Bye Bye, Pudong

There is something that I didn’t disclose in this blog. At the end of last year, we planned seriously to move to Pudong — the green land. We bought a new house with very big garden in Pudong and planned a car. However, in the recent weeks, I was convinced that Pudong is not the place for me. I decided to say “Bye bye, Pudong”.

I can assure you that it was not an easy decision. It is the choice of the two distinct different styles.

Actually, I never lived in the best areas of the city. My previous two houses (including the one I rented in Meilong) was both out of the inner-ring. During my journey to seek for an apartment in the quite and beautiful Hua Shan Road (华山路), Xin Hua Lu (新华路) in Changning District, I found so many good places that we never thought of before. Think about the trees, the beautiful 1930′s houses, and the nearby universities, even the names of the roads! Everything there represents a romantic, convenient, and culture-rich life of Shanghai.

I started to ask myself: Why to spend my best time in Pudong to experience the fresh air and green land instead of what a fantastic city has to offer? Why I need to spend my young life to see the boring nights in Pudong just for investment? Pudong is not Shanghai in terms of cultural relationship. I’d rather to have a high quality of life, not money.

It is not easy to develop any place from nothing to a rich and decent place. We talked with the real estate agent in Pudong seeking to sell the house. The woman agent (with very bad mandarin) maybe grew up in the former village in that area and found the job. She actually knows nothing about the real estate and even doesn’t know the rate of a bank mortgage. She even got very angry when I challenged her on that: “I am an agent. It is not my business. You need to talk to the bank.” It is something I can never imagine in Puxi. It takes one generation or more to change this.

P.S. If you are new to this site, here is some simple Chinese words. Dong 东 means east. Xi 西 means west. Pu is the abbr. of Huang Pu River. Pudong is the area east of Huang Pu River and Puxi is the area in the west.

Rent an Apartment in Shanghai

There are basically three major types of apartments in Shanghai. They are service apartments, newly built communities, and old simple apartments.

Service Apartment

For example, the Chang Fa Garden (map) at 290 Pan Yu Rd. has good location. They have satellite TV and large clubs (in a five star hotel nearby). The rent price is 6000-8000 RMB per month for a 100 sq. meter apartment with two bed rooms and a guest room. Many foreigners choose this kind of apartment. They offer hotel like services.

There is a piece of very interesting history service apartments like Chang Fa Garden. If the service apartment was built before 2000, chances are, they were foriegner-oriented apartments, which only foreigners could buy. Meanwhile, foreigners were not allowed to buy non-foreigner-oriented apartments. There is a big price gap between. Chang Fa Garden was label a price of 3000 USD per sq. meter when it was sent to market while local apartments nearby only costs around 5000 RMB per sq. meter in 2000. If you are interested, the current sale price for Chang Fa garden is around 10000 RMB per sq. meter.

These apartments tend to be old and the furniture may be out of date. However, they have very good locations. There are some newly built service apartments and their price will be higher.

Newly Built Communities

Vanke Waltz Garden, which I bought, is an example. These are very good choice since they offer good view, safety and brand new houses. It takes 5000-6000 RMB to rent an 98 sq. meter apartment there, although this is already relatively far away from Xujiahui (3.3 km).

Old Simple Houses

In Shanghai, the most impressive buildings were the Old houses. I mean the house built after 1950. They look ugly and are similar. They are typically 6 stories with a flat roof. Local people will choose these apartments and seldom do I see a foreigner will like it. It should cost 2000 RMB to rent a small apartment with 60 sq. meter around the area of Chang Fa Garden (I marked it in the map in my second paragraph).

Where should I look for Apartment

John sent me mail and asked (quoted with permission)

I am regular reader of your website. I love it. I would like to ask you a few questions about apartment in shanghai. I will be moving there soon to live. Can you recommend me a few websites that I can go and rent an apartment. After work, I need night life to survive, so i really need something close to bars, night club, disco, shopping and foods etc… do you know which area is best for me? oh, safety is also important for me.

Thanks so much!!

I would definitely suggest the Xuhui District, Jin’An District and east part of Changning District. I marked the “good areas” in my mind in the map below.

map-shanghai-good.areas.jpg

If night life is important for you, never think of living in Pudong. The quite and dark night there will kill you.

Regarding website, if you can read Chinese, soufun.com and anjia.com are two leading websites in Shanghai.

Update: Open for Apartment Submission. May 27, 2004

Since this page is No. 1 search result in google for keywords rent apartment shanghai, it may be a good service for people renting aparments and people who look for an apartment in Shanghai. If you have an apartment to rent, please submit your apartment infomation to me via Apartment Offered Form.

Update: December 2, 2004

A cheap house at Panyu road available for rent immediately. 360 USD/month (Rent out. Not available now)

Update: Octomber 6, 2005

700 USD: Biyun Oriental Apartment:

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What’s On in Shanghai

Oh. The recent two film posters (one, two) reminded me of the old question my foreign friends asked me: “Is there any English film in town?”

Yes. Yes. There are many English films in the city with original voice and Chinese subtitle. As JH and I discussed under the article Mona Lisa Smile, China is following the international tradition to show the original film now. Many foreign films like Fanfan La Tulipe are introduced.

Here are some website you can get film information in Shanghai:

That’s Shanghai

Tickets.com.cn (Chinese site)

Cinema Guide

My favorite is the Kodak Super Cinema in Metro City. They are so far the most professional theater I saw.

For example, the UME in Xintiandi I went the day before yesterday is not as professional. Why? The devil’s in the details. I see a big space for the management of the theater to improve. The design of the theater is very cool. So does the poster. But the schedule was printed in normal A4 paper causually and posted everywhere. Many of them are broken already. It is the minor things like this that damages the brand of UME or any theater.

Film Mona Lisa Smile

Wendy and I went to the UME theater at Xintiandi. The film is named Mona Lisa Smile by Julia Roberts.

Late Movie

It was the latest show of the day. It started at 11:10 PM. I am lucky to live in a city that there is a theater serving film as late as 11:00 PM. Of cause, we were really tired after we got out of the theater around 1:20 AM in the morning of today.

There are only 8 persons in the well equipped theater. So the film was almost exclusive for us.

screen-mona.lisa.smile.jpg

Credit: Sony Pictures

Original Movie

It is worth noting that many American movies are shown in original language – English – in theaters with Chinese subtitle. I often watch movies but didn’t watch any translated film yet. What does it mean? Is it an indicator of internationalization, or the lose of local language? I don’t know.

Reviewed by ChinaHerald.net

Fons posted a review of Wangjianshuo’s blog on Chinaherald.net. It is the first formal and long review of my site. I guess I am the most interested person in the world to read this article. It gives me some feedback of the site from another point of view.

Feedbacks are always encouraging. I am very happy to see people posting comments on my articles; I will be happier if I see an incoming link; then you know how happy I was when I saw a review for my blog. Thanks, Fons. (I am not very sure whether the review was written by Ann Arbor, as signed at the end of the article, or Fons, who notified me of the review, or the two names are the same person. Let me assume Fons is the author. Correct me if I am wrong here, Fons.)

The IT-engineer Wang Jian Shuo is one of very few English language web logs that does not have the overly pretentious approach like most English language weblogs on China – including the China Herald. Here is Jian Shuo, telling about the daily worries of a Shanghainese citizen. Read on… (quoted in courtesy of chinaherald.net)

I don’t Mention my Employer Anymore

In the review, Fons observed that “The only thing he does not mention anymore is his employer.” Fons guessed “that they (the employer) called him in and had a talk. Companies do not like it when their employees blog about them. They might easy lose control.”

“Called me in and Have a Talk?”

Well. It was a reasonable guess. I would draw the same conclusion if I were an outsider. However, the real story behind that is just the opposite.

I never wanted to hide the fact that I am working for Microsoft, which I am very proud of. Microsoft is very open to blogging, more open than I could imagine. There are dedicated people within the company to drive the community effort, including newsgroups, online chat, web forums, and blogs. As you may know, I was the team lead for the Asia Community Support Team responsible to drive Microsoft employee in Asia (every single person within Microsoft) to join the newsgroups or local communities to help customers and listen to customers. The effort is continuing.

Regarding blogs, Microsoft encourages its employees to setup blogs and share his/her work “in a personalized, influential way, and to read about what (the) community is doing”. Check http://blogs.msdn.com/ to get a list of Microsoft guys who just started a technical blog. They are there to share what they are working on in a “personalized, influential way”.

More Microsoft bloggers are not on the http://blogs.msdn.com list than those on the list. For example, we have energetic and influential bloggers like Robert Scoble. He has made big impact with his blog.

In short, no body called me in and had a talk. If there will be some talk, there must be someone call me in and ask me to put more Microsoft information onto this blog. You know, it is the style of a Microsoft manager: “Hey. Do you think by sharing your knowledge on technology will help our customers? So just go ahead to do it!”

As an insider of the company, I observe so many changes inside the company that strike for better customer and partner experience. That is the reason I am still so passionate about this company after working here for 5 years.

The Real Reason

The real reason is simple. I just want to be known as a normal person, “telling about the daily worries of a Shanghainese citizen” (as Fons commented). Talking about job related stuff is out of the topic of this site. Actually, I am seriously thinking of creating another blog (not hosted on this site. Maybe another business oriented domain) and share my job related stuff with people who do business with my team outside Microsoft. Blogging is a better tool of effective communicating, then email, even website.

Back to Topic

OK. It is enough about the reason why I didn’t mention the little M in my blog in the recent one year). Thanks Fons for giving an opportunity to talk a little bit about the topic. Please be sure I am not defensive at all. If you give me a chance, I will tell you the happy life I am leading in business hours as I did for my personal hours.

I didn’t put the employers name because I don’t want the visitor to ignore that fact that I am just a normal citizen in this big city with 16,000,000,000+16,000,000+ people. (Thanks for Xu’s correction.)

P.S. another short correction: I rent cars and don’t own one yet. :)

LookatChina.com

John started the Lookatchina.com website after his trip back to Shanghai (he was born in Shanghai) after staying in U.S. for six years. (I am not sure whether John from lookatchina.com is the same John who won the Top Commentor of the Month award on this site)

John took many pictures in Shanghai and covered almost all major places in Shanghai. You can find pictures of Xujiahui, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Yuyuan, Nanjing Rd., Metro, Buses… almost all aspects of Shanghai. I like the photos he took.

Please visit his Shanghai page. (I knew his site by recommendation of Kathy).

The Devil’s in the Details

I heard of the English proverb “the devil’s in the details” in a presentation delivered by my friend Peng Gao when he talked about project management. It was about two years ago. I didn’t realize how wise the proverb is. It was recently that I pick up the term and see how the details make so big difference.

When Wendy and I were shopping at B&Q in Pudong, we discussed about why most dominators on the consumer markets are foreigner companies. For example, B&Q in decoration materials, IKEA in furniture, Carrefour in retails, and KFC in fast food business.

There are many promising local companies in every single business listed above, but generally speaking, they are less attractive than the leader. Why? What is the difference?

It is not culture issue. Taiwan/Hongkong companies seems domanating the entertainment business. I always buy book at Schorlar. They have a store in Metro City. It is owned by Taiwanese. I go to excercise in Physical (also in Metro City). I guess it was a Hong-kong based company (may be wrong). I go to Chatea 一茶一坐 for lunch (38 RMB for business suite) – Taiwan company. I have my hair cut in a very small hair salon downstairs – even it was opened by a Taiwan business man. I have alternatives. For example, Da Niang Dobbling (大娘水饺), or any other salon, I just wanted to go there for better service. Why?

The devil’s in the Details

Today, I read an article (Chinese) talked about details. It is very reasonable. Many leading companies are paying attention to small things which makes big difference.

I was surveyed by a lady when I shopped in IKEA yesterday. I was not surprised and I won’t be surprised if a shop I don’t like never survey me in my whole life. :-D

Devils are in the details is in my mind when I look at those leading companies again. I can always find BIG difference in many aspects between the stores. I didn’t notice that before. The differences are all in the details…

Server Down and Up

I hate to talk about it but I have to update about the technical difficulties in the last two days. The server was not accessible at around 0:00 AM of Feb 22. It lasted for about half day. Around 2:00 PM that day, the HTML page was recovered but the comment function stoped working. It took another day to fix the permission stuff. There is still something not working on my site right now, like the Links 2.0 directory (site submission part), I am going to fix it tomorrow.

This was due to the IP change – actually the server change in my ISP. Every time it happens, I got very angry and there is no 24×7 support. That is the service I paid for – 380 RMB per year is among the cheapest hosting in China. I have subscribed at http://www.net.cn, which costs almost double the cost of this ISP. I hope it can provide better service – at least they offer 24×7 toll free technical support. So someone will look at the problems of the server if it does go down.

I hope the server down nightmare goes off soon. It has hurt the reputation of the site. This site is no longer the site it was two years ago. I know I have a lot of readers everday. Thanks for your patience during the last two days.

Pudong or Puxi

I am facing the hard decision to move to Pudong or stay in Puxi. The decision leads to two completely different lifestyles.

Pudong is very attractive as an ideal place to live – the green lands, the fresh air, wide roads, and less population.

However, only Puxi (west band of the river) presents the amazing city of Shanghai – the history, the skyscrapers, decent stores, the culture, and the great restaurants.

Pudong means a big house with a car.

Puxi means the exciting life I am so passionate about.

So…… it is a hard decision.