From Shanghai to US – A Handbook

I am writing this short guide to friends who are going to U.S. for the first time. What I did in the last few years is a little bit different. I used to introduce Shanghai to first time visitors from foreign countries. To be honest, most of the articles answer questions I received from email, from my foriegn friends. For other topics, I just imagine what people may encounter, since I don’t have first hand experience about how the life of a foreigner looks like. What a pitty. For example, I totally have no idea about hotel information since I never stayed in any hotel in Shanghai.

For this short guide, it is more practical. They are problems I encountered myself and the solution I found out. (So don’t expect it to be the most accurate and perfect solution).

I am going to complete it in the next three months, with 5 to 10 articles. This is not my style though. I was not good at planning, or strategy in business term. I am practicing now. :-)

Here are the table of content.

  1. U.S. Visa Application (suggested by DC)

  2. Flight from Shanghai to U.S.
  3. What to Bring with You.
  4. The Airports (both in Shanghai and in San Francisco).
  5. Transportation without Renting cars.
  6. Renting a Car in U.S. with Chinese Driver’s License
  7. What to Buy, Where to Buy and What to Bring Back to China
  8. Food (suggested by Carroll)

The …’s are place holders. Let me know what questions you have. I won’t have complete answer to everything, just my very limited travel experience (6 times?) to the west coast of U.S.

Many topics were covered before. If so, I directly link to that entry. If I don’t have it already, I write it later.

Glass Doors Installed in Metro

Shanghai metro keeps improving itself. Recently, automatically glass doors are installed at Xujiahui Metro Station. Here is the latest report by Jian Shuo, from Shanghai. (The typical tone of a journalist, right?)

The door in Xujiahui is completely put into production. It opens a little bit before the train doors open, and closes, when the doors of train carts are completely closed. This may cause the train to stop a little bit longer than before.

The platform was cut by about 30 cm to allow the installation of the door. The platform edge was cut in People’s Square, and other stations. Xujiahui is the first to complete the project, with all the stations in Metro Line #1 following.

Typo

Along with the automatic door, I found some improvement in the Long Yang Road station also. They have many typos, as if Shanghai Metro is as casual and unprofessional as Wangjianshuo’s blog.

Recently, they used white tape to cover the wrong translations. It takes time to correctly, but it is the first step to show improvement since I found the error in 2004.

The covered sentence are:

After first under on. Do riding with civility

Train Tickets in Shanghai Railway Station

I received email, asking me how to buy train tickets in Shanghai. It is not too complicated. I mean at normal time. During three long vacations, it will be tough to get a ticket. Three holidays are:

  • May Holiday, from May 1 to May 7

  • October Holiday, Oct 1 to Oct 7
  • Spring Festival, from the first day to the 7th day of the lunar new year.

To get a ticket during those periods is another story.

Buying it at Railway Station

There is one major railway station in Shanghai – Shanghai Railway Station. It is easily accessed by Metro Line #1. From Pudong Airport, you can take Maglev to Long Yang Road station, transit to Metro Line #2, and transit to Metro Line #1 at People’s Square. Shanghai Railway Station is just two stops away from the People’s Square.

There is a large ticket center at the railway station. Just go there and buy ticket as buying movie ticket. You don’t need photo identification or other documents to get tickets.

Please note: To ask for refund of the ticket is possible, but may not be 100% return. Also, never buy tickets from vendors outside. Some people sell fake tickets.

Other Ticket Offices

There are many places you can buy tickets. The most convenient one I know is the one at Long Yang Road Station of Metro Line #2.

You can buy tickets to any city at that ticketing office. They charge 5 RMB or 0.6 USD service fee. You can also ask hotel reception to buy ticket for you.

Booking Ticket in Advance

Unlike most train system in the world, most tickets are sold only 7 days in advance. You cannot book tickets ealier than that.

For special route, like Beijing to Shanghai, it is a little different.

Hope this helps.

Campus Tour of Shanghai Jiao Tong University

I visited SJTU (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) today for the Inspiration Forum. I often ignore it, but whenever I am back, I found the deep attachment between me and the 110-year old university. I know many visitors to Shanghai like to have a campus tour of the top local university. So let me be your guide.

Xuhui Campus

There are many campuses in SJTU. Xuhui 徐汇 Campus and Minhang 闵行 Campus are the two more important.

Xuhui Campus was the historical site of the university. It was built almost 100 years ago. Here is the location:

1954, Huashan Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China 200030

上海徐汇区华山路1954号 200030

Take Metro No. 1 to Xujiahui Station and use Exit No. 13. Go straightly ahead along the Huashan road for about 800 meters. You will find the main entrance on your left hand.

There are security guards at the gate. So try to walk naturally, easily, and be calm – so they won’t stop you. :-D

The difference in university in China and U.S. are, there are always gates and security. Don’t worry about that. It is for the safety of students.

Min Hang 闵行 Campus

Min Hang Campus is much larger than the Xuhui one. The construction started 20 years ago, and is still going on. It is already at least 4 times bigger than 5 years ago.

It is far from downtown however. It may cost 60+ RMB for taxi from Xuhui Campus. Here is the transportation guideline:

1. Take Metro Line #1 and

2. Transit to Metro Line #5 at Xinzhuang 莘庄 (the terminal station of Line #1).

3. Get out of the train at Dong Chuan Road Station 东川路站 of Metro Line #5.

4. The campus is less than 2000 meters away from the station. Ask for direction or take a taxi there (10 RMB or less).

It is not easy to tour the whole campus by walk nowadays. We took taxi inside the campus today. They have free shuttles, and you will notice enough bicycles on the Minhang Campus.

800 Dong Chuan Road, Minhang District, Shanghai, China

上海市闵行区东川路800号

Here is the current map:

Enjoy the Tour

I regret I cannot personally be your tour to the great campus. But I would highly recommend you to include a tour in your schedule in Shanghai. I spent 2 years on Min Hang Campus and two years on Xuhui Campus. The memory is sweet, although the real life didn’t seem so sweet to me when I had to experience it.

:-D

Let me know your comments of your tour.

P.S. I adopted the suggestion from many users – added Chinese characters to place and location names. If you don’t have a Chinese system installed, you may see two or three small blocks, questions marks, or garbage codes there. Don’t worry. I didn’t put any secret into those marks.

Xiamen – Tiny Beautiful City

If you visit Shanghai, you may want to visit nearby city like Hangzhou 杭州. If you have more budget, you won’t want to miss Beijing 北京. Shanghai does not present China. Beijing does. If you want to relax, and really enjoy sea, Sanya 三亚 is the city to go. If you want combined experience of both seashore, and city life, Dalian 大连, Qingdao 青岛 and Xiamen 厦门 are good choices.

The second China Webmaster Conference was held in Xiamen, and I hosted a panel in the meeting. So I visited Xiamen for the third time (First, second)

Xiamen is warmer than Shanghai.

Xiamen is an island.

Near Xiamen is the Jinmen金门, part of Taiwan island. (Politically important places)

Xiamen is safe.

Xiamen has nice lakes and mountains.

Xiamen is a modern city.

Xiamen has more advanced economy than Fuzhou, the capital of the province, because it became the special development zone 20 years ago.

I love the sea of Xiamen – blue. The sea near Shanghai is yellow.

It is possible to swim in the sea, but not in April.

I like Xiamen.

Welcome to Wangjianshuo’s Blog

Hi all, welcome to Wangjianshuo’s blog. I am Wang Jian Shuo. I live in Shanghai. I want to be visitor’s personal guide to this amazing city.

I try to help people to live better in Shanghai. You can get information about finding a job, making phone calls, getting Internet Access, using credit card , taking taxis. I will show you places to eat, to see, to shop, or to buy :-).

For visitors, I write about Pudong Airport, how to transit to other places, via Maglev, metro, buses, or train.

I introduced some hotels to stay, featuring some cheap and good hotels.

I have an online Shanghai Map, and accumulated three year of first hand observation of the weather in this city.

I love the city of Shanghai. I took photos to record its changes, and am worry about problems like traffic, or polution

I travelled to many places. I like to visit beautiful places (like Daocheng, Lijiang, Sanya, Xiamen), and frequently visit cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hongkong. At weekends, I often go to places near Shanghai. In particular, Hangzhou, Chongming, Taihu, Yangshan, Shengsi.

Going abroad, I visited Seattle, and San Francisco for many times, and went to New York and other east coast cities for once. On the way there, I ever stayed in Japan for 5 hours. I hope to complete a Visit U.S. Handbook. The only thing I don’t like for travel by air is, jetlag.

A little bit about myself.

I was born in Luoyang, and went to Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Then I worked in Microsoft for almost 6 years, then joined Kijiji in March, 2005.

I like sports, such as running, and cycling. I am dreaming of having a boat.

Two years ago, I learnt to drive, and bought a car. (I call it Goudaner). Then I moved from Puxi to a apartment with garden in Pudong. Some cats lives in it.

This blog was started more than three years ago. I chose to use English to benefit international visitors. It is now reported by many media. I use MovableType as blogging tool, and shared the tips and the back stage to build this website. I was forced to change my hosting company many times though.

Recently, I reviewed companies in emerging technology field, attended many conferences, and start to study the culture of both China and western countries, and see the conflicts when the west meets the east.

In my life, I also do crazy things. I joined the confluence project to visit integer cross point of latitude and longitude, and host meetup everywhere. I even visited all Starbucks by walk, and set up an personal photography exhibition in April, 2004.

I enjoy books, movies, and trying to understand art and improve my productivity. I think deep about what life means, how happiness works, and how I can help others. I am proudly a consultant for Smiling Library.

I am so happy to have Wendy as my wife, to have lots of smart friends, and thousands of readers. You can see my collection of funny toys. At this blog, I also celebrate all holidays, and special days with good wishes. For me, every single day is a holiday.

Thank you for staying with me.

CTRIP + CMB = Best eCommerce Experience

It has been at least 4 years since I first used online payment in Shanghai. There were always dissatisfactions and “exceptions” either in the system, or credit card payment, or delivery.

Today, my experience to book a ticket on CTRIP, Pay with China Merchant Bank credit card, and claim e-ticket from China Eastern Airlines were perfect. I vote it as the best ecommerce experience I have ever had so far.

I am excited about the improvement in online stores, credit card system, and electronic flight ticket.

Booking

There are many improvement in the CTRIP system, that enables me to quickly enter all the information I need. For example, they store all the previous names on ticket, so I won’t need to enter my Chinese name, National ID, and Birthday again. These information are required by airline.

It responded quickly and suggested me e-ticket was available.

Payment

The credit card from CMB works best for me. I entered the card, and the system just went through. For many system, like net.cn, they have complicated system, and still simply does not work. When I enter a credit card number, those system reports scary technical details of an error, that is not possible to understand.

This time, payment is OK.

e-Ticket

MU (China Eastern Airlines) and CA (Air China) started e-ticket years ago, and kept expansion of their e-ticket services. There were always problems with a new systems before.

This time, the system seems to be mature already. I was told to visit the counter A, B in Pudong Airport to claim the boarding pass.

No burden of delivery the ticket.

3 minutes

Everything happens in 3 minutes. This is exactly what ecommerce should look like. From the idea to reality, it takes more than 5 years!

Change happens all the time. It is not as fast as we original expect, but when it happens, we realize it is actually faster than we thought.

Bill Gates said: “The development of technology is always below our expection in 5 year frame, but dramatically above our expectation in 10 year frame.”

It applies to social change too.

Visited Yangshan Deep Water Port

Yangshan = 洋山

This is the satellite image of the island Shengsi 嵊泗 we went to.

Image credit: Google Map

Before I talk more about my trip in Shengsi, the island in the East Sea, let me talk more about the Yangshan Deep Water Port.

The Yangshan Island

In the East Sea, about 30 KM away from land of Shanghai, there are two big islands. One is called Little Yangshan Island, and the other is called Big Yangshan Island. You can see the islands in this satellite picture.

Image credit: Google Map

They are several islands that are not far from Shanghai. No one ever lived there. Shanghai needs a deep water port. The Yangtze river is only 7 meters in depths, and the Huangpu River is around 7-8 meters in depths. Large ships (like third or forth generation ships) cannot go into the river. They can only park in either Ningbo Port or Dalian and transfer the goods onto smaller boats and get into the river.

Shanghai want to build a world class deep water port that the larger ships can park. In the Yangshan Island area, the water depth is more than 15 meters, suitable to be a big port.

The project was started several years ago, and in 2005, the first phase was completed.

Dong Hai Bridge 东海大桥

I talked about Donghai Bridge last July. I wanted to visit the bridge, but at that time, the bridge was not completed.

This trip, we had the opportunity to go through the bridge. It is maybe one of the longest bridge in the world – 32.5 KM in length. It extends from the Luchaogang area in Nanhui District into the Hangzhou Bay.

How do you think if your bus runs at top speed on a bridge on the sea, for 20 minutes? It was really amazing experience for us, especially for people who never heard of the bridge. I can imagine how confusing people get after 10 minutes on the sea.

Shanghaiist guys has a picture of part of the bridge. It may be taken from a aircraft.

Credit: Shanghaiist.com

This picture is just a small part of the bridge. The bridge is at least 3 times longer than the part shown on the picture.

Entrance Permit

I can imagine how busy the bridge will be if a 500K-ton ship arrives at the port – if all the trunks are occupied to unload the goods, it may take weeks to get all the goods out.

Currently, private cars are not allowed to enter the port area. There are public buses. Here are some route.

1. Go to the Nanpu Bridget (the ground of the Puxi side). Then buy ticket to Shengsi (90 RMB single trip). They will have a bus to take you to Luchaogang, and then enter the port. You get on board the ferry to Shengsi at Little Yangshan Island.

2. Or you can drive to Luchaogang via A2 Expressway, and then transfer to a bridge tour bus (9 RMB? No confirmed) to go to the island.

I have some pictures, but not with me. Will share later.

P.S. Dinner with Xiaofeng

Xiaofeng is going back to bay area, and will move her company to Beijing afterwards. We had dinner at Face in Ruijin Hotel. I ate too much, and my stomach still hurt now. In the future, we should not eat that much, no matter how good the food is.

Back from Shengsi

Back from Shengsi Island. The island is about 1 hour fast boat to the Little Yangshan Harbor. For the first time, I go through the East Sea Birdget – a bridge of 30 KM long. It is not common to get onto a bridget extending deep into the sea, and cost about 30 minutes to get to the other end. The project is even more amazing than the beautiful scene at Shengsi.

More pictures and guide to get there will be posted later.