Kung Fu Hustle is Great

Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle or Gong Fu is great. I like the movie. I even went to theatre twice – once in the Super Brand Mall with Chen and Xia, the other time in the theatre in Metro City by myself – since I happen to win one free ticket.

I would recommend people to go to movie to see it. It is better than Shi Mian Mai Fu, better than Hero. It is just funny and I LOL many times in the theatre with others.

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Image in courtesy of the official website

It is the most interesting movie I saw in 2004.

Its official website is slow, BTW.

P.S. Eric continued to post on the business work. Claire just returned to Shanghai from her trip to Cambodia, and Vietnam. Xiao Gao still kept his very slow pace to post onto his blog while Wendy seems completed stopped.

Picture News of Shanghai 2005

When Spring Festival is near, the city shows some interesting details to me.

Commercial Spring Festival Celebration

The Huang Pi South Road near Xintiandi section was decorated to celebrate the Spring Festival. The Xintiandi group made the celebration banners. It costs some money but it is nothing for so successful real estate company.

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On New Buildings

The twin towers of the Grand Gateway are approaching the end of construction. Glasses were installed to this new tallest building in Xujiahui. It seems the construction will continue during the holiday and the workers won’t have their holiday this year, as the previous years.

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Farmer Workers

The picture below is the farmer workers statue group at the corner of the Shanghai Art Museum. The statue group vividly reveal the expression of the specific group of people in this city. Now, as Spring Festival is near, the majority of them are leaving Shanghai back to their hometown. Construction site starts to lack of workers. Ayi’s price is rising and more often, people cannot find an Ayi (people who comes to your house to do the cleaning work, babysitting, or cooking) recently. Labor-intensive positions like pure water delivery, garbage collection, that were filled by farmer workers are lack of hands. With their leaving, it shows the same appearance as a severe strike.

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Spring Festival can also be called the Farmer Worker’s Days – it is the time for everyone who enjoys the benefit of their hard work to think of them by suffering their short absence.

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Destroy!

Shanghai continue to pull down old houses near the Xintiandi area to build new residence or entertainment areas there. More and more walls were painted with large red character: 拆 or Destroy in English.

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Farmers in the City

At the Nanjing West Road at the People’s Square, around 9:00 PM, when banks closed its door, farmers from nearby area came to the street to sell their fresh fruit, in the heart of this large metropolitan. She still needs to collect enough money to prepare for the Spring Festival. People passed in a hurry and not many were in the mood to buy fruits at street.

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P.S. Pictures were taken in the previous week. (May not be taken today)

Keep Doing, and Doing, and Doing

“If something is meaningful, go ahead to do it. If time is not the key factor, just keep doing, and doing, and doing… The result is just there.”

This is the experience I got in my last two years and a quarter of blogging. The nights I wrote helped me to form a habit to keep doing something for really long time. :-D

It doesn’t matter how well you are doing today or tomorrow, it does matter if you keep doing something right, for a pretty long time.

He keeps doing, and doing, and doing… When someone gives up, he keeps doing, and… doing, and doing… When many others give up, he still keeps doing, and doing, and doing… Sooner or later, there is a time that someone will notice what he archived. You call it behavior art? You bet it.

I am very happy to share a piece of behavior art I created in a party. I am very excited about it and proud of it.

The Party

I attended a new year party in the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum last Saturday night. It is the site where the APEC meeting leaders took pictures. There were many people there and it was a looo0ng party from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. There were many things to do in the first one hour or two – eating, drinking, and chatting. For the rest two hours, to be honest, there were not much to do besides watching the performance on the stage – it was interesting anyway, but I found something more exciting for myself.

The Hall

The party was held in a hallway of the museum. It is the highest hall in the building. Look at the picture below. I wasn’t able to put the roof into the viewfinder. You may have some idea about how high the roof is. Actually, I took the picture at a viaduct that goes across the hall at the second floor. :D

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The hall of the party

The Balloons

To add the holiday atmosphere, balloons were placed on each table. They all floated in the air.

The string

There are strings of about half meter long attaching the balloons to the tables. The good thing is, the string was made of plastic and I can break the string in the middle along the string to get two identical strings with equal length but half thick. You can work on any of the resulting string to extend the total length. You got the idea?

The Dream

Since there was nothing to do, why not create something? Why not try something new? I thought of a crazy idea.

IF, I mean if, I kept breaking the string and it will result many strings with identical length. If I connect them, and it will be very long. Does it make sense?

OK. Let me continue. After I had a long enough string, I can put it under the balloons so the balloons can reach the roof.

Everything is so reasonable, isn’t it? Why not have a try?

So I started to do it.

The Work

The work is not that easy. The first problem I had was about the string. It was hard to break it just in the middle. If you start to split, one piece of the string got thicker and thicker while the other one get thinner, so it broke at lengths about 20 cm to 30 cm. I changed the plan and broke one original string into up to three thinner string. To do that, I had to work very, very carefully. Otherwise, it broke faster.

Anyway, I combine the thinner strings into a longer one and kept attaching the smaller piece to the end of the string.

Gradually, the balloons of my table, out of the 40 tables, rose. It rose so slowly that no body noticed that. Even I couldn’t observe its moving in short time period.

Soon all the original strings were used up and I started to find some shorter strings on the table to continue the work. Sometimes a short string that was not longer than a finger was also used. Since after 3 split, it could be significantly long. Some part of the resulting long string was so thin and weak that if you had pulled the string a little bit quicker, the string might break.

The Most Difficult Time

After working on this project for one hour, I still didn’t think anyone noticed what I was doing. The balloon rose higher, but only at about 1/5 of the height of the roof. The worse thing is, all the strings on my table had been used up, including those very short one. Well. Since I started, since there was nothing else that made me so exciting and ambitious, why stop?

Others Noticed and Helped

The good things, at this time, someone would notice what you were doing if the work was getting its shape. Although it was still far away from the goal I set, the balloon on the table was about 4 – 5 times higher than the other tables. This raised interest of people sitting at the same table of me. Wendy, Xiao Gao and Qiang were among them.

They offered help and I welcomed them to join the Balloons Hit the Roof Project. With three more pairs of hands, the work went on much faster. Gao helped to gather strings from other tables while Wendy soon became a experienced string breaker. New longer strings were handed to me continuously and the balloons rose at a faster than any time in the pass hour. That was great!

New Ideas

With the rising of the balloon, we had new ideas. Xiao Gao suggested to attach a small flashing object at the bottom of the balloons so everyone could see the balloons more clearly. It was a great idea and we tried that. The downside of this idea was, the flashing toy was made of steel and had battery in it. It was heavy. To give enough lifting power to float into the sky again, I needed more balloons. A boy around 10 in age joined the project and volunteered to get more balloons for us. I know it was not easy because not many people want to give away the balloons on their table. The little boy finally got it and ran back and forth until he collected 5 more balloons. Cool boy! We finally had a large spacecraft with electronic power attached at the bottom. It was very cool.

New Problems

Balloons reached 3/4 of the height of the roof for the first time

None of us would expect the air above the closed hall like that in Shanghai Science and Technology Museum was circulating. Some times, it went from one direction and later, it went another. The balloon was not directly above our table after it reached about 2/3 of the hall’s height. It either floated this way or the other, causing the string below it to be a 45 degree angle with the horizon line. We obviously need to add more lifting power to fight again it. Otherwise, some one who stood at the viaduct, where my first picture was taken, may be able to touch and destroy our work. :-D The boy helped us to accomplish this again. We also replaced the thinnest part of the old string I made to make sure it didn’t break in the middle.

Finally, We Made It

After another hour and a half, with everyone’s participation and well coordination, the string went long enough and the balloons were powerful enough (to provide enough lifting power). The new version of the balloon craft started its journey. It finally reached the roof! I didn’t need to hold the string and it just floated there at the roof. When I pulled the string, it could come down and return to face of our table. We had several times of “launching” and “withdraw”. It worked like a skate. Everybody involved was happy. In my eyes, they were shining.

This is the final result – the balloons reached the roof with long enough string and enough balloons.

Many People Noticed

Many balloons escaped the string by accident and floated to the top of the roof. You can see those balloons in the previous pictures. People were so surprised to see a huge balloon group with something flashing at the bottom rising from one of the table SLOWLY, like the Sun. They found out the longest string in that hall under the balloons too. I have to say, it was quite impressive for everyone. More and more people noticed it, pointed the balloons to others and talked about it. I was happy that after several days, when I happened to meet an attendant and asked about the balloons, they said: “Oh. Yes. I surelly noticed that. It was among the best performance of that night. We wondered who made it?”…

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I was certainly very happy with the final result we created together. In the photo, my balloon craft and me. Please note the flashing part at the bottom of the balloons. It is flashing and when looked upward, it was brighter.

Credit

This Balloons Hit the Roof Project was made possible with the following persons: Wendy, Xiao Gao, Qiang, Chen, and the boy (I didn’t know his name). I hope they don’t have trouble for participating this project at a party after I disclose it.

Strings under the balloons. You may notice that it was made of many pieces

The Conclusion

Well. Thanks for reading through the long story. What I really learnt from this exciting project is, no matter how far or near a dream is, you can reach it by keeping doing, and doing, and doing… as long as you manage the risks well, and you are absolutely confident about what you do contributes to the final goal. This is often not as easy to see as “adding strings and the balloons will float higher”, we need also learn to give up when something out of control happens. BTW, I learnt the later from my last incomplete visit to 30N119E.

Featured in That’s Shanghai

I finally got a copy of That’s Shanghai. As Christopher put it, the editor of That’s Shanghai, their copies went away as quick as gold in Shanghai.

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Cover of the Jan 2005 issue of That’s Shanghai. The cover story is Siteswapping. Image in courtesy of That’s Shanghai.

The cover story of this issue is called Siteswapping – the infinite links to Virtual Shanghai. Written by Christopher Cottrell, it is an article on how blogs and other English websites are helping foreign people in Shanghai. My blog was featured in this article. I quote part of the article here. Follow the link to read the complete story.

Philippine-born JM couldn’t take it any more. Her new job as manager of an events company was high-pressure personified. But getting to the office and back home – a nerve-racking hour and a half bus ride through Shanghai’s mean streets – left her ragged and worn before the day’s work had even begun. She needed help, and she found it online. At wangjianshuo.com, she clicked on a link that discussed the city’s transport system, which led to a quicker bus route, which in the end cut her commute in half. Another link, to shanghai-ed.com, provided info on the city’s restaurants, which led to another site, which …

Well, you get the idea.

Welcome to virtual Shanghai, where new and long-term residents alike can instantly find information on just about anything. Where one link leads to another in a seemingly infinite series of combinations. Where communities connect.

That such combinations are possible is entirely due to a small and dedicated band of tech-minded wizards. Like Wang Jian Shuo, founder of the eponymous site, wangjianshuo.com, one of the most visited blogs (websites with personal commentary) in Asia.

Originally from Henan, Wang works as a consultant for Microsoft. He launched the site four years ago with a story about the opening of the Pudong International Airport. In a short time the site became Google’s number one hit for searches on the airport. Over the next two years, Wang expanded the site to include in-depth information on Shanghai’s metro, trains, taxis and airports, making it the most reliable source for local transportation advice. Today, the sites averages one million hits each month and has been lauded by BBC, MSNBC and Salon.com. “The original idea,” says Wang, “was to help foreigners understand how to get around Shanghai…the streets can be very chaotic and lifestyle very different from their home countries.”

That idea has grown to include information on everything from finding a room to rent to help wanted ads for fly-fisherman. In addition, the site provides links to personalized Mandarin language sites – wangchen.com; pgao2003.com; Lijia.biz; 9718.net; and run2me.com – and interesting personalities in Shanghai, including Wang, who lists his hand phone number for those who want personal assistance.

Given the sophistication of Wang’s portal and its time-consuming upkeep, one might wonder why he doesn’t seek reward for his hard work by seeking site sponsors or advertising.

“My philosophy is not to make money but to be respected and be considered a good guide…helping other people is my deeper reward and the satisfaction that brings,” says Wang.

To read the full story, visit That’s Shanghai’s website

I’d like to thank Jelly for participation the interview of That’s Shanghai. Thanks Christopher for creating the article. That’s Shanghai is the No. 1 magazine published in English in Shanghai. Other interesting English language magazines are Time Out, Shanghai Talk and CityWeekend. The only one you can read in all Starbucks is CityWeekend though.

Wei renmin fuwu?

At the Website Review section of this issue, John Pasden reviewed Wangjianshuo’s Blog and claimed that “… It’s almost as if he’s being paid by the city to produce the website. Why else would he create an awesome (Chinese only) interactive online map of SHanghai? Why else would he write up detailed descriptions of what you can find outside each subway stop? Wei renmin fuwu (Serve the People) seems to be his credo.” Pretty correct guess on the second part, John! For the first page, I hope the government sponsor me and make the city more accessible for people from outside China.

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That’s Shanghai reviews Wangjianshuo’s blog

Maglev Extends 2 Hours?

When I drive back from my customer’s site to Xujiahui, I turned to a radio station. I don’t remember the name now. I guess it is the audio channel for Shanghai TV News Program. They mentioned that to handle the large transportation population, the Maglev has extended 2 hours of its operation time. But the news didn’t tell the exact start and ending time.

The only news I can get from Google is this. It didn’t specific the new time yet.

I called 114 and asked for the ticket office telephone number. They played a piece of pre-recorded audio:

Maglev operates from 8:30 – 17:30 at interval of 15 minutes. Call 62556655 for tickets. 50 RMB for single trip. Discount available for passengers with air ticket of the same day….For F1 ticket, call 62558858…

I called the number they gave: 62556655 and heard another piece of pre-recorded message that differs from the one provided by 114.

Maglev leaves Long Yang Road from 8:20 – 17:40 and leaves from Pudong Airport from 8:30 – 17:30 at interval of 20 minutes. Call 62556655 for tickets. 50 RMB for single trip. Discount available for passengers with air ticket of the same day….For F1 ticket, call 62558858…

At 19:00, their ticket office has been closed and no one answer the phone.

So does Maglev really extends their service time? You judge by yourself. If it does, it is a great news. As I mentioned before, for a frequent flyer like me, I will take every oppotunity to take Maglev if it is possible. However, up to now, I was only able to take it once since it started to operate, because my flight either leave around 8:00 – 9:00 AM or later than 5:00 PM.

P.S. Cody complained that the site is boring to read without pictures. Let me try to add some. :D

Got Cold Again

I am feeling terrible today. I got cold yesterday. Today, I felt weak. The temperature of Shanghai changed dramatically these days. It will get colder in the next few days with lowest temperature from 4°C, 0°C, -1°C, to -3°C of next Monday. So my buddies, if you are also in Shanghai, take care and keep warm! Cold or flu in China is not so serious as in U.S. In U.S., flu kills. In China, it is the less impacting illness.

I had three caplets of Tylenol Cold in the last 18 hours already. I hope it will help relief of cold symptoms. When I was in U.S., I was so cautious not to get cold since I had no idea about how hospitals work there. I guess many foreigners do the same in China.

Go to Drug Store for Cure

The easiest way to get medicine in China is go to the drugs store. There are OTC icons on these medicines that you don’t need a doctor’s Rx to buy them. It is definitely the cheapest way to fight against normal diseases if you know which medicine works for you.

Hospital? Oh. No. Thanks. I avoid going to hospital as much as possible. I believe there are problems with the current health care system. The hospitals rely on the medicine reselling as an important revenue source, so the doctors tend to give Rx and ask patients to get the most expensive medicine. They even give more than needed.

Whenever I go to hospital for fever or cold, it is guaranteed that I got the bill of 120 – 200 RMB for normal cold. Before they talk with you, the doctors will ask for blood check first. It is expensive. They gave many types of medicines that serve for more than three days. Do they really think only the combination of all those expensive medicines and three or more days can cure me?

Wendy Does Not Believe in Hospital

Wendy got cold in last October, went to hospital for many times and got injection for two days. One month later, she is just getting worse and worse. She recorded the experience on her blog (First several days, one week later, the worst day). During her illness, I was in Guangzhou. I wrote “Wendy has been ill for some days. She caught cold and didn’t show any sign of recover after the injection. I hope the statues bring some good luck to her. I have my finger crossed for her recovery soon.”

Finally, about one month later, we didn’t believe in those doctors in hospitals any more. We went to a small drug store and asked for more medicines they suggested. The apothecary said: “The medicine is not useful at all. Listen, your lungs have been infected already. Take these.” We didn’t believe in her either, but we finally paid for the cheaper medicine. Two days later, Wendy recovered fully. Later, when we got ill, we’d like to go to the small drug store first.

The Medical Insurance

The good thing is, I can use my Medical Insurance Card 医保卡to pay the bill. It works like a credit card. The difference is, I don’t have to deposit to it. The insurance does. It is the SOCIAL medicine insurance. Meanwhile, with the receipt, I can also reimburse the money from the commercial insurance company.

For those who don’t have either of the insurance, they are in big trouble. In Zhan’s case, he wasn’t able to raise the enough fund to liver transplant, and his insurance didn’t cover that. Wendy and I bought additional commerical insurance before to cover these high-cost diseases. The percentage of people who buy those insurances like us is small but rising these years.

In China, His Pay is Hers to Spend?

Fei forwarded the message from Straits Times Interactive and asked me if it is true.

Jan 25, 2005

In China, his pay is hers to spend

BEIJING – CHINESE women, although not the main bread-winner in most households, have a big say over how the pay cheque is spent in the world’s most dynamic economy, a survey has found.

Nine out of 10 Chinese women who are married or living with a partner claimed in the survey that they have at least an equal say over big purchases such as property and cars.

Although 74 per cent of the respondents said they earned less than their partners, 75 per cent disagreed that whoever holds the money holds the power in the relationship.

Half of them subscribed to the philosophy that ‘my partner’s money is my money, my money is mine’.

These findings were presented by market research company Synovate after polling 314 women aged 15 to 64 in China last month.

It was part of a worldwide study of 4,000 women in nine countries including the United States and Japan on women’s attitudes towards financial issues.

‘Socially, Chinese women would always claim that their men held final sway over big purchases – it’s part of giving ‘face’ to the man – but it’s a different story at home,’ said Mr Larry Wu, director of Synovate’s China office.

The Chinese respondents answered differently than women in Japan, where marriage often means the end of financial independence. \– AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

I cannot claim it is the situation in the whole China, but I guess it is pretty much close to the truth in Shanghai. The percentage of the wife controling the family expense in Beijing should be a little bit lower than in Shanghai, I guess.

Chengdu Impression

PC asked for my impression about Chengdu. I’d be happy to share. Before I write about Chengdu, I want to talk about the other important cities in China.

Three Most Important Cities

If you ask people in China about the top three cities in China, you are very likely to get a list like this: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in the same order.

Beijing = the capital (with huge economic power) of China

Shanghai = municipality directly under the Central Government, the largest city in China

Guangzhou = capital of Guangzhou Guangdong Province, one of the most energetic area in the economy

The Forth Most Important City is Uncertain

If you ask for the forth most important cities, the answers are not as unified as the first three.

Some say Tianjin, which is another important municipality directly under the Central Government; some nominates Dalian, Wuhan; others say Chongqing. The question is not easy to answer.

When I asked Wendy, Suzhou was her immediate answer (note: I was very surprised). Later she added Chongqing and Hangzhou… Later, I understood why Wendy mentioned Suzhou – the recent development of the city impressed her a lot. Many investor from Taiwan and Singapore chose Suzhou as the top place to do business in China.

If you ask me about the standard of the rank, my standard is the “feeling” you have about their overall power – politics, economy, location… everything

Anyway, no matter what people would say, most people may agree that Chengdu is a strong candidate as the answer of the question. Yes. Chengdu is important and Chengdu is the rising star of the country. Located at the southwest part of the country, it is the capital of Sichuan Province, the province with the second largest population. It is an very important entrance for the west part of the country – Tibet area. It is the first stop of most travelers or hikers. I arrived in Chengdu before we entered the wild vast area of Daocheng.

Here is all the four articles I mentioned Chengdu:

Impression of this Time

Located in the bottom of the Sichuan Basin, there is no Sun light most of the year. It is either cloudy or rainy. When I was in Chengdu last week, on Friday, before we left Chengdu, the Sun came out. It is the breaking news. My friends told me: “Hey. The Sun comes out. It means today is holiday. We don’t need to go to work.” I thouht he was kidding. I was totally wrong. They went to drink tea in the Sun that afternoon. When my car past a large square in Chengdu, I saw the entire square was occupied by chairs and tables. I guess there are at least 200 people there, drinking their teas and chat. The pace of people is slow. Everything indicates it was a holiday. :D

There are very nice mountains and rivers near Chengdu. Check these pictures by my friend Maphis. They were taken at Jiuzaigou near Chengdu. Below are two of my favorite pictures.

Chengdu preserves the Chinese tradition better than most other cities. There are historical buildings and temples there. The paces of people are slow and the life is easy. During my talk, most of them care about the quality of life instead of the money they get. Well. Let me try to explain this. I mean they’d rather sit in the Sun and chat for days instead of rushing to the marketplace and work harder to get more money. The current minute seems to be more important than the future minutes. It seemed to the typical Chinese culture – the passion for the peace of mind is more important than the financial benefits.

What I don’t like Chengdu is, it is far from Shanghai. I can arrive in Beijing from Shanghai for 50 minutes, Guangzhou for one hour and a half, but for Chengdu, it takes 2 and half hours. If it was nearer, I guess I will visit Chengdu very frequently.

BlueZone’s Xinjiang Impression

Eric sent me a link early morning to ask me check a photo website on Xinjiang. The pictures are very good – I especially love the photos in Shanghai which reveals exactly the feeling I have on Shanghai. The story is quite long, as Eric “complained”, and I didn’t go into the Xinjiang scene part yet. If the author want to provide a thumbnail view, it would be very nice.

In Xinjiang, there are scenes like this. China has a diversed culture: The

Bar, the cups, the musical instrument, the people, the road, the house, the field… It is all so different.

BlueZone, very nice job!

I planned the Kanas trip but still cannot fullfil the plan. Eric and Dan went there with very nice pictures. Now, I feel my passion to go to the wild and far areas is not as strong as before. Why?

Chun Lian Started to Appear

The Spring Festival of 2005 is coming! I started to see Chun Lian in my client’s office and in the restaurant I visited today. Chun Lian can be translated into New Year’s Couplet. It is one of the most obvious parts of the Spring Festival celebration.

I hope the Chinese tradition continue to come back to families in China. I like it. I am obviously more happen to see the Spring Festival decoration than those for Christmas. I don’t mean to offense Christmas, but for people in China, Chun Lian has much tigher culture connection with people here In the previous years, people seem to celebrate Christmas more seriously than the New Year’s Day (Jan 1).

I like the city of Chengdu very much because the Chinese traditions are preserved much better than other cities. Regarding the folk tradition, it seems to be that it is even better than Beijing. There are even newly built pure traditional houses developed by modern real estate companies. It is very impressive.

I decide to celebrate the Spring Festival with the Chinese tradition and take the Spring Festival of 2005 more seriously than ever. I believe that returning to the tradition is part of the way to cure the ethical problem.