Monthly Archives: August 2007

Dongjiao State Guest Hotel – The Most Under Valued

Wendy and I found a great hotel, and we firmly believe it is the most under valued hotel in Shanghai – the Dongjiao State Guest Hotel. Let me tell you why we think the Most Under Valued Hotel in Shanghai is the Dongjiao State Guest Hotel.

It is Rarely Known

The construction of the Dongjiao State Guest Hotel started in 1995, and it took more than 10 years to grow the trees – just the trees. From unconfirmed sources, there are 3 trees in the garden that is more than 1000 years in age, and 1000 trees with more than 100 years. They are all moved from other provinces one by one. Everything was done mysteriously. Until it opened in one year ago, not many people really are aware about the existence of such a huge “garden”. Even after the open of the hotel one year ago, it is still under the radar screen. I thought it is a restricted area as many other state guest hotel. It turned out to be not so.

It is a State Guest Hotel

The hotel is actually a garden. It is not proper to say it is a royal garden, but it is built exactly the same way. There are all kinds of huge trees moved from the four nearby provinces and there are big lakes – many of them in the garden. The area is 1200 Mu in size, or 800,000.04 square meters. That is huge isn’t it? 80% of the garden is covered for forest – the newly built forest by moving old trees into it, and there are 100 Mu (66,666.67 m2) of water (lakes). Imagine that! It took a while to drive inside the garden. In such a big area, there are only 4 buildings.

The reason of this arrangement is because it is a state guest hotel. It means it is designed just for Guests of the State – state means the country, or the People’s Republic of China. There are many state guest hotel in Beijing, and many in Shanghai, like the Xijiao State Guest Hotel, or the Hong Qiao State Guest Hotel. The Dongjiao is newly built and by all means the largest and best one. It is the hotel if presidents or government visitors from other country stay.

What is Inside?

The reason why not many people know it is partly because of its position. It is at the interaction of Jinhai Road, and Longdong Ave, some where near Zhangjiang Hi Tech Park. From the Highway, it is covered by huge trees, and the Jinhai Road now is a dead-end road – the entrance of the hotel opens to this dead-end road. Not many people know the road, or discover the hotel.

If you drive a car and get into the hotel, you will completely be amazed. Be sure to have a car to go there. To walk from the entrance to the hotel buildings is just not feasible. The garden is huge.

Entering the entrance, you see a huge lake. Turning right and drive along the road, you winds your road along the lake side and then drive along the other lake on the right. There are many bridges, and you drive at least past 3 bridges before you see a building.

There are only 4 buildings (as I said) in the garden. The buildings are hidden behind the huge trees. Building #1 is the building for the state guests. Its security level is high, and I have no way to go near it. There are rumor that the building has under ground facility 9 meters under the ground to protect the guest from air attack, and some even say that is the reason it took 10 years to build this building. I completely have no idea and don’t think I can get access to this mysterious building. But from outside, its view is very like the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. – with huge lake before it.

The building 2 is just for ceremony. It is good idea to hold wedding there. Their price for wedding package is 4888 RMB per table. Not bad in the current crazy wedding market. The building 3 is the only building that people can check-in.

There are 180 rooms in that building, and it opens to public. I am sure that when this hotel is fully functional, this building will be restricted only to government use, just like many other state guest hotels, but before that, you still have the chance to take a look.

The Architect

I like the architect of the three buildings – traditional Chinese architecture built in a modern way. Again, I suspect that the cost of the building must be extremely high, since the quality of the building seems super high.

The Room

The cheapest room in the hotel is 880 RMB per night if you book via CTRIP or 980 RMB at the reception. August is not the hot season so this is maybe the lowest rate all year round. I know it is by no means a cheap hotel, but it is definitely the best value I have every experienced in Beijing and Shanghai, not to mean other countries.

This is the photo of the room:

Credit: Dongjiao.net

The real feeling is just better than this already very good photo.

The other facility

The most interesting picture on its official website is this one:

Credit: Dongjiao.net

Look at this meeting room? Seems familiar? This is the typical meeting room leaders of the State meets with state guests. It should be somewhere in Building 2 (or maybe building 1).

Image in courtesy of Google Earthc

Above is the satellite image of the garden. You can see there are only three buildings on the north side of the garden, and the rest are all trees and lakes.

Practical Suggestions

If you can choose your hotel, choose this one. Give it a try. But do remember:

1. The location of the hotel is just for relaxing, and not for business. It takes several minutes for taxi to get to your building 3 even from the gate of the hotel. Imagine that. Also, wait for 30 minutes (I guess) for a taxi. It is far from Puxi, so it is best for having a vacation. If your home is in Shanghai, it is also a good idea to spend a weekend there in your special days, like your anniversaries.

2. It works best if you have a car. You have to take the shuttle to get from the building you stay to the gym.

3. The gym (swimming pool) is wonderful. Do spend your afternoon there.

4. Plan enough time just in the hotel – the hotel itself is a garden. It is not as big as the Centuary Park (0.8 million sq. meters v.s 1.4 million sq. meters), but the scenery is much better.

Hope you have a good time in this most under valued hotel in Shanghai.

P.S. Under-valued does mean it is a cheap hotel (let me emphasis it again). It means it is a hotel that its value is not proportional to its price or awareness.

P.S. 2. The question that is always in my mind when I visited the hotel was, where does the money to build this state hotel comes from? It is reported that the hotel (with 180 hotel rooms) was built at cost of 1 billion RMB. That is huge amount of money. I even doubt whether the report cost is the real cost if you really take a look at how luxurious the buildings and the gardens are. Now, the tax payers are more and more aware about where their money goes, aren’t they?

Got Invitation of Young Leaders Forum

On Aug 24, 2007, I got invitation for the Yong Leaders Forum of National Committee of US-China Relations. I will become 2007 Fellow of the Forum and participant in the YLF activities in 2007 in China and 2008 in U.S. I am very excited about it.

I have been longing to be able to join this forum for a long time. I heard about the Young Leaders Forum from Haisong, during my first lunch with NCUCR delegation. I wrote immediately after I know the program:

NCUCR Programs

I heard about the Young Leaders Forum from Bo Shao and today from Haisong again. Both of them are members of the committee. Every year, the program choose 14 young (under 40) professionals from China and 14 from American and hold seminars in U.S. and China alternatively. Today’s group comes from the other program, Public Intellectuals Program. It offers opportunities of new generations of China specialist to talk with key persons in China.

One question I often asked was, “Does it really make any impact for spending money and effort on just several people?” I tend to think any program need to cover at least 1,000 people to be significant. In Shanghai, for example, a program reaching out to 10,000 people even didn’t make too much impact… It seems I was using the point of view of a marketing manager.

Recently, I found I was wrong. If a program can impact even one person, it makes difference. It is not quantitatively significant, but qualitatively significant. It made positive impact to participants, and they can make impact for people around them. I feel the personal connection with the bigger scope of Sino-American relationship, so does my readers.

This idea made me even more confident about my Coffee Bean program. 7 persons are a small group, but when we do it right, it is helping the country to get stronger. They are the future leaders of China.

The Schedule

This year, the Young Leaders Forum will choose about more than 10 participants in U.S. and another 10 or more from China, and the alumni may also join this year’s forum. It happens from Nov 28, to Dec 2, 2007 (I think this is public information, isn’t it?), in Nanjing, China. The theme for this year is Meeting the Challenge. I don’t know the location of the U.S. trip yet of the next year yet (because I guess some readers may ask).

What I am Looking Forward to

I am excited to participant and cannot wait to Nov. The past participants are saying highly about the program. This is what I expect personally.

  • Getting New Perspectives. Just as I truly believe to put the six blind men in the Blind men and the Elephant story can help everyone to understand elephant better, to mix young people from U.S. and China together and share their different perspective help everyone to have a better understanding of the world.
  • Difference and Conflicts. I would expect there are different opinions or even conflicting ideas. I believe there must be many such cases. I don’t worry about it. Actually, I see it as the success indicator of the forum. It means it does provide the opportunity for people to access oppinions that they may not previously see.
  • Meeting new Friends. I understand the value of talented people. They contribute more insight and thoughts much more than average people. I would be happy to know the 40 new people in the current or alumni of the program

Thanks Wendy for Finding my Passport

Wendy, thank you so much for finding my passport, finally! I was not able to find my passport anywhere at home – not in my document case, not in the drawers I used to put passport into, not everywhere. I don’t want to lose it again.

Finally, Wendy found it in the side pocket of my camera case!

You know how smart Wendy is? When I was emptying every drawer, she just sit there and thought hard. Her reasoning was:

  • the passport must be with me during my last overseas trip – it was in this March in Cambodia .
  • What was with me during the trip?
  • If the travelling case turned out to have nothing in it, what else did I brought into that country?

The she directly went to the camera case, and searched it inside out. She finally pulled the passport out of the side pocket. I also searched that camera case, for twice, without finding anything.

Thank you Wendy! Let me write an entry as a small gift to thank you.

Photo of the lovely banana boat at Sanya, Hainan. Taken in 2004, on the day of our first anniversary.

P.S. From the passport, I found out my last visa expires on Oct 18, 2007 – my birthday. That is also my only valid visa on my passport. Well. That is to say, I cannot set foot in any country outside China and U.S. The annoying fact is, even in China, I cannot enter Hong Kong without a new visa-type of permit.

You Know You Have Been in China for Too Long

This is a popular article circulated in the expats community for some time. Share with everyone.

You know you have been in China for too long when…

  1. You no longer wait in line, but go immediately to the head of the queue.
  2. You stop at the top or bottom of an escalator to plan your day.
  3. It becomes exciting to see if you can get on the lift before anyone can get off.
  4. It is no longer surprising that the only decision made at a meeting is the time and venue for the next meeting.
  5. You rank the decision making abilities of your staff by how long it takes them to reply “Up To You”.
  6. You no longer wonder how someone who earns US$ 400.00 per month can drive a Mercedes.
  7. You accept the fact that you have to queue to get a number for the next queue.
  8. You accept without question the mechanic’s analysis that the car is “Broken” and that it will cost you a lot of money to get it “Fixed”.
  9. You find that it saves time to stand and retrieve your hand luggage while the plane is on final approach.
  10. You can shake your hands almost perfectly dry before wiping them on your trousers, or you have your suits made with terrycloth pockets.
  11. A T-Bone steak with rice sounds just fine.
  12. You believe everything you read in the local newspaper.
  13. You regard traffic signals, stop signs, and copy watch peddlers with equal disdain.
  14. You have developed an uncontrollable urge to follow people carrying small flags.
  15. When listening to the pilot prove he cannot speak English, you no longer wonder if he can understand the air traffic controller.
  16. You regard it as part of the adventure when the waiter correctly repeats your order and the cook makes something completely different.
  17. You are not surprised when three men with a ladder show up to change a light bulb.
  18. You blow your nose or spit on the restaurant floor (of course after making a loud hocking noise)
  19. You look over people’s shoulder to see what they are reading
  20. You throw your trash out the window of your house, your car or bus you are on
  21. You would rather SMS someone than actually meet to talk ‘face to face’
  22. You wear nylons when it is 30 degrees outside
  23. You honk your horn at people because they are in your way as you drive down the sidewalk
  24. You regularly fumble for five minutes to find 10 jiao despite 10 people waiting in line behind you
  25. One of your fingernails is an inch long
  26. You ride around on your bicycle ringing a bell for some unknown reason
  27. In a meeting you say everything will be ‘wonderful’ and give no details.
  28. You forget that the other person needs to finish speaking before you can start
  29. You burp in any situation and don’t care.
  30. You see one foreign person eating Pineapple (or whatever) and say “Yes, all foreign people like Pineapple”
  31. You start to watch CCTV9 and feel warm and comforted by the ream
  32. You take a nap while you are dining in a restaurant with your girlfriend/boyfriend
  33. Just everything produced in your home town is “very famous in China”
  34. You don’t do any favors without wondering what your personal benefit could be
  35. You never ask “Why?” anymore.
  36. You understand all the above listed references.

My Comments?

Unfortunately, most of the items listed above are true – it is the behavior of my fellow people. What would I say?

There are some bad behaviors, and there are also many things that are just different. One of the best thing people get during travel is sensation. People are much more sensitive in a new world, and notice every difference from its own country. It is the same for people going to other countries. For example, Claire posted about the France version along with the Chinese one here. Don’t too worry about this part.

I do worry and feel ashamed of the bad habits people have, with the “jumping into the line”, and “spit in restaurants” on the top of the list. I am confident and optimistic about the future at the same time. We are in the transition period of urbanization. There are more people moving into cities in the last 20 years than people living in cities. Litter? Bad habit, but did you ever see a dust bin in the cotton field? It takes time for people to get used to the city life.

I thought of another word: Jay walking. Why people use “Jay Walking” to talk about people who didn’t obey traffic rules? From a reference book, I learned the word was invented in old cities (like New Yorks) in 1930s. Jay means “village people”. See, it has nothing to do with country. It is more relative to the time in progress. I would say, of cause, China is not so advanced in development… So take the time.

Having said that, I do agree it should be brought to everyone’s attention to improve all these bad areas.

What do you think about these 36 items in the list?

Can you Understand Dish Names in China?

Or let me try to use a better title: As a foreigner, are you able to understand the English translation of Chinese dishes in China?

To Read English Menu in U.S. is Hard, but Chinese Menus are Harder

The biggest headache for me is to order dishes in U.S. I think I understand English, and can speak some English, until I am presented an English menu. I believe the most effective way to determine whether someone has lived in a foreign country or not is a menu test. The names of vegetables or sauces are the most basic terms in daily life, but can be very hard terms for a language learner (when they learn it out of the daily life context). That is how I feel in U.S. and Australia.

For visitors or expats in China, the situation is completely the same, and even worse. The translation of Chinese dishes does not help too much because by nature, it is not easy to translate the Chinese dishes to English just by direct or word-to-word translation, not to mention the Chinese dish names are not descriptive itself.

The Key Difference in Chinese and English Dish Names

There are key differences between the dish names of Chinese and English. The English names basically list what’s in the dish (the ingredients) and how it was cooked. The challenge of understanding English menus is to understand the name of the limited amount of vegetables, fruits and sauces names.

The Chinese dish names, in contrast, are completely irrelevant from the ingredients. Cooks tend to think of a very short and beautiful name for the dishes. Typical Chinese dish names are only four characters long, and when you read it, it sounds like a short poem. To name or to guess what the name stands for is an interesting game for cooks and diners.

Examples

Here are my favorite examples of Chinese dish names. Guess what it is from the names.

  • Lion Head. Is it the head of lions? No. It is big meat ball cooked in Hangzhou. One of my favorite. Why they name it this way? I have no idea. It is just named hundreds of years ago and people are still using this name.
  • Ants Climbing Trees. This is also a popular dish in China. We order this almost every time we go out. It is also translated as “Sautéed Vermicelli with Spicy Minced Pork”. Did you see the connections? I didn’t.

Xiaojie Wang sent me some other direct translations that is so funny. Here you are:

  • Slobbering chicken. Chinese: 口水鸡 More official translation: Steamed Chicken with Chili Sauce
  • Tiger Dish. Chinese: 老虎菜 English: No idea at all. What is that?
  • beancurd made by a pockmarked woman. Chinese: 麻婆豆腐 English: Mapo Tofu (Stir-Fried Tofu in Hot Sauce)
  • Rolling Donkey. Chinese: 驴打滚. English: Glutinous Rice Rolls with Sweet Bean Flour
  • There are very ridiculous: Chicken without Sexual Life. Chinese: 童子鸡 English: Spring Chicken

These are the traditional dishes with relative common names. In some restaurants, they really tried hard to find new names for old dishes, or their new inventions. That can be even more wired for foreigners.

You see. From the name, you really have no idea about what it is, and some direct or bad translation makes it even hard to understand.

Bad Translations

Even with good and direct translation, it is so hard to guess. Believe me. It is not only for foreigners. I also have hard to understand what it is about. It is not rare that I ask the waiter what a dish really is.

Now many restaurants provide English menus, and the translation is really bad. They did the translation just by characters (not by meanings), and it turned out to be seriously wrong.

For example, “Griddle Cook” is common way to cook a dish, and it can be mistakenly translated to “fuck” if they don’t know English well. Look at this menu, and you will be really surprised by what the dish names are.

screen-interesting.menus.jpg

See? Don’t be surprised to see a translation like this. They really didn’t mean rude – they just want to communicate about what they are going serve you – in a wrong way.

Survey: What is Your Experience?

Reporter Miss. Wang Xiaojie asked me to do a simple survey on my blog for my foreigner readers: What is your experience with Chinese menus? Can you read it? If you can, how did you figure out what it means? If you cannot, what do you think that can help you?

Please post comment directly understand this post. Thanks.

P.S. Xiaojie will collect the response from this post and feature the interesting replies in the next week’s International Herald Leader.

P.S. 2 Why there are so many f*** word in the menu?

There are just 2000-3000 frequently used Chinese words, and there are so many meanings in the world, so every single character means a lot of different things. For example, the Chinese character 干 in the menu means a lot of different things. To name a few:

the trunk of a tree

the main part

capable; competent

[Informal] to do; to work

to fight on

[Literary] to offend

to interfere in

to be involved in

dry; dried

to drain till empty

You can see, there are some. It can also be translated to the f*** word. The menu maker may randomly pick a translation and print it there.

P.S. 3 The blog of International Herald Leader points to this entry on my blog for discussion around the Chinese dish names. Welcome, readers from International Herald Leader.

FeedBurner is a Useful Service

After Feedburner coming out for many years, now I switched my feed from my standard feed – my own XML feed file at http://home.wangjianshuo.com/index.xml to FeedBurner. The original feed file is still there so my previous subscribers won’t lose update from my blog, but new visitors will start to receive RSS feed from FeedBurner. Now you can subscribe to my blog via FeedBurner’s address: http://feeds.feedburner.com/jianshuo.

P.S. One day after I enabled FeedBurner, it was banned by the Great Firewall…

Is Community Blog a Good Idea?

Some readers suggested me to open a community blog section on my blog. That is, a blog hosting service that enables active community members on this blog to post their own experience in Shanghai on this blog and share with other Shanghai expats, visitors or travelers.

With this the MovableType 4, I have the ability to offer every blog reader the same blog hosting service and everyone can post to this blog using the same interface as I am using and manage the comments as I do. I believe it will be under different URL though, like http://wangijanshuo.com/<username>, where username is a name chosen by the poster. That means, everyone’s blog is still separate but can be presented on the home page after aggregation.

I know I have the best community about Shanghai so far. Although I didn’t implement any community features like user registration, or profile, or BBS (there is a not so working one), the community feeling of Wangjianshuo’s blog is very strong. Sometimes I feel it is hard to believe to run a community with such a simple way – just anonymous comments, and most commenter didn’t abuse the freedom to be able to post freely.

I there is a community blog feature, I can ask those who plan to visit Shanghai to start to write a small blog during their trip in Shanghai, or those who just relocated to Shanghai to describe their lives, or local Shanghainese to share their favorites or tricks about this city – it is a much more powerful community than the current one man show.

I know everyone has wonderful experience about Shanghai. There are a lot to share. So this can be a good idea.

To make this idea more solid, we have to ask the question: why blog here, instead of thousands of blogging hosting sites? I will try to answer this question this way: It is not about a hosting service. It is all about the community, or who are the readers. Here there are many people interested in Shanghai and the same interest will gather people together as a community, instead of the same tool, isn’t it?

I also have concerns about the idea. I posted Shall I Open a Shanghai BBS before, and then opened a Shanghai BBS at http://bbs.wangjianshuo.com. This actually didn’t work, and I am thinking about shutting it down sometime. The key problem is, I don’t have the bandwidth to manage it, or generate content or answer every question there in a more timely manner than for the comments on blog.

Hmm… Let me think about this and postpone actions. Do you have any idea about this? Whether it is good or bad idea?

OK. Let me do it this way. Let me do a short survey with just three questions:

1. If I offer a blog hosting service that you can own a Shanghai blog at http://wangjianshuo.com/yourname, will you consider that? (I think I will only accept people who don’t have a blog somewhere else, since I know it is almost impossible to maintain more than one blog. Trust me. I know how hard it is).

2. If you think it is a good idea, what kind of writers do you think is the best choice?

3. Any other thoughts about this ideas?

Please post your answer in the comment section. Thanks a lot.

Is RMB and Yuan the Same? Yes

This may seems a very easy question, but it is frequent one – trust me, I receive several emails everyday from visitors to Shanghai, and many people got confused of the difference between RMB and Yuan. For example, yesterday, when I answer a question with 2500 RMB, my reader asked: Is RMB and Yuan the same thing?

Yes. It is the same. RMB is the abbr. of Ren Min Bi, or the People’s Money. It is the official currency (maybe the only one) in China.

Yuan is the base unit for RMB – just as Dollar in USD. This is the currency system in China:

分 Fen cent

角 Jiao dime

圆 Yuan dollar

The first characters (you may not be able to see them if your computer don’t have Chinese font support) are the Chinese character of the currency unit. The second is its Pinyin / English name, and the last one is the counterpart in USD.

So Yuan and RMB is not always the same (as Yuan is just one of the currency units in RMB), but they can often be used interchangeably. 2500 RMB and 2500 Yuan is exactly the same amount of money.

PS. I know this is too easy a question, but I would rather spend sometime to help to answer this one. The reason I am doing this is, I understand some very easy question may not have an easy answer for first time visitors. Just as I found out in the comments of this entry:Frequently Used Phone Numbers in Shanghai, people even not familiar with emergency number 119. What can be more easier than this question?

Top Commenter of the Month (2007H1)

When was the last time I published my Top Commenter of the Month? I guess it is Sept, 2006. Old readers of this blog knows, that I publish Top Commenter of the month from time to time in 2005 to 2006 and to recognize to the top contributors of this blog.

Why I have this award? Simply because I owe my readers a big THANK YOU for your comments, your thoughts, your contribution to this blog that make it so unique today. I feel bad that I paused this very important award for sometime – almost one year. Today is the opportunity for me to pick it up.

This time, let me summarize all the top commenters in H1 of 2007, just like what I did in 2006H1.

Jan 2007

stephen 21

Shrek7 21

carsten 16

Давид 15

solopolo 12

Charlie 8

SSC 8

mcgjcn 7

twang 7

Feb 2007

Давид 20

rio 14

stephen 8

Shrek7 8

ericsson 6

Indra 3

DC 3

liujie 3

federico 3

shirley 3

horsoon 3

Herbert 3

swany 3

tom 3

March 2007

carsten 20

ben 13

Давид 11

Shrek7 9

joyce 8

Jianfeng 8

Herbert 7

lionroars 7

oncerest 6

DC 6

stephen 6

April 2007

Shockr 19

Jianfeng 11

Jet So 10

DC 8

ddjiii 8

CJ 6

John 6

Elaine 6

Давид 5

David 5

fujianren 5

Herbert 5

tw 5

Yanqing Chen 5

May 2007

Давид 8

stephen 8

DC 8

ben 7

Shrek7 7

502forever 5

ALi 4

joyce 4

chez 4

Jun 2007

stephen 15

Elaine 14

Давид 10

AussiePB 8

Shrek7 7

Carroll 6

jw023 6

cube316 4

Jennifer 4

Joe 4

ester 4

Michael 4

DC 4

ALi 4

swany 4

ZJ 4

Jul 2007

Shrek7 8

DC 8

xge 6

stephen 6

David 5

Claudia Frias 5

George747 5

ilya 5

Давид 4

AussiePB 4

shirley 4

bob 4

Herbert 4

ddjiii 4

Thank you!

Chat with Helen Wang on Chinese Dream

10:03

Helen is a great person. She writes blog at http://www.helenwang.rdvp.org/. Actually, she has two blogs. .One is Across the Pacific and the other is A Taste for Good Life. She seems doing similar thing as I am doing – to setup a bridge between China and the rest of the world. In her case, with America.

Helen is preparing her book about China – The Chinese Dream. Helen aims to profile the middle class of China. Our conversation started with the size of the middle class. We agreed that the middle class of China is not big, but it is almost 100% of who foreigners have access to. More importantly, this segment will grow to the majority of China (to 700 million according McKensy estimate). That is the significance of this group of people, and why it is a good idea to write a book about it.

Then we talked about the questions Americans concerns about China. I laughed where Helen talked about the little survey she did in on MySpace about the questions people have about China. They are exactly the same questions I receive every time I meet with first time visitors to China. To name a few of the FAQs:

  • Censorship
  • One Child Policy
  • Pollution
  • Communism
  • Human Rights

I laughed because these are the exact questions (and some in the exact order) the people in the Mayor’s delegation asked me during our dinner, and how the U.S. Congress Delegation asks. It seems the great way to tell foreigners’ knowledge about China is by checking whether they ask “censorship” as the first question. Why? Because if they have talked with someone from China, the chances are, they may already have asked this must-ask question.

Well. I would say there is nothing wrong to ask these questions. No offense. It is exactly the normal question to ask, but this reveals what is in the media in the U.S., because people will ask questions about what they see on TV.

We are the same. When we meet people in Japan, we ask about the text book, or ask about war for people from Iraq. It is just as natural as it is, but the problem is, there are much more than text book in Japanese life, or war in Iraq. In the Japan case, it is even out of the mind of almost everyone. That is the exactly the problem, just as censorship or human right is not the concern for most people in China.

Then, we talked a lot about my take to the following issue: one child policy, censorship, future of China, concerns, dreams, the moral standard in China, pollution, difference between U.S. and China, and my own story… (NOTE: Although I provided some links to the topics, my blog entries were written (maybe) long time ago, and my current thinking may change dramatically in the last few years.) It seems this article is too short for me to write everything we talked about. Maybe you can either wait for one year or two after Helen’s book comes out, or let me write more about these “sensitive” topics in the future.

10:25

P.S. Tomorrow, the National Public Radio will conduct a short interview with me on censorship. I hesitated and finally agreed, because I know the reporter long time ago. She interviewed me twice on the Bill Gates Murdered event and on my photo exhibition. I doubled checked to make sure I have enough time to talk, and the BBC’s interview situation does not happen. I am comfortable to talk about censorship but not comfortable for what BBC did for me – twice. Once broadcast 5 seconds out of my 30 minutes interview and the other time, cut one sentence out of my two page blog. Hope this time is better. Let me try.

Zhouzhuang, Tongli or Zhujiajiao

Ling asked:

Hi Jianshuo,

It’s me again. Wow, your replies are pretty prompt! Thanks! I did some research on the various nearby attractions, and got myself even more confused now. I just found out that there are also 乌镇 (Wuzhen) and 同里(Tongli)。

Have you been to all four places – 周庄(Zhouzhuang), 朱家角(Zhujiajiao), 乌镇(Wuzhen) and 同里(Tongli)? Between these four places, does Zhou Zhuang still rank #1?

Some of the Web articles I read just now say that Zhou Zhuang is too commercialised. But some also say it is well-maintained as a result. Decisions, decisions…

Here is my personal answer.

Overall, it is very Similiar

Overall speaking, Zhouzhuang, Tongli, and Zhujiajiao are very similiar in nature. They are all water/river villages. They are all built on the network of rivers, and share the same architect style, tradition, and a lot of things in common.

The difference among these villages is not significant. It is unlike the difference between Beijing and Angkor – the major cities in the old world. In the Beijing or Angkor case, they are the creation of the effort of the whole empire and they are so unique world-wide. Something you can find in Beijing (like Great Wall) or the Angkor Wat in Angkor cannot be found in anywhere in the world.

However, Zhouzhuang, Zhujiajiao and Tongli are just villages. They are among the thousands of villages in eastern China. They are unique because they are preserved better than the nearby villages. So basically, if you visit any one of them, you don’t have to visit the other.

The other reason why they are attractions is, it is near Shanghai. Shanghai is a big city without too many places to go, so Zhou Zhuang and all the other villages stand out, although they are not so unique in China.

The Difference

Despite of the similarity, there are still some differences.

Distance

Zhoujiajiao is the closest one in Shanghai. Actually, it is located inside the border of Shanghai Munuciple. It is claimed as the only ancient village in Shanghai. There is a Zhujiajiao Exit of the Expressway A9 (the one connecting Hongqiao Airport to Qingpu).

Zhouzhuang is in the middle – it is adjacent to Shanghai. When cars exit Shanghai border, and Zhouzhuang is right there. Since Jiansu Province charges money (like 30 RMB, I remember) for any car entering Jiangsu, we always have to pay the money just for the several km there.

Tongli is farther. It is 7 km away from Suzhou. Leaving Zhouzhuang and ride west ward and you will reach Tongli.

To conclude, Zhujiajiao, Zhouzhuang, and Tongli are in the same area. If you ride a bide, you can go to all these three villages in a day – I did before.

My Favorite

The difference between the three villages are not big as the difference between their day time and their night time. Take a look at my entry Tongli – Beauty at Night. My personal suggestion is, always spend a night in these villages, and it is even better that you don’t stay in the village after 9:00 AM.

Why? All of the villages are very commercialized and in the day time, when tourists came, it is just a shopping mall with old style architect. Only at night, when all the shops closes, and the villages become what they really are – villages.

Decisions?

It is not a hard decision to make. Randomly choose one. If you need my help, then Zhouzhuang. Then you may ask: How about Tongli? I’d say, OK, then Tongli. Because the difference is really not big.

Hope this helps.

For more information about travel informaiton, check my category Attraction Near Shanghai

D Train in China

I didn’t have the chance to take D Train yet. Well. Although I wrote a lot about Shanghai, I am still not a full time report so I can try every new thing and report the first hand experience on my blog. So let me quote China Mike’s experience. This is the first detailed note about D Training on my blog.

Hi Jian Shuo,

First of all, I love your site! I remember the first time I discovered it when I was trying to find out information about the Maglev train to the Shanghai airport. Your site was very helpful.

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the D Train from Tianjin to Beijing last week. It was very comfortable, and the inside of the train was very different than the other trains. Actually, it looked like the inside of the maglev. It was very clean, all the seat were facing the same way, there were tray tables for each seat, and there was a screen that showed how fast we were going. On the outside of the train, it said that the top speed was 200 Km/hr, but we only got to 163 km/hr. But I noticed that they were building new tracks, so I suspect that they may be for the D train in the future. The trip used to take 1hr 25min, but now it’s 1hr 9min, and I was told that once the new tracks are done, it will only be 40 min. that’s terrific!

Posted by: China Mike on August 20, 2007 11:37 PM

Fred’s Birthday – a Measurement

Fred celebrates his birthday today. He said:

But seriously,I always use these milestones we call birthdays to take measure of my life. And so far so good.

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for to be honest. My wife, my kids, my family, the greatest job I could ever have, wonderful colleagues, terrific companies to work with, a vibrant community that I get to be the moderator of.

Happy Birthday Fred, since Fred’s blog is always in my RSS reader (now I am using Google Reader). Birthday is like milestone, and I am going to celebrate my birthday this Oct – I will accomplish the first 30 years in my life…

What you Miss in Shanghai?

Cartera did an interesting survey on ShanghaiExpat’s forum: What things do you miss in Shanghai?. Here are some of the answers:

Fresh Air, Food Hygiene, Cleaniliness, Politeness, Patience and Walkers Prawn cocktail crisps, British Sunday Roast Dinner and Sky Sports!!

Fresh air, beaches, clean water, common sense, civilized behaviour, decent food, a decent marina.

-Everything that is not fake.

American Grown stuff,

-Food, size and taste is dramatically different, tomatoes, scallions, meats especially

-Human being temperatures.

-Doing business with set prices, negotiating can be a pain sometimes.

-Air Quality

-Driving my own damn car

-White people even though I’m not white. I just need my daily dose of Whitism.

All the above plus……

Moral

Ethic

Trust

Obey the Law

Enforce the Law

A simple “Sorry” when things are done wrong

Openness

Manner

Blue sea

MSG free food

Services

Clean tap water

Proper ventilated office building

Proper air conditioning + properly insulated office building

Higher grade gas + properly maintained vehicles

People flush soiled toilet paper instead of leaving it in the bin in toilet

Singing loudly when I’m driving the car alone.

Public restrooms that are not completely repulsive.

Going to a store where you can get everything in one trip.

The beach.

Driving my own car.

Spotless supermarkets.

Non Smoking Restaurants, Malls, etc

Service in Restaurants : Quality, Cleanilness,etc

Clean Public Restrooms

A walk in the park with fresh air

Mount Rainier

Nice Beaches

Nice mountain & beach

delicious foods (nithgt marketing)

clearn road no one will spit sputum

non- smoking public place

frinedly and politeness ppl

Tasty foods. Good customer service. Polite and friendly people. People who think before doing things.

Not-too-crowded lifts. The words “Sorry” and “Excuse me”. One-stop shops. Entertainment centers.

I am not surprised to see this from the angle of an expat. I admit that many of the stuff listed here is reality in Shanghai. Come to Shanghai, and you need to be prepared for everything in this city, including the lack of the things listed above.

My Two Cents

Lack of Moral, Ethic, Politeness are all true in Shanghai. However, I’d say, to be fair, it is just the current Shanghai or China (well, to be fair, no one said it is past China). In the long history, China enjoys the oldest civilization, but the recent half century is a disaster. It takes time for people to recover the long-stand moral standard, and being polite again – it just takes time.

Your comments about this?

Upgraded to Movable Type 4

This is my first comment to the new MovableType 4. Let me just write a short sentence, and then test if everything is OK.

Update

It turned out the upgrade is very smooth – without any problem, and everything simply works.

The only problem I encountered with is, I didn’t find out the Rebuild button anywhere in the Admin page.

Also, since the template was still the old one, and most of the new features are not immediately available now. Please wait for sometime, and I will be able to add it along the time.

P.S. Interview

I was just interviewed by the International Herald over phone. The topic is about this blog, and the questions are very similar with That’s Shanghai.

P.S. Sun Island

I am back from a company event in Sun Island in Qingpu today. Did I mentioned Sun Island on this blog? Not yet. It is one of the few very good place to go for company meeting in Shanghai… I will talk more about it in the future.

Learnt More about How Government Works

Today, attended a training by the government officials, and learnt many interesting ideas. Share with everyone.

The Government has Huge Support for SME (Small and Middle Sized Enterprise)

Maybe you didn�t know it. For SME in Shanghai (with revenue less than 30 million RMB), if they go abroad (like U.S.) for marketing or attending events, their travel cost will be compensated by the Shanghai Foreign Trade organization by 50%. If they attend foreign trade affairs, their ticket fee will also be reimbursed by the government by 50%. This is huge benefit for SME to explore opportunities outside China. There are many policies like this, but not so many enterprises are aware of it.

The Government Reform in 2003

I didn�t really know that, until today. In 2003, the biggest government organization change happened. The 40 Bureaus in the central government was cut to 29 in 2003, and all government officials were cut by 50%.

This was a piece of interesting history – how the government handled the 50% layoff in 2003. They enforced the government officials who are 58 in ago or older for male, or 51 for female to leave their position, to give up the headcount. They are compensated by a lot of policies. For example, they receive salary, bonus, or salary increase as normal officials, and they can stay at home, and getting exactly the same benefit as they work hard and work well. This offer is valid until he/she reaches his/her official retirement age. Some of them are even offered a place to stay in government, and their full time job is to drink tea, and read newspaper. They are not allowed to do anything else than this, but their salary is the same.

Now, after the huge shrink in size of the government, there are 113,000 officials in Shanghai government (among them, 45,000 are policemen of all kinds)

Imagine how hard it was to do the reform � inside system of government.

Interesting history, or reality�

Shanghai Also has Blue Sky – for One Day

I don’t have official statistics, but I believe the pollution in Shanghai is worse this year than the last year. Why? From my observation, there are almost no blue sky in Shanghai in the last few months. It is partly due to the rainy season, but I just feel I was too excited to see the blue sky of today.

Today is an exception.

The sky was blue and there are white clouds in the sky – very beautiful, and the visibility of the air is much better than average. I can see the Jinmao tower clearly from Xujiahui.

This is good, but days like this is so rare in Shanghai.

Discussion about Blue Sky

Today reminded me of an interesting discussion under an old blog article. Once I posted some pictures of the Bay Area to my blog, and there are readers from mainland commented:

“Look at the blue sky!”

Actually, not one person. Many of them. They are surprised to see the blue sky in the California in the pictures.

More interestingly, people from the States (I guess) commented that they were very surprised to find out the fact that someone will be surprised to see blue sky, which is their everyday life.

What a sad story. I feel very bad when I saw the conversation and deeply concerned about the pollution in China.

Many People Forgot about What Natural should Look Like

The much more frustrating fact is, in China, many people including me, have forgotten what the natural should really like. When we see some pictures (like the default desktop of Windows Vista), we just don’t believe there are such thing in the nature.

Last time when I visited Australia, I was so surprised to see the water in the river. It is acturally clear – to be honest, I never saw such water in middle or eastern China. The only time I saw such clear water was in Daocheng – the distant Tibet area that almost no people live there.

The Story of a River

Let’s talk about river.

Victor lives in village in rural area of Shanghai in Jiading District. He recalls that the river besides his home was suitable for swimming when he was young. When we visited the river last Saturday, it smell so badly that we want to leave it as soon as possible. The river was dark yellow and I doubted any fish could survive there.

I suspect it was due to the Paper Manufacturing Factory nearby.

The Story of my Home Town

The even more astonishing fact is, people don’t care about pollution at all (especially the government).

Last summer, I went back to my hometown, and one of my distant relatives came to our home and introduced the investment environment of the area. He was now a government official of the town, and pitched us to spend about 20,000 RMB to get some land in our hometown and open a factory.

I asked

Is there any additional benefit to open factory here?

His answer was:

You can setup factory that pollute the environment! In east area (he means the coastal area), they (he means the local government) control it too tight and you may not be able to open such factory. We (he means the local government in my home town) welcome all such factories!

This was the benefit they gave to factory owners.

Horrible.

Hope? Not Really

I hope there are more blue sky like today in Shanghai, and I am sure there will be less blue sky in my home town if nothing is done about it.

MovableType 4 Finally Out

I know for most of my readers who only care about information on Shanghai will find this news boring or irrelevant to the topic of this blog. Maybe it is, but for me, it is completely not.

There are several reasons.

1. Thank you, MovableType.

I’d like to thank MovableType for providing such a good tool for me to use in the last 5 years. I am, maybe, one of the most loyal usres of MovableType, from the day one (or the second in terms of MovableType’s history) to today.

MovableType was a great software, and I love the company a lot. I also enjoy my personal friendship with people in MovableType, like Ginger, or Chris, and the two founders, Mena and Ben (for meeting for a short period of time, but gave me very unique impression).

2. Think of my first entry in this blog in Sept of 2002.

It is: MovableType Successfully Installed on Windows XP. If I wasn’t attracted by the Shanghai Pudong Airport topic, MAYBE, this blog may turn out to be a MovableType blog.

3. Movable 4 has great features I was looking for.

Let me quote some I am interested most among the many features MovableType 4 offers.

Features I like

10. A powerful and simple re-sizable WYSIWYG Editor, with automatic saving of drafts of entries and templates — never lose a half-written post again

The auto save works great for me, although I wonder whether I will get used to the WYSIWYG Editor, since I have been using the plain text for five years – it worked perfectly well for me.

16. Better plain-text entry with built-in support for Markdown and Textile, and conversion of MS Word “smart” quotes to HTML entities

The smart quote feature is sometimes useful when I write in Word first.

17. Even more SEO-friendly with customizable URLs per entry, per-template, or per-page

Good feature, however, I don’t think there is any chance for me to customize my old URLs.

20. OpenID support built in

This is great. I will support OpenID! My OpenID is wangjianshuo.com. Yes. Just Wangjianshuo.com, so register your openId and you will be able to directly sign-in in the new version of Wangjianshuo.com

21. Built-in user registration

This is the best feature. When Wangjianshuo’s blog has registration feature, do you want to be the first to register?

22. Powerful profile pages for every user in your system

Yes! This is it! I love this feature so much so my contributors (commenters) has a place to show off their great contribution to the site – this blog is nothing without the in-depths comments.

24. A ratings framework that lets users rate any item in the system — entries, comments, and in the future even authors or entire blogs

To ask my readers to rate the best blog entries of the month is a very cool idea. So give me feedback by rating and you can also the great comment you see.

27. Automatically provision a new blog for each user who registers with the system

Wow! Can it be possible? Hmmm.. Let me think the question: what if you want to open a blog under the domain of Wangjianshuo.com? Do you want to do that?

28. Built-in support for integrated spam fighting and optionally displaying a CAPTCHA for comments

I hope the anti-spam is better (although it is good enough) and I won’t turn on the CAPTCHA feature, since I think my additional work to delete spam comments is well compensated by easier comments without entering the hard to read characters.

29. Integrated email notifications — let your readers know when a thread they’re interested in has updated

This is also great. I have this plugin installed, but it does not seem to work.

Well. That’s it. It has great features, and I am looking forward to upgrade this blog to MovableType 4.0 this weekend. I hope I have enough time to do that.

Congratulations, the MovableType team!

MovableType 4 is Almost Out

MovableType is almost out – it is RC4 (Release Candidate 4) now. I am sure that when the final version comes out, I will upgrade my MovableType to that version.

The key feature I think is helpful is the user management and registration. It allows my readers to register with the system and create some pages for him/herself. With the new system, you can be a user and even a contributor to this system. Want to you think?

Pudong Airport Terminal 2 Completed

The Pudong Airport will open a new terminal this year. The construction is already completed, and just waiting for the connecting roads and viaduct to be completed. The next time people visit Pudong Airport, they should check out which terminal they should go to…