1 USD = 6.79527864 RMB

For the first time in recent years, the RMB went strong and broke the 6.80 threshold. What does it mean to people in China, the States, and other countries?

I am not an economist, and I am lack of basic ideas about how currency exchange impacts the world. Let me explain what I think from an individual who want to think about this issue.

I Forgot the Time when 1 USD is 8.2 RMB

I did some research on Google. Interestingly, the first two search results for RMB to USD brought me back to what I wrote in 2008: 1 USD = 6.9966 RMB. In that entry, I quoted a chart:

Reviewing this chart, I realized that RMB was always at 1 USD = 8.25 RMB level before mid of 2005.

How much has changed in the last five years. The exchange rate floating is normal for most countries, but in China, that is not very common. The exchange rate seems to be fixed by a ratio. Although the government denied the fact that RMB is manipulated, it does not seem to be the case.

Buying More Stuff

The appreciation of RMB obviously bring some benefits to people as a consumer. Goods in US are no longer that expensive.

In my first trip to US in 2000, I was not able to afford anything – including toothbrush in CSV. I still remember when I was shown a bill in the Chinese restaurant, I asked the question without really thinking: “Is it in RMB or USD?” because 10 USD for a meal didn’t seem right to me. I needed to consistently remind myself that the money should be multiplied by 8 for any price, until I get used to it many days later.

These days, when I travel in US, many things appear cheap – even after converting to RMB. There are two factors for it. The first is the exchange ratio. 1 to 8.25 is very different from 1 to 6.8. The second factor is, things back in Shanghai got more and more expensive. When we started to accept the fact that a working lunch can easily cost 25 – 35 RMB in Xujiahui area, a hamburger in the States does not seem that expensive.

Crisis for Manufacturers

Although I believe most people around me who don’t really think about it may be happy because of increasing purchasing power, I worry a lot as the exchange rate can cause huge problem to export oriented business (which is a big part in Chinese economy). When the manufactures like Foxconn was forced to increase the salary, and the price will be less competitive because of the exchange rate, what is the future for the manufacture, and what is the consequence when the plants were closed? That can change the Chinese society in a big way.

Thought about the Future

Anyway, without understanding the situation, I am feeling optimistic (this time, I completely agree I felt that way blindly), because I just believing in changes. With the change, many thing will change, and changes are opportunities. The only thing that does not change is change, including the exchange.

The Bund Tunnel

Half years after the Bund Tunnel opened to public, I had the chance to use it for the first time yesterday.

The Bund

The Bund, and the 30+ buildings along the Bund are landmark of Shanghai. It is where the modern Shanghai got started 200 years ago. The buildings on the west side of the Bund are the most historical, and magnificent buildings of the city, and on the east side, is the mother river, Huangpu River, of the city.

The road of the Bund, however, is mass, and congested for decades. The East Zhongshan Road is one of the major roads in the area. Everyday, huge traffic go through this road. The massive traffic from the whole Hong Kou district, and the south of the Huangpu district are connected by this road.

Update June 28, 2010

For those who don’t really understand why a single road can be the key entrance of an entire district, please see the map below:

map-hongkou.bund.tunnel.PNG

The circle is the Hongkou district. The Yangpu district is beside Hongkou. For centuries, there is no tunnel or bridge on the Huangpu river. If people in Hongkou want to visit downtown Shanghai, they have to move westward, and southward – all end up passing the Bund area. So the key reason for the transportation problem of that whole area is the shape of the river – just like a half circle around that two districts.

End of update

What is the Bund Tunnel

Many visitors to Shanghai may not notice the existence of this tunnel. The tunnel is (ugly) outlined as bold red line in the map above.

The tunnel starts at Siping 四平路 Road on the north, and goes all the way cross the Suzhou Creak, and under the Bund area. It forks two directions on the south – one connect the East Yan’an Elevated highway, and on the south become the East Zhongshan Road. 中山东一路

The tunnel has 3 lanes for each direction. It has two layers for each direction.

The Significance of the Tunnel

Before, the road before the historical buildings (the Bund) are among the widest roads in Shanghai to accommodate massive traffic. Visitors to the Bund will find them in the middle of the heaviest traffic, and the best historical architect. There were no easy ways to cross that road. There are two pedestrian tunnels, and a overhead bridge – too hard to cross. Look at this picture I took in 2004, and imagine how you can cross that wide road.

Now, when all the through traffic goes under the Bund, the road along the bund becomes very narrow – just two lane for each direction. There are pedestrian directly on the road – people who jay walk are also safe – considering how less the traffic is.

Now, the water front is much more accessible. The renovated waterfront is connected with the buildings in a new way. That is a much more pleasant experience than before.

The Buildings

The change of the road also resulted in significant change of the buildings along it. It gave the old buildings a second life.

The area was known for Three on the Bund – a premier location for entertainment, and dining. The momentum to turn the old buildings into modern places is followed by 18 on the Bund, and now, No. 6 on the Bund. The buildings started to turn their face, and become modern again, one after another.

Pudong Library Opens

The new Pudong Library opens.

It is located at the Jinxiu Road 锦绣路, and Qiancheng Road 前程路, walking distance from where I am living.

Here is the map:


Larger view

Their website: http://www.pdlib.com/pdlibrary/index.jsp

You are encouraged to visit that library. It is maybe the best library in Shanghai. Since it is built 10+ years later than the Shanghai library, it is much more modern.

Recently, I didn’t bring camera with me as often as I did, so I don’t have photos again. Sorry for that, but the 5 story building is a huge one with enough parking lot. Everything is free (most of them), and there are amazingly huge amount of books in the reading room. I don’t know whether they have wireless network in the library yet. I will try and report back.

Transportation

If you want to get there, the easiest way is to take Metro Line #7, and exit at Jinxiu Road 锦绣路 station. The library is right at the exit #1.

Thanks for Kuiya to send me SMS to notify me the opening of the library.

World Cup 2010

I have never been a football fan, and never tried to be one, or pretend to be one. The last time I was deeply impacted by World Cup was still back in 1994, one year before the College Entrance Exam – THE exam that basically determines the future of us. Many classmates climbed out of the wall of the middle school, and put all the pillows in the dorm into the quilt to pretend someone was still on bed.

After that, the world cup didn’t leave too much impression (at least as strong as that year) to me. Maybe the other one is during the time of university – when we finally escaped the “dark July” of the entrance exam. During that time, all the major classrooms and theater of university were broadcasting the game. I spent some time there with Wendy (Wendy is less interested than me).

This year, thank to the time zone of South Africa, the timing is good, and I happened to watch the last 10 minutes of North Korea vs Portugal, and enjoyed the final 0:7 result. That is it.

The world is big and everyone is different. I hope my ignorance of many people’s favorite game does not make them angry. Since there are so many people pour there passion about the game everywhere, as if non-football-fans are second-level citizen, I want to quietly record what I think, so someone similar to me won’t feel lonely in the sea of football fans. People are different. Let’s cherish the difference.

Deposit Money for Discount – Huge $$$

I uploaded a photo of an advertisement of a Sichuan restaurant onto Facebook (/jianshuo). They were advertising for cash deposit card. If you deposit money (pre-pay) into their card, they give you discount. There is nothing new about it.

However, the tricky part is the amount.

If you deposit 100,000 RMB, you can get 120,000 RMB worth of credit to buy dinner in that restaurant.

I didn’t make the mistake. That is 100,000 RMB, or roughly 15K USD, for dining card.

This is obviously not the highest amount. There are many other places offering card level higher than that. Because of the popularity of these card, I am convinced that many people buy it. What that means?

The first question to ask is, who buy it?

The second question, what for? Is it just for the discount? Not likely. People have all type of creative way to use that card. People may send it as gift (bribe or not), or people can expensive it at somebody else’s cost, or simply a business owner who need to frequently buy dinner for their client that uses up 100K RMB quickly just for meal.

S16 – Hangzhou – Pudong Expressway

During the three day vacation, the family went to Lin’an, the mountain area near Hangzhou. We used the G60 (Shanghai – Hangzhou) expressway on our way there, and used a new expressway S16 (Hangzhou – Pudong) Expressway back. Let me give you a quick overview of the new S16 Hangzhou – Pudong Expressway.

The new expressway 杭浦高速 is basically parallel to the old Shanghai – Hangzhou Expressway 沪杭高速. They both start from Hangzhou at basically the same place (about 5 km away from each other at the intersection of Hangzhou Ring Expressway (G2501), and extend to the Shanghai direction. The G60 (Shanghai – Hangzhou Expressway) is a little bit northward (1 o’clock direction), and the S16 is on the south (2 o’clock direction).

The G60 is very strait forward – it starts from Hangzhou and goes all the way to the Xinzhuang Intersection 上海莘庄立交.

The Hangzhou Pudong Expressway is more complicated. At the very beginning, it is called S16 (according to the numbering system in Zhejiang province). At the same time, it is also called G92 – the Hangzhou Ring Expressway of the National Highway System. It is common that a section of an expressway has more than one numbering system these days. Then, at the intersection of the Hangzhou Bay Bridge (The newly built bridge going cross the Hangzhou Bay, a long one), it is called G15 (The Shenyang to Haikou Expressway). The interesting part about that big intersection is, the east bound, and south bound roads are called G15, and the west bound, and north bound road is called G92.

After that intersection, as I explained, it continued to be called G15 until it gets to a new big intersection near Jinshan. The G15 continued to turn northward and follow the original A5. The S4 will pickup the road of original G15 (Hangzhou – Pudong Expressway) eastward. That S4 will finally end up at the Xinzhuang Interchange, and merge with G60.


在较大的地图中查看G50沪渝高速、G56杭瑞高速、G60沪昆高速、G92杭州湾环线高速、G9211甬舟高速

Train from Shenzhen to Guangzhou

In this Shenzhen, Guangzhou trip, I was impressed by the CRH train between Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The train is the same, but the schedule, and the train station, and the process are very different.

Schedule

Look at this schedule! There are train from Guangzhou to Shenzhen every few minutes from as early as 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

D7001 06:08 -07:26

D7013 06:40 -07:46

D7069 06:41 -08:01

D7091 07:10 -08:16

D7047 07:12 -08:31

D7135 07:40 -08:52

D7025 07:46 -09:06

D7113 07:50 -08:42

D7157 08:10 -09:16

D7037 08:25 -09:31

D7059 08:32 -09:51

D7081 08:35 -09:41

D7103 08:55 -10:01

D7125 09:05 -10:11

D7003 09:18 -10:24

D7147 09:30 -10:36

D7071 09:40 -10:46

D7015 09:46 -11:11

D7169 09:50 -10:56

D7093 10:15 -11:21

D7049 10:25 -11:31

D7115 10:35 -12:01

D7137 10:35 -11:41

D7027 10:45 -11:51

D7159 11:05 -12:11

D7039 11:18 -12:36

D7083 11:20 -12:26

D7061 11:40 -12:46

D7105 11:47 -13:06

D7127 11:50 -12:56

D7149 12:10 -13:16

D7005 12:16 -13:36

D7073 12:20 -13:26

D7171 12:45 -13:51

D7017 12:55 -14:01

D7095 13:05 -14:11

D7139 13:15 -14:21

D7051 13:19 -14:41

D7029 13:25 -14:31

D7117 13:45 -14:51

D7161 13:55 -15:16

D7085 14:00 -15:06

D7063 14:20 -15:26

D7041 14:23 -15:46

D7129 14:30 -15:36

D7151 14:50 -15:56

D7107 14:57 -16:16

D7075 15:00 -16:06

D7007 15:23 -16:41

D7173 15:25 -16:31

D7097 15:45 -16:51

D7019 15:52 -17:11

D7141 15:55 -17:01

D7031 16:15 -17:21

D7119 16:25 -17:31

D7053 16:27 -17:46

D7087 16:50 -18:02

D7065 17:00 -17:52

D7163 17:03 -18:26

D7131 17:10 -18:16

D7153 17:30 -18:36

D7043 17:32 -18:56

D7077 17:40 -18:46

D7109 18:00 -19:06

D7175 18:15 -19:21

D7009 18:20 -19:41

D7099 18:25 -19:31

D7143 18:45 -19:51

D7021 18:55 -20:01

D7121 19:05 -20:11

D7033 19:08 -20:26

D7055 19:30 -20:36

D7089 19:57 -21:16

D7165 20:00 -21:06

D7079 20:30 -21:36

D7111 20:40 -21:46

D7045 20:42 -22:01

D7101 21:15 -22:21

D7011 21:25 -22:31

D7145 21:35 -22:41

D7123 21:45 -22:51

D7023 21:47 -23:06

D7057 22:20 -23:26

D7035 22:22 -23:41

D7167 22:50 -23:56

Ticket

At the Guangzhou East Railway Station, they have separate ticket purchasing process. Passengers just need to go into the station without buying ticket. There are many automatic ticket vendor machines lining up. At the machine, you can buy train tickets of any future train of the day. The machine automatically assign the nearest train to you. The idea is, it is almost for sure that you can catch up a train in the next 10-20 minutes – something very like the metro system in Shanghai.

Shenzhen Station

At the Shenzhen train station, you can directly transit to the Hong Kong metro system, and the Shenzhen metro system.

Wow. I love this experience. Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou are not that connected, yet.

In Shenzhen

I am in Shenzhen.

For the first time, I see the city from top of a high building.

Hong Kong is just one bridge away.

Shenzhen is very like the life in Silicon Valley – green trees, clear sky, and … a little bit boring.

After the Tencent trip, we will appear in Netease in Guangzhou tomorrow.

Semi-Erotic Ballet in Argentina Pavilion

This is the third time I visit the Expo site. I don’t enjoy waiting in the long line for hours (up to 4 hours) under strong sun light, I choose some less popular pavilions to get start. My first visit happened to be Argentina Pavilion.

During the noon time, the theater was showing a ballet film. I don’t know the name, but something very strange happened. The film is semi-erotic, and semi-violent at least so with the Chinese standard. The story is a love story, and the 5 minutes long show is about two dancers (man and woman) half naked and artistically show the “love”, before they were shown completely naked in the bed…

It is pure artistic, and I have no problem with it. But that caused big problem to the audience. Obviously they didn’t expect how many children coming with their parents. The boy on the left side was forced to “sleep” on his mother’s lap, and the face of the girl three rows behind me was hidden behind big balloon by her mother. Other parents just brought their children strictly out of the theater.

For the older people, it is even a big problem. Most of them are very unease – they are more confused than interested. You know, it is awkward situation in that pavilion.

When the government takes care of its citizen too well, and protect all the adults as they were still 10 years old, film like this will never appear in this land, but Expo is a window for people to sniff the “outside” stuff. That is the key conflicts people encounter in many sites in expo.

Well… There are many other pavilions, but I just felt this scene to be the most funny.