is used for both noise reduction and energy conservation. if a building faces a highway or some other high noise area, they are required to have even better windows. a lot of the buildings here also have dampering systems that emit frequencies to counteract traffic noises in addition to the air conditioning, computer sounds, and other background noises that make the environment seem quieter than it actually is.

  5. zz, I am on business trip. There is always a lot of fun to observe new things in the area, but I can imagine how boring life will be if I stay here for many years. :-D

  6. Heehee, you got that right. THe life in Silicon Valley will be VERY boring if you doesn’ work 12 hours a day and talk about the stock options and housing prices for the rest of the day :-). It is simply countryside. No comparision to Shanghai at all.

  7. Hi,

    Glad you are doing ok. I wrote to you once before and am glad you have safely been arriving and departing into and out of San Jose.

    I agree with your impression about the increasing level of boredom that is overtaking the USA. Partly I believe this is because we in the USA are seeking to spend less money on things, are therefor encouraging vendors to make products more cheaply, which in turn drives production offshore to lower standard of living manufacturing locations, which is good for those locations. That is called globalization, and I believe it produces the danger of boredom and sameness, which you have observed.

    However, it is our job to find ways to remain interested and excited about life, without depending on stores like Macy’s to give us that excitement.

    Anyway, this is a bit long-winded, sorry, but I am glad you are safe and I have appreciated your blog for several years now, even though at the moment I am traveling only in the USA and have not been to Shanghai for about one year.

    Have fun *:-)


  8. Valley Nomad, and Lee, thanks for the comments. It is sad that the sameness is taking the whole world. In China, cities are more and more alike, and whenever you go, they seem simliar – although not to the degree of similarity in U.S. yet.

    Lee, especially, thanks for being with me for years. It is not easy to keep a blog for years, so is it for keep reading, isn’t it?

    Have a good day!

  9. You said life here in silicon valley is boring. Well I like it the way just it is! Clean, fresh air, good weather, many outdoor activities, if you wanna some nightlife go up to SF. Life here is wonderful! In comparison, Shanghai is dirty, overcrowded, congested, rude people, mass consumerism. Even though I grew up in Shanghai, I do not ever want to live there! It is not for me.

  10. >In comparison, Shanghai is dirty, overcrowded, congested, rude people, >mass consumerism. Even though I grew up in Shanghai, I do not ever >want to live there! It is not for me.

    you say you grew up in Shanghai, if you are not a Chinese then I can understand your feeling, but if you are a Chinese, I just have a question:

    If your parent are poor, rude, dirty how will you deal with them?

    Just leave away or try to help them be rich, be clean, be respectful?

  11. Jian Shou: Will you be in San Francisco? You can take public transportation to the city. I am not a techie, work in the financial district, can meet you and take you around if you have time.

  12. US highway is a mess, people never follow rules. you’ll see people crawling at 60miles/hr in the fast lane, and others zig-zagging at 90miles/hr in the slow lanes (people like me).

    if you ever get a chance to go to Germany, check out their Autobahnl, then you will see true efficiency!

    oh, btw, i just got a speeding tix last weekend. sh!t!!

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