Wrapping up my Beijing Trip

I am back from Beijing, via train. Here is a short summary.

Train is Good

As I described earlier, train is efficient for business travel. But I realized there is one criteria for it to be efficient: you have to be able to sleep very well on the train. Like me, I am always sleepy, and I can sleep from the time I get to bed on the train until train is approaching the terninal station. For my friend, Jia, the trip is not that pleasant – he wakes up every one hour or sooner during the trip.

In Beijing, In Meeting

I am in Beijing, and I am in a bunch of meetings.

It is critical to arrange meetings ahead of schedule, so you don’t have too many things to do at the same time, or have a big block of time has nothing to do.

It is especially important, in this case, to pre-arrange dinner and lunch, at least location, so you don’t end up have lunch by yourself – like this noon.

Shanghai to Beijing? Train is Better than Air

kTonight, I am going to Beijing, and will be back on Wednesday night. Previously, my trip was all via flights. After I tried train the last time, I decided to switch all my trip to Beijing to train in the future. Why?

Time Efficiency

Although train takes much longer than flight – 12 hours vs 2 hours, the biggest advantage of train is, it wasted your time at night, especially deep night, instead of train.

Most fast trains between Shanghai and Beijing travel between something like 19:44 PM at night, and arrive at the other city at around 7:00 AM the other day. For busy business persons, it is ideal.

By Air

I, for example, have to plan for a night or morning to take flight. My typical schedule by air looks like:

1. Flight from PVG to PEK at 9:00 AM, arrives at 12:00 PM. Have a meeting in the afternoon, and night, and fly back the next afternoon at 7:00 PM, and arrive at around 10:00 PM (tired day).

- or -

2. Flight from PVG to PEK at 7:00 PM, arrives at late night (tired and taking taxi to hotel), spend the night at hotel and have meeting the other day.

For a 1 hour meeting in Beijing, typically you need to take two day off from work.

By Train

For train, it is different. My new schedule is:

1. Work full day on Monday, and have my last meeting at 6:00 PM. I even have dinner with others before I go to train station at 7:00 PM

2. Get on train before 7:44 PM, and sleep on the train – maybe talk a little bit on the train with travel partnres.

3. Wake up in the morning at 7:00 AM, and take metro to where my first meeting is.

4. If I don’t have other things, I can travel back at around 7:00 PM in Beijing, and arrive in Shanghai the third day morning.

5. I can directly come to work on Wed morning (this trip has more things to do, so I stay two days, and get back to Shanghai on Thursday).

In that typical trip, it seems there is no travel cost – if you count in terms of work hours. It is just like three continous working day in the same city.

Besides that, you saved all your hotel cost.

I will try my first travel like this and report back about how well it works.

How’s China in Global Financial Crisis?

This may be the million dollar question that everyone what to know the answer. Many friends and readers asked me about how will China perform in the next few years when the global financial crisis is spreading. It seems for sure that US will suffer from the recession in the next few years, and so do many other countires. What about China?

To be honest, I don’t know. I am confused myself.

The last time I have the feeling of confusing was during the SARS period: everyone is asking how serious SARS is, but even I am not sure whether I should believe in what is reported in TV (I was very sure that I should not believe, but if you don’t believe it, that is your source of reliable information?) However, just as the SARS period, although I cannot confirm the over situation, I am 100% sure of what I see from my own eyes. In this time, I hoep I continue to act as eyes and hears for people who are not able to be here by him/herself.

Consuming

It seems to me the consuming in Shanghai is not impacted. Restaurants still have enough customers, and you have to wait in long line at almost everywhere at dinner time, especially on Fridays.

The shopping malls are still full of people, with long lines at check out area.

Real Estate

Real estate price seems to drop a little bit, but only on the newly built house side. For second house side, the price is there, but there is no volume. The price for second hand house are stuck in the middle. Recently, there are a bunch of aggressive controller method from the central government regarding real estate market, like lower down the tax, and lower the down payment requirements… It seems to me that the Chinese government has learnt from US experience, that if house market crashes, the whole economy suffers. If the previous 1-2 years, the government is busy pressing house price down, now they are working hard to keep the house price stable (not up, but definitely not down).

Media

When my friends about whether people in China are optimistic about the future of economy or not, my answe was: “People are still very optimistic, since the media propogada is all good news”.

When you browse the headlines of major newspapers (if not all the newspaper), it all stated that “China is confident to keep high growth during the hard time for the world”, or “Impact to China will be small…”.

The other interesting news I got from one of my friends was, key financial magazines have been banned to reprint news from Financial Times, or Wall Street Journals.

Industry Experts

When I talk with normal people around me, they are very optimistic, just as newspaper headlines can be. However, when I talk with industry expert, from economist, to fund managers, to government officials, they are not that optimistic. Some of them are “scared”. One of them said, I have been working in this field for so long time, but I have never been so scared.

My 2 Cents?

Me? Just as one blind man around the elephant, I have no idea about what it is going to be. Let’s wait and see…

User Feedback are the Key

Stumbled upon this article: YouTube Enables Deep Linking Within Videos. It is related to YouTube.

The feature to link deep into a video seems obvious – most of the user feedback based features are very obvious, but it is the key driver for any consumer facing product. To root the inspiration to what users say is very important for the success of a website, just like craigslist has demonstrated.

Ways to Delete Your Comments

From time to time, I receive request to delete a comment they have made on this blog. There are not many. I would say about 10 – 20 request so far.

The major reason of the delete request is, when they search for their name on Google or other search engine, they found their comments they made maybe long time ago. They no longer feel comfortable to see the sometimes “silly” or “out of date” comment on this blog. So they drop me an email to ask me to delete them.

It is fine. And I am willing to help.

However, there are also other people who take another approach.

So please, reply to me and ensure me everything will be very soon deteled

Otherwise, I am forced to contact a lawyer.

The format was included in the original email.

Hmm… I still help to delete one comment that match his/her email address. For many other comments he/she mentioned, it is just a comment with the same “first name” and it obviously belong to other people, I just leave it.

We are here to help but many people mention lawyer, or other strong words in the first email. I just don’t feel comfortable. Who cares about lawyers, just because someone else with same first name or you, or your friends posted a comment on some blog under the term and condition of the blog?

Eatery is Really Small Business

After the National Holiday, I started to take bus to work, so I got the opportunity to walk along the Tianping Road (天平路), and pass many breakfast eatery shops. That is good since it solved my breakfast problem.

The interesting thing is, they does business in an exteremely cost sensitive way.

For example, I buy the pan egg cake 鸡蛋饼. They will cut like 1/8 of the whole cake as you asked them to do. Then they will weigh it on a weigh, and tell you: total price is 0.9 RMB.

Sometimes I just take the cake and said: keep the change. Interestingly, most of them will insist to either give the 10 cents to you, or insist to cut a very small piece of egg cake, and put it into your plastic bag.

For people like me who pays attention to capital market, and bigger P&L than them, I just didn’t get sensitive enough for the 10 cents – it does not matter, but I realized the breakfast eatery business IS that small business that the small amount of money matters, and they built their reputation of being reasonable and do not cheat by the small piece of cakes, or the 10 cents.

Different mind set, and I have all my due respect for them.

Pollution in Taihu (Lake Tai)

During my trip to Xishan, I passed Taihu. The beautiful lake – the third largest freshwater lake in China.

To be surprise, Taihu changed a lot – because of polution.

Because of the nitrogen and phosphorus discharged by the chemical and fishing factories around the lake, algae overgrew in the lake like crazy, further decreased the water quality.

Look at the picture I took below:

Did you see the green thing on the surface of the water? That is the overgrown algae. It made the water looks dirty.

It is said that 20 billion RMB will be spent to cure the polution.

China has sweared to avoid the “polute first, and then clean” way – the “capitalist way”. However, the reality is the opposite.

Check out what Taihu used to be in these photos:

Suzhou Taihu Mercury Club & Marina

P.S. I once ride back to Taihu by bike.

Xishan, an Island in Taihu

As I forecast yesterday, my family went to Xishan, an island in the middle of the Taihu (Tai Lake). It is connected to the land via a big Taihu bridge.

Here is the island – Xishan 西山:


View Larger Map

Here is the the island in the bigger map in the Taihu:


View Larger Map

The Area

Many weeks, Wendy and I was wondering where we should go to spend the weekend. In Shanghai, we have became hopeless to find any place new or to spend the night. We love Hangzhou, and Suzhou.

There are not many new things in the city of Suzhou. Our interest is mainly around the Taihu area.

This time, we decided to go to the island in the Taihu.

Xishan

Xishan is the largest island in the Taihu (Tai Lake, the second largest lake in China). It is connected to the land with a large Taihu Bridge – three sections connecting three islands.

We went to a place called Mingyuwan Village 明月湾村. Many of the buildings in the village were built in 1700s.

We stayed there for one night – 100 RMB (13 USD) per room per night. We went to their orange farm, and hand-picked 14.5 kg of orange. We paid 29 RMB for it (4 USD).

Transportaiton

Getting there from Shanghai is easy. Here is how we got there:

Yan’an Elevated Expressway

-> A9

-> A30

-> Take Daying Exit 大盈出口

-> West on Beiqing Road for 8 km 北青公路

-> Suhu Expressway 苏沪高速

-> Suzhou Ring Expressway 苏州绕城

-> Take Xishan Exit 西山出口

-> Take Taihu Bridge 太湖大桥

-> Follow about 10 signs to the village.

We took about 2 hours to get back (3 hours to get there because of traffic jam on A9).

It is funny that the expressway from Suzhou to Shanghai just stops at the border of Suzhou and Shanghai. Suzhou is waiting for Shanghai to continue the construction but Shanghai just responded coldly. There is almost no cars on the road at all. It is said that the Shanghai section will start construction soon.

Happy Birthday to Me

I am 31 now.

Look at this entry: Happy Birthday to Me. At the time I started blog daily, I was only 25. I cannot believe it.

It was a busy week. I could hardly stop a little bit to think about my birthday, and really take time to do some reflection to the past 31 years, and write something. I didn’t get the chance to stop and rest a little bit yet.

Wendy, Yifan, me and my parents are going to Xishan in Suzhou (not far, just one and half hour drive) for two days. Will be back on Sunday.

Work hard. Play hard.

That is me…

Happy birthday to me.

P.S. Thanks Wendy for preparing the trip for me, and Jia for sending the first birthday greeting to me.