Met with Sarah Schafer

In the cold Beijing morning, I waked up – ealier than avarage, and went to the Yansha (Lufthansa Center) to meet Sarah. Sarah is a nice journalist. She created a lot of reports on China for Newsweek. Among them, my favorite one is the Microsoft Culture Revolution – the cover story with a portrait of Bill Mao. After check Starbucks at the nearby hotel, the one at the Pacific Center (they were all closed), we finally settled down at Bookworm Library.

I met three friends three times at the Bookworm. It is my most preferred location in Beijing to meet friends.

I’d rather keep the content of the talk (in journalist term) “off the record”. I learnt that “off record” means the listener need to pretend that he/she heard nothing. :-)

New Year’s Eve – the Year of Dog

The year of Dog comes. It was said “every dog has its day”. Every 12 years, the dogs have their own year – the year of dog.

I will spend the Spring Festival in Beijing with Wendy this year. It is a special year for us. In my blood, I believe there is still lot of Northern China. I am more aligned with the culture in Beijing. To live in Beijing for sometime was part of our dream – finally, we can make it true.

Let me share a picture of my toy dog with you:

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Dog in Seattle airport

Happy New Year for everyone!

P.S. The twelve-year ban for fireworks was unlifted this year. Till 2:00 AM, the bing and bong are still everywhere in the city. It is good that the ban was lifted. Shanghai does not ban. In Luoyang, although fireworks are still banned, but no one enforce it. When I call back home, my talk was sometime interrupted by the background explosion of fireworks.

Long Vacation of Spring Festival Comes

The Chinese New Year is coming.

There will be 7 day holiday in China, from Jan 29 to Feb 4. Offices will be closed and reopened on Feb 5.

Strange Calendar

Just now, when I want to check my calenar, I double click on the time display on the right of Windows taskbar, I saw this interface for the first time:

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I don’t know what happened. I didn’t install anything, but why it changes to this view?

P.S. Other entries related to holidays in China.

Overseas Chinese Get Back to Home

I never travel before the Chinese New Year on International (Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau) flight.

:-) International (Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau) is the standard term to discribe the type of flights in China. Although flight from Hong Kong is not international flight, passengers follow the same procedures as International flight. That is the reason it is quoted that way.

Every Spring Festival, transportation within China is a big problem, but I never imagine that international (T/H/M) flights are the same.

Besides me are two gentleman from Indonisia. They are going back home at a small village in Taijin. The flight was fully packed with people. Many of them bring children with them.

Then I realized how important Hong Kong plays a role as the connection between China and the world. Many passengers fly to Hong Kong first, and then transit to Beijing, Guangzhou or Shanghai. Hong Kong obviously have more connection to other Asia countries than any mainland airport does.

Taiwan and Mainland China

There is still no direct flight from Taiwan and any mainland city till now. If people want to go to Shanghai from Taipei, he/she needs to wake up very early, take flight to Hong Kong, transit there to Shanghai. It takes about 5 hours or more. It is the same for peopel to go to Taipei (if he/she luckily got the permit after a very lengthy procedure).

It is very inconvinient, especially at the Spring Festival. Some data show there are more than one million people from Taiwan are working or living in Shanghai (the official number is much smaller). It is almost impossible for people to get back to Taiwan for Spring Festival via Hong Kong.

This year, as the last few years, direct flights are provided between major cities and Taipei. As I know, there are Beijing – Taipei, Shanghai – Taipei, and Xiamen – Taipei flights. The ticket is around 4000 RMB.

At Pudong Airport, I saw many signs for the flight. This is one example:

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They have special lanes at security check for passengers at the direct flight, and there were intensive media coverage.

Hongkong Restaurants Close in New Year

At LAN KWAI FANG, I found a good restaurant, called YUNG KEE (镛记) Restaurant. It is at 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +85225221624. (D2 Exit at Central Station of MTR). It is amount the best of these days’ meals. There is a big KFC near it – the fact is, the KFC seems to be the most obvious sign there.

It closes from Jan 28 to Feb 1 during the Chinese Spring Festival to celebrate the holiday.

This is to respect the holiday and tradition better than money, and I think it is the right way to do. In Shanghai, and many other cities in China, businesses do not close at holidays, and event at the Lunar New Year’s Eve.

It is very convinient, but there are no break in the entire year. I appreciate the decision the restaurant made to reserve the tradition. It is a big restaurant at the heart of the Hong Kong entertainment area – the LAN KWAI FANG, but still took the four day leave, for their staff and for everyone.

Second Day in Hong Kong in Jan

It was full day intensive meeting. Tired, and don’t want to type too much. It was exciting to talk with people with intensive experience in Asia. That was so good.

1. Hong Kong is a decent city, from the garden design to the dress of waiters in restaurant.

2. Sun came out today after 8 days (I heard) of cloudy and rainy weather. Hong Kong is such a charming city when it has blue sky and blue water (the reflection). When it is raining, it remians me of Shanghai in winter. Zhang Zhang said this winter, Shanghai is completely another London already.

3. All most all the people I spoke to can speak mandarin. It was not so common even years before. It may be because I am in the business district, or the usage of mandarin is more adopted.

4. Pacific Center is such a large building. According to Skylines Hong Kong by Peter Moss, it is “the largest, versatile and best integrated enclave in the city centre”.

5. My first trip to Hong Kong stayed in Sea Ranch (thanks to Minji’s hosting). The last time to visit is one day round trip from Shanghai.

More Hong Kong articles can be found in my Hong Kong page.

Report from Hong Kong in Jan

This is the third time I am in Hong Kong. It is cloudy. The city does not look as charming as it was. After dinner, I walked back to hotel and took the following pictures as my memory of the short trip in Jan, 2006.

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On the left is the Bank of China building, the master piece of I.M. Pei

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View from hotel

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Colorful lights

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Lights II

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Lippo Tower and the recent building on the right

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Stone lasts longer than human. The stone was put as the foundation stone in 1903

P.S. To answer Reno’s question, the picture 3 and 4 are slow shuttle and move the camera while taking the picture. It took about one second for exposure, and the colorful lights leave their tails as recorded in the picture.

Lovely English-Speaking Jinjiang Taxi Driver

After the nice meetup at the Canglong Fang, Jack, Xiaofeng and I happily got on board a yellow Jinjiang Taxi. Xiaofeng immediately noticed the driver is a four-star driver. They have a plate at the front of the passenger seat displaying their status of the stars. Four-star means at least he should be able to speak some English. Of cause, I didn’t realize this until about 20 minutes later.

When we were talking about the driving experience in Silicon Valley, since Xiaofeng still lives there, the driver suddenly asked us one question: “What is the difference between Freeway and Expressway in U.S?”

Not every taxi driver cares about the difference between these two English words, even a lot of people who learn English for many years.

He added: “I just heard my passengers sometimes use Expressway, and sometimes use Highway. I am curious about the difference. I am trying to learn English, but never been to U.S.”

What a good learner he was.

Before that, he demonstrated his great knowledge about Shanghai. I asked him to take me to “Hi-tech West Road”, and he immediately told me he knew the road. It was much higher than my expectation, since the road near my home was called Bowen Road before (for at least half centaury?), but just renamed to “Hi-Tech West Road” last month. His knowledge about Shanghai was updated so quickly. You know, not many taxi drivers in Puxi can tell the small roads in Pudong.

Finally, we said Goodbye, and he would go to another place at the south part of the Hunan Road to pickup his Italy customer. The 30 minutes conversation made me believe he is a skillful, knowledgeable taxi for Shanghai road, and English-speaking good taxi driver. So I’d like to leave his contact information on the blog to help him to get more business. Maybe next time you arrive in Pudong Airport, you can give him a call in advance to ask him picks you up at Pudong Airport. His name card reads:

Chinese Name: CHEN Quan

English Name: David Chen

Mobile: +8613801929519

(Posted with permission)

Good luck, David!

P.S. It is so lurxy to live in a city like Shanghai. There are enough smart people with good experience. They inspire you very day about the future. I had wonderful afternoon with Jack, Hwhua, Jinsong (he is researching on how brain works), Xiaofeng and Financial editor from Modern Weekly. The quote of the day I got was from Xiaofeng:

“You can not get everything, but you always can get something”

It is all about YOUR choice.

P.S. 2: I will leave Shanghai again before the Spring Festival for business trip to Hong Kong tomorrow. The flight is at 9:40 AM. Yiyi told me I should arrive at around 12:30 at Hong Kong airport. The next entry will be sent back from Hong Kong. Thanks Wendy for packing up for me. :-)

My Only Experience to Japan

I have only been to Japan once.

If I hadn’t tried to organize my old pictures, I even forget that I have been there for 5 hours at the end of 2004.

I enjoy travel, especially to places I have learnt about. For example, Japan.

Citizen in China can enter Japan without a visa for up to 72 hours. I have tried that. The only thing you need is a shorepass, although I was Rejected by ANA and Postponed Travel once in Shanghai.

I planned for a long time for it. Here are the pictures I found out in my picture folders on my laptop:

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