Lake Tahoe Photo of Me (Some kind of)

Rick posted it on Sina Microblog about this photo. It is a late afternoon near the Lake Tahoe this March. If you watch this photo close enough, you will find the person at the lake is actually me.

photograph by Rick Zhuang

Thanks Rick!

Obviously, Rick has some nicer pictures of the same place without me breaking the beauty of the nature. Good photographer!

photograph by Rick Zhuang

photograph by Rick Zhuang

Now I have visited two of the most famous ski town in US, Tahoe in CA, and Aspen in CO. What are the others? Mt Rainer in WA?

Grand Canyon Photos

These are the photos I took at the Grand Canyon.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Do Travelers Feel People are More Friendly?

I had a conversation with a participant of Fortune Brainstorm Conference about his recent visit to Asia, namely, Thailand, and China. He was filled with exaggerated excitement about the places he just visited. “I was overwhelmed by how friendly people are. Hey man, you just cannot imagine how friendly they are”.

Hmm… Is it true that travelers feel people are friendlier in foreign countries?

For me, for example, I genuinely feel people in the States are very friendly, and people in Sanya, Lijiang, or Daocheng are friendly to me. According to my personal experience, the statement seems to positive. There are for sure cases when people get extremely frustrated during the trip or mistreated, generally, people tend to agree that they love the people they meet when they are traveling. Why is that? How so?

Is it because that, when we are traveling, we are a nicer person ourselves? We live more in the present, instead of captured by the tendency to ignore people, and things around us. I cannot imagine smiling to everyone in a crowded metro cart, and I even cannot imagine smiling every time I see Wendy. However, when we are traveling, our heart is so open that we would rather be nicer to people around us, just for the sake of a better travel experience for ourselves. In return, most of the people will find travelers are often easier to handle.

Is it because the type of people we meet? When we travel, most of the people we meet are in the travel industry. Hotels, buses, taxis, gatekeeper of tourism places… Their professions are to be friendly, and make it a good experience for their customers – the travelers. I would say, they are in a happy industry themselves, with daily chance to meet with nice travelers (as I described in my previous guess). Altogether, that is a different world from our current daily routine.

Is it because the time? Time plays a role in people’s mood. I basically enjoyed every trip I had in the bay area, until one day, I was caught in a trafic jam. I was driven made by the slow moving of cars on CA-237 to Miltipas, CA. Then I felt people are not nice. I feel the anxiourity of the drivers around me. It was then that I realized my experience of the area is always in the non-rush hours. Travelers are different annimals. They don’t follow the 9 to 6 rymth of the city. When everyone is rushing into the downtown with barely cleaned face, and being hungry because they didn’t have the time to have breakfast yet, the travelers, in the contrary, is already well fed with nice continental breakfast (think about the berries, and omlette!), and on a nice coach to a place 50 miles away from the city. That makes huge difference to how people feel about the city, and the people.

There are many reasons that travelers feel people around them are friendlier, and I guess that is one of the reasons why people travel – to explore something new, and better than our current lives.

Why People Travel

I asked this question again and again, why people love to travel.

Find new things?

No matter how small it is, from an electronic plug that is different from those in our own country, to a breakfast that offers something you seldom eat in home, the difference reminds us that we are in a different world. Nothing can be more boring when you arrive in a place but you really cannot tell any difference from your home.

My visit to Aspen leads me to recognize a special type of tree – Aspen. That types of tree with white and smooth body, and heart shape small leaves. I got one leaf and put it into my Moleskin notebook. I am not saying that there is no Aspen in my city (Shanghai), or in my country (China), it is not something in my daily life. Without visiting that small town, I may never observe and appreciate, and even recognize that special tree. Ironically, if I run into a another village with many Aspen trees surrounding it, I mean mistakenly feel bored, since it is like a place I have visited 6000 miles away.

During our travel, we need to discover things that remind us that we have set feet to a new land. Nothing can be more exciting than people speaking of different languages, especially those you don’t understand.

There Must be Something New!

It is boring (although efficient) to have lunch in a McDonald’s in another country. The only compensation in a McDonald’s to a traveler is, if there is any, the different settings of those particular restaurants. For example, I paid special interest in a tag line on the self-service coke vending machine stating: “Refill only for dine-in customers”. I admit I never saw this before, and that made my visit to the international food chain.

There are something so unique to a region that it can be the name card picture of the city/country, like the skyline of Pudong in Shanghai, or the Tiananmen/Great Wall in Beijing, or the the curved uphill section Lombard Street/Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. They are the landmarks and must see. Why? Because collectively, nothing can reminds people where they are, and how different it is from the daily life and the “boring” town they just escaped from. However, really good travelers enjoy much more than that. Admittedly, some places are more interesting than others in both the numbers of things you will notice (like a westerner arrives in Toyoko), or stronger in impression (like the Grand Canyon that can no longer be classified as just a canyon), most travelers can find difference along the way they travel, and throughly enjoy their trip. That is the sensation we need to build in ourselves, to allow us to enjoy the world of difference.

The Roads in the West

Nothing can help me to understand that America is a country on the wheels better than drive along the long free way across the western part of US – the road that extends endlessly before you.

Along the road, we saw different scenes.

Sometimes, we passed the bridges in mountains (I-8 in Arizona)

Sometimes, we cross another road running to another direction

The mountains are always with us

and sometimes, we are winding in the mountains

The lands are green for some time

and most times, it is dots of greens with yellow lands

Sometimes we pass small villages,

But most times, it is just road after road

We passed deserts

and headed to big cities (Los Angeles)

But among all the differences, the key is, the road is always there, waiting for us to pass.

P.S. Here is the map of the trip.

Aspen Airport Photos

Aspen is a nice town situated in the valley of Rocky Range. Aspen airport, a small airport (the smallest I saw in US, although it is still relatively larger than Nanyang Airport or Luoyang Airport) is very cute. That is the reason I choose to update the photos of Aspen airport first, when I am trying to upload the photos to my blog.

Not like large airport, they manually handling of luggage.

Wrapping up the Summer Trip in US

I am now in Hotel Jerome. With the antique light on the desktop, and piano from Colorado Public Radio (the housekeeper always tune to this channel and open the radio when they finished the house cleaning), it is a pretty quiet and “prestigious” night (This is the word Wendy learn from Amy in Arlington. From then, we used the word prestigious on almost anything that is nice).

The Trip

This is the longest trip I had in the States. The board meeting in July 7, 2010 in Menlo Park is pre-determined, and there is no way to move it within two months, and the date of Fortune Brainstorm conference at July 22, 2010 is also set. It caused some challenges for me to arrange my schedule. There is about two weeks in the middle of the two important meetings. Typically, I will send about a week in the silicon valley meeting varies companies for both business and learning experience, but there is still another week in the middle. It does not make sense economically and logistically to fly back and forth between the two countries within a week. (I did fly back and forth in two weeks to attend the eBay Global Leadership Meeting, and the Leadership eBay workshop in 2006). So I took personal vacation from July 14 to July 21.

Personal Adventure

In the 7 days of personal trip, Wendy and I drive a Toyota Carmy leaving Los Angeles, went few hundreds miles in the west US, and back to LAX. Here is the trip:

  • LAX to Las Vegas via I-105, I-605, CA-60 and a long way on I-15.

  • Las Vegas to Hoover Dam via a short drive on US-93
  • Via US-93, and I-40 arriving at Williams, AZ (briefly passed Seligman, AZ)
  • Via NV-64 arriving at Grand Canyon
  • Getting back via NV-64 and US-89 (really beautiful road) to Flagstaff.
  • Continued on US-89A to Sedona, and stayed in Cottonwood, AZ for one night
  • Go to Phoenix, AZ via AZ-260 to I-17.
  • Used AZ-101 to bypass Phoenix, and went all way to San Diego that day, via US-8, via Yuma, and El Centra. Loved the desert section, and inspected few days along the way by Border Patrol
  • Spent two nights in San Diego because we really love it, and then drive along I-5 and CA-1 to Los Angeles.

Here is the route map. Recommended for people who have few days in the west US.


View Larger Map

The Way Back

Tomorrow, I am flying out from Aspen to Denver, and then to San Francisco, and then to Shanghai. The schedule looks like this:

25JUL 0800 ASE 0845 DEN UA6742 (45 min)

25JUL 1000 DEN 1146 SFO UA415 (2 hours 46 mins)

25JUL 1349 SFO 1725 SHA UA857 (12 hours 36 mins)

It takes 18 hours and 25 minutes to get back to my home, sweet home in Shanghai.

Acknowledge

Again, I’d like the thank everyone in the Silicon Valley and in Aspen who spent the time to host and talk with me. It is always inspiring to travel to the States, and meet with different people, and get new ideas.

At the end of the day, trips are all about people. I visited Hollywood in Los Angeles. Obviously, I still don’t have any idea about that place and industry. If someone just arrives at the Silicon Valley without talking with the people there, it must be a boring experience. At least there is a strip in Hollywood that people can have some fun finding their favorite star on the street. There is no such amusement in the Silicon Valley. You have to be there, attending meetings, visiting companies, and talk with people to get the idea. The only movie studio I know is Pixar, but I didn’t find their address, and I don’t think there is any way to visit without trespassing. So, thanks for making the trip possible.

Second Day of Fortune Brainstorm Tech

What a whole day. I already waked up enough but still didn’t catch up the first session, at 6:00 AM, the optional mountain trail hike.

I came from the Internet space, combined with the startup space. Today’s session is generally interesting and amazing. The most inspirational part of today’s session is, the people, the company, and the topics are not those I will touch on daily basis. I was dragged out of Internet a little bit, but not too far away – to the Tech world.

For example, the Writer, and Producer of ABC Series Lost talked about the role of technology in TV program, and the one year old ex-Googler CEO of AOL talking about the “turn” of the company. The CEO of Xerox talked about how they turned themselves from a copier company to a full document service company, and more importantly, turned from the bottom of the curve up.

When I was sitting at the middle section under the tent (yes! the conference is held under a big tent. Not very many people attending, just about 200-300 in total), I was wondering why I am here. It is not something directly related to my job. But I am convinced that I need to start to participate in this conference to keep my eyes open. The question I want to ask is, why all the other CEOs and presidents of famous companies participate. They must come for a reason. I have to say some of the topics like the trends of the whole industry does not interest me as much as topics directly related to my work, it does mean that I need more years to be appreciating the topics. The people are here to share, and to learn about the trends of the industry. It acts as some kind of orchestration of the movement of the industry. They want to make sure people from the government, from the tech, from media, and from investment are frequently put together, to reach some consensus about what to do in the next 18 to 3 years, so big and small companies like Google, Microsoft, Disney, AOL, IAC, Twitter can do something together toward the same direction, I mean, if they all feel the water the same way. The bottom line is, it is not waste of time.

I do have to comment a little bit about the beautiful Aspen. I really didn’t see too much about Aspen yet. The schedule was so full, and I don’t want to waste the opportunity to network with the great people there, but it is so beautiful. I especially like the creeks, and the water there. Tomorrow afternoon, there will be a bike session for the participants, and I expect to go out to see Aspen, and take some pictures. BTW, Aspen is 8200 feet in latitude. It is not very high compared to many places in west part of China, and there is no altitude sickness at all. There are some people who report the difference. Where is it for me?

For those who wonder why I didn’t post any picture of my US trip onto my blog yet. The answer is simple, I just left my USB cable home, and didn’t take a chance to buy one.

Fortune Brainstorm Tech #FortuneTech

Just finished the first day (well, half day to be more exact) of the Fortune Brainstorm Tech Conference. As they stated in the description,

Fortune Brainstorm: TECH is a marketplace of ideas that assembles the smartest people we know – the world’s top technology and media thinkers, operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and influencers. These leaders inspire a conversation that informs Fortune’s editorial coverage throughout the year.

Brainstorm began in Aspen in 2001, and Fortune is delighted to be returning to our roots in 2010. We know from experience that Aspen is the ideal – and idyllic – setting to exchange ideas and build relationships, the hallmarks of the Brainstorm experience.

Real People in the Real World

There are many people I read about on news papers, and magazines (including Fortune Magazine). They become real in this conference.

At the small airport of Aspen, Hotel Jerome arranged nice complimentary pickup service. In the cool, beautiful dawn, the husband driver with a western style cowboy hat picked up three persons for that flight UA6118 from LAX. It was then I met my first buddy in this conference, Alex, CEO of WebTrends. Then I met with Susan who later introduced me to Eva Chan, founder and CEO of Trend Micro. We are maybe the few people in that conference who speak Chinese (at least I don’t know the third person so far yet). Of cause, I am so happy to meet with Maynard, who was the COO of eBay, and someone I respect a lot, and Adam Lashinsky, from Fortune Magazine, who was so kind to invite me to the conference as a speaker (so effectively saved me $3000 entrance fee for the conference).

People

Maybe I am more an entrepreneur from inside, the conference brings more “enterprise” favor to my world. Many people are senior in some of the most “senior” companies in the field. I didn’t see “founder and CEO” of the really big companies, but many SVP, or CXO from big companies like Microsoft, Google, and HP. Being senior in a senior company is a good thing, and they are doing the job I cannot do well, but I enjoy sitting in the same cubicle with other energetic people to build some junior company which will eventually senior, I hope.

Theme

The best part is the Startup Idol section (again, I am the startup type of guy). I enjoyed the Badgeville idea (to help companies to give incentive badges to visitors), and the Miso idea (I don’t think they have a website yet), about giving the second screen for people watching TV. The Flipboard demo by its founder and CEO Mike McCue is so cool. Hardware like iPad unlocked people’s imagination, and the application developers should follow very fast, and the applications will continue to inspire and push for better hardware. That is the circle of how innovation works.

Aspen?

Aspen is so beautiful. I would say, it may be second most beautiful place I have even been to after Daocheng in Sichuan. However, I am not so optimistic about the future of Daocheng without the local community’s protection effort after their first airport is built…

Aspen is also the name of the tree. I just collected some nice heart-shaped leaf and put it into my Moleskine notebook (as many book holders suggest others to do with travel and leaf). Even in summer, Aspen is great, not to mention the wonderful slop for ski in winter.

Palm

I cannot end without mentioning Palm. Palm’s CEO Jon was here sitting together with HP SVP to talk about the HP, Palm acquisition. I never used a Palm, and I even confused it with BlackBerry. (Well, it is purely my ignorance, not their problem). What Todd and Jon did today was to announce that they will give a free Palm Pre Plus to every attendance. I could imagine how crowded and maybe messy it is to handle the logistics, but it turned out that the process is very elegant. When I return to my hotel, a big box of gift sits on the bed with some warm light turned on to highlight the gift. So, I have a new Palm. The problem is, shall I open it and use it, and maybe switch to Apple iPhone 3GS, or 4G (depending whether I can get one), or just keep it new and share it with friend, or the best possible outcome is, after I use it for few days, I cancel my idea of buying an iPhone? Any suggestions?

Leaving for Aspen

I am leaving Los Angeles airport for Aspen, Colorado.

A small aircraft, flying to a small town, from a very big city, and a noisy world.

Update

Arrived at Aspen, CO. What a small but decent airport. It IS a very nice town. On the whole way from LAX to ASE, I was thinking about the difference between places – the warm and green west coast, the desert like Arizona, and Nevada, and finally the green and beautiful Coloroda again. Why is that?