Monthly Archives: November 2007

Whole Day in Nanjing

There are some bulletin of ideas for today.

  • Whole day in Nanjing, half day in Nanjing Dongjiao State Guest House, and half day on Mouchou Lake.
  • Full day off-the-record. So as a blogger, I still cannot blog too much about it. OK. Let me talk about my personal stuff.
  • Nanjing is quite cold these days, especially in the mountains.
  • People were surprised by the fact that I never lived in other countries but can speak English. :-)
  • Met many great peoples, and many of them I have known for sometime by name (just read the newspaper or watch TV!)
  • Very late today. Need to go to bed today.

P.S. Anyone like the photos I posted about the amazing train from Shanghai to Nanjing?

Train from Shanghai to Nanjing – CRH (D)

They have a nice handle that you can use your foot to press, and the foot holder will restore to the original position. That is very helpful if you want to lay down and relax your feet.

This is the other side of the foot holder. Use your foot to press this handle, and the foot holder will release and you can relax your feet.

This is exactly what is before you – a big bag at the back of the previous seat – there are some free magzine there – full of advertisement, just like airplane. At the bottom are the place to put your foot on.

There are four seats in a row. So do your calculation to buy the tickets if you prefer a Aisle or Window seat. For example, window seats are number 36, 39, 40, 43…

On top of the window, the wind comes out. You an choose to close it or open it by using this switch.

This is the curtain! It is more fancy than those on the airplane. You can pull it down to any position, or completely seperate yourself from the outside world.

On the right side (or the left side if you take the Aisel seat), there is a small black button. Pressing it will release the back of your seat, and you can lean backward – just like the seats on an airplane. Very comfortable indeed.

On the right (or left if you take the aisle seat), you can find the small table hidden under the leather cover. The instructions show how you can unfold it.

This is the table, inside its rack.

This small thing is for hanging your personal light stuff – your coat, or hand bag.

Like this.

On the train, there is a mini bar with all kinds of drinks – strange that they don’t have coke. The price is relatively reasonable – 5 RMB for drink that is 3 RMB off the train. More expensive, but it makes sense.

The information of the compartment. As you can see, there are 8 compartment each train. It is numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 — 8. In most trains, like the one from Shanghai to Nanjing, they have two indentical trains, hooked up together, so they have 9, 10, … 16. Two out of the 8 are first class, and the rest are normal seats.

They have water. On the right is warm water – suitable for drink immediately, and on the left, is hot water – good for a cup of instant noodle.

It gave me the impression that everything is very decent. Look at the decoration above the water supply station.

?Water Tumed on by Senor?.

They have automatical Soap Dispenser on the left.

The most interesting thing I found out in the water closet is, they have the warm wind blowing from where you stand forward to your hand to dry them. Nice design

They do have electricity, but it is for Electric Razor only. I didn’t find any power supply throught out the cart anyway.

This was me.

This is a little bit surprise for me. They have curtains for the sink.

You can pull it over to cover it,

and the cubicle looks like this. You have the privacy to wash your hands or brush your teeth – by yourself.

There are two locations for you to put your really big stuff at the entrance. Most of people should put their luggage on the overhead cubine.

This is the standard class seats – three on the left and two on the right. As you can see, there are not so many people from Shanghai to Nanjing.

Another one.

This is the water station.

This is inside the Men’s toilet.

Push to exit – there is no lock inside – strange.

Another photo of the almost empty standard car.

They are very considerate to have Diaper Changing table for infants.

The toilet. Looks like clear.

The equipment in the toilet.

This is the first class – almost completely empty. Two on the left and two on the right.

This is the seat. Look at the place to put your feet on, and the pillow.

Everything is electronic – the LED displaying the cart number.

Along the trip, it showed the current train speed – 139 km/h.

This is the unfolded table.

Outside the train.

The train arrives at the Nanjing Station.

This is the head of the train.

At Nanjing station, you can take Bus, Metro, or taxi to leave the station. BTW, the taxi line was so long that we gave up and hired the illegal taxi (basically those people who came to pick up passengers but they are not taxi)

This is the entrance to Nanjing Metro – I have never take it before.

Diesel Shortage Caused Traffic Jam

Wendy and I was stuck in the middle of a traffic jam for about 10 minutes. It is due to the continued diesel shortage in Shanghai. Large trucks are partying on the road – long lines of trucks lined up from the other gas station (the one on the opposite side of station which just exploded yesterday) to the corner of the road and winding toward the road leading to my home direction. They occupied the right lane, so jammed the traffic for some time.

Is it a sign for future problems?

Above is the satellite map of the gas station (the gray box on the top), and the line went along the corner and extended to one road of the fork on the east side of the north-south road.

BTW, imagine what happens when this gas station explodes? Look at the high-raising residential buildings surrounding the station! They are at least 20 floors in height.

Yifan Starts to Sleep Alone

From tonight, Wendy and I arranged Yifan to sleep alone (with nanny). After Yifan fell asleep, Wendy said: “Is the nice time Yifan sleep with us over?” I know she feels lost, so do I.

As Joshua Allen told me in a comment, “We are worrying of the children’s dependent on us and worrying even more of their independent as well.” He is just less than 6 months old, and he is now independent enough to sleep on his own. Big step for him.

Also, today, he started to be able to use his two hands to grasp the small cup and start to drink by himself – just the beginning and could only drink a little bit, but it is also a big step for him. What people told me (especially Carroll) is very true – time flies, and before you notice, the little boy is almost starting to escape from our arms and embracing his own world.

Yifan, we love you.

Gas Station Explosion Near my Home

Just before I want to close my laptop and go to bed, I saw a piece of astonishing news on Sina: Gas Station Explosion Killed 4 and Injured 40 in Shanghai.

OMG!

They are the secondary gas station we went to. We typically go to the gas station just on the other side of the road, but sometimes, we also go to that station to buy gas.

The explosion at 10:15 AM today killed 4 people immediately, including one passenger who is walking 1 km away from the station. 40+ people were injured and now they are still in hospital.

According to the news, the cause of the accident was because of mis-operation of the workers in the station.

How terrible it is! That is the nearest station from my home. Life is so weak, and anything can happen – what if I went their for gas today? I just don’t want to imagine that!

Hopefully, those guys injured should be fine quickly. According to the news, many of them were hit directly by the stones on the head. Terrible!

Shanghai Guide in a Page

This is what I sent to the YLF participants. I just realized that I need a short simple page of necessary information (not a list of all my 2000+ articles on Shanghai) for visitors who stay just one night. Here it is:

One Page Guide

Hi, welcome to Shanghai! I am sure will try my best to help! I am based in Shanghai, so feel free to let me know if you need any help in advance, or during the trip.

Here are some of articles I wrote about Shanghai, and hope it helps you to prepare your trip to Shanghai:

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/20041105_youth_hostels_in_shanghai.htm (on top of the Astor hotel we are staying)

Transportation in Shangahi

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/transportation.htm

Everything you should know about Taxi in Shanghai:

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/taxi.htm

Maglev (highly recommend to take a ride). You can take taxi to Astor hotel from Maglev Long Yang Road Station.

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/maglev_train.htm

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/20030809_pudong_airport_maglev_in_depth.htm

General Planning Tips about Visiting Shanghai

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/planning.htm

West Meets East section – about culture shock you may observe.

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/west_meets_east.htm

If you bring your phone, maybe this Phone and Mobile section helps:

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/phone_and_mobile.htm

For information about the train you are going to take, check these entries:

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/by_train.htm

These are some photos about the Z train from Shanghai to Beijing. I don’t have pictures about Shanghai to Nanjing train, but the newer train should be much more advanced than the train I show on the picture. So don’t worry about the train.

http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/20040801_train_from_beijing_to_shanghai.htm

Hope these tips can help.

See you in Astor Hotel lobby!

Jian Shuo Wang mailto:jianshuo@hotmail.com http://www.wangjianshuo.com

Panyu Lu or Fanyu Lu?

George has a question regarding name of road:

Jian,

For the longest time I have seen people reference PauYu Lu as FanYu LU and vice versa. Some maps and business cards say FanYu Lu and some say PanYu Lu. Why the difference?

George

This is an interesting question, and I believe many foreigners may run into the same situation – people call the same road differently, and inconsistently.

Many Chinese Characters Has Two or more Pronunciations

This is the interesting thing about Chinese characters. Just as many words are with the same pronunciation (exactly the same, not just similar), there are many characters having different pronunciation. They produce different sounds in different contact.

In this case, the Chinese name for the road is:

番禺路

The first character 番 was typically pronounced as Fan, so people call it Fanyu Lu.

However, 番禺 put together is the name of a city in Guangdong – Panyu. In this situation, it should pronounce as Panyu Lu.

That is the reason of the confusion. Since Panyu is not as famous as many other cities, people just pronounce it as Fanyu Lu.

In my opinion, and according to the bus plate, it should be pronounced as Panyu Lu. Although the other pronunciation is also widely used.

Chinese Middle Name for Erik’s Baby

Erik is a very good friend of mine in eBay. He is a typical American young man in my eyes – handsome, passionate, smart, professional, interested in many things, and open-minded. Most importantly, his heart is full of love. I enjoy working with him very much, and really love to have hosted him in Shanghai at the end of 2005. Erik was also curious enough to visit Victor’s home in rural areas in Jiading, and was happily surprised when he was greeted by tens of pigs in the pigsty.

Erik and his wife adopted two children from China and another two from Vietnam. They love children. I am happy to have a dinner with the happy new parents, and the two little kids, who are still too young to communicate in either Chinese or English, or Vietnamese. Anyway, I believe the kids are lucky enough to have so good parents like Erik and his wife. (At that time, the little girl really love to eat rice!)

The good news is, Erik’s wife got pregnant and in December this year, they are expecting their 5th children in the family ! I am very happy for them, and think it is a wonderful thing to have the 5th children join the other 4 and then form a really big family.

Chinese Middle Name Wanted

Erik wants the 5th children to have an Asian middle name as the other four as well. This is a good idea. So Erik dropped me an email and asked me whether I can suggest a Chinese name. This is the general requirements:

Do you have any suggestions for a Chinese middle name? My wife would love the name to have a meaning like Gift from God/Heaven or Miracle from God/Heaven.

I have some Chinese candidate characters in mind now, but I’d like to ask my readers to suggest a beautiful name for the upcoming boy.

Any idea? We should really help Erik since he had taken enough trouble (many times of trip in Asia per children) to help the four little children.

Trans-Bank System Finally Available

China’s bank is always far behind its peers in other countries, while businesses in many other industries are quickly catching up the international standard. I am so bored of waiting in line in Banks in China, no matter it is my least favorite bank, ICBC, or my most favorite bank, China Merchant Bank.

In 2004, I was happy to see Cross Bank Money Transfer Now Possible. However, at that time, it was via a middle-man called Central Bank announced that a trans-bank system for small-amount money is finally launched. That is very good news for me.

Before this, if you want to move, let’s say, 10,000 RMB from Bank A to Bank B, basically there are just two ways: A) cash, or B) a special bank note called “Benpiao” (I don’t know the English name). The second choice takes at least 30 minutes for the bank A to create for you. The first choice is my favorite, although sometimes I have to carry a large amount of paper (cash) and run from one bank to another. Not to mention the time needed to count and verify the money.

The New System

With the new Trans-Bank system, people can withdraw money or deposit money from one bank at the counter of another bank. Currently, only 14 banks (branches) in Beijing offer this service. This is the name list:

  • ICBC – Industry and Commercial Bank of China
  • Agriculture Bank
  • Bank of China
  • Construction Bank
  • Bank of Constructions
  • Everbright Bank
  • CITIC
  • Huaxia Bank
  • Minsheng Bank
  • Shenzhen Development Bank
  • Xingye Bank
  • Pudong Development Bank
  • Bank of Beijing
  • Beijing Rural Commercial Bank

Process

It does not happens automatically. You have to

  • Go to the bank where you opened the bank account.
  • Verify your identity with the bank and sign an agreement with the bank.
  • You will be given a 12 digits special account number.

Then you can use this 12 digits number to access your bank account in other participating banks.

Fees

Many of them charges 1% of handling fee with minimum fee of 10 RMB and maximum of 200 RMB per transaction. The fees charged are different between banks.

My two cents

I welcome this service very much. Recently the long lines in many banks have reached ridiculous level. It is not surprising to get a number with 100 – 200 people waiting before you, and it is not rare to spend the whole morning waiting inline just to get a transaction done. Many of the transaction can only be handled on counter (like claim lose of a card or get a new card). Hopefully with this service, we can cut many of the lines in half in the next few years, although this regulation introduced a new need for people to line-up in banks in the recent months – to sign the contract.

Disclaimer: As I stated, this service is only offered in Beijing, so I didn’t personally tried the service. Hopefully when it is opened in Shanghai, I will try it and report back later.

Yifan Fell Asleep in IKEA

Went to IKEA with Wendy and Yifan, again. This time, we just get there to buy a mat.

This one:

I was an IKEA fan, at least the first time I found my name on BusinessWeek, I was presented as an IKEA fan. Going to IKEA was the best time for Wendy and I in 1997 and 1998. However, even a hardcore fan like me may no longer enjoy the shopping experience as we grow older.

When we managed to go through all the sections (even when we know all the shortcuts in the maze), we are still very tired. We feel more strongly when we waited the long line to check out. What a huge and successful business they have built in Shanghai! Everywhere is full – restaurant (Sweden Meat Balls) is full, and today’s IKEA almost reaches its designed capacity. That is the reason they now have stores in 4 cities, and planning to open another one in Pudong, near my home.

When we finally got a taxi in the rainy Saturday, Wendy complained: “Why this city is becoming more and more unpleasant? What a nice experience in IKEA, but with increased number of customers, it is just so painful to go there.” She is very true. Shanghai is becoming more and more crowded these days.

Yifan Fell Asleep in IKEA

The highlight of the trip was Yifan fell alseep in IKEA. He lean his head toward and Wendy and quickly, he fell asleep. Thanks to IKEA’s “Help yourself” Policy, I found a big bed, and put Yifan on the bed.

He slept so sweet, and so deep! I was with him for about 30 minutes. There are many customers there. They were generally very surprised to find the little boy sleep sweetly on the bed. Some thought it was a toy boy, and when they found out it is real, some shout out. Sometimes, even several people gather before Yifan and saw him sleep. I am a very proud father. At this time, I just found out people generally loves children, especially infants. They also feel sweet when they saw Yifan.

P.S. My rule of thumb: 100% of women or 30% of girls show interest in Yifan when I bring him out. 30% of men, and 0% of boys show interest in Yifan. Well. It is not because of Yifan (a boy). I would say, generally, females are more interested in infants, or children. This is the finding of my 5 months of fatherhood.

MovableType 4.01 and Bluehost CPU Exceeded Error

To run MovableType with a lot of entries (2000+) on Bluehost is painful, since Bluehost has CPU limitation. It checked the CPU a user account is using in 5 minutes. If it was more than certain amount (40 seconds or so), it pops up the CPU Exceeded Error. Recently, they even moved the interval to 60 seconds! That makes a rebuild in possible. It will throw away this error before rebuild complete – in my case, just after I rebuild several pages.

I believe many people experience the same problem: CPU Exceeded Error before MovableType rebuild complete. This is true in 4.0, and 4.01 is not better.

After seeking for the answer for a long time, I finally had an easy solution – to modify the JavaScript code a little bit, and ask MovableType to rest for longer time before each step of the rebuild. Here is what I did.

Propose:

Workaround the Bluehost CPU limit by setting the interval of the build long enough.

File changed:

/public_html/home/cgi-bin/mt/tmpl/cms/rebulding.tmpl

Line Number of the Line Changed:

20

Original:

setTimeout(‘doRedirect()’, 200);

Change to:

setTimeout(‘doRedirect()’, 20000);

That’s it.

You can even try smaller number than 20000 to build faster and then test. Maybe 10000, or several thousands are OK for your server, or your number of archives.

Update May 4, 2008

Changed the line from 60000 back to 20000.

Why Classified is NOT Popular in China, Yet

Today, when I talked with EnjoyChina‘s founder Daniel, I mentioned about my observation about why classified is not popular in China yet. It may also provide some hints to people who don’t know too much about China’s recent history.

Current Status of Classified Market

I am in the classified business in my professional life. Today, classified is still an unfamiliar word for most people. I bet 99 out of 100 people never posted classified ads of any kinds in their entire world – even in Shnaghai. Why?

The 30 Years of History

It is not fare to say, China don’t have classified. We do have a booming classified market in 1930s. I personally went to the Shanghai Library and found there are many pages of classified on the local Shanghai newspaper – Shen. People sent many marriage announcement, business opening, and all kinds of things there. If you bring that to people today, I believe they will be surprised about how advanced the classified industry in 1930s are. The newspaper exists from 1890s to 1940s, before it was closed by the “New China” government.

After 1949, the society went through many changes. The core is, it is prohibited to own private property. Since everything is owned by the “state”, or “the People”, basically people don’t own anything, trading simply distinct in the planned economy system.

1980 – the Opening Up and Reform Policies

At the end of 1970s, and early of 1980s, with the “Opening Up and Reform” policy, trading started to get back to people’s life. There are huge change during the last 20 years. In as short as 20 years, China changed dramatically and is on the way to get back to its original position in the world.

Daniel asked a very good question here:

Why all kinds of trading and business boomed, but not classified?

House

With the Opening up and Reform policy, many things changed, but house, for example, is still in the old system. It is as late as 1998 when the government stopped house allocation. Before that, most of the houses were built by “Unit” (you may think it as a factory, a company, or any kind of employer), and the “Unit” will allocate the house to individual. No one buys houses, and to be more exact, no one actually owns a house, even if he/she is luck to stay in a house.

In 1998, the reform reaches houses. The original house allocation system was abandoned, and “Unit” start to give money, instead of houses to their employees. It took a long way to today’s situation – many units don’t give people money for houses. There is only salary. This “house allocation” may sounds strange for foreigners, but it is true 10 years ago.

So, after 1998, people start to buy houses maybe for the first time after 1949. Very soon, real estate agents start to appear and boom. This is the history of Houses. That explains why there are no real estate classified before 1998. Today, real estate classified has already been a big portion in newspaper – although it is still published by real estate agents, not house owners.

Job

Job is also a big category on classified. Let’s take a look at what happened to job.

There are also job reform starting from 1980s. Before that, there were a period of time (called Culture Revolution) that all schools, universities were closed, and all scholars were sent to far villages or even sentenced to death. “Job? What does this word mean?”

At the end of 1970s, university resumed, and people start to enter university again. However, for a long time, all the jobs were allocated. When someone graduates, he/she will receive a letter to tell him/her to go to xxx provinde, xxxxx city, and xxxx factory. That is. You just need to obey the assignment. This kind of “graduate allocation” lasted for a long time. It ends as late as 1990s. When I entered my university in 1995, there are still people who graduate that year follow this kind of allocation process.

In this case, it does not make sense for any kinds of classified.

As House, after a series of reform, currently, at least in Shanghai, job market is similar to the other part of the world, and the good thing is, job classified starts to appear.

Car?

Car is not something impact by policy. It is very new since people just get rich enough to buy a car at the end of 1990s. 2000 is the year many people starts to buy cars – I bought my car in 2004.

So, no surprise, car classified started to boom, and second hand car classified will boom after 5 years of the first round of car boom, when people start to sell cars.

This is China

So, this is why the major categories of classified does not exist in China, and why they just started to boom. That is the reason I am so confident about classified business, although the current market is still in its early stage. It is not because China is not the place to start classified, or people don’t need it. It is just because of historical reasons and when the negative factors have been eliminated, it must have a boom.

This is China. So, there must be a historical reason for many things that many foreigners don’t understand. Some, like in this article, are because of the recent 100 years, and some, like culture stuff, are because of what happened 1000 years ago.

Paying Bills with SHFFT.COM

This month, I started to handle the bills – Wendy shifted her duty about this apart to me – after doing it for 8 years for us.

Paying bills is easy in Shanghai. Thanks for Shanghai FFT.

shfft.com

It was established in 2003 as a government project. Now they have several banks and public service companies connected with the system.

You can pay

  • Mobile Phone Bill
  • Electricity Bill
  • Gas Bill
  • Water Bill

They have other features like online train, movie, performance tickets, but it is not new or unique. The ability to pay household bill online is a feature that makes the service different from any other B2C sites.

They even have English version. Look for the English version link on the top-right corner.

The Company

The investor of the company includes many big names like: Shanghai Information Investment Company, Shanghai Telecom, PayUnion, Shanghai Water Company, Shanghai Post… You can see – a company with strong government background.

Hope you enjoy paying with FFT.

Toughest Time for Me and Wendy

Recently, from the family perspective, it is among the toughest time for me and Wendy.

After entering the 30s, and especially with the newly arrival of a baby (Yifan), many things changed. Combined with the recent heart surgery of Wendy’s mother, there are many things happening concurrently. The baby needs to be fed and taken care of, the parents need intensive care. Everyday, Wendy and I am running between home, work place, hospital, and sometimes back to work places – even car parking itself is a big problem, not to mention all the meal stuff. Wendy can fall asleep on my shoulder during even a short taxi drive.

I am not complaining at all. It is the time in life that we have to enter. In the Chinese saying: “parents above and children under”. Growing older means to be more powerful, and meanwhile, it means more responsibility. It means to give back what you owe parents, and to pass the due responsibility down to the children. It is not easy, but it is warm. It means no movie, no dining out, no spare time with friends, or even no time to stay late at office on work. It is another kind of life the we enter into. I suspect this time will last for a long time.

Just as I waved my hands to say good bye to my happy primary school time, and entered into the hot competition in middle school, or I said good bye to my pure life in middle school and entered an aimless university life, and then kissed good bye to my summer and winter holidays and started to work, or even left the memories of being a single behind me and setup a family, it is the natural process to enter into the next stage in life. There are a lot of fun waiting for me there. I am very grateful that Wendy and I am still young. We still have the power to take our responsibilities.

All we need is time to get used to the new life, and best wishes to my bigger family.

The best is yet to come.

The Topic of This Year’s YLF

The topic of this year’s Young Leader Forum is: Challenge.

After I got the exciting invitation for Young Leaders Forum of National Committee on United States-China Relationship. Haisong was a member; Bo Shao is a member; so was Robin Li. I am looking forward to the great meeting in Nanjing at the end of November this year.

So far, to prepare to the little presentation with the theme Challenge, I am thinking of this topic:

Choices in a World of Different Rules

I am still thinking about how to structure this presentation.

At the same time, I want to ask, if you are going to do a presentation of 15 minutes about the topic: challenge, what would you say?

P.S. The YLF will start from Nov 28, 2007 to Dec 2, 2007, with an extended trip in Shanghai. I don’t know where the next year’s U.S trip will be, but it should also be great..

Hospital in Shanghai

I just want to update my readers why I paused blog in the last three days. I was in hospital to take care of my mother-in-law. She had a heart surgery last Thursday. Thank God (and whomever I can think of), the operation was a huge success. Now she is recovering very well in the Zhongshan Hospital. Wendy and I am very happy. :-)

In the hospital, I just realize how serious the medical insurance problem this country is facing. There are people who gave up the surgery just because they cannot afford the bed fee in the hospital. There are also people who are completely in debt for the surgery in the same patient room. Have a big disease means bankrupt for many people in China.

More Detailed Shanghai Future Metro Map

This Saturday, someone called me by my name when Wendy and I was walking near the Shanghai Jiaotong University. It turned out the lovely young man is one of my readers, and he is a student in the management school in SJTU. His name is Tianhong Shen. He was very happy to see me, so did I.

Later, he was so kind to send me many maps of Metro and Expressway system. It is among the best quality I got. Here is the future Shanghai Metro Map.

So, on behalf of Tianhong, let me post the new Future Shanghai Metro Map:

Image credit to the owner of the map

Here is the original image.