Monthly Archives: October 2009

Wendy Opened a Milk Tea Shop

I know this may be very surprising news for most of my friend, but it is not a joke. Wendy (if you don’t know her yet, she is my sweet wife) opened a Ding Tea (a Taiwan brand) milk tea shop at People’s Square in Shanghai. The grand opening is today (well, not an extremely grand opening, but a warm, crowded, and nice opening).

The Location

Here is the location of the shop:

211 Xizang Middle Road, Shanghai, China

It is at the corner of Xizang Road, and People’s Blvd.

It is opposite to Raffle’s City, and at the foot of the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum

It is also at the gate of the People’s Park and at Metro Exit #3 of People’s Square station of Metro Line #1, #2, and #8.

Why

This is an even more important question. Wendy always has a dream of opening a milk shop (it seems it is many girls’ dream), and I support her to do it with all my heart. Too often that people have dreams but don’t have time to go for it, and I am happy for Wendy to be able to do it. It is more about a hobby and an experience, other than anything else.

The next you visit the People’s Square, do stop by the store and have a cup of milk tea. If you have a Dianping account, you are welcome to leave your comment there.

My Identity in Community

I am participating in the Baixing community heavily, but not using my own identity – the CEO of the company. I am trying to build the community feeling from a normal community member. I am struggling in my thoughts whether I should use an ID like jianshuo in community, and let people know that I am the person (CEO) of the site, and the person to contact if they find anything wrong.

I wrote about the Real Human’s Voice Behind the Internet (Chinese) more than 4 years ago. I was basically arguing the current Internet is full of people with real identity. “No one knows you are a dog on Internet” is no longer cool. People need human voice behind each website. I am obvious a good candidate for that human voice. Should I jump out and tell people that the person’s identity who post most reply in the community, and doing customer service work?

I am planning to do it gradually in the next few weeks. What is your thoughts?

Failed to Bid for Shanghai Plate

My regular readers (I mean from 5 years to 6 years ago) know my struggle to get a Shanghai car plate.

Finally, I decided to join the tens of thousands of people to bid for a Shanghai plate. Unlike many others though, we are not very eager to get one. Our attitude is just to join the bidding, and if the price is OK, we get it. If now, we give it up.

Bid for a Shanghai Plate

On Saturday, Wendy and I joined the bidding for a Shanghai plate. The price turned out to be 33900 RMB. We failed in the bidding. Our price was 34400 RMB at the last second, but it is out of the +-300 RMB range, and was rejected.

The Way Bidding Works

The procedure of the bidding is like this:

  • You need to go to the government agency office to buy a bidding permit. That cost 100 RMB with 2000 RMB deposit to guarantee that you will pay the money if you win.
  • You install the software on PC and join the bidding at 10:00 AM on the last Saturday of the month.
  • You are allowed to place a price during the first hour (10:00 AM to 11:00 AM). At 11:00 AM, the first phase of the bidding closes. The system will broadcast the lowest winning price based on the bid it received. If you don’t place a bid, you give up this bidding, and can join the next month.
  • In the second phase, from 11:00 AM to 11:30 AM, based on the current lowest winning price, you can place your bid once or twice. It requires the offer must be within the +300 RMB and -300 RMB range of the current price. With the bidding going on, the lowest winning price goes up, and so can you raise your bid along with it.
  • At 11:30 AM, the auction closes, and announces the lowest bidding price

The trick is, you always need to place a bidding price higher than the lowest winning price + 300 RMB, since at the time you place your bid at the last minute, there is always a chance the price jumps up. So it is a fine art to hold the bidding as late as possible but still be able to enter it before it closes.

At 33600 RMB, we entered 34400 RMB (the lowest bidding price + 800 RMB) hoping that we can be sure to get it. But finally, when we hit enter, the price didn’t go that high, and we were rejected.

We will join the next bidding the next month and report back the result. It is a combination of strategy and luck – with luck as a very important fact.

Phone Works Better than Email

How silly it is. I finally decided to recover my oldest ebay account with ID jianshuo.

That was an account created 7 years ago, and suspended 5 years ago. I submitted the online request. As expected, nothing happened – no reply – after few weeks.

Then I gave them a call: +1866-643-2959. It worked very well. They promised to send the activation email to my new email address.

Phone works better than email, always for large companies.

P.S. How embarrassing! A former eBay director still need to call the call center to have account released from a suspension 5 years ago.

French Concession and Shanghai’s History

Just when I opened a new entry before me and wondered what to write to day, Stephen left a comment, which can be a very good topic to start a discussion.

I was reading the website of the restaurant where you celebrated your birthday, to my surprise the restaurant features “French Concession” as a selling point. Since the Shanghai public concession has been abolished since last government, is people today still fond of the past history or they prefer the infrastructures left by the foreigners before the war?

Mixed Feeling about Shanghai History

Shanghai is a very unique city. Its founding was because of a treaty – the Nanjing Treaty, one was always referred as unequal treaty in China.

From the day one of the modern Shanghai since 1840s, the city was mixture of Chinese and westerns, and of cause the culture of Chinese, and western culture.

If you see Shanghai as a child, he has a Chinese mother, and a western father. The western culture is actually put into the blood of this city. The intimacy of this city and the whole western world is by culture blood line.

French Concession?

You see this connection easily by architect – the whole French concession was well kept, and the building along Bund. But most importantly, it is the way people in Shanghai behaves – the respect to contracts, hobbies about decent nice restaurants, and many westernized things. If you walk on the small streets in Shanghai, you can feel the deep connection.

The Painful Conflicts

After being in Shanghai for 14 years, I can see the struggle and conflicts in the mind of Shanghaiese. Just like an abandoned child with a foreign father, Shanghai cannot admit its connection with the western world in the last half century, especially the forming of this child is because of a rape.

People try to avoid that embarrassing history of this city, but the city itself is the evidence of that embarrassing history for China. On one hand, all students in China were taught to “hate” those countries who invaded China during 1840s to 1940s, and described that period of time as the darkest time of Shanghai, on the other hand, that was the most prosperous ages for Shanghai. Why so many people still loves the 1930 style of Shanghai?

Back to the French Concession

Today, many people in Shanghai is trying very hard to rebuild the elegance and gracefulness of the old 1930 times. But they did it without claiming anything, because it is something that you cannot claim in public. It is pride mixed shame. It is love mixed with hate. It is also a memory people try to pickup but avoid to mention.

P.S. I wrote a Chinese blog article about my observation: A mixed blood named Shanghai.

Sony CX500E is Wonderful

After using Sony CX500E for a while, I have to say, I am extremely satisfied with this camcorder. Just like the Sony P8 camera, this Sony product is perfect, and I always feel I am lucky to choose it. There are several reasons.

  1. The SteadyShot feature is amazing. I can take video when I am walking, even running a little bit, but the final result is just like the camera were mounted to a tripod – very clear.
  2. The 12X zoom is wonderful, and useful.
  3. The bright image it captures. It is much better than the dark image of Nikon.
  4. I didn’t have any expectation for the software coming with any hardware, but the PMB (Photo Motion Browser) was wonderful, even better than Picasa.
  5. The nightshot is a must for me – to record Yifan at night when Wendy and I was telling story to him at night
  6. The camera is relatively small to carry. With CX500E, I don’t need to carry cameras at all.
  7. The big LCD screen and touch screen feature – wonderful

I have recorded many video (12G of them). I still didn’t figure out a way to share them yet – I don’t feel comfortable to upload it to Tudou.com, or Youku.com. YouTube is blocked in China – troublesome for me. Will figure it out later.

If you are still choosing which camcorder to buy, I highly recommend this camera: Sony CX500E.

Here are some sample photos I took with the camera:

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang with Sony CX500E

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang with Sony CX500E

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang with Sony CX500E

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang with Sony CX500E

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang with Sony CX500E

P.S. Wendy is interested in Dingcha now.

Shanghai View from Shangri-la

Shangri-la hotel has a nice view. From its 29th floor, you see the whole Puxi area. Let me share some of the photos I took (using my newly bought Sony CX500E). Please note that there is a green glass between the camera and the outside.

Below: the newly built white building on the right hand gives Shanghai the feeling of Hong Kong – there are similar style building in Hong Kong.

Shanghri-la loves twin-towers. This is the image of the other tower from the newly built tower.

The water level of the Huangpu river is higher than most times. Look at this picture:

There are ferries on the river. Worth to give it a try the next time you are here.

Safe Travel in China for 1 Year Kid

Jian Shuo,

I am visiting China for 2 weeks in November/December. I noticed your posts on traveling with Children and thought I would ask questions from an expert.

We are bringing our 1 year old daughter. We are planning on going to Beijing and (guilin or Hangzhou or Shanghai or Xian or…), Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Do you have any recommendations of how to arrange kid friendly travel from abroad and how to make sure that things are good for our baby?

I thought I would ask because I noticed that you moved to a different hotel in Yangshuo because of Yifan and thought if you have any advice, it would be great to hear it.

certainly understand if you don’t get back to me

Thanks

Rob

With a 2 year old kid, I certainly understand the desire to travel safely with a kid. I am not an expert on this – I just traveled with Yifan several time to Henan, and Guilin, but let me try my my best to list some items.

Hotel Consideration

If budget allows, definitely choose better hotels. Although many people complained that 5-star hotels in China is not consistent with international five star standard, especially those 5-star outside Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, they are still by far the best hotel to stay, especially when kids travel with you. As you may know from our Yangshuo trip, Wendy and I once booked a youth hotel, but at last minute, switched to the Green Lotus hotel – a five star there.

Although most parents are very flexible from motel, youth hotel, to 5-star hotels, kids are not. I have to admit that many local small hotels are very good, and kid friendly, there is no good way to predict the experience before you go. There are many good online travel forums offering reviews (like ctrip.com in Chinese), but it takes considerable time to read all of the conflicting messages there. To trade time with money, you can simply choose a better hotel.

It is for sure not as interesting as going to a local smaller hotel, but it is the cost we have to pay to take the responsibility of parenting.

BTW, my best experience about hotel is a “luxury room” at 10 RMB (1.5 USD) per night in Wenchang.

On the Road

By air! Definitely by air. There are shorter trips like Shanghai to Hangzhou, or Suzhou, train is preferred, but for most of the trip with a kid as small as 1 year old, choose airplane.

The time on road is a factor, I think the bigger factor is the train station, and bus station. I would try to avoid bringing Yifan to train station – nightmare in many cities at peak time (National holiday in Oct, New Year, and Spring Festival). Staying overnight on train is not fun with kid.

Food

Well. This can be most troublesome, but for a kid like 1 year old, you can always bring some milk, and things he/she like. Eating in five-star hotels, or nice local restaurants should be OK, but be prepared on the environment change – the water, for example, and avoid spicy food – many places in China offer non-spicy food according to local standard, but they ARE really spicy!

Safe Travel!

Anything else my readers want to add to travel with a 1 year kid in China?

Recording of Memories

Will life under camera be better than without one? I guess the answer is yes, just like life with blogging.

After play with Sony Handycam CX500E for two nights, I said this to Wendy: “You know when we should have bought this camera? 1996!” That was the year when we just met.

Look at this sweet family!

P.S. I am trying to recover my account on eBay – that was registered on Nov-13-01 in China – a 8 year account with eBay. It was suspended…. Hmmm….

Finally Bought Sony CX500E

After posting my intention to buy a camcorder, Wendy and I finally bought one at “Buy Now” computer market at 7550 RMB. The list price at BestBuy is 8499 RMB – Jia doubted why people want to buy at BestBuy. I believe many people will do it. Wendy and I almost bought it, and later though, if a taxi drive to another place can save you 1000 RMB, who not bother?

The problem is, we have too many Hi-Tech toys, but don’t have time to play with it. Time is now a limited resource to enjoy happiness.

Recorded some high-definition movie of Yifan, and we suddenly realized we should have bought it 2.4 years ago. I will send some time this weekend with the new Camcorder.

Any tips about who I organize and share the video? The last thing I want is some passion about the new tool for few days or weeks, and then store it somewhere. Blogging, for example, is a very good format for me to record stuff. What about video? I don’t think video blogging is a feasible.

Met with Yi Jin

Met with Yi Jin at Starbucks at Super Brand Mall. I was very amazed by the Livescribe pen he used. What a great idea to digitize a notebook?

Wendy was very attracted by Kindle. We agreed to buy one as my birthday gift, instead of spending a fancy night at some hotel.

Manchester Business School MBA

At night, I went to attend a lecture by a professor of Manchester Business School on currency exchange, and financial crisis. Not very interesting for a non-finance guy like me. Stanford is still my dream university.

China Telecom is ADSL Spammer

Look at this screen:

screen-china.telecom.spam.png

This is the screen users using Shanghai China Telecom ADSL see when they dial up and first visit a website. The ad is so dominate and changes the way the original page is displayed. It appear for few seconds and then disappear.

In the wild west Internet, what ever behavior is possible, and allowed.

Is there Monthly Ticket for Expo?

I want to get a monthly ticket for Expo so I can visit the site any time I want, but only to find out they don’t have such ticket type.

They offers the following types:

Daily Pass

3 Day Pass

7 Day Pass

Night Pass – good after 17:00 everyday, sold on site (90RMB)

It seems the 7 day pass is attractive, but 3 day and 7 day pass are not available for sale now. The price for 7 days will be 900 RMB, and 3 days be 400 RMB. Available to public from Jan 1, 2010.

The official website has more details here. The price table is here.

Some Social News at Q4, 2009

Every 10th of the first month of the quarter is the date for me to wrap up the last quarter, and really start this quarter.

Today is a Saturday, and it is weird to just work for two days and there is a weekend tomorrow. Expecting to meet old friends tomorrow.

At bed room, we changed the direction of bed by 90 degree. Yifan was so naughty to fall from the bed to the ground – wasn’t hurt, and it is not a big deal, but we were scared again, and put the longer edge of the bed along with the wall.

Life has not recovered to pre-holiday yet. The 8 day holiday did simulate economy and domestic demand for almost everything, but the break (especially physiological break) needs some time to recover.

Oct 10 is the National Holiday of the Republic of China – I assume celebration will happen on the other side of the Strait. 98 years ago, it was the day of the founding of a republic – the first republic in China, and maybe currently, the closest to a republic.

The taxi fee in Shanghai rises again tomorrow. The start price will be adjusted from 11 RMB for the first 3 km to 12 RMB. Price per km rises from 2.10 RMB to 2.40 RMB. The monopoly of taxi companies had made the life of taxi drivers harder, and life of passengers harder.

From Oct 1, another ridiculous China Post law take effect. It forbids private carrier services to handle packages lighter than 100g. One week ago, you can safely ship important documents at 5 RMB, and it arrives at the door of recipient in 2 hours. Today, it costs 10 RMB to send the same package, but it arrives the next day (or later). The recipient has to take their national ID card to the post office to line up and take about 30 minutes to claim that package. For cross city package? One week ago, it cost 5 RMB for second day door to door delivery, and today, it cost 3 days, and recipients have to go to post office to claim it – I hate it. I will be very dissatisfied if any company send me something via China Post, since I sometimes have to take half day leave to claim it – post offices always close more promptly than anyone.

100 Century Ave on Top of SWFC

This is the photo of the 100 Century Ave on the 91th floor of Shanghai World Financial Center. I wrote about it few days ago. Here are photos.

It is a very good place to look at the top of Jinmao Tower.

A little bit northwards. I was surprised that I can actually see the sea, and the Chong Ming Island from the tower.

This is inside the cafe – tall roof, but pretty crowded – limited seats are available.

Nice Weather this Holiday

During the national holiday of 2009, I took some photos when we drove along the Nanpu Bridge, and along the Bund.

I had never seen so many policeman on the Bund before – every street corner is like this. It seems this was the most dangerous national holiday.

As always, the buildings built by capitalists and bankers were decorated with communism and socialism banners:

The river front of the Bund area is completed closed. Visitors must be very disappointed to visit the Bund without seeing the Huangpu River.

With massive destruction along the water front of the Bund, they are building a new Bund to enable people to be closer to the water.

On the Nanpu Bridge, you see the two tallest buildings – always nice to see when the weather is good.

After few years, I hope the photos can help me to remember the feeling of Shanghai during this holiday. My mood was very like the clear sky – no rush, and no hurry – just peacefully stayed at home for 8 days.