Jinji Lake – Rebuild Another West Lake

This post was created one months ago, and only show up today.

For people tired of going to West Lake in Hangzhou or The Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou (I mean, after you visit these two places for more than 10 or 20 times), they may be interested to find out somewhere that si near Shanghai, and offers something new. Wendy and I went to Jinji Lake last Tuesday on our six year wedding anniversary. To my greatest surprise, the Jinji Lake has been turned into a new West Lake type of tourism destination, and a Xintiandi type of clustering of modern chain high-end restaurants, and Around-Century-Park type of high-raising residential areas.

How to Get There

Among all the transportation options, driving seems to be the most practical way to get there (do you want to take public transportation just to have a cup of tea along the lake?) It is about 100 km from Shanghai, and takes 1 and half hour to get there.

You can take Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway 沪宁高速 A11 (wonderful newly completely 4-lane expressway) heading Nanjing direction, and turn to Suzhou City Ring Expressway (East) 苏州绕城(东)heading Zhou Zhuang 周庄. Take the Luzhi/Airport Road 甪直/机场路 Exit, and get to Airport Road (a.k.a S343) heading west for 15 km. Jinji Lake is on your right hand.

If you do want to take public transportation, find a train from Shanghai Railway Station to Suzhou Railway Station (pretty frequent – 30 minutes interval), and take Bus 178 to get there. Google Map also suggests that you can walk from People’s Square to Jinji Lake. It costs 16.5 hours, and 81 km. :-)

The Emerging Center

The Jinji Lake is a natural lake that is a little bit bigger than West Lake of Hangzhou (7.82 sq. km v.s. 5.6 sq. km). Just like the old capital Hangzhou to West Lake, the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) is the source of the development of Jinji Lake. With huge amount of industrial and commercial activities going on in the park, it is taken for granted that the big natural lake within the area become the entertainment and residential center.

Sitting at any corner of the lake, and look around, you will be amazed by the high raising business towers, and residential buildings. They surround the lake like a curtain. Even you are used to the buildings in Lujiazui, you may still be surprised by the numbers of skyscrapers, and the speed people are building it. If this would have happened to the West Lake, people may say it is a disaster. But in Jinji Lake, the concerns seem to be much less, since this lake on the first day, was designed and built to be a modern West lake – the skyscrapers are also part of the characteristic of Jinji Lake, just like mountains and trees do in West Lake’s example.

Li Gong Di 李公堤

Li Gong Causeway (Li Gong Di 李公堤) is another reason to convince me that Jinji Lake is moving toward the direction of West Lake. The 1400 meters long ancient causeway is now renovated to be a modern street with all kinds of restaurants, and bars.

If you have a day to spend, and have been to Hangzhou for so many times, Jin Ji Lake is another option.

Why People Don’t Use Voice Mail in China

People in China don’t use calendar as often as United States. I talked about it in a blog entry back in 2005: Do You Have a Calendar?. I also talked about Why Classified is NOT Popular in China, Yet. Today, I want to talk about another thing about absolutely no people in China use today. That is voice mail.

Chinese is Unique? No

Four years ago, when I just joined eBay, and had the golden opportunity to witness the fight between eBay and Taobao from an inside on the eBay side. During many in-depth discussion with Meg Whitman when she was in Shanghai, I tried very hard to convince her that China is different. China has a unique culture, unique history, and unique user behavior, and we should treat China very differently.

Four years later, when I analyze what happened around me, I more and more tend to agree that people are very like each other across the world, and by nature, they are the same. The different behavior comes from different history. Taking the eBay example, people in both China and US want the website to be fast and stable, and eBay’s problem is, it is not fast and stable in China as in US (and in US, not as fast and stable as Google).

So, let’s discuss about why people in China don’t use voice mail.

How Voice Mail Started

The voice mail started in most countries from 1970s, to 1980s, when there is no such a thing called Internet, or mobile phone. From today’s point of view, voice mail is more like a a asynchronous pull-mode mobile phone. In contrast, mobile phone is synchronous, push mode; SMS is asynchronous, push mode, and email is asynchronous pull mode.

With voice mail, although there are no technologies like mobile phone, it is impossible to reach a person at any time, and voice mail is a not perfect, but working solution. So voice mail became so popular that the current generate grow up with voice mail recorder at home, and in office.

Today, when there is mobile phone, SMS, email, or even Skype, the user behavior changed in United States, and Europe, but slowly. Voice mail still plays an important role, before it fade out from the history scene.

Voice Mail Just Missed a Historical Chance

In China, fixed line telephone itself has never become as popular as the States. When I was young, let’s say, early 1990s, the telephone number for my city was still 4 digits (FYI, in 2005, it became 8 digits). In China, when people start to use phone, they jump start from mobile phone. Many cities just started from mobile phone without fixed line phone installed.

With this background, Voice Mail seems to be a stupid thing. There are 6 billion mobile phone users, you literally can reach any people in this country if you know his/her mobile phone number. Mobile phone means instant talking (Yes! With Interruption!)

The usage of mobile phone also shape people’s behavior. People would like to take mobile phone immediately and people love to have instant interact, and don’t care about interruption as much as people in the States. In a era when the people first used instant messaging like QQ, mobile phones that go with them, they don’t use voice mail any more.

There are Many Examples

Email appeared before SMS, but SMS is more convenient. That is the reason why email is not popular and people use SMS all the time. Blackberry is something attractive for non-corporate people in China. Offline classified? Before Internet, there is still a chance, but when Internet comes, the newspaper based classified that didn’t take off, permanently lose the opportunity to grow bigger.

Is this something called “Late Mover Advantage”?

Two Things Other Tourist Don’t Do in Shanghai

When I am asked about three most interesting things that other tourists do not do in Shanghai, I typically give the following suggestion.

1. Transit Between Metro Line #1 and Line #2 in Rush Hours

I know you are tired of the routine scenic spots, and try to dive deep into the daily life of people in this city, a metro ride is a must. To be further visually impressed by the energy of this city, you should schedule your metro ride between 8:00 AM to 8:30 AM. You will not only see what we call “People Mountain People Sea”, it is the type of people and the expression on their face, their pace, what they do in the metro cart, and how huge number of people interact with each other. The scene is shocking for myself every time I experience it. Is there anything more significant to see the largest hub of people in a city with 16 million people?

More information: If your hotel is along the Metro Line #1 or Line #2, get on board a train heading to People’s Square at 8:00 PM typically will give you the experience. Follow the signs to the other line, and be very cautious about your step. Don’t ever try to stop in the middle to take video or pictures – it is not only dangerous but also annoying in rush hours. Don’t be discourage when you have to wait for several minutes before the lines moving a little bit. Don’t be scared to see the platform full packed with people and others on the stairs cannot possible move down – it is people’s life everyday.

2. A quiet walk along Wukang Road

After experiencing the excitement and energy (or congestion, or chaos if you want to describe it that way) of this city, I would highly recommend you to spend an afternoon wandering on the Phoenix-tree -covered small roads in Xujiahui. Wukang Road is my favorite. Be impressed by the historical villas along the quiet street with all type of architect styles, and be moved by the details of local residents life. May it be a row of blooming flowers, or hand written characters welcoming post man on their mailbox. Also, enjoy the loneliness of being one of the only few people on the street. It provides a sharp contrast from what you see from almost everywhere in Shanghai. Don’t forget to stand long enough at the government plate before the villas, to know more about the history of the buildings.

More Information: Wukang Road is located in Xuhui District. It starts from Huaihai Road on the south and Huashan Road on the north. The nearest Metro Station is Changshu Road Station of Metro Line #1. You can walk along the Fuxing West Road to get there. Don’t worry to get lose in that area. The whole area is nice and worth some time wandering around.

Shanghai Auto Show 2009

3:00 PM, when Yifan fell asleep, Wendy and I tried to figure out where to spend the precious 2 hours without interruption, we had the idea to visit the Shanghai Auto Show. We should cherish our opportunity to be in Shanghai, and live just 5 km away from the Shanghai International Exhibition Center, where the Auto Show is located.

Is it a Auto Show, a Model Show, or People Sea Show?

Who thought of the great idea of putting beautiful girls/models along with nice cars? With girls attracting people’s attention, and providing something that everyone is interested, the cars are even more highlighted. It turned out people’s attention follow girls, not cars. It seems so at least in terms of camera lens.

I took photos of the models of a Buick, and for Volkswagen

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Who said there are financial crisis? Look at how many people in the show! I would say, I regret immediately after I arrive at W1 Exhibition Hall – there are so many people that no one can move.

No wonder there are so many people in the show. According to latest news report, it is expected that China will, for the first time, surpass US and become the largest auto market this year. 10 million new cars are going to be shipped this year. The recent tax reduction from 10% to 5% for 1.5 liter or below greatly accelerated the speed of adoption of cars in China. After all, there are just 44 cars in every 1000 people in China, while the number is 750 in US, and 120 of the world.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Future Cars?

In the show, I feel the keywords of “Green”, or Blue (like in BlueEngine Technology), and Hybrid are everywhere. Look at this Nissan small car, which will be shipped in several years! It is cute. There is an electronic plug at the head of the car.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Wendy and I love it a lot and thought it is ideal for Wendy taking Yifan to school.

Best Booth – FAQ-Volkswagen?

I would say, the FAW-Volkswagen in the W2 is the best show I saw. It is huge, and has the best exhibition design. The most impressive stage is at far end of W2, where there are large screen displaying natural views, and city background, and models walk before the big screen – creating a very future, and natural type of feeling. It reminds me of the Taichi scene of the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Other Photos

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Another Drawing – Zhangsanfeng’s Milk Tea Shop

When I find some spare time and especially there is a cup of nice milk tea before me, I love to draw something. It was inspired by the Art of Travel, and other related books. By drawing, you observe the world more closely than you glance it. The actual result of the drawing is not important at all. It is the ACT of drawing that makes a difference. Here is my embarrassingly bad drawing, but I’d be happy to share.

Photograph by York

Photograph by York

Photograph by York

You can safely ignore all the characters above the photo – it was not mine. There are 30-50 sketch books like this in the shop, all full of essays and drawings. I could not find a bigger space than the one I found, so I shared the page with another stranger.

Back from BossTown

Just finished recording of this week’s BossTown – the guest speaker is Kai-Fu Lee. It is very challenging task – especially when you have the best debator in International Varsity Debate, Jiang Chang Jian sitting on your right hand, and McKinsey’s Sha Sha sitting on the left.

The show went on very well. Wendy’s observation was, at the beginning, I was too nervous (Wendy went there with me, and sit in the dark area off the stage, and I am happy she went with me). She is right. To have the host several meters away from you present an interesting type of conversation – just like the layout of the International Varsity Debate Varsity… I was a debate in the debate team in SJTU (Shanghai Jiaotong University), and act as the fourth member (same as Jiang Chang Jian) but far from even fluent in speaking. I still prefer the scenario of Culture Matters. As I said, it was a bigger challenge for me, since this may be one of the first media show like this.

I was a frequent speaker on Microsoft events, like TechEd, and DevDays 8-9 years ago, but to have 1 hour to present what you prepared to present is easier than the interactive program like Boss Town.


When you see the show (I don’t know when it will go on air yet, but I believe it should be one month later), you may agree with me that Kai-Fu’s answers to the tough questions were perfect. Kai-Fu is honest – very honest. I believe the audience will feel it. He answered the question well (I guess I should not disclose any of the conversation before the program is shown). Chang Jian and I asked tough questions, and after I asked, I were even prepared to get the question cut in the editing section (because it is too tough), but Kai-Fu answered very well. (Again, I cannot disclose the question now).

Boss Town

The Boss Town team is great. I love to work with Jackie, Yang Hui and other stuff. They are professional team. The company is a private company, and just create the program, and many other equally successful programs like No Free Lunch (谁来一起午餐), and Work Stuff (上班这点儿事), and then sell it to TV Stations. To be honest, there are not so many interesting programs on any Channel, and their program really stand out.

Yuan Ming is a great host. Wendy commented on her skill of remembering all the sentences, points, and transition, especially titles so clearly during dinner when we finished, and I said, it must be related to her foreign language study background – it is a professional skills trained in university. That maybe the reason great TV anchors in China are very likely to be graduate of Foreign Language schools (Beijing Foreign Study University or Shanghai International Study University).


Since I didn’t have a chance to take any photos during the show, and I only brought my mobile, I only have three:

This is where we record the program. According to Yang Hui, the venue provider have professional team to switch difference scenes very quickly. After the Boss Town recording is completed today, they quickly change it to another scene to record another program.

This is the stage of the program before the nice lights were turn on.

This is the waiting area outside the main studio.

The Audience

The audience came from universities – the people behind me. Hmmm…. It is a very good practices, since they are the most careful listener, and they interact with the host better. More importantly, it is a nice experience. I went to one of this kind of talk show 12 years ago, and I still feel that it was a very nice opportunity – “Look! I get onto a TV program!” That is nice inspiration for the students. Keep doing that!

BossTown Record Tomorrow

Tomorrow, I am going to be an observer of BossTown, the popular business talk show hosted by YLFer, Yuan Ming. The guest of this show will be long time friend, Kai-Fu Lee, and another observer will be Jiang Chang Jian, from Fudan University (my idol when I was in middle school).

P.S. Recently, very tired, and want to defer longer post to the next few weeks. Maybe it is because of frequent travel, and tight daily schedule to meet with people. I sit much less before a computer screen than before.

P.S. 2. York created a photo like this:


Original post is here

Three Interesting Photos

I haven’t taken metro in rush hours for a long time, so I was surprised to see the current metro volume in Shanghai.

People need to wait for a long time to go down the stairs – without moving at all.

P.S. here is another photo I took from my mobile in Starbucks in Xujiahui (Metro City Store). They just renovated.

P.S. 2: Another interesting photo. For my Xiamen trip, Yiyi gave me the boarding pass like this:

I did take some time to realize it is not a real one.

Back from Xiamen (and Why OOB)

This is the last day of my four day trip in Xiamen. I was OOB in the last few days (since April 13, 2009). The four day trip was too intensive that I didn’t find time to sit down to update a blog – I hope I should have posted something like OOB before hand.

The special thing about this photo is, the islands in this picture is Jinmen, and it is under governence of Taiwan.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Xiamen is an amazing city, and I especially love the Asia Gulf Hotel – the villa near the sea. It is very like the hotels in Sanya, but on the cost side, it is much cheaper. It is said a standard room is 400 RMB or something, and the best suite near the sea in the villa is 800 RMB – comparing to the hotels in Yalong Bay in Sanya, it is still reasonable.

Had a lot of fun in Xiamen.

  • Dinner beside sea is great. Especially when you have white tablecloth, and wine glasses.

  • Gulangyu Island is nice – just need to go there from late afternoon to night, not at day time – too many tourists, and too many people – the same observation from my trip to Tongli.
  • Xiamen is definitely a city that I should visit again and again and again – just like Sanya, and Qingdao. If there is no where to go, just pack and get a plane ticket to Xiamen
  • Offsite meeting is a great idea. Combine meeting and outing is a good idea.