Back to Office with Full Energy

I have to admit the best way to get back energy after working for a long time is to give ourselves a pause, and get away from work.

Now, I am sitting in the quiet office, one hour before everyone comes. I will list this as one key happiness items – it allows you to concentrate, and wandering in the office to see where you can improve this important place.

I am back, and I am fully refreshed. Thanks for the long Yangshuo, Guilin trip. It seems I should arrange more? Work + Pause is actually more productive than continuous work.

Photos of Shanghai in Spring 2009

Photos of Shanghai

I took some photos along the way back from Starbucks home, to give my frequent idea about what Shanghai looks like TODAY.

Loving couple before the nice flowers on the tree.

© Jian Shuo Wang

The nice flower – spring comes to Shanghai! Woolaaa!

The Jinmao Tower, and World Financial Center.

And in Lujiazui, this kind of truck is more commonly seen than any other places in Shanghai. Today, Lujiazui is a even bigger construction site, and a bigger mass. :-)

After I am back from Guilin and saw all the mountains there, I just formed the habbit to imagine all these buildings as a hill in Guilin – if the transformation from building to hill really happens, Shanghai will be an even better place than Guilin.

Cannot Measure it, Cannot Improve it

Found a famous quotation, that within Microsoft, people use very often. But this time, saw it on Google’s website:

If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it. by Lord Kelvin

This is for many times proved to be true, and I believe it is also the foundation principle of the modern science. Fengshui? Or Chinese Medicine? That does not include measurement yet. Don’t have measurement does not necessarily means that they are not effective, but it is maybe one of the key distinguishing characteristic of modern science and others. The other is religion – you just cannot use science to explain religion, just like you cannot use English to exactly explain Chinese.

So, recently, I wrote the following question on the notebook I brought with me: How can we measure happiness?

The conclusion was, no, we cannot measure happiness, especially after I re-read Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness. (BTW, fanatic book on what happiness is. It seems to be particularly written to ENFP people like myself).

Since we cannot directly measure happiness, this afternoon I told Wendy that I am going to do something else. I will write down scenarios that I typically feel happy, and then count the number of times that I run into that scenario. By counting that number, I can have a proxy to measure whether I am happier this week than the last week, or not. (Jinshengtan has a famous 33 happy moments. Everyone should have a simliar list)

Even better, if we can develop a common check list about what happiness means for us as a family, we can collectively measure how happy we as a family are.

Sunday Morning Session

My morning started again from a meeting in the cafeteria of Pudong Shangri-la Hotel, followed by a meetup in Starbucks opposite to the Bund with friend from Baidu, Inezha, and Shopex. Then we had a lunch at nearby Italian restaurant with Hengge from blogbus. How long has been the last Sunday morning meetup like this? I think it is at the end of 2004. It seems really good ideas and high quality meetups only happens during bad ecomony times. It always seems to be that ideas comes from, then company and then capital, and then competition, and then, many die, and the process start all over again. I think it is a great idea to have regular (by regular, I mean not more frequent than monthly or even quarterly) Sunday morning meetups.

Green Lotus Hotel of Yangshuo

The best way to explorer Yangshuo should be any of the nice hotel (including youth hostels), and hang out in the bars on the West Street.

The lobby (Yes, the little model in the middle is Yifan)

The view from the top of the hotel.

The hotel windows.

The entrance of the hotel from the river side.

The other side of the Lijiang River.

The view out side the window. Pretty nice, isn’t it?

My Review:

This is obviously a very family friendly hotel, with very nice hardware. It was built according to 5-star standard, but not a 5-star yet. This is the typical trick of many hotels. They claim to be 5-star or 4-star STANDARD, but not certified yet. Many of them, are just in the middle of opening and get certified. I heard the hotel must be running for a period of time before it is accepted for review. I guess Green Lotus Hotel is one of them, but some others just claim they build the hotel according to that standard, which does not mean that they are certified yet…

The service of the hotel is very nice. In most places, like the managers of the hotels always greet people, and the house keeping standard are very close to 5-star standard. You just feel that it is pretty like Shangri-la Hotel. However, there are many details that shows a much lower standard.

One of the small details was, the server in the cafeteria does not ask you the must-ask question “tea or coffee” at breakfast time, which means that they frequently miss to greet a guest, and don’t seat them. Also, they do things like ask guest to move to a table have they sit down, instead of move the forks, and knives to the guest. Well. I know I am over-picky here, but I am not talking about my preference, I just talk about the service of most 5-star hotels.

I believe the Green Lotus Hotel should be the best quality hotel of Yangshuo, and is suitable for families, especially with a kid.

Having said that, I have to say I regret that I missed the most exciting experience and maybe the best part of Yangshuo: backpacker type of travel. That is the cost of having a family and having Yifan traveling with us. I accept it. People always swing from nice hotel with good condition and service, and the local budget hotel which is not only cheap but also interesting. At different stage, people have different perference. Hope one day, when just Wendy and I travel, we switch back to the life style we like better: travel as a local, and stay away from 5-star hotels.

P.S. OK. Hope this article wraps up my Guilin trip, and I am getting back to normal life in Shanghai.

P.S. 2 The most interesting thing possible would be leave Shanghai for a week, and when you get back, you find many different new progress, like the poles Yanggao South Road viaduct at Gaoke West Road have been completed, and some new roads appeared near my home. Shanghai is really changing by weeks, while many other city change by year.

Photos of Yangshuo, Guilin – Part II

Here are more photos of the trip with very brief note. I am here in Shanghai. Immediately after I get off airplane, I headed to Shangri-la for a meeting, and there are two meetings near the Pudong Shangri-la and Starbucks tomorrow. I already noticed the big difference – I feel excited about the upcoming meetings – that is the benefit of a vacation.

Follor near Lijiang River – from the Bilian Jiangjing Hotel.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Boat on Lijiang River.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Below: Scene of the West Street. Wendy said she loves this picture.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Below: the lobby of Yangshuo Youth Hostel. We reserved this hotel but later cancelled it. It turned out to be a nice and quiet hotel.

© Jian Shuo Wang

The Yangshuo Shiwaitaoyuan 世外桃源 (they translate their name to “Shangri-la”, which I don’t think is a proper name).

© Jian Shuo Wang

The mountains and architect of the village.

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

They have live performance – there are people act as native people.

© Jian Shuo Wang

This lady is NOT an actor – I love the natural feel of the village

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

The water circle:

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

This is the Yinzi Yan 银子岩. The Karst cave.

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

Why People Travel

Event at the lake of Yangshuo near West Street and facing the nice Bilian (Green Lotus) Hill, I brought out my Nokia E71 smartphone, and Googled the question: "Why people travel?"

Yes. That was exactly the question in my mind, and the question I tried very hard to answer. I read books about it, fall into deep thought in airports, and hotels, and even went to many places myself. The question was still in my mind that I still didn’t find a satisfactory answer. When I am reading a blog entry started with this

I’m writing from my hotel balcony in Giza City, Egypt – just outside Cairo, and the site of the historic Pyramids. The sun is coming up right now, and the view is great..

I feel that I am very attracted by the scene, and would love to check out airline websites. But, I still don’t have the exact answer to the question: "Why People Travel?"

Before I continue to write my answers, I am turning my question to my readers. Why you travel? By travel, I am excluding business travel or other travels that you are required to. I mean the travel that you WANT to go yourself. Again, my question is, Why YOU travel?

Wrapping Up my Guilin Trip

I am packing up for my departure to Shanghai tomorrow. Good bye Guilin and Yangshuo.

  • It is good and important to take break at least every year to find time to spend with family.

  • People need to have a unique place to go to make a mark in memory about the year.
  • This is not a relaxed trip with Yifan, and my parents-in-law. As Wendy put it, we are learning to take care of people, and start to share the responsibility of a family. A big family trip proposes a much bigger challenge on where we stay, and where we eat.
  • We started with a cheap hotel (180 RMB per night) in Guilin, but immediately cancelled our booking in Youth Hostel in Yangshuo, and moved in to the local 5-star hotel. I just realize that we are no long the same person when we were a backpacker – a big family is not the right group of people to do that kind of trip.
  • Guilin is nice, and you have to spend time to find places that local people go – the Ronghu Lake, instead of the Elephant Hill..
  • The trip is like a trip in a city. I still preper destination like Sanya, where you stay at the beach, and far away from the city.
  • I am back with engergy to start my Q2

Shanghai, we are back!

Mountains of Guilin

Just had a strange thought: after several hundred years, when all the tall buildings in Shanghai got abandoned, and trees, and grasses grow out of the buildings, that will be another Guilin.

You get the idea of the mountains of Guilin? Just like the high-raising buildings in Shanghai. It just stand there, coming out of no where.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

When I am in Guilin, I also understand that the “stone drawing” of Suzhou Museum by I.M. Peimust be the mountains of Guilin.

Look at this drawing and this photo. Are they similar with each other?

Yifan on the Road

Yifan on the Guilin to Yangshuo boat – his first boat ride.

Yifan likes his red car – he has been with the car for many weeks – days and nights. At night, he sleeps with the car – any attempt to remove the car from his hands will cause him to cry for a long time to protest against.

Yifan and the bird (technically, it is called Phalacrocorax carbo 鸬鹚). I paid 2 RMB to get the permission to take the photo for Yifan.

Yifan’s other good friend – the little red travel case. He loves to push the case around – on ground with nice surface, like airports, or tough places, like this one at the pier.

Not surprisingly, Yifan is the first person fallin asleep when we arrived at hotel after a long trip.

Yifan finally got the chance to play with water as long as he wishes – he was not allowed to do it in Shanghai when the weather is still too cold.

As you can see, whenever there is Yifan, there is the red car.

He finally got some interest in the menu – when he feels hungry, or shifted his interest to cup when he feels thirsty.

Before a bar with strong rock-n-roll music, he dances with me:

Every time Yifan travels with us, he grows up a lot, and learn some new tricks… How wonderful the trip is with Yifan, although we almost haven’t explore Yangshuo yet.

Impression of Impression Sanjie Liu

We went to see the long expected Impression Sanjie Liu 印象刘三姐.

The show was designed to be the highlight of the trip, because of several reasons:

  • It is a show on the Lijiang River, and before the nice mountain.

  • The type of show is very unique in China.
  • It is directed by Zhang Yimou, the director of Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
  • Also, the ticket is very pricey: 188 RMB per person.

Hmm… What is my impression? It is very hard to say.

It is Good in Terms of Economy Return

I did a rough calculation. The ticket price is 188 RMB (or 130 RMB if you get it from tour guide). And there are much more expensive tickets like 380, 680 RMB. There are one to two sessions per day. Every time, the theatre of 2000 people is full.

Let’s say, the performance gets 100 RMB per person net on average, and there are 1.5 performance per day, that is 300,000RMB per night, which is 109 million RMB per year. That is a huge number for a theatre in a county!

The Theatre

The theatre is big – 2000+ people. To my greatest surprise, it is fully packed today. We got a very bad seat at the corner of the second row. I was told that when the show starts, I can change my seat if there are open seat. But, there is no any available seats… It is quite amazing.

Yangshuo shocked me a lot that the 2000 people all fly from different places and get to a theatre in the middle of almost nowhere…

The Show is…. Generally Good

Let me post some photos.

Disclaimer: It is allowed to take photo during the show (it is not a theatre anyway. We were at the river side, and among the mountains) as long as no flash is used.

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

As you can see, the scenes are very nice – my photography is the problem and I didn’t spend any time in taking the photos, because the scene was very nice.

BUT, Something is Wrong

After the show, Wendy and I briefly exchanged the question: “How do you like it?” followed by long silence. We just feel there is something wrong. Chaos? Distracted? Or something else? Wendy described it as “Modern Vision Art Show” – just vision art, and nothing beyond that.

On the shuttle back, we talked with a girl from Australia, and I suddenly got the feeling. It was exactly the feeling after we saw Zhang Yimou’s movie Curse of the Golden Flower.

Yes. That explains why we feel the first half much better than the second part. In the second part, there is no single person, just a group of people doing exactly the same thing with no personal expression, no individual – just an army of fish men and fish women. Everyone of them are so small and meaningless, but altogether, they formed something big. I don’t like it.

Anyway, I would rate it as excellent show and would recommend others to go and see it.