Monthly Archives: June 2008

Back from Chongming Island

This is the third time I went to Chongming (the first time, and the second time).

This time is a little bit special than the first few visit. Yesterday (June 28, 2008), the Yangtze River Tunnel + Bridge is structurally completed, and it takes some time to pave the road and install equipments. In 2010, people can drive to Chongming Island via Shanghai Yangtze River Bridge + Shanghai Yangtze River Tunnel.

Currently, we have to put our cars onto the boat and get to the island via 1.5 hour trip. However, waiting in the line to get to the boat takes 1 hour to 2 hours.

Here are the lines we waited before we get to the boat:

Leaving the pier:

Behind the pier is the Baosteel – the Baoshan Steel Company, a high polution source.

Cars parked on the ferry:

Finally get near to Chongming in 1.5 hour:

On the island, we went to another wet land, and get a crab. There are billions of them.

This is the trip to get back, and I found out Chongming is turned into a big port already these three days.

Bye bye, Chongming. I know I will come back again even before the Tunnel and Bridge opens.

Trip Tips

You can refer to Chongming Island category to learn more about the logistics about the island. Here are just some general tips for you to get there (in a not so systematic way).

  • Chongming Island is part of China, in the north, at the mouth of Yangtze river.
  • It is actually the third largest island in China, after Taiwan and Hainan.
  • Chongming is now still an island without any bridge connecting to Shanghai, so it is just like Pudong before development.
  • The new bridge and tunnel will connect the island to Shanghai in 2010, and the mega project is part of the Shanghai to Xi’an Expressway G40.
  • The island is undeveloped, and it is mainly rural area, where people grow all kinds of fruits and food.
  • Drive on the island is wonderful – there are not many cars on the island, and the roads are very beautiful with trees and rivers on both side.

Stock Market Big Drop

I always react very slowly to what is happening in stock market in China.

Recently, the big drop of Shanghai Stock is also crazy (like that crazy and more crazy increase before).

After I reported the increase from 998.23 in June 2005 to 4040 in May 2007, and more than 6000 in 2008, it gets back to something around 2800 these days.

I am not involved in the stock market this time. People say, there is bubble in China, and there are always people believe: This is China, so economic rules do not apply.

Well. Even western rules do not apply, there must be some rules that works…

Sunday without Sun

It rains all day today. Not today, it rains all the time in the last few weeks, and we expect it to rain every day in the next few weeks too.

It is called the Meiyu Season (or Rainy Season). It is a two-month long period of time around the Yangtz River that it rains almost everyday without significant pause in between. This is maybe the toughest time for many new visitors to this region – it is even more terrible than hot summer or cold winter. I call it wet world.

The Meiyu, or Rainy Season

The season typically last from June to late July in Shanghai. The rainy season is called Meiyu because “Yu” means rain, and Mei means “ume plum”. Since the rain arrives exactly as the season of havest of ume plums, it is called Ume Plum Rain in Chinese.

I have 5 big ume plums tree before my garden, and I can see the ume on the tree. When it turned red, I know the rain is coming.

More Rain to Come

During the rainy season in Shanghai, don’t panic. It won’t be heavy rain at all – just those tiny small rain drops coming down all the time. It is annoying though, but what we can do?

The other day, when I went to my car, I just realized there are many mushrooms growing out of the grassland on the way… A sign of arrival of very wet season, isn’t it?

There is one thing we should be happy about – you can enjoy wonderful Ume fruits although it is raining outside!

Lujiazui is a Construction Site

Lujiazui is the heart of Pudong – or in other official words, the “show window of China’s reform and opening up”. I went to Lujiazui today, only to find out the whole area is turned into another big construction site.

Heading out of the Super Brand Mall, the entrance (once was wonderful place with big garden in the middle of the circle road) was completely chaos. A new big overhead bridge is under construction. When completed, the big circle bridge will connect major buildings in that area, including the metro station, together. However, the problem is, currently, there are construction site everywhere. Besides this kind of small project, big underground tunnel is under way, and some roads are completely blocked and turned into construction site, not to mention the crazy skyscrapers in that area. The history of Lujiazui taught me, when there are many skyscrapers in one area, that only mean one thing, there are many more to come…

I walked around and could not find a taxi (I said, Lujiazui is Full, long time ago), so I kept walking. The bus stations have given ways to the new construction sites, and I could not find it. The major roads long the century avenue is also blocked, so I have to change route to somewhere in the New Financial Street. Finally, I got a taxi around 9:30 PM, and get back home.

On the taxi, I am thinking – if all these buildings, tunnels, over-head bridges, and many other things are to be completed before the Shanghai Expo in 2010, what Shanghai will be look like after that? and will there be any new construction after that?

Gas Price and Plastic Bags

The recent ban of plastic bags, and raise of gas price today are, I think, both good for the environment.

My Recent Shopping Experience

Wendy and I went to Decathlon near our home today. As most of the retail stores I went to, they didn’t provide any bag after shopping. They do offer a big bag as a “product”, costing 5 RMB. Wendy and I checked what we have: several clothes, two box of Ping Pong ball, and a big volleyball, and decided that we don’t need a bag. It was not as easy job as to bring it back to our car with a bag, but we finally made it.

The other gentleman after us bought a pair of running shoes, and he grasped the running shoes in hand and went away.

In many times, we rely on bags, and consume all kinds of one-time goods. We take it for granted, but now, it looks so clear to me that reducing plastic bags is exactly the right thing to do. I admit I still didn’t form the new habit to bring a bag or two with me when we go shopping yet. That is the reason I had to buy big bags from Carrefour, Tesco, and other stores, but the bags are very good, and endurable so we can use them again and again in the future.

Actually, without the plastic bags, and carrying the smooth clothes in hand, I felt much better.

Gas Price

Today, the retail gas price increased a lot in Shanghai.

Here is the price change:

#90 4.77 ==> 5.57

#93 5.19 ==> 6.05

#97 5.51 ==> 6.42

Yesterday, I heard many cars lined up to get their tank filled with the last tank of cheaper (already expensive) gas. When I heard about the news at the end of the day, I looked at my gas meter – almost empty.

The raise of gas price is a good thing, maybe. For some days (I don’t think it will last too long when people get used to it) at least, people may think twice when they use their car (including me). I still remember the time when I just need to pay less than 150 RMB to get my whole tank filled with #93 gas, and the last time, even 200 RMB cannot fill it, and how about the next time? 240 RMB?

BTW, why every time, I happen to talk about gas, and plastic bags together, like last time?

Kong Fu Panda Hits Shanghai Tomorrow

Tomorrow, movie Kong Fu Panda will start to show in Shanghai. Hmm… I heard the movie is pretty good, and I am thinking about going to theatre to watch it sometime next week. The recent Kong Fu movie, like Forbidden Kingdom by Jet Li and Jackie Chen was really disappointing, and I think this one may contrasts with it and should be better.

NBC Interview at my Home

The last post was actually posted under camera. A team of 4 gentlemen from NBC news visited my home and did an interview in my family environment.

Since NBC is the only official TV station to broadcast Beijing Olympic, they are preparing a series of programs to show the American audience about the real China, and in the several days before Olympic in Aug 8 this year, they will broadcast one piece per day, just like what CCTV did for Athens Olympic.

Here are some photos. As I told many journalist, most of the time, when people are interviewing me, I am also interviewing them. Before they put what they recorded on to TV, or print media, their photo and the story have already appeared on my blog the same night. Today is the same.

Below: Yifan is looking at the camera bravely. This is maybe the first time for him to appear on a TV program, and for the first time, he is going to appear during prime time on NBC.

Regarding Yifan’s shoot, Wendy and I had an interesting conversation the other day. Wendy complained that I didn’t send Yifan to a local kid TV program. I said, well, if you want, next time, when I am interviewed, I will make sure Yifan gets a shot. So here we go.

This is also my first time to be recorded on HDTV (High-Definition TV). BTW, HDTV has started to be on trail in Shanghai these days.

Simon (please correct me if I spell it wrong), our professional audio man.

The light. I was told the most key element of a TV program is about the light.

The back of the light:

Ian, sorry that I made you blur – I didn’t use the view finder.

This time, the camera points to me.

The last photo: Ian Williams, Asia Corespondent for NBC, with Wendy and Yifan.

The program may be broadcast in American in the early part of August.

Hm… The topic? We were talking about blogging…

P.S. I didn’t have a photo of Steve in my camera. Why? Sorry for that, but Steve Jiang was also there. We started from 6:30 and finished almost at 9:00 PM. They were so passionate that they didn’t have dinner when we finished.

Shanghai Dazhong Taxi

I have been talking about Shanghai taxi for many years, but the most frequent questions I got from day to day email is still about the best taxi company, and is about asking me what is my recommendation regarding Shanghai’s Taxi. The answer is pretty easy and straight forward: Dazhong Taxi 大众 is the best taxi company in Shanghai, and is definitely my recommendation.

Here is a photo of the taxi.

Why is Dazhong Taxi Good?

There are several factors to rate a taxi company. Here is my reason to pick Dazhong as definite best taxi company in Shanghai:

1. Service. Among all the taxi companies in Shanghai, the service provided by the drivers of Dazhong is definitely the best: they will greet you in standard language when you get on board, and they will ALWAYS remind you to bring your belongs when you get off the taxi. Besides that, drivers of Dazhong taxi are really nice to you. They do face growth problems, and there are some new drivers who do not know the streets so well – sometimes I encounter with one or two of them, but they are generally very nice.

2. Quality of the cars.

If you pick cars by how clean the seat cover is, I suspect Dazhong taxi will be the winner. Their seat cover is always white – snow white. There are certainly some expectations, but it is very rare during my experience. I always use them when I have a choice.

Their Call Center

Remember this number: 82222

or +86-21-82222 for reservation.

The Story behind the Color Turquoise

There is a little story behind the color of Dazhong taxi. It was not always turquoise. At the very beginning, when Dazhong taxi started, they use red as their identification color. At that time, there are not so many taxis. Later, when more and more companies joined the competition later, they all use the same red color. This caused problem for Dazhong, since they cannot identify themselves from the competitors. So they made a deal with Volkswagon, the taxi car maker, and bought out all the cars with color turquoise. Today, if you see a Volkswagon Santana that is turquoise, it has to be a Dazhong taxi.

Now, more and more taxi companies are using their identification colors, like yellow for Qiangsheng, white for Jinjiang Taxi, Green for Qiangsheng Taxi, and Blue for Haibo Taxi. There are more interesting thing around the color. In Shanghai, there are just few big enough taxi companies are allowed to use identification colors, and the red color are used for all the little taxi companies.

Attended Shanghai 5G in Our Office

Participated in Shanghai 5G today – a group I was part of since 2006 (for example, I attended this time).

From this week, Shanghai 5G moved to Kijiji office, and it was a wonderful beginning – about 20 people showed up, and the topic of this week is about Chenshi’s new book Joking about Shuihu 笑水浒… The book was just published and not available in most bookstores, but I do believe it is a very good book – at least to listen to what Chenshi described was very enjoyable. I think I will write a review when I read it.

Here are some photos I took, with my new Nikon 50mm 1.8D. You may have noticed that 1.8D is really better than the original lens – the picture is brighter and more suitable to capture people’s portrait.

The place to hold the meeting.

The bench on the 18th floor – do you like to spend some time on the bench? I do.

The view of downstairs I have showed many times on my blog – but it is still my favorite.

Chenshi and his new book:

Other participants:

To participate in the forum, visit this page:

http://groups.google.com/group/5gshanghai

Here are more photos (including those listed above)

Foreign Banks in Shanghai

Another email sent to me asked me about if there is any foreign bank in Shanghai. Well. There are. To be more exact, there are more than 100 foreign bank branches in Shanghai by the end of 2007, and there are about another 100 representative office in Shanghai.

Here is an incomplete list of the most popular foreign banks in Shanghai, with their location and phone number. Thanks for shme

to provide a great summary of the information.

The information below is given in the following format:

Name of the bank branch

Address

Postal Code

Telephone (area code is +86-21)

Fax

The Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, Shanghai Branch

F/5, 185 Yuanminyuan Road Shanghai Center

200002 200040
63218383 63291775
63291659

Standard Chartered Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/7, 1376 Nanjin Road (W) Shanghai Center
200040
62798823
62798813

Overseas-Chinese Banking Co. Ltd., Shanghai Branch
120 Jiujiang Road
200002
63233888 63218888
63290388

The Bank of East Asia, Shanghai Branch
229 Sicuan Road
200002
63216863 63210434 63297338
63291813

The Sanwa Bank, Shanghai Branch
205 Maomin Road (S) Room 1501, Ruijin Building
200020
64728731 64728732
64726400

he Industrial Bank of Japan, Shanghai Branch
2200 Yanan (W) Room 1601, International Trade Center
200335
62751111 62751246
62751769

Citibank N.A., Shanghai Branch
F/5 100 Yanan Road (E), Union Mansion
200002
63289661 63201988
63731317

Bank of American Shanghai Branch
F/1 100 Yanan Road (E), Union Mansion
200002
63201491 63292828
63201297

Banque Indosuez, Shanghai Branch
F/5 100 Yanan Road (E), Union Mansion
200002
63292228 63293279
63219002 63292911

Credit lyonnais, Shanghai Branch
F/8 1376 Nanjin Road (W) Shanghai Center
200040
62798661
62798662

The Bank of Tokyo, Shanghai Branch
F/12 205 Maomin Road (S), Ruijin Building
200020
64723166 64723199
64727540

The Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/11 205 Maomin Road (S), Ruijin Building
200020
64723651 64623679
64727679

Sakura Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/5 205 Maomin Road (S), Ruijin Building
200020
64723656
64720867

The International Bank of Paris and Shanghai
93 Guangdong Road
200002
63217518
63216968

Royal Bank of Canada, Shanghai Branch
Room 403, 100 Yanan Road (E)
200002
63202823 63203623
63200417

The Mitsubishi Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/21 205 Maomin Road (S), Ruijin Building
200020
64726383 64720882
64723568

Abn, Amro Bank, Shanghai Branch
Room 1803, Union Maosion
200002
63112268
63112267

Dresdner Bank, Shanghai Branch
2099 Yanan Road (W)
200335
62755458 62191433
62755904

Po Sang Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/1, 260 Yanan Road (E)
200002
63212377
63215277

Bangkok Bank, Shanghai Branch
Room 5013–5015, Huating Seralton Hotel
200030

64396000–5013
64813817

Anz, Shanghai Branch
201/A West, Hotel Equatorial Shanghai
200040
62488877
62480080

The Daiwa Bank, Shanghai Branch
Room 1903, International Trade Center
200335
62755198
62755229

Chia Tai International Finance Co. Ltd.
F/26 2200 Yanan Road (W), International Trade Center
200335
62753448
62752299

Shanghai Associated Finance Co. Ltd.
F/7 65 Yanan Road (W), Hotel Equatorial Shanghai
200040
62489828 62488248
62483798

Shanghai International Finance Co. Ltd.
1376 Nanjin Road (W) Room 420, Shanghai Center
200040
62798281
62798225

American International Assurance company, Shanghai Branch
F/5 1376 Nanjin Rood (W), Shanghai Center
200040
62798568
62798569

Commerz, Shanghai Branch
F/7, Zhonghui Building, 16 Henan Road (S)
200002
63747680
63747681

More about Foreign Banks

Although most of the local banks also provide services to foreigners, and can provide most of the types of financial services, many foreigners still prefer to use the banks they trust or get used to. Among them, let me share my personal experience.

CITI Bank

I am a customer of CITI Bank. They are pretty good with more branches than any other banks (at least by what I know). I use their Xujiahui branch, and the Lujiazui branch often. Their service is pretty good, so far.

Bank of America

I am a customer of Bank of America in the States. When I went to their branch is in Shanghai, they said the account in the States and in China are separate, and the only way I can access my US account is to go to the States. What a surprise to me, but it is understandable. Do pay attention to the same kind of problems if you want to do the same.

All Kinds of Trap – Another One

Recently, besides the tactics I listed in the previous article, I encountered more. That is “missed call”.

In your mobile phone, you often get missed call. The caller rings for less than one second and hang up. Even if the phone is at your hand, you cannot get the call. You may find a good time to call back, but… it is a tele-marketer’s call.

P.S. My blog quoted by Wall Street Journal’s China Journal. But again, as most of time, it is because of the similar type of blog entry. Emm… I am fine if I am quoted once or twice because of the same point of view, but when it is all the times, I am not sure what I should say…:-)

Exchange RMB for USD at Pudong Airport

I got an email asking me about how he/she can exchange RMB to USD in Pudong Airport. Well. There is no easy answer. Let me explain it in details.

China Residence

For people with P.R. China residence status, exchange between RMB and USD is not free. The Regulations on Individual Foreign Exchange applies.

According to the regulation, any Chinese citizen can exchange up to 50,000 USD from RMB, or 50,000 USD equivalence of RMB from USD per calendar year.

If you have a valid national ID, or passport, and you have not exceeded the quota, you can go to any bank with foreign currency business, and ask them to exchange RMB to USD or USD to RMB to you. All the banks leverage a specialized, connected terminal to process your request, so your quota is calculated across all different banks and cities.

The problem is, however, there are NO bank in Pudong Airport that handles the foreign exchange business as most of the banks in downtown do. So, if you want to get USD, you’d better get to any bank instead of wait until you are at PVG. The last time, I have to start to US trip without a single USD bank note in my pocket. I am lucky that I didn’t use paper money during the trip.

Citizen of Foreign Countries

As far as I know, there is no hard limitation about how much RMB foreigners can exchange in airports in China. However, if they want to exchange RMB back to USD or other currency, they have to provide the original bank transaction sheet to prove that he/she has just exchanged the RMB using foreign currency. Without the bank sheet, foreigners cannot change RMB back to USD. Please pay special attention to this regulation.

All Kinds of Trap

Got an interview request from a magazine, not so famous, but not a bad name, so I accepted the interview request, and arranged time to do the phone interview about my business. They emphasized that it is a free interview. I felt strange when I see this point in the interview request, but didn’t pay enough attention.

Before the interview, they said the interview is free, but we need to pay subscription fee to their book. 580 RMB per book, and I have to buy 100 books at least.

LOL. I said, thanks, and I am not interested in any interview from them, no matter free or not, no matter they ask me to buy their books, or give me 100 books for free. No matter what, no, thanks.

There are also many associations doing cold call to me or send fax to me to ask us to join them… Interesting enough, they call all the time, and never give up.

Recently, telephone-marketing is very annoying. I think I am good-tempered, but the number of phone calls I hangup within 3 seconds are increasing, once or twice every day. Hm…. What a world.

Recent Interview

Not all interviews are traps.

Recently, I just had the interview by PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer . Next week, I will also host interview by NBC on a special edition for Olympic. They ARE, serious. The problem I have is, just like unpleasant BBC interview before, any of the interview can be considered “dangerous” for me, but I firmly believe talking is the starting point of communication, although it may be tough and may be another unpleasant experience… Let’s see…

It is Gaokao Time

These two days are the time for GaoKao, or the National College Entrance Exam.

In Cixi, Ningbo, middle school students filled the hotel we stayed. In Zhejiang, students all check-in to hotels to have better rest during the noon, and night, since it is generally closer to where the test is held.

Just now, Wendy gave me some sample questions of this year’s Gaokao. Pretty frustrating that I know the answer of none of the questions. How embarrassing.

13 years ago, Wendy and I also attended the Grand Exam – my favorite is English, 900 out of 900, the top of the province, and Wendy’s highest score is on Mathematics. She got 148 out of 150, also almost the top of the whole province. We turned out to be the first and the third place of students entering SJTU in 1995. We worked together as a family very well – I write English blogs, and call to US banks for her to settle down stock issues, and she always calculate the total amount when we went to the grocery store.

Best wishes to the students of this year!

Hey! It is Yifan Again!

Yifan has grown up. He is one year old. He is a little boy now. So we have decided to show him around the city every weekend. This time, we went to the Biyun International District.

I think he is happy when we brought him outside the room – do you think so?

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Wendy and Yifan. Hm… Both of them are wearing Microsoft T-Shirt. I wear my Kijiji one.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Nice shirts! (I am kidding). I mean wonderful baby and mom.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Me and Yifan.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

He wants to walk!

Photograph by Wendy

He also enjoys riding on my neck.

Photograph by Wendy

Photograph by Wendy

Photograph by Wendy

Yifan does like my glasses, and although I want to give him most of the things he wants, but definitely not glasses.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Facts about the Walk of June 08, 2008

Location: Biyun District

People: Yifan, Jian Shuo, Wendy, Grandpa, and Grandma.

Time: 4:00 – 7:00 PM

MovableType 4.2 is Disappointing

I am trying to migrate Wendy’s blog from MovableType 3.2 to 4.2 Beta, however, after about an hour, I still cannot import the files into the new system. So… I have to get back to MovableType 3.2.

So far, I still believe MT 3.2 is the best blogging software on the earth – simple, fast, and reliable. I don’t like MT 4.0, I don’t like 4.1, and now I don’t like MT 4.2 Beta