Writing for a Magzine? Oh! No! Thanks!

This title was adopted from a short poem. I believe this is the shortest English poem I read so far





Very interesting, isn’t it?

I accepted friend’s friend’s invitation to write an article for a magazine. The topic is about my hometown Luoyang. I accepted the request and today is the due date. I have to think hard to write the article, and deliver it as I promised.

I did for several time to write for newspaper, and for magazines. Every time, it started with an easy “OK”, and ended with a hard time. Currently, I am still the so-called columnist for many websites and some newspaper, but the agreement was: copy any articles on my Chinese blog and use it as you wish, but please don’t let me know or ask for any specific topic, since I know I cannot deliver.

OK. This is the last time, and I hope in the future, I don’t accept something additional like this – something with a deadline, but the delivery of it really depends on my mood – like writing articles.

Enough for today’s blog. I will take the time to write the article and send it tonight.

Highly Recommend Book – China Road

I am reading some books recently (to name a few, the China Road, Collapse)…

I like Rob Gifford’s book China Road very much. It is very interesting to read, and offers a great angle to analyze the real problems and hopes of China.

Let me tell you why I love this book.

The Idea

The idea behind the book is to take a journey along the China State Road No. 312 from Shanghai to north-west border of China. This idea itself is attractive.

What is road 312, or G312 (G means Guo or State)? It is a road starting from Shanghai, cross the mainland of China, and travels along many provinces like Anhui, Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Xinjiang… It is something like the mother road Route 66 in the United States.

It is a long road. It is 4825 km long, and the diversity in both natural and social scene is huge enough for anyone who are willing to understand more about China.

The idea is appealing to me as well. Maybe one day I should also take the trip of G312 to know China – I never claim I know China. I only know part of it, and I, myself, was often shocked by some facts I found out about China. In this sense, Rob knows China much better than I do.

The Trip

During the trip, Rob didn’t just completed the trip – he explored deep inside. He visited places normal people live and normal travelers don’t go. He talks with people who are saying something very familiar to me. He visited “dangerous” and “sensitive” places like Shangcai (I didn’t make typo here. It is letter “c”, not “h”) in Henan Province, the AIDS village under the pressure of the local police… The trip was amazing, and I pleasantly followed his article to travel with him.

The Thinking

It is definitely not just a travelogue. It is a book full of his thought, not just observation. Let me just mention few of them.

In Shanghai, Rob noticed the difference of two party members. One still believe Communism is the future, while the other (I am like her) don’t believe it. I laughed since it is common discussion I heard in my daily life.

Like in Xi’an, he thought about the question why China don’t have its own Runnymede or Magna Carta. He thought it was rooted to the unification of the country in 221 B.C. when Qin (Chin) unified the whole country, by force. (I didn’t repeat the whole story, but I think you can find out more).

After his trip, he event thought about the China’s history in a while, and claiming that the country is going through circles:

China’s history has only ever been about uniting and then collapsing, reuniting and then being invaded, overthrow, collapse, reuniting and collapsing again. Why should the future be any different?
-Rob, Page 276, A road is made, China Road

He then list some reasons why the future of China can be different…

My Thoughts

I appreciate Rob’s thoughts, and his effort to report what China is today, and try to predict (although it is one of the hardest thing to do in the world) its future. The thought and deep sympathy are very rare in the books I read most of the time.

What about the China’s future? This is a serious question. There are given answers that most people in this country can recite and even written in the constitute. However, I don’t believe in. People should think about this question seriously (despite it is highly encouraged by the government that not to think about it at all).

Pictures of Xujiahui Area in 2007 – Difficulties

Wondering about what the world I, as a normal person in Shanghai, see everyday? I am trying to capture the short period of time I experienced, and show you my world with a series of pictures. Thanks to my good habit of bringing a camera with me all the time.

Hmm…. Stop here.

I was planning to upload a lot of photos, but I do encounter some technical difficulties. So the bad news is, I cannot upload it today. However, to explain the difficulty itself can be an interesting topic.

The First Problem: Flickr was Censored

This is maybe the second or longer month after Flickr.com was banned by the Great Firewall. Flickr is a powerful tool to allow people to see pictures of the world, and pictures of my own country, which is so scary for some people, so they banned the site. So, I can visit Flickr.com but cannot see any of the photos on the site, and I cannot upload any pictures to Flickr – for months.

Google Picasaweb?

Google’s PicasaWeb is still too new to be banned, so I can still use it, but the speed is significantly slower than flickr. At home, I still cannot upload my picture after waiting, retry for 30 minutes. What happens?

Well. Let me try to complete this article the other day, using a proxy. I will be back to complete it…

Beijing Olympics 2008 Schedule

Since Beijing Olympics is coming, let me post the schedule for the Olympics in Beijing. Hope you like it. Credit goes to Wikipedia.

 ●  Opening ceremony  ●  Event competitions  ●  Event finals  ●  Closing ceremony
August 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23rd 24 T
Archery 1 1 1 1 4
Athletics 2 4 6 6 5 3 6 7 7 1 47
Badminton 1 2 2 5
Baseball 1 1
Basketball 1 1 2
Boxing 5 6 11
Canoeing 2 2 6 6 16
Cycling 1 1 2 1 3 1 2 3 2 1 1 18
Diving 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8
Equestrian 2 1 1 1 1 6
Fencing 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 10
Field hockey 1 1 2
Football (soccer) 1 1 2
Gymnastics 1 1 1 1 4 4 4 1 1 18
Handball 1 1 2
Judo 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 14
Modern pentathlon 1 1 2
Rowing 7 7 14
Sailing 2 1 2 2 2 2 11
Shooting 2 2 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 15
Softball 1 1
Swimming 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 1 1 34
Synchronized swimming 1 1 2
Table tennis 1 1 1 1 4
Taekwondo 2 2 2 2 8
Tennis 2 2 4
Triathlon 1 1 2
Volleyball 1 1 1 1 4
Water polo 1 1 2
Weightlifting 1 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 15
Wrestling 2 2 3 2 2 2 2 3 18
August 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23rd 24 302

Source: Wikipedia.org

One Year to Beijing Olympics

Today is 366 days to August 8, 2008, the date of Beijing Olympics. (The reason it is 366 days instead of 365 is, 2008 has extra day of February 29, 2008).

The celebration party at Tiananmen Square in Beijing was casted in real time last night.

This is good thing. If you plan to participant in the Olympics, it is the right time to start preparing.

Shanghai Car Plates IS Investment

I have a car with name of Goudaner.

However, I don’t have a car plate from Shanghai, simply because it is too expensive. Instead, I drove 200 km away to Hangzhou (the capital of Zhejiang Province, south of Shanghai) to register my car there.

Now I am a Shanghai driver, bought a car in Shanghai, driving in Shanghai… with a Hangzhou car plate. Sounds wired, isn’t it?

I thought I made a right decision three years ago. Now? I don’t think so.

The History of the Decision

In August 2003, you need to give government 38,500 RMB to get a car plate. In March 2004 (seven months later), it costs 43,000 RMB. In May 2004, the price dropped for the first time to 34,226 RMB, then to 21001 RMB the next month. I didn’t track the price of car plate since then.

Comparing to the high price of a Shanghai plate, to register in other city is attractive. It is almost free.

There are some limitations for these cars (there are 130 thousand cars running in Shanghai with outside plates), and more and more fees are added to these cars. Beside that, I need to drive my car personally to Hangzhou for annual checking which is not always pleasant journey.

Car Plate as Investment

With the explosion of number of cars in Shanghai, the recent bid result for car plates keep going up and is always above 40,000 RMB. I thought it has nothing to do with me any more, until I chatted with Jia about his experience to attempt sell a car.

When it comes to a point that you need to sell your car, the different is huge.

For cars with Shanghai plate, the plate is still a lot of money – according to the current bidding price for the plate. For most people, they can make some money because of the price difference.

For cars with other plates, the plate itself worth nothing, even lower the price you paid to get it. Meanwhile, since the car transaction involves transportation administration of another city, there are additional 3000 RMB for this.

So, the conclusion is clear:

1. To register outside Shanghai is cheaper, until you sell it.

2. To register in Shanghai is more expensive, until you sell it.

My Conclusion

This teaches me a basic economic rule: when we buy something, always distinguish whether it is debt, or asset. By the definition of Poor Dad, Rich Dad, debts are something to take money out of your pocket, and assets help to put money into your pocket.

When we make decision about a deal, we should look at the both side of the equation. Take the Shanghai Car Plate or house example, you pay money on the left hand, and get some asset on the other hand, so you are still balanced in your Balance Sheet. To get a plate out of Shanghai, although on the left hand, I didn’t pay too munch money, on the right hand, I got nothing (not an asset). This is not a good idea.

P.S. It is not so fair to say I made a wrong decision since at that time, everyone was expecting the cancellation of the plate bidding in Shanghai. If that is the case, the asset disappears in a day.

Exchange (Lot of) Coins to Paper Money

This is Mike’s question, my first answer, and his follow-up question:

Hi Wang Jian Shuo,

Do you know where in Shanghai I could change coin money to paper money?

I have a lot of coin monies, like 1 yuan coin, about thousands. I went to ICBC bank but they don’t accept it, they don’t have machine to count coin money either? Do you know where I can find machine to count coin money too?

In the US, at Commerce bank, they have machine to count coins (quarter) and change to paper money for free. I think there should be place like that in Shanghai too.

Thank you and best regards,


Posted by: Mike on August 4, 2007 07:54 PM

They don’t change the coins to paper for you? Really? They should provide that service. There are banks charging people for counting coins, but free for individuals. I have no experience about it, but I believe there must be some bank that can help you. Maybe I will talk about it later when I personal encounter the problem or check the bank, and be back with you to see if I can help you.

Posted by: Jian Shuo Wang on August 4, 2007 11:40 PM

Hi Wang Jian Shuo,

Thank you for your quick reply.

The bank can change the coins to paper money for me, but they only accept a small amount.

I have many coins, could be about 5,000 coins, I can’t sit to count that much coin, and people at the bank can’t help me either, I have to find a place with the coin counter machine? Do you know where I can find one? Any bank branch with a coin counter machine?

I only keep paper money in the wallet, it should be lighter and easier to carry that way. So everyday going home, I took the coin out of the wallet and put them in a box, now that box become a bit big, I want to change them to paper to save space. I guess everybody has a box of coins at home too.

Thank you and best regards,


Posted by: Mike on August 5, 2007 02:34 PM

To answer Mike’s question, I called China Merchant Bank (my favorite bank and the only bank I relatively like) at 4008895555. The CSR (Customer Service Representative) didn’t know it either, and asked me to call one of its branch office. So I called their Xujiahui branch at 021-64273892. Here is what I learn from gentleman on the other side of the telephone line.

It is Possible

The bank can exchange the coins for you, no matter how big amount it is.

It is a Paid Service

However, you have to pay 1 RMB per 50 coins. They said the fee is based on the number of coins, not the total amount of the money. For example, if you have 50 one RMB coins, the fee is 2% of the total amount, while if you 50 0.1 RMB coins, they will also charge you 1 RMB, which is 20% of the total amount.

Time and Location

This is a standard service offered by almost all banks, since it is a service standard (and fee standard) set by the China People’s Bank (the central bank). You can go to any bank to ask for this service.

There is something to notice though.

1. It is not Personal Banking Service. You have to go to the Cashier window in the business service section.

2. Because it needs some time, you need to wait for about one day for them to get back to you.

In Xujiahui Branch of China Merchant Bank (on the Tian Yao Qiao Road and the Zhaojiabang Road), the service is available from Monday to Friday before 16:30.

So, Mike, good luck and be sure to get back to us to let us know whether you successfully exchange the 5000 coins.

Shanghai is Hot, Hot and Hot!

I completely have no idea when the hot summer of Shanghai will be over. Recently, everyday when I step out of my room, the hot (extremely hot air) reminds me of what was shown in the film An Inconvenient Truth. Shanghai broke track record of extreme hot weather in the last century, many times!

Poor visitors! If you are in Shanghai, I promise you Shanghai isn’t always so terrible to live, and there are some days better than today. Do come again at other time. These days, Shanghai is just like a hot spot, and the air is burning my nose.

So, to remind people that there are cool days (acturally cold days) in Shanghai, let me post a photo I took back in Dec 29, 2004 of the heavy snow in Shanghai. We just got back from our long trip in New York at that time, and Shanghai was not THAT cold, and we were very happy about it.

Feeling cool now?

Google Beijing Office Picutre

These photos were taken back in March 5, 2007, and I didn’t had a chance to post them. Recently I setup a photo album, and published some photos I took before. These are some photos I took near the Google Beijing office.

Google Beijing office near Tsinghua. The good thing about Google Beijing office:

  • It has mountain in the background – just like the name of its headquarter: MountView.
  • It has its own standalone building.
  • It is very near Tsinghua University.

You can see the maintains of Beijing in the far background of this picture.

Avoid Blog Blocked in China

How to setup a blog and not blocked by GFW in China? This is really a FAQ.

To setup a blog is relatively easy. Not to be blocked is not that easy. I hope this is a complete guide to bloggers inside or outside China.

How Block Works?

Regarding the issue of “block”, there are two camps of websites in the world – websites that is hosted outside China and inside China.

For blogs hosted inside China, they will never be “blocked”. Instead, it will be “shutdown”.

If you host your blog on a Blog Service Provider (BSP), and if there is some “sensitive” content on the BSP, the whole BSP site will be shutdown (an easy way to do it is just a phone call to call the data center and ask the administrator to directly unplug the network cable of the serers). In the history, most of the BSPs in China has been shutdown at least once (like blogbus).

If you are technical enough to host your blog on your own server, the situation is the same as BSP. They will be able to shutdown the site at any time.

Recently, my friends who helps to host other people’s blog was called by police to delete post from time to time…

Also, to setup your own site, you have to register and get an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license to run a blog.

So, in my personal opinion, do not host your site in China. There are millions of reasons people shut it down, and there is no way to argue about this. Also, the risk is to lose all your data. The most interesting thing is, everyone from telecom, to government, to legal system just pretend that this massive shutdown didn’t exist. The existence of this censorship itself is a secret.

Sites Hosted outside China

You can also host your blog outside China. There are also two ways to do it. 1) Host it with a BSP, like blogger.com, typepad.com. 2) Setup your own server.

The first is not practical method now. Why?

The major BSP was blocked. Here are two of them:



Even photo sharing site flickr.com is not completely accessible.

For other BSP, in the future, it may also be blocked. The reason of the block is, there must be one or more blog on the BSP that talks about something the government doesn’t like, and then they block the whole BSP. Your blog will be a victim of the block.

You will have no control of what others write, and you cannot control what the Great Firewall does. So if you host in a BSP, you are not controlling your destiny.

So, my personal suggestion is, host your blog on your own server. Why?

You have much more control of your destiny, although not completely. Most of the hosting is shared hosting, that you put many sites (about 100 or more) on the same server. If any of the sites get blocked, the whole server is not accessible. In this case, just move to another hosting company.

This way, you are, at least, not a victim because other site is blocked.


My choice is host your site with your own top level domain (something.com) and host it on your own server (like bluehost.com or dreamhost.com). This requires more technical skills to do, but it is a good option for serious bloggers.

Interviewed by That’s Shanghai

Rebbecca sent me the written interview question about my blog, and here are my answers.

1. When did you start to open this blog?

Sept 11, 2002.

2. What have initially triggered you to be a blogger?

I setup my personal website (wangjianshuo.com) in 2000, and I wrote articles about Shanghai, like Shanghai Airport or Shanghai Taxi in English at that time, and attracted many visitors. Later, I started to organize the articles according to the created date. This is very like a blog. In July 2002, someone “interviewed” me on MSN, and it turned out he is a blogger. Then I am aware of the existence of the concept “blog” and thought it is the perfect way (or tool) for me. So I started my blog at a subdomain: http://home.wangjianshuo.com. The “home” part indicates that the server – a normal personal computer connected to Internet – is physically located in my home.

3. How much does this blog mean to you?

Blog means half an hour of reflection for me. To express someone’s thought completely and beautifully is maybe the biggest mental challenge people face. To create something useful everyday forced me to keep observing and keep thinking about my life, my city and my world. To me, it is more like a thinking tool, than a blog.

4. What goals do you want to achieve in your blog?

My goal is to make the life for foreign visitors to Shanghai easier. Shanghai is a modern city, but it is far less visitor-friendly as it should be. I know how hard people’s life is when they just moved into the city, especially when they came from another culture and don’t speak the language. Once I wrote about the emergency number in Shanghai is 119 instead of 911. From the comment, I realized many people don’t know that! My work is to help Shanghai to be friendlier to visitors and expats.

5. We’ve heard that for more than 4 years in a row, you’ve been writing at least one entry every day. Have you encountered any difficulties of doing so? What if you were not in the mood for writing anything or what if you felt that you’ve got nothing to say?

In Sept this year, I have completed 5 years of blogging. I have formed a habit to think about what I am going to write when I walk out of my home in the morning, so most of the time I have something to write. There must be something interesting to write about during the day time if you observe carefully enough – what a poor life someone is leading if he cannot find anything interesting even if he tries hard to find one. There are also some days that I feel there is nothing to write, I will turn to my readers. I have more than enough unanswered questions in my email box or in my comment forum, and I will find a topic to write. I also have some backup topic list I have in my mind but I didn’t write about so I can pick one if I am running out of topic. If there is really nothing to write or I am completely not in the mood to write, I just post a notice called “out of blogging”, and tell readers, I don’t want to write today. There are less than 10 times during the 5 years.

6. As CEO of KIJIJI, you must be very busy at work. How can you manage to be both an excellent IT professional and a successful blogger at the same time? (for instance, how do you manage your time?)

It is all about what you value. Time is not an issue if you have a goal. Everyone is busy. It is all about the decision you make about what is important to your life. I made a decision that to record my life, and provide a public service to visitors is an important thing in my life, so I stick to it. I started the blog 5 years ago, when I was not a CEO. At that time, people asked me: “Why spend half an hour everyday? What did you get from it?” My answer was: “I am accumulating something important and I am helping people. What did you get by busy working 8 hours a day, and 5 days a week?” To find a goal is more important to do the work. I hope after 10 years, when I look back, I am not only busy, but also accumulating something important. That is the reason I spend time on blog.

7. Does being a blogger help your career? From what perspective has it helped or affected your work?

It helps in many ways. First is about thinking. As I said, it is a tool to help me thinking and help me to keep the right direction. It is not easy to be conscious about the meaning of someone’s life without consistent meditation (blogging is like meditation) and reflection. Secondly, it helped me to create personal reputation. A blog is all about a person. I have built trust with my readers, and people can trust me by reading my thoughts in the last 5 years. It is an honest record of my life. This helps my career greatly. When I meet with people, some times they say: “It seems we have been friends for years, since I read your blog for years”. I didn’t affect my work. If my work is affected, that means I am still not mature enough or skillful enough to handle two projects together. To make it really work, I intentional separate the professional world and blogging world. In the professional work, I am a CEO and an evangelist of new tech and Internet. In blogging world, I am just a resident of Shanghai who is willing to help.

8. How would you describe your own role in the city?

I am a resident of this city. I didn’t grow up here, and only moved here 12 years ago, when I was 18 years old. Shanghai gave me a lot – friends, career, wealth, and happiness. I am grateful to this city. My role in this city is just a normal resident, as the other 16 million people. There is a special role I take. I happen to be standing at the entrance of Shanghai in cyber world. With the popularity of search engine, when people search something with the keyword “Shanghai”, it is pretty likely that the first result in search engine is my blog. I feel I am obligated to help visitors to the city since not many people are doing that. I don’t think I help “promote” Shanghai. I just describe it as it is. There are good things and bad things about Shanghai. I just want to make people’s experience a little better because of my work.

9. How would you briefly characterize Shanghai, its people, and the most important changes you have witnessed?

Let me try to use several keywords. 1) Opportunities. Shanghai is a place full of opportunities. It offers a leveled playground for people to compete on. I witnessed so many stories where someone came in with nothing and become very successful after few years of hard work. 2) Energetic. The city is full of energy. Look at the restaurants, elevated roads, deep water ports, airports, and even KTVs! Shanghai is a city without sleep. 3) Pressure and anxiousness. Because of the fast changing pace, and the strong competition, people in this city are much more worried and anxious than its peer cities. To get back to his/her hometown and relax seems to be a popular fancy dream for many people who came to this city.

10. Of the things that have disappeared, what do you miss most?

I didn’t see too much things “disappearing”. Shanghai is a mix and people keep adding new things while preserving old things. This is good. There are some historically building being tore down to give room to new buildings, that is bad.

11. Of those that remain, what do you most hope to see preserved?

Shanghai should be a city with history. We should not only preserve buildings, but also preserve the stories in those buildings and preserve the culture. There are some nice villas in the downtown, and I believe it is a great treasure of the city. To keep it as it is may not be the good approach since they are lack of maintenance. We should restore the glory of the buildings, and make it a much better place. Do allow people (including poor people) to live in downtown, so the smell of life (I mean child playing in the lane houses) is still with the city.

12. Of those on the horizon, what are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward to the improvement of the “software” of the city. Shanghai is comparable with most metropolitans in terms buildings and landscape. However, when we talk about education, healthcare, environment protection, science, art, culture, the gap is still huge. I want a better city, where people enjoy living in the city and feel safe and comfortable to live in it.

13. What do you see Kijiji’d development in Shanghai? How much has Kijiji affected people’s life?

Kijiji.cn’s is a free, local, personal, and easy to use classified service, and its mission is to change people’s life by matching their needs. We see tremendous opportunity in this city. There are people looking for jobs and there are people offering jobs. There are house seekers, and lenders. There are many people going to the same place to work from the same location, so they cal do car pool. By connecting the right people, we are changed their life. The team is inspired by these opportunities and always wants to make big impact to people’s life. Kijiji grew fast in the last two years. We enjoy 1,000% annual growth in the last two years.

14. Any further points you’d like to make about your work, your life and yourself?

I am a blogger, and I record the life of Shanghai today. I hope there are people who want to read my blogs I write today after 10 years, so they will say: “Look! Shanghai changed so much!”

Yifan is Exactly 2 Month Old Today

2 months ago, Yifan joined the family and today is exactly 2 months for him.

I remember when he was just born 2 months ago, when we were still in hospital, my favorite question to ask him is: “Little boy, how old are you?”. I guess if he would have been able to answer this question, he would have said: “I am 7 hours old now.”. :-)

60 days past so quickly that I even barely have time to record the time I am with him. Yesterday night, for example, he wake up and Wendy and I spent a lot of time to make him sleep again (to be exactly, Wendy did the work, and I watched). At 6:00 AM, I wake up (or was waken up) and mixed some milk for him. He only need to add one cup of milk now.

He grew taller (60 cm now), and heavier (6+ kg), and changes almost everyday. Since I go to work in the day time, and every day when I get back home, he seems to change a little bit to me. Now he start to be able to communicate with others with his sweet voice – hmmm… a…. o….

Congrats Yifan! You are two month old now.

Shanghai South Railway Statoin – Part II

To read the first part of this article, check Shanghai South Railway Station

This time, let me post some real photos of the station.

The photos are being uploaded, and it takes some time. When finished, you can view it at Shanghai Railway Station Album.

The entrance to the garage of the Shanghai South Railway Station – at the north west side of the “big circle”.

The grass wave outside the station.

The platform of the Shanghai South Railway Station

How the railway and the big “circle” interchange with each other

All trains from Hangzhou direction come in from these rails facing southwest

The roof of the platform in Shanghai South Railway Station

This is the famous big roof of the station

The roof, again!

This is the waiting area of the station – much better design than the current Shanghai Railway Station since it is really easy to balance the traffic – if there are too many people for one train, they can move to the nearby area to wait for the train

People get into the waiting area from the slop

Again, the big roof – the landmark of the station

Google Picasa Flash

Here is the flash generated by Picasa.