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…