Typhoon Hits Shanghai

Typhoon is coming to Shanghai tomorrow. It will be the first day Yifan go to kindergarten. His teacher in kindergarten sent us SMS that the kindergarten will be closed tomorrow due to typhoon. So, Yifan has one more day at home before he can play his favorite cars in his classroom.

Take care, my friends, if you are in Shanghai or southeast coast of China.

Cost Structure of the Kindergarten

Yesterday, I posted about the new kindergarten near my home. In the comment section, people are very interested in the low tuition – 180 RMB per month per person. That is just the tuition. The meal per day is 6 RMB, which is about 120 RMB, plus some minor fees. In total, it is not expensive at all. Why?

The Public School Sponsored by Developer

It is a public school. Most private school charges much higher than that. Before, Yifan attended a pre-kindergarten care. That charges about 1600 RMB per month – a pretty normal one. The better private day care charges about 300 RMB per day, which is basically 6000 RMB per month, which I didn’t choose.

Public schools are typically cheaper.

The Developer – Dahua

This particular kindergarten is not 100% government school. The land was sponsored by the developer, and the developer built the building – a very nice one.

By developer, I mean the Dahua Real Estate Development Company (their actual translation may vary). They built the building for free and gave it to the government. Why?

The whole Dahua residential area was developed by a single developer. They got huge piece of land in the middle of Pudong. They are going to build 3 million square meter of commercial building in more than 10 years. Yes. I didn’t made a mistake here. It is 3 million square meter! Altogether, 100 – 200 thousand people will be living in the building they developed. That means, it is bigger than most cities in the States by its own.

The tricky part of the story is, when Dahua got the huge piece of land about 10 years ago, the house price per square meter was 3000 RMB. I moved here in 2004. The house price was about 6000 RMB. Now, the newly built house is priced at 20-30K per square meter. The land price didn’t change. Think about it. If they can make a profit at 3000 RMB, what the profit it will be at 10x of the original price.

To support the high house price of the area, the developer also need some basic infrastructure. So they want the best kindergarten, and school to move it. Compared to the huge profit they are making, the building of kindergarten is even smaller than a rounding error.

The Government

According to the president of the kindergarten, besides the developer Dahua, the local district government also put 2 million RMB per year into the school. Since it is in the public school system, it is the routine.

The Kindergarten

Finally, when the building is ready, and the money is ready, then there comes the kindergarten. With the urbanization process, it is easier to build the building, to have the land, and the money ready, it is harder to get the right process. So they invited the Oriental Kindergarten staff to run this newly built kindergarten.

Finally, the three parts were put together to make this one possible.

Yifan’s Kindergarten

I cannot believe it. In three days, Yifan will officially start his kindergarten life. This will be a great milestone for him. The kindergarten starts from Sept 1, 2010 – the official school date for almost all schools, and kindergartens in China. I attended the first parents’ meeting yesterday.

Don’t get confused with Yifan’s current kindergarten. Yifan was in another kindergarten for two months:

Yifan Started His Kindergarten Life

Yifan’s Second Day in Kindergarten

That was pre-kindergarten child care. From Sept 1, he will be officially enrolled.

Yifan’s Kindergarten – Shanghai Oriental Jinxiu Kindergarten

With the rapid urbanization in Shanghai, there are new kindergartens being built every few years. Yifan’s kindergarten was just finished – barely finished with the workers still busy moving the building materials out of the campus. Yifan will be the first batch of kids attending the school. Interestingly, with 23 classes, it will be the largest kindergarten in Pudong area.

The Building

When I started the blog, I wanted to share events around me with my readers, so people can “virtually” experience the life of Shanghai. I am happy to share the new kindergarten.

I am very satisfied with this one. It is within walking distance from where we live – just one block away. Yifan can walk there easily.

The building was designed by an American architect – that is the typical way for an organization to show off the “quality” of their building.

This is a corner of the building. The building is a three-story closed building formed the shape of a square with courtyard in the middle.

This is the entrance:

The big hall full of toys. With the recent kindergarten accidents in China, they obviously strengthened the security. Parents cannot enter the kindergarten after 8:30, and the local police sent policeman every day.

They have a nice playing field – the toys, and equipments are still under installation.

I heard they have swimming for the kids. It is not finished yet.

Yifan visited the kindergarten after the parents’ meeting. He obviously enjoyed the cars, and toys here.

They have cute chairs, and tables. I checked our their class room – there are four rooms in it.

One is living room – where they play and have classes. The other equally big one are their bed room with about 20 small beds in it. They will sleep between 12 to 14:30 in the noon.

The third room is the entrance where they place a lot of equipment there.

The forth is their restroom.

This is the courtyard in the middle of the building.

Cost

This is a public kindergarten, so the cost is very low. Because it is a newly built one, and they haven’t evaluated and given it a grade yet, it is charging by a lower standard.

The cost will be 180 RMB / month (that is about 25 USD). Cheap, isn’t it? For this particular case, I am satisfied with the public service of Shanghai, although in most cases, I feel desperate because of the lack of resources – med care, for example.

This is the scene of the parents meeting. They have about 20 students for the 3-year old class – junior class. For each class, there are two teachers, and an Ayi.

Hopefully, Yifan will love his new kindergarten and start his new life smoothly.

Yifan’s Kindergarten v.s. Mine and my middle school

Yifan’s kindergarten is very nice. The facility is much better than my middle school, not to mention primary school in Luoyang.

This reflected the change in both cities, and time. It is a new kindergarten built 20 years from my age, and it is in Shanghai, one of the most advanced cities in education, and Luoyang is one of the underdeveloped city.

Another change is, 30 years ago, I was not able to attend a kindergarten because of I didn’t have a Luoyang city Hukou (residential permit). The result is, I never attended a kindergarten. But fortunately, I spent extremely happy time along the rivers, and neighborhood, with a home key hung on my neck.

Now, kids at the age of Yifan can attend the kindergarten even without Shanghai residence, as long as they are in the school district. (Well, the Shanghai local residence are given priority in enrollment though). That is the change in the last 30 years.

Journalist Should Not Be Director

Last week, I received an interview from ICS (International Channel Shanghai). The program is ICS news.

I regretted that I didn’t insist not to take the interview. I have decided not to take interview from the local media, especially TV media, but finally, I said yes.

Then it comes the filming. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience inn talk show programs from ICS. My favorite is “Culture Matters”, which I have been with their program for 5 times. I enjoyed the style of Sammy who is the host, and also the CEO of Sunny TV. He brought a lot of modern journalism style to the program. For example, they only record 30 minutes in total for the 20 something minutes program. That means, they basically broadcast all the content without too much editing. For other talk show like “Crossing Over” with Hong Huang, it went on well, although not as good as Culture Matter.

This is the first time I appear on News type program. To my surprised, I found I became an actor, and the journalist became the director. They have a script to record me in a restaurant, explaining the menu in English, to a foreigner. I don’t like that idea. I think it is stupid and not relevant to what I do. Finally, I firmly said no to the request on that section.

The few minutes shooting was on air at 9:00 PM the same night. I didn’t bother watch it. The key point is, I want journalism to be an observer, not the director. I want to be the person I am, not to act in a script. That is the key conflict in belief.

I know that is the way news is produced in China, even the English language news with expat as audience. What I can do is to stay away from it.

Urbanization of Luoyang

My hometown Luoyang is a typical sample of recent years of urbanization process in China.

Situated in the middle of China, Luoyang is a middle sized city. Although the total population is 6 million (too big a number in US to be a middle sized city), the urban population is only about 1 million, with the rest to be rural population.

In the last 10 years, Luoyang changes a lot. When I check satellite image on Google Maps, I found due to some reason, some tiles of the map was not updated to the current image. That provided an interesting view of the past and the current picture of Luoyang on the same page.

Image in courtesy of Google Maps

As you can see from the picture above, the lower part is the original state of the land – farm land with some villages. The upper part is the current Luoyang.

Let’s take a closer look.

Image in courtesy of Google Maps

Pay attention to the strange banks of the river, and the modern cities.

Below is a bigger picture of the whole Luoyang new district.

Image in courtesy of Google Maps

Let’s spotlight some of the areas on this map:

The new stadiums:

Image in courtesy of Google Maps

The new park:

Image in courtesy of Google Maps

The astonishing big pool before the new building of the government:

Image in courtesy of Google Maps

Finally is the government building, that assemblies the forbidden city.

Image in courtesy of Google Maps

Where is the farm land, and the villages? The following interesting photo illustrated that a big road went straightly into the village, and the commercial residential areas were built at the same place. There is no way for the old village to survive. They moved away – or to be more exact, they were moved away.

My Worries

When I was younger, to have a bigger and more beautiful city was my dream. Now, after I visited many places, and thought deeper about the future of China, the change made me worry. I have few questions.

Where are the farm land?

In the last 10 years, the city of Luoyang grew crazily. They moved the government from the old city center to this land – a piece of land in the middle of no where (well, in the old standard). Then the farm land was taken, and Luoyang developed using a pattern to leverage the land typically reserved for the next century. Look at the huge projects on the land – that is exactly the project you want to build when you have too many land to spare.

Where is the money?

Why the government has so much money to build it? The secret is the land. Since in the current Chinese system, the government is the only legal middle man to transfer a piece of land from the farmer to a developer, and then to house buyers. They often offer ridiculously low price (at the time I was there, it was 20 – 50 K RMB per Chinese ace) to the farmers (and they have to move because their land buildings were announced as illegal followed by police), and then they sell the land at 10x or higher price to developer. The more land they sell, the more profit the government (to be exact, the people involved) they get. The new government buildings, and the huge projects are maybe just some change.

Unfortunately, this is the general pattern in most cities in China. IMHO, I think the only way out is to allow end house buyers to buy land directly from farmers.

Luoyang is a typical example of urbanization in China, and you see the change in a “broken” Google map.

Want to see it by yourself in Google Maps? Here is the link.

Back to SJTU BBS

When you lost an ID that you enjoy a lot, you don’t want to use that site any more. It is the case for me on SJTU BBS (Shanghai Jiaotong University Bulletin Board System). I started to use it when I was a junior there. I used a nick name stonebook for few years, before it was terminated on Oct 26, 2003.

I just registered a new nickname on http://bbs.sjtu.edu.cn: jianshuo. I will return to the Automation department board, SOEIEE board (what a strange name), and others.

Besides Facekbook.com/jianshuo, you can private message me @jianshuo on SJTU BBS now, if you have a nickname there.

Written Chinese Keeps China United

One of my guesses (without any support) is, the written language of Chinese played a very important role in keeping China united as a country in the last 1000 years, although it separates, and then united. Why?

Unlike languages that records pronunciation, like English, Chinese characters is basically a “picture” represents the meaning. Look at the illustration in this blog: Chinese Characters.

No matter how you want to read it, the written language is always the same across China. A simple (over simplified) example are the number one, two, three in Chinese: 一. 二. 三. If you have Chinese system in your computer and can read Chinese, you will find one stroke means 1, two strokes means 2, and three vertical strokes means 3. (Of cause, 1000 strokes does not mean 1000). It is just like the Rome representation: I, II, III, IV, V, or the numerical representation: 1, 2, 3, 4… In different countries, they are read differently, but the meaning are the same.

Just like Arabic numbers keeps most of the human on the same page (unfortunately, there are just few signs in common), Chinese languages acted as a glue to keep the vast area together, and they can communicate with each other.

One example is, if Chinese people start to use Pinyin, or whatever representation of the pronunciation of the Chinese characters, within 50 years, there will be at least 100 different languages in China.

In Beijing, 谢谢你 “Thank you”, will be written as Xie Xie Ni. In Taiwan, it will be written as: ㄒㄝ ㄒㄝ ㄋㄧ, and in Shanghai, it may be written as Xia Xia Nong. I can imagine in most of the provinces, or even cities, they can be written differently, if according to pronunciation…

If that does happen, when a group of people cannot communicate with another group of people for too long, China will become an Europe of today.

That is just my guess. Any support to this idea?

Minimum Fee 120 RMB for Top of SWFC

The top secret I have about this city is how to Get to Top of SWFC Within 100 RMB. Now, I found out that trick does not work.

The 91th floor of Shanghai World Financial Center is no longer the best value bar in Shanghai. Now, they require 120 RMB per person minimum pay for all afternoon tea guests.

Now, the only alternatives left for me are: