Advice Needed on Rental for Foreigners

At Kijiji, we are thinking about opening up the domestic rental market in China to foreigners.

Olympics is an opportunity. Hotels are already fully booked, and there are many visitors coming to China during August.

We want to offer some English service and escrow to people coming to China, and the project will be a long term project even after Olympics.

So, if you are an expat, or planning to visit China, I have many questions for you.

  • What is your biggest concern in renting from local people?

  • What service do you need to help you rent an apartment?
  • What do you consider to be “must have” in the apartment?
  • etc…

But the key question will be, what is your suggestion about this project? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance.

Are American Economically Family-Independent

Maria and I discussed for a long time during and after the Culture Matters talk show, about the relationship in families in America and China. Her point of view is very interesting, and I tend to agree, but before I do that, let me check with my readers first.

Maria’s Theory of “Economically Independent from Family”

Maria talked about the change in U.S. in 1960s.

During the period of time, with the country becoming richer and richer, there are more and more support from the society, and individuals are actually support by the society, instead of family.

In most countries, like in China, family is not only an emotionally connected unit, it is also an economical organization.

As a child, he/she HAS to rely on the family to provide food, shelter, and education.

As an adult, to form a family is economically beneficial for couples, and many couples live together not just for love, but also for stability of their economical interest. For example, many wives will face financial challenge after devoice.

As an older person, they rely on their children to support them, and children have the obligation to do that.

There are of cause emotional connections, but the economical connection is also very important in people’s relationship.

In America, in contrast, there are lesser financial connection, since:

1. As a child, he/she is basically support by the society – education, food, and health care. When they need to go to university, although they need a lot of money to go to Harvard, but they don’t need too much if they go to state university, and family’s support is that that critical.

2. When people get old, they have their own social insurance, and their own doctor, who can help them when they need help.

Basically, Maria argues that although there is some economical connection, basically, America can be very independent from their family.

When People are Independent from Family

When people are independent from family, what they need from family is just emotional support. The sole propose of a family is to make them happy. If a family cannot make them happy, they leave.

The contract is, family in economically family dependent society, parents care about their children’s future more than the children themselves, since their future depend on the children. While in a family independent society, the parents care about the happiness of their children, much more than their achievement, since at the end of the day, the life when they get old is not dependent on the children.

Does it Make Sense?

It makes a lot of sense to me, but I am not that familiar with the American society. Anyone wants to give any comment?

Advise on visit to Beijing & Shanghai

Today, I am trying to help Sally about his/her Beijing & Shanghai trip. Here is the letter: (Again, for my readers who haven’t read my privacy policy, I reserve the right to publish any email you send to my email address (hotmail one) unless you instruct me not to do it. Also, when I publish any email, I will NOT include email address, unless otherwise noted in your email).

Dear Mr. Wang,

Wishing you and your family a Happy & Blessed 2008!

We have read your Blog and we enjoyed and appreciate the information/life stories you had posted. In particular, we are impressed by the information you shared on the Z5 TRain from Beijing – Shanghai as we are planning to make a trip to China in early March 2008. Hence, we would appreciate your advice on the followings:

  • Weather in Beijing & Shanghai in early March
    What are the clothing we should bring – thick winter clothing or just few sweaters? We are traveling with a child of 6 years. Is thermal wear for kids necessary?

Generally speaking, Shanghai is still pretty cold in March. Although Spring is coming, it may still be like winter. This year, for example, we are expecting freezing weather at the end of Feb, and even snow. This year in Shanghai is particularly cold. So, definitely bring your sweater, and other cloths to keep you and your family warm. Beijing is even colder than Shanghai, since it is 1000 km north of Shanghai. Hope the Weather section of my blog gives you more detailed, and more personalized feeling about what the weather looks like during March (especially the Spring section).

  • Hotel in Beijing & Shanghai
    We are considering staying at Harmony Hotel in Beijing (Suzhou Hutong) and Holiday Inn Downtown in Shanghai – could you advise if these are good choices (considering that we would like to go locals as much as we can i.e. taking MRT, buses instead of joining local tours)

I don’t know about Harmony Hotel in Beijing, but I know Holiday Inn is pretty good. Not sure which one though. The one near railway station is not that good, since it is very crowded nearby. The one in Xujiahui is much better.

  • Places of interest/Shopping
    Could you please help us to list where are the places of interest for us to visit?
    Shopping – is there a wholesale centre where we can get things are good prices for children’s summer clothings and accessories?

For attractions in Shanghai, I have about 100 articles in the attraction section. I am not an expert in Beijing (and don’t want to pretend to be).

  • Z5 Train versus Bullet Trains
    We are impressed with the article on the Z5 train from Beijing – Shanghai. But we have been told about a bullet train. Do you have any idea on the pricing/schedule etc. Do you think a 6-year old child would enjoy the train experience? We would certainly appreciate and grateful for any other relevant information that you could provide so that we can better plan our holidays and have a memorable trip this March.

    Thank you in advance for your time and efforts.


    Sally Teo Singapore

I would suggest you to take the bullet train – it is newer, faster, and takes less time. However, as a traveler, Z5 is still attractive since it travels at night (leaving Beijing at night and arrives in Shanghai in the morning) while the D (Bullet) train travels at day time (10 AM to 9 PM). Choosing the Z5 train also means you save both time and one night cost of hotel. I believe your kid will enjoy the train, although 10 hour trip may be too long or boring for any kid. For the other information, if you want to invest the time, there are 2000 articles on this blog about this topic, and you can use the navigation menu to walk around in this blog.

P.S. I would appreciate questions that are new and never covered, and would appreciate questions that are specific. To be honest with you, a big portion of emails I got is basically one question: give me some suggestions about my trip to Shanghai. I am willing to help but I guess the 2000 articles help more than an email response.

Culture Matters from ICS

Just got back from the studio in STV for program Culture Matters. It was a great talk show (I would say it even before I participated) by ICS, and hosted by Sammy Yang. What an experience! It is the first time I record a long TV program, and first time to get first hand information from inside a TV studio. I have been interviewed or joined radio talk show programs, but never on TV. Let me share my precious experience with you.

About the Program

According to the official web site of ICS:

Culture Matters is China’s first cross-cultural bilingual talk show. Its target demographic is aimed at well-educated Chinese audiences interested in western culture, as well as foreign expats living in Shanghai. Unlike other talk shows or interview programs, Culture Matters sets its sights on comparing and contrasting various aspects of eastern and western culture. The show’s host and guests will draw upon a vast range of cross-cultural topics to discuss in a relaxing, lively, and insightful fashion. Topics include differences in education, adventure, food, housing, cultural symbols, etc. VTRs conducted outside the studio, along with universally beloved sitcoms and movies are seamlessly incorporated into the show, making it an ideal jump-off point for water cooler chatter and substantive discourse alike.

Logo credit: ICS and SMG

They also have a blog at

In some sense, the program and I am doing the same thing – two things, to be more exact.

  1. Helping expat community by providing the right information and insights into the society of Shanghai.
  2. Build a bridge of understanding between the western culture and the Chinese culture.

So, I would encourage my readers (if you are in Shanghai) to turn to ICS channel and watch the program. It is not easy to find a relaxed culture program in English in Shanghai yet, Culture Matters is the first one.

For my readers who are not in Shanghai, or who are in Shanghai and don’t have a TV (like my friend Mark who don’t turn on TV often), this is a handy link that you can watch the channel LIVE on Internet. (Special note: They install a plugin into your computer. By linking to the site does not mean I fully tested it. Use at your own risk).

About the Topics

This time, we are talking about blogging – what is blog, why people blog, privacy of blogging, blog and society, and even blog business models. I won’t tell too much of it, and leave it until the program is on air sometime in March. After it is public, I think I will add more note to what I talked during the show.

I can, however, dig into the piles of articles I created, and assembly a list of the topics covered during the talk show, which I already covered in my own blog. Sammy, Maria, Mark, Kenneth, Peter, and Paul, for many of the discussion that I don’t have enough time to talk too much, I have all the answers listed here:

  1. Blogging and Early Wake-up Sep 20, 2007
  2. Five Years of Blogging Sep 11, 2007
  3. Thanks for Giving Credit to Me… Feb 10, 2007
  4. Remove Comments? Maybe Not Oct 4, 2006
  5. Four Years of Blogging Sep 11, 2006
  6. Three Years of Blogging Sep 11, 2005
  7. Celebrating 1000 Days of Blogging Jun 6, 2005
  8. My Blog Won’t Go Commercial Mar 20, 2005
  9. Negative Comments for this Blog Sep 15, 2004
  10. I Started the Blog to Post Resume Jul 1, 2004
  11. Abandon of One Entry Per Day Rule Feb 2, 2004
  12. One Year Anniversary for This Site Sep 11, 2003
  13. Blogger in China Jan 13, 2003
  14. "I Will Follow All the Rules!" Dec 23, 2007
  15. Why Classified is NOT Popular in China, Yet Nov 15, 2007
  16. We Need a Bridge, Seriously Jun 13, 2006
  17. Culture Differences – Part II Feb 26, 2006
  18. Different Views on Typhoon Aug 12, 2005
  19. T.I.C Moments Apr 11, 2005
  20. Service Shock in Shanghai Feb 2, 2004
  21. Muzimei’s Sex Blog Brought Trouble Nov 12, 2003
  22. Muzimei Shock Wave (cont.) Nov 13, 2003
  23. Chinese: Can Blog Make Money? What a Question! November 01, 2005
  24. Chinese: My Thoughts on Making Money from of Blog June 29, 2005
  25. Chinese: My 3 Principles of Writing a Blog May 11, 2005
  26. Chinese: Blog is grass and Wiki is Eagle May 04, 2005

About the Studio

Emm…. This is my favorite part. How many of you have visited the studio of a TV Station in Shanghai? I bet everyone is curious. Thanks f

or the kindness permission, I took some (a lot actually) photos of the studio, and here are some of them.

Look up, the ceiling looks like a "light farm" for me. There are all kinds of light pointing to different directions. This is amazing, and very symbolic of a professional studio.


This is the camera – pretty big, and not those carried by camera man who does the street interview.


The stage of the Culture Matters program. Besides it is the Shanghai Quest (look at the left hand, and there is a red UEST there. That’s it).


This machine is very cute. It displays the script so news reporters can read – it uses a mirror, and the characters are large enough to recognize from far away. This is a modern version of this paper (well, the paper based article is about usage in a negative way, while this machine, I love it)


Coco was very nice and reminded me that when the lights are turn on, it will be very warm. She is absolutely right! This is how it feels when the lights are on. Much better than being on the stage of a company party in a hotel – you can still see everything, but light enough that you feel you are under the Sun, although it is dark outside already.


On the screen is me. Yes. They have the screen acting as a mirror – I am still not used to this "TRUE" mirror yet, since when I am turning my head to the left, it shows right to me.


The huge timer:


Adjusting the lights took us some time – about half an hour. I said to Coco, and Xiaoqian, that it seems pretty expensive to produce a TV program – you have to have a lot of people around – several camera man, lighting, sound, equipment, and more importantly, every details have to be taken care of. Peter, the chief-editor of Shanghai Daily echoed that it is more complicated to produce a TV program than publishing a newspaper. I would say, it seems publishing a blog is not that a big thing compared to this TV show.


This is the stage of the talk show.


Our host Sammy Yang (right), my old friend Maria Trombly (middle, I mentioned her in post in 2005) and me – on the left. Well. I wear a green sweater, and why it turned out to be — brown?


Sammy gave me strong impression. He did wonderful job as a host. I watch Culture Matters, and many people do, but what we may not know is, he is now the CEO of Sun TV, and was a talk show host in San Francisco, AND general manager of a TV station there. He is much more of an Entrepreneur with great vision and experience to me during the side talk than just a wonderful host.

This time, with Kenneth, editor of (left)


Everyday, the ICS news program is broadcast LIVE from this stage:


Behind the scene, there are many monitors and computers – it is in another room, from where the mysterious instruction comes from during the whole course of the show, like count down: 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 -…


Around 8:00 PM, we left the studio of STV. For those who didn’t know, STV stands for Shanghai TV.


P.S. The program may be on air in mid-March, from Monday to Friday, at 7:30 to 8:00 PM on International Channel Shanghai. I will keep you posted.

P.S. I also wanted to ask Isaac, and Run Liu to join the program, but Isaac is very busy, and Run got cold and could hardly speak…

Lantern (Yuanxiao) Festival

Today is the Lantern Festival. I bought fireworks and fire it tonight.

For my readers who didn’t see the fireworks box – where the splendid fireworks come from, here is the photo:


There is a green thread at the side, and you can use match to light it.

Here you go!



From under it, it does not look very beautiful, but it IS very nice.

Fireworks outside my Office Window

From farther locations, fireworks looks better. Look at these photos I took after work in my office.



I like this one most:





Readers Wanted for TV Interview

I just had wonderful meetup with the producer, Zhu Xiaoqian, and Reporter & Editor, Coco of talk show program – Culture Matters of ICS. I am happy to join the program this Friday and talk about blogging. They are all wonderful people, and passionate about the expat and foreigner/vistor community in Shanghai. BTW, if you want to send feedback to ICS (International Channel Shanghai), you can leave comment under this blog entry, and they really read!

Image in courtesy of ICS

The program Culture Matters is on ICS from 7:30 PM to 8:00 PM, Monday to Friday, and it is in English. It gets started from Jan 1, 2008, and is getting larger audience since then. To serve the expat community, I think it is a good idea to be part of the program. The filming will be on Friday this week, and maybe on air some time next week or so.

Help Needed

Coco wants to arrange TV interview with some of the readers of this blog – Wangjianshuo’s Blog, to get your input about the blog. The short interviews will be put into the 30 minutes program during the show. They are seeking for volunteer who are in Shanghai, and a reader of this blog, and who are willing to share their comments.

If you are interested, would you please drop an email to jianshuo AT or simply comment under this entry, and I will forward the mail to Coco. They will contact you to arrange a time and location that is convinient for you (Thanks Coco for being so kind). I would appreciate your participation and longing to see on TV what you say about my little blog.

So, share what you think.

Electronic TV Guild in China

Below is the current TV program and their channels. Sorry that I only have Chinese version.


TV Guide in Shanghai

Hi Jian Shuo,

I’ve been subscribing to your blog for years, and I really enjoy reading your posts about Shanghai. I think it is great that you write about topics and questions that your readers ask you.  I also have a question to ask you, regarding TV shows in Shanghai/China.  I’ve been living in Shanghai for almost 7 years but never had a TV until recently. I was surprised to discover that there are more than 50+ channels on the local cable network.  However, I don’t know what channels are good to watch and when the good/interesting programs are aired.

Can you write a post about the different channels/program available in Shanghai, how to find out about different programs/showing times, and what are some English channels/programs?  In the U.S., we have TV guides that people can look online, on the TV guide channel, or in the newspaper.  Are there similar TV guides in Shanghai to learn about different TV channels/programs?  What are some of your favorite TV programs?

Thank you,

In Shanghai, as an expat, it is not easy to understand the local TV, especially there are so many stations, and most of them are not in English. I don’t have too much resources to share, but fortunately, I have a TV, Chinese-English skills, and my passion to help people. So here is the TV guide.

In this guide, I captured the logo on the upper left corner of the screen with my Digital Camera (sorry for the relative low quality), and add some description. These are the TV channel I can get from my LG TV in my bed room. Yours may verious a little bit. Their order is according to the order of my TV, and typically, you should see the same order if you let your TV auto scan channels for you.

If you are not in Shanghai, or planning to visit Shanghai, here is the chance to know what the life is really like in Shanghai. I will talk about my favorite TV Channels in the future blog.

DSC03637 OTV (Oriental TV) Entertainment

DSC03639 STV (Shanghai TV) TV Drama (soap shows)

DSC03640 OTV Drama

DSC03643 Travel Satellite TV

DSC03644 OTV Art and Literature

DSC03645 China Education TV Channel 1 (CETV1)

DSC03646 Guizhou Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03647 Heben Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03648 Sichuan Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03649 STV Sports

DSC03650 Shanghai Education TV

DSC03651 Henan Satellite TV (from a province) – from my hometown

DSC03653 STV Lifestyle and Fashion

DSC03654 OTV

DSC03655 CCTV1 (China Central Television Channel 1)

DSC03657 OTV International Channel Shanghai (ICS) – English channel

DSC03658 CCTV2

DSC03659 Yunan Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03660 Zhejiang Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03661 Haha Children’s Channel – never saw this channel before

DSC03662 STV documentary

DSC03663 Jilin Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03664 Emmm… What’s this?

DSC03665 Anhui Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03666 CCTV8

DSC03667 Chongqing Satellite TV (from a city)

DSC03668 CCTV Olympics Channel (formerly CCTV Sports Channel)

DSC03669 Beijing Satellite TV (from a city)

DSC03671 CCTV7

DSC03672 Hunan Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03673 CCTV3

DSC03675 Guangxi Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03676 Jinagxi Satellite TV (from a province)

<p>7 Shandong Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03678 CCTV News

DSC03679 CCTV9

DSC03680 CCTV10

DSC03681 CCTV11

DSC03682 CCTV12

DSC03683 Heilongjiang Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03684 Hubei Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03687 CCTV6

DSC03688 CCTV4

DSC03689 Oriental Movie Channel (from Shanghai)

DSC03690 China Business Network (a.k.s First Finance and Economy) (from Shanghai)

DSC03692 Neimenggu Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03694 STV News and General

DSC03695 Ningxia Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03699 Eastsouth Satellite TV (from a province of Fujian)

DSC03700 Shing Cartoon Channel

DSC03701 Shanxi Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03702 Jiangsu Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03705 Xinjiang Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03706 Liaoning Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03707 Guangdong Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03711 CCTV Children’s Channel

DSC03712 Xizang Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03713 Shangxi Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03714 CCTV Musical

DSC03715 Gansu Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03717 Tianjin Satellite TV (from a city)

Well. Here is the end of the looooo…..ooong list.

My pictures are not so clear, and if you want to get clearer version, the pictures below can help. However, these logos are pretty out of date.

58585743 58929093 58645536 58584438 20071011024934923 20071011024935733 20071011024937811 20071011024938634 20071011024940556

Photos in the Garden outside My Home

After reading the last chapter of Alan de Botton’s The Art of Travel, I decided to go out to the small garden outside my home. It is so small, that I didn’t think there is anything interested there, but I found a lot. Look at the pictures I took!

Fu (Happiness) on my door. Red is the typical Chinese color, and he followers indicates prosperity

Buildings behind trees – typical feeling in the warm winter

Big tree at the entrance – How come I never really thought about it. If you ask me about what is the biggest tree in your garden, I may only be able to think of the smaller trees in my own garden.