Category Archives: Living in Shanghai

Tired in Shanghai

The recent Shanghai Daily Article We’re tired, say office workers caused some discussion about the pressure level of office workers in Shanghai.

FEELING tired is the top complaint of local office workers, followed by worries over their jobs and emotional problems, according to an online survey.

And the following finding put a smile on my face:

Global travelers and artists were considered the people with the most enviable lives and the survey found that the best sources of happiness and satisfaction came from going to places they had never been before and staying with family or people they loved.

Exactly. At least I feel the same – to go to places I have never been before is one of the key happiness source I can imagine, and the other one, staying with family members or people I love is also a great source. I want to say, at least the survey revealed exactly what I feel.

Am I Tired?

Sure. I am pretty tired these days after the Spring Festival. The fast pace of Shanghai drives people crazy, and some people even escaped to villages (Do Chinese Move to Small Cities)

YouTube Blocked in Shanghai

Just got message on twitter, and then confirmed by myself: YouTube.com was blocked here in Shanghai (I am using China Telecom ADSL). When this happens, you know there are either conferences going on in Beijing, or something happens. Hmm… It is not news at all for any content site to be blocked, especially user generated content site like YouTube.

Tera Wellness Club

Tera Wellness Club is a premium gym. It is building a new gym near my home, and to be completed very soon. @dianakuan said on Twitter:

Shanghai tweeps – How do you excercise? Gyms and yoga studios here seem way overpriced.

I do agree – over priced gym + yoga is a characteristic of Shanghai. But anyway, to have a new option near my home is a good thing – I can use not to use it, but I cannot choose if it does not exist.

Shanghai Postal Code

I am going to answer another very simple question about Shanghai Postal Code.

This seems simple, but it is not easy to directly get the postal code from street address. There are so many postal code in Shanghai, one for each area.

China postal code is always 6 digits. Shanghai starts from 20xxxx.

Shanghai downtown: 200000

Shanghai County: 201100

Jiading District 嘉定: 201800

Songjiang District 松江: 201600

Nanhui District 南汇: 201300

Fengxian District 奉贤: 201400

Chuanshan District 川沙: 201200

Qingpu District 青浦: 201700

Chongming District 崇明: 202100

Jinshan District: 金山 201500

In Shanghai downtown, at least I know Huangpu area is 200000, and Xujiahui is 200030, and Liuli area in Pudong is 200125…

If you know the street address, you may want to try your luck with Google Maps. Enter your address, and you may find some clue in the search result.

Shanghai Population

What is the population of Shanghai? It seems to be a simple question, since the population of any city at a given time is pretty predictable. However, the number for cities in China is not certain, and especially for immigration cities like Shanghai.

Recently when I did research for classified market in other countries, I realized that Denmark only has 5 million people (while its top classified site dbk gets about 60 million USD in revenue) with 129.16/km² density. How about Shanghai?

My typical answer to "Shanghai Population" question is 16 million, including 13 million residence, and 3 million migration/unregistered population. This number seems to have changed when I just looked up this number.

Shanghai Population

It is so hard to calculate exactly how many people in Shanghai. The general way to do it is to treat people stay in the city for more than 6 months also as Shanghai population. This way, the latest report states, that there are 18 million people in this city, among 5 million are people without Shanghai residence, but stay in the city for more than 6 months…

I believe the number will continue to increase. What does it mean when the population is more than 20 million? I just feel that the idea of mega-city does not work. Hope people give an answer during the World Expo – what is a better for better life?

Electronic TV Guild in China

Below is the current TV program and their channels. Sorry that I only have Chinese version.

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TV Guide in Shanghai

Hi Jian Shuo,

I’ve been subscribing to your blog for years, and I really enjoy reading your posts about Shanghai. I think it is great that you write about topics and questions that your readers ask you.  I also have a question to ask you, regarding TV shows in Shanghai/China.  I’ve been living in Shanghai for almost 7 years but never had a TV until recently. I was surprised to discover that there are more than 50+ channels on the local cable network.  However, I don’t know what channels are good to watch and when the good/interesting programs are aired.

Can you write a post about the different channels/program available in Shanghai, how to find out about different programs/showing times, and what are some English channels/programs?  In the U.S., we have TV guides that people can look online, on the TV guide channel, or in the newspaper.  Are there similar TV guides in Shanghai to learn about different TV channels/programs?  What are some of your favorite TV programs?

Thank you,
Susan

In Shanghai, as an expat, it is not easy to understand the local TV, especially there are so many stations, and most of them are not in English. I don’t have too much resources to share, but fortunately, I have a TV, Chinese-English skills, and my passion to help people. So here is the TV guide.

In this guide, I captured the logo on the upper left corner of the screen with my Digital Camera (sorry for the relative low quality), and add some description. These are the TV channel I can get from my LG TV in my bed room. Yours may verious a little bit. Their order is according to the order of my TV, and typically, you should see the same order if you let your TV auto scan channels for you.

If you are not in Shanghai, or planning to visit Shanghai, here is the chance to know what the life is really like in Shanghai. I will talk about my favorite TV Channels in the future blog.

DSC03637 OTV (Oriental TV) Entertainment

DSC03639 STV (Shanghai TV) TV Drama (soap shows)

DSC03640 OTV Drama

DSC03643 Travel Satellite TV

DSC03644 OTV Art and Literature

DSC03645 China Education TV Channel 1 (CETV1)

DSC03646 Guizhou Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03647 Heben Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03648 Sichuan Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03649 STV Sports

DSC03650 Shanghai Education TV

DSC03651 Henan Satellite TV (from a province) – from my hometown

DSC03653 STV Lifestyle and Fashion

DSC03654 OTV

DSC03655 CCTV1 (China Central Television Channel 1)

DSC03657 OTV International Channel Shanghai (ICS) – English channel

DSC03658 CCTV2

DSC03659 Yunan Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03660 Zhejiang Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03661 Haha Children’s Channel – never saw this channel before

DSC03662 STV documentary

DSC03663 Jilin Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03664 Emmm… What’s this?

DSC03665 Anhui Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03666 CCTV8

DSC03667 Chongqing Satellite TV (from a city)

DSC03668 CCTV Olympics Channel (formerly CCTV Sports Channel)

DSC03669 Beijing Satellite TV (from a city)

DSC03671 CCTV7

DSC03672 Hunan Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03673 CCTV3

DSC03675 Guangxi Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03676 Jinagxi Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC0367

7 Shandong Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03678 CCTV News

DSC03679 CCTV9

DSC03680 CCTV10

DSC03681 CCTV11

DSC03682 CCTV12

DSC03683 Heilongjiang Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03684 Hubei Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03687 CCTV6

DSC03688 CCTV4

DSC03689 Oriental Movie Channel (from Shanghai)

DSC03690 China Business Network (a.k.s First Finance and Economy) (from Shanghai)

DSC03692 Neimenggu Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03694 STV News and General

DSC03695 Ningxia Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03699 Eastsouth Satellite TV (from a province of Fujian)

DSC03700 Shing Cartoon Channel

DSC03701 Shanxi Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03702 Jiangsu Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03705 Xinjiang Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03706 Liaoning Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03707 Guangdong Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03711 CCTV Children’s Channel

DSC03712 Xizang Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03713 Shangxi Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03714 CCTV Musical

DSC03715 Gansu Satellite TV (from a province)

DSC03717 Tianjin Satellite TV (from a city)

Well. Here is the end of the looooo…..ooong list.

My pictures are not so clear, and if you want to get clearer version, the pictures below can help. However, these logos are pretty out of date.

58585743 58929093 58645536 58584438 20071011024934923 20071011024935733 20071011024937811 20071011024938634 20071011024940556

Foreigners Individual Income Tax in China

This is a FAQ, as you can see from the discussion under my entry: Personal in Tax in China. I am not a lawyer, and I don’t want to pretend to know everything, or the accurate information (even a lawyer cannot be hold responsible for tax issues you have). But to help my expats readers, I did have the opportunity to talk with a lawyer, so I can try to answer the question.

Foreigners Working for Chinese Entity Should Pay

Any non-Chinese passport holder working for a local company, a foreign company’s representative office, subs-company in China, or a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise in China, that person need to pay tax to Chinese tax administration. In short, if the entity are you working for is registered in China, no matter what, you should pay the tax.

If you physically work in China, you should definitely pay your Income tax from day one you start to work.

Even if you do not physically work in China, you still need to pay income tax according to the money you get from this position. Of cause you don’t need to pay tax for your other income in your home country if you are not in China. Although it is a common practice that people make arrangement to pay by the offshore company, and only practically pay you 0 salary for the work you do in China, this practice is very dangerous.

Foreigners with China Residency Status Need to Pay Tax Based on Worldwide Tax

If you stay in China for more than 5 years, without leaving China for 30 consecutive days in one calendar year, or 90 days in total in a calendar year, you are regarded to have China Residency Status. In this case, you have to declare you worldwide income and pay the local tax authority based on that income. This includes but not limited to your property rental income in Mexico, your stock gain in NASDAQ, or your dividend in Europe. In short, you should pay tax for every penny.

Although the officials in the tax administration said they never heard of such a case, it is legally safe to stay out for 30 days every 5 year.

Expats or Visitors

If you stay in China for more than 183 days, you should pay tax for all the income from day one you enter China. This is often referred as the 183 day rule.

How Much Should Foreigners Pay

The tax rate is the same as local (not very sure about this, anyone wants to give any comment), which is listed in this entry. The only difference is, the first 4,000 RMB you earn is tax free.

YLF

Is RMB and Yuan the Same? Yes

This may seems a very easy question, but it is frequent one – trust me, I receive several emails everyday from visitors to Shanghai, and many people got confused of the difference between RMB and Yuan. For example, yesterday, when I answer a question with 2500 RMB, my reader asked: Is RMB and Yuan the same thing?

Yes. It is the same. RMB is the abbr. of Ren Min Bi, or the People’s Money. It is the official currency (maybe the only one) in China.

Yuan is the base unit for RMB – just as Dollar in USD. This is the currency system in China:

分 Fen cent

角 Jiao dime

圆 Yuan dollar

The first characters (you may not be able to see them if your computer don’t have Chinese font support) are the Chinese character of the currency unit. The second is its Pinyin / English name, and the last one is the counterpart in USD.

So Yuan and RMB is not always the same (as Yuan is just one of the currency units in RMB), but they can often be used interchangeably. 2500 RMB and 2500 Yuan is exactly the same amount of money.

PS. I know this is too easy a question, but I would rather spend sometime to help to answer this one. The reason I am doing this is, I understand some very easy question may not have an easy answer for first time visitors. Just as I found out in the comments of this entry:Frequently Used Phone Numbers in Shanghai, people even not familiar with emergency number 119. What can be more easier than this question?

What you Miss in Shanghai?

Cartera did an interesting survey on ShanghaiExpat’s forum: What things do you miss in Shanghai?. Here are some of the answers:

Fresh Air, Food Hygiene, Cleaniliness, Politeness, Patience and Walkers Prawn cocktail crisps, British Sunday Roast Dinner and Sky Sports!!

Fresh air, beaches, clean water, common sense, civilized behaviour, decent food, a decent marina.

-Everything that is not fake.

American Grown stuff,

-Food, size and taste is dramatically different, tomatoes, scallions, meats especially

-Human being temperatures.

-Doing business with set prices, negotiating can be a pain sometimes.

-Air Quality

-Driving my own damn car

-White people even though I’m not white. I just need my daily dose of Whitism.

All the above plus……

Moral

Ethic

Trust

Obey the Law

Enforce the Law

A simple “Sorry” when things are done wrong

Openness

Manner

Blue sea

MSG free food

Services

Clean tap water

Proper ventilated office building

Proper air conditioning + properly insulated office building

Higher grade gas + properly maintained vehicles

People flush soiled toilet paper instead of leaving it in the bin in toilet

Singing loudly when I’m driving the car alone.

Public restrooms that are not completely repulsive.

Going to a store where you can get everything in one trip.

The beach.

Driving my own car.

Spotless supermarkets.

Non Smoking Restaurants, Malls, etc

Service in Restaurants : Quality, Cleanilness,etc

Clean Public Restrooms

A walk in the park with fresh air

Mount Rainier

Nice Beaches

Nice mountain & beach

delicious foods (nithgt marketing)

clearn road no one will spit sputum

non- smoking public place

frinedly and politeness ppl

Tasty foods. Good customer service. Polite and friendly people. People who think before doing things.

Not-too-crowded lifts. The words “Sorry” and “Excuse me”. One-stop shops. Entertainment centers.

I am not surprised to see this from the angle of an expat. I admit that many of the stuff listed here is reality in Shanghai. Come to Shanghai, and you need to be prepared for everything in this city, including the lack of the things listed above.

My Two Cents

Lack of Moral, Ethic, Politeness are all true in Shanghai. However, I’d say, to be fair, it is just the current Shanghai or China (well, to be fair, no one said it is past China). In the long history, China enjoys the oldest civilization, but the recent half century is a disaster. It takes time for people to recover the long-stand moral standard, and being polite again – it just takes time.

Your comments about this?

China’s Social Resources

This morning, I took one morning leave to go to hospital to inject the immune for my son. He is one month old now – exactly one month. Due to Chinese tradition, people often celebrate the date with a ceremony similar to the wedding ceremony – after one month, the month, and the children (and the father, of cause) should already recovered from the initial “disorder” to the normal life. This seems to be good timing. We didn’t do it. We went to hospital this morning. The second round of immune injection started from today.

To my surprise, it took us almost the whole morning to wait in the long line of crying babies. We left around 11:00 AM after the injection, and was not patient enough to wait in the long line to get the Vitamin B the doctor prescribed. If I should have waited, I guess I needed 40 minutes.

This reminded me the talk I had with Jim the other day. He said: “Before you have a baby, or you get sick, you may not understand how limited the social resource in this country is”.

This is true. Before, if there is only Wendy and I, there are not too much we need. Just go to restaurants, and we went to movies – there are plenty of them both in Shanghai.

However, when we have a baby, we suddenly found there are just so few hospitals, so few doctors, and so long you have to wait. Later, I believe we will continuously find out the educational system, the other medical care, the sport facility for children — it is still very rare resources – far from enough.

I am also aware that I am in Shanghai – the city in China with relatively better social security, and insurance system. If I feel the lack of resources (indicated by long waiting time), it must be so in other places.

I have to admit, that I only see part of China (before and now, and in the future). I just found out this with the arrival of my son.

Shanghai not as Safe as Before

The other day, when Wendy and I was talking about the safty in Shanghai, we both agree that Shanghai is not as safe as before.

There are several reasons for us to have that kind of feeling.

1. There are more and more (bad) beggar and other misbehaved people on the street. Please note I mean bad beggars (they almost do robbery instead of just begging).

2. There are more murder cases on newspaper than before.

What do you feel? Safer? Worse? or no change?

Life in a Crowded World

Life in Shanghai is tough. Who should we complain when there are so many people asking for the same service?

Long Lines in Banks

“Never, ever try to use any bank in Xujiahui area”, warned Wendy.

This is true. Last time Wendy went to Bank of China and got a service ticket. It stated that there are 180 people waiting before her.

One and half hour later, when she is back, there are still 150 people before her. At 4:00, when she is back again, her number just passed, and she has to get back to the bank the second day again.

The bank is full of people who have waited hours to deposit or withdraw money.

The online service of Bank of China does not really work, so there are not many options for its customer.

For me, banks are not different. The most common thing is, if you go to one bank, you will swear not to go to this bank again for the rest of your life. I did so for ICBC (ICBC – A Customer’s Experience), and other banks (Service Quality of Banks in China (Shanghai)).

Parking Lot

I gave up Carrfour many times just because the parking lot was too crowded, and there is no parking lot.

I gave up IKEA the last week for the same reason. I also gave up my goods in my shopping cart just to avoid the long line.

Train Ticket

Train tickets are even more ridiculous. Read on

The Changing Shanghai

This is a normal Saturday. It is cloudy.

Ihad a short walk with Wendy near my home in Pudong.

This is a normal place in Pudong. Here are some random photos I took today. This is the beginning of 2007. I am very sure that after 1 year, the view will completely change. Who can predict what is going to happen in China these days? Take a look at these pictures.

Below: Women formed a dancing team to practice before the Hymall. They have drums and loud music. I am so happy that my apartment is still 2 minutes walk away from where they dance.

Below:

This is typically bricks on the sidewalk in Shanghai. It rained yesterday, so some parts are wet. The sidewalk is pretty clean now, since the Chengshan 成山 road was just completed one year ago. It is a pretty empty road now. Who knows what it may happen after 1 year, when the road extends to the east, and forms the backbone of the road system in Pudong?

Above: In the next one hour and a half, I am wandering in this area. This park was still not finished. 1 year ago, this area was a typically Pudong village, and one year later, it becomes a park. These two pictures are similar, taken from the 20th floor of a building nearby.

Above: On the north side of the building, high-raise residential areas have been completed. You can see how many buildings there. On the south and west of this building, it is still a construction site. I will show you soon. However, it is for sure that the area I show later will become the same in 2 years.

Construction site #1. Look at those big tube? It is the natural gas station, and there is a big yellow place? I don’t know what it is.

Construction site #2. There are many big machines like this around where I live. Construction is going on everywhere.

Above: This is a new bridge. As you can see from the picture, it is not completed. I am expecting the bridge to be completed within one month.

This is the water gate, the old one. According to the construction plan, this will become a river within the residential area. The water gate will be removed.

Above: This is the prototype of a new road. The road will extend to connect with the current road near my apartment, which was completed the last year.

Above: Construction site, again.

Look at this river. Boats are coming from the East China Sea and going to the Huangpu River. The area south of the river is still not developed yet.

Above: This is the completed park.

Change! Change! Change!

The reason I posted these pictures is to show people who are not in this city the sense of change.

On this land, change is happening on daily basis, instead of yearly. I am going to take some pictures the same time the next year to show you the changes. All the buildings are expected to finish the next year, and all the roads.

Shanghai and China is developing in a amazing speed. When people run, it is very clear that the old system needs to catch up with the economical growth. Just remember, there are more than 160 metro stations under construction concurrently in Shanghai.

120K Self-Claim Tax in Details

Disclaimer: Just like previous post, this is just want I *THINK* it works. It is NOT an official explain of the tax issue.

The source of this explanation came from the tax summary paper I received in mail and this link.

Who Should Follow the Self-Claim Routine

Anyone who have annual income above 120K RMB should self-claim his/her tax to the tax bureau from Jan 1 to March 31 from this year.

Personal annual income includes not only salary, it also include bonus, income for labor, interest, stock dividends, author’s remuneration, copyright royalty, rent of property, transfer of property, accidental income and other income.

From the list, it seems any money that goes into someone’s pocket should be claimed. There are some exception, but none of them seem to be common to normal people.

Tax rate for most of the items are 20%.

How to Claim it

The tax bureau provides a hot line: 12366 to handle questions. People can go to their office to claim between 8:30 to 16:30, from Monday to Saturday.

What is the Status?

In the most important national wide news time from 7:00 to 7:30 PM, there is an update for the status yesterday. 9 days after the policy was announced, there are 1253 persons claimed it in Beijing, 400 for other cities, and no one claimed in some cities.

When I search the news on Internet, many cities didn’t see anyone come to their office to claim.

According to some (unconfirmed) sources, people we didn’t claim their tax will be charged up to 5 times of 50% of their tax due.

How about the Policy?

I am pretty sure that this policy will be among the countless policies that no one follow. Just like the ICP license policy issued in 2000, it was not enforced until the year of 2006.

For this one? It times time, maybe for 5 years for this policy to be really enforced. This can be a problem in China that laws and regulations are not accepted easily, just because the process of drafting these laws didn’t involve the people.

Personal Income Tax in China

Disclaimer: Tax in China is like many other things. It is a blur concept, and confusing most of time. I am not a professional on this. To be honest, if I were not to prepare this article, I never really understand or try to understand how tax works. So there may be error or misunderstanding in this document. Refer to official document instead of this person.

Personal Income Tax

The current income tax was deducted before you get your salary. The company is responsible to charge you tax on your behalf.

The formula is

$$$ due to tax = your monthly salary – basic tax waive $ – personal social insurances etc

* basic tax waive $ is typically from 800 RMB to 1600 RMB depending on the province/city you are in. That means, if your salary is lower than this amount, you don’t have to pay tax.

* personal social insurances are different kinds of insurance you pay to the government, like housing allowance, retirement insurance, medical insurances, unemployment insurance. To be short, there are many insurances that you need to pay the government. For the company, they also need to pay the company’s portion of the same insurance for you, which is typically 45-48% of your salary.

Tax = $$$ due to tax * Tax Percentage – Easy Deduction Rate

* Easy Deduction Rate: It is just for easiness of calculation. For example, if you way a rate of 25%, there is a portion (below 20,000) that is due to lower rate (20%, 15%, 10% and 5%), so you don’t need to pay as much as 25% of the full amount, so you deduct the Easy Deduction Rate.

Tax Grade

Grade | Monthly Salary (RMB) | Tax Percentage | Easy Deduction Rate

1 | $ < 500 | 5% | 0 2 | 500 < $ < 2,000 | 10% | 25 3 | 2,000 < $ < 5,000 | 15% | 125 4 | 5,000 < $ < 20,000 | 20% | 375 5 | 20,000 < $ < 40,000 | 25% | 1375 6 | 40,000 < $ < 60,000 | 30% | 3375 7 | 60,000 < $ < 80,000 | 35% | 6375 8 | 80,000 < $ < 100,000 | 40% | 10375 9 | $ > 100,000 | 45% | 15375

Consuming Tax

When you buy goods, you are paying consuming tax, but it is included in the final price everywhere. You have no idea about that you are actually paying tax.

Self-claim tax for annual salary > 120K

There is a new policy that people with income > 120K will need to claim tax by themselves. I never really understand what it means. Let’s wait and see how it works.

You’v Got (Registered) Mail!

How important is mail (traditional mail) in our daily life? No so important. In the last few years, I didn’t receive any written mails, and all the mail in my mailbox are either “Direct Mail”, or the fly-er of commercial advertisement, or bills (telephone bills, gas bills, cable TV bills).

I totally have no incentive to open the mailbox.

Among them, there are some special mail notification. It is a small piece of paper to ask me to go to the post office in person to fetch package or registered mail.

I hate this.

China Post

Once upon a time, all major services are operated by the state-owned enterprises: banks, post offices, telephones, water, electricity…

20 years past, all these industries changed dramatically. The only industry that left unchanged seems to be China Post.

For banks, most of them are commercialized. Recently, the ICBC is going IPO, which may marks the biggest IPO deal in the history of man-kind. The service provided by banks are among the best in all these industries.

For water supply, in Pudong Area, the water supply company is a JV between Shanghai Water and a France company, and the quality of water, billing system, and maintenance is great.

For gas, and electricity, more and more services are provided. The only interface between end users and the company is the billing and payment. Now people can pay your bill at convenient stores, online, via mobile, via banks… For the quality of gas, or electricity? I have no comment. That is too technical for common people to comment.

Now let’s talk about POST OFFICE!

China Post Office

If you want to experience the “old China” before 20 years of reform, go to a post office.

For example, here is the typical process to get my “registered mail” or package.

The notification

On the notification slip (bad quality paper, and all information is hand written – low efficiency), it said “come to post office within 3 days, or we will charge you for delayed fee…”.

They don’t care about whether it is convenient for people to go to THEIR office. The office closes at 7:00 PM. That means, if the mail arrives on Monday, it is for sure that I need to pay the delayed fee.

The location

The post office on the Linyi Road – about 4 km away from my home. I drove there. The package claim area is not inside the post office. There is no sign, and you have to ask the people working there, and they tell you – go out side the post office, turn right and turn right in the first gate of a residential area. To ahead for 10 meters, and there is a small gate on the right. Enter the gate, and turn right. Do NOT go up stairs, instead, go to the left side of the stair and there is a small window…”

The person must have told people many many times – inefficient.

OK. I followed the instruction and go the small window. They need you to write down your national ID number, signature, and hand in your national ID or passport.

They person inside the window will get the small piece of notification, and start to search in the piles of letters – one by one. This typically takes about one minute or two (low efficiency), and then give the the letter… Their attitude is really bad.

The Result

After all the suffer, you know what I got?

It is a bill from China Telecom.

Going to Movie (Cinema) in Shanghai

Where do I go to movie in Shanghai? I have two favorite places.

#1: Stellar Cinema City

Location: 8F,168 LuJiaZui Xi Rd.

Tel: +86-21-50478022

It is located at level 8 of the Super Brand Mall (near the Oriental Pearl TV Tower).

Every night after 9:00 PM, they offer 50% off. Very good deal. When we have time for a movie, it is often after 9:00 PM already.

They have many big halls in it, and most movies can be found there. I enjoy the theater a lot. It has almost the best equipments in Shanghai.

#2: Super Cinema World in Metro City at Xujiahui

Location: 5th Floor, of Metro City, 1111 Zhaojiabang road

Tel: 6426-8181, ext 200

It is a modern theater, and offers 50% off every Tuesday. But consider how long the lines will be before you go on Tuesday:

It has maybe the best location in the city – just at Exit 10 of Xujiahui Station of Metro Line #1.

I love this place, but it is always crowded.

I love these two locations because Wendy works in Xujiahui, and I worked there for 5 years, so the Super Theater is a great choice for us. For the one in the Super Brand Mall, it seems to be one of the other two theaters in Pudong, and its location is simply the best – there are a lot to do in that area. The 10-story Super Brand Mall is offers great choices for food.

Others

There are other places that you can go to movies. They are also good. I just didn’t go there often since it is too far from where I work and live.

Golden Cinema-Friendship

5F, Friendship South Shopping Mall

7388 Humin Lu

Tel: 6412-0260

I visit this cinema often between 1999 and 2001, when I lived nearby. It is a good one. In the early years, it is often that there are only two or three persons watch movies in the theater. Now, it is much better.

Golden Cinema-Haixing

4F, Haixing Plaza

1 Ruijin Nanlu

Tel: 6412-0260

Studio City

Location: 10F, Westgate Mall, 1038 Nanjing Xilu

Tel: 6218-2173

Very nice one, and is on top of Westgate Mall. The plaza 66 and other great buildings are nearby.

Shanghai Film Arts Centre

Location: 160 Xinhua Lu, at Panyu Road cross

Tel: 6280-6088

This one is treated as the official cinema of Shanghai. Why “official”? It has the government background and the whole building was built as a cinema. It is the appointed venue for the opening ceremony of the last few Shanghai Film Festivals.

UME International Cineplex

Location: 4F, No.6, Lane 123, Xingye Lu

Tel: 6373-3333

It is at the heart of Xintiandi. The facility is so-so, not impressive at all.

Grand Cinema

216 Nan Jing Xi Rd.6

Tel: +86-21-63274260

Pretty historical (old) cinema

Heng Shan Cinema

Location: 838 Heng Shan Rd., Near Xujiahui

Tel: +86-21-54652849

This is an old one also. The price is very cheap, but the facility is of late 1990s. Never tried it before.

International Cinema

330 Hai Ning Rd.

Tel: +86-21-63243360

Paradise Warner Cinema City

6F Gateway Plaza,1Hongqiao Rd.

Tel: +86-21-64071165

Nextage Film Art Center

10F,501 Zhang Yang Rd.

Tel: +86-21-58360850

Peace Cinema

290 XiZangZhong Rd.

Tel: +86-21-63612898

I know this one well. It is located where I work everyday. It is at Raffles City Exit of the People’s Square Station of Metro #1 and #2. Location is good, but facility is so-so. To me, it is not suitable for the great location and great building it is in. It is funny that at the same place, there was an old theater in the last 100 years, before the area was pulled down and built the current Raffles City.

Cathay Theatre

Location: 870 HuaiHaiZhong Rd.

Tel: +86-21-54042095

This is really an old theater. If you want to find out the feeling of old Shanghai, go there.

That’s it. A pretty complete cinema list in Shanghai. Did I left any cinema out? I know. Something like Tianshan Cinema. I just don’t want to bother to write about it – a normal old style cinema and old facility…

Have a great time in Shanghai and do go to one of the cinemas.

Coins are Popular in Shanghai

When people outside Shanghai visit Shanghai for the first time (including me 10 years ago), they often found RMB coins are more popular in Shanghai than any other cities in China. Going out empty handed for one day and when you return, you probably have some coins in pocket.

Where the Coins Comes From

The answer is simple. It comes from everywhere.

The biggest source may be the Shanghai Metro. If you buy ticket of 4 RMB with 10 RMB paper cash, often you get your charge in 6 one-RMB coins.

The automatic ticket vending machines are the same. They sometimes give changes in coins as many as 16 one-RMB coins. Once I got 16 coins when I bought 4 RMB ticket from People’s Square to Xujiahui with 20 RMB.

The other source is taxi. Taxi drivers always keeps the coins at hand.

Since coins are so popular, the 1-RMB paper cash is not as popular, and I didn’t saw 2-RMB paper cash for a long time (BTW, did they stopped producing this kind of cash?).

Where to Use it

I believe there are two reasons why people in Shanghai loves coins better.

1. There is a Coin Manufaturing Factory in Shanghai. There are only 3 coin manufacturing companies in China (the others are in Shenyang, and Nanjing. There is another one in Shenzhen, but they don’t produce RMB coins. They produce golden coins only) (correct me if I am wrong here).

2. There are many coin-only equipments in Shanghai. For example, the ticket vending machine in Shanghai Metro, and the telephone booth, drink vending machines… You can use it in many places. The “self-serve” buses are also a good place for coins.

Shanghai is Different

In most cities I visited in China, they don’t like coins. For example, in Beijing and Luoyang, people don’t like coins, and some refuse to accept coins. To be not exact, not to refuse. They just ask you if you have paper cash instead of coins.

People say it is troublesome to carry coins, and they are easy to lose.

I am a Coin-fan

Me? I love coins. I love the feeling to have a lot of coins in pockets – “the feeling of being rich.” Just kidding. But I do know that advisers to Bill Gates suggested Bill not to carry any coins in pocket, because the sound of coins reminds people of how rich he is.

Today is a typical day. I started with 10 RMB, bought ticket at vending machine at 4 RMB (the Public Transportation card happened to have no money in it), and spent 4 out of the 6 changed coins tonight. Now I have two left. The picture below is one of them… :-)

My 1-RMB coin

962288 Hotline for Foreigners

Good news for foreigners living in Shanghai. The government opened a 24 hour hotline dedicated to help foreigners to survive in Shanghai.

The telephone number is:

962288

If you are not in Shanghai, but in China, you need to dial

021-962288

If you are outside China, call

+86-21-962288

According to this piece of news,

The Shanghai Call Centre, which was officially launched on Friday, provides both English and Chinese information about tourist destinations, culture, sports, trade, medical care and other issues of daily life in Shanghai.

The hotline will run 24 hours a day and seven days a week and is backed by a group of 12 operators, all graduates with bachelor degrees.

It seems to be exactly the voice version of this blog. So record this number immediately and have a try. It just opened last Friday.

P.S. Please post comments on the hotline under this entry. I didn’t try because I feel too wired to use English to call, and the operators may find out I can actually speak Chinese. :-D

Do You Believe in Living Cost Index?

The big difference between really living in a city and not is, you have better sense of the relative environment of a city.

There are many reports on living cost. Shanghai sometimes ranked very high in the list – in the top 10 most expensive cities. The recent 2005 report says, Shanghai is the 30th most expensive city in the world. One of the key factor is the change of RMB price.

What is the Standard

I don’t doubt that the report has been generated in a scientific way. However, I don’t know what the standard they are using. I didn’t check out the questionnaire, but I guess they may use a western standard. For example: the price of Hamburg. The price of a Golf course, the price of car, the price of apartment, the price of gym…

The problem is, there are many things like Golf and Gym that is not necessary in the life of Shanghai. The average cost of those rare activities is much more expensive than many cities, just like everywhere in the world. People in Shanghai can make good live with only several thousands RMB, while using the standard,, 10K USD may not be enough.

Living the Chinese Way

So my conclusion is, living the U.S. way in Shanghai is much more expensive than living the U.S. way in U.S., but to live in the Chinese way in Shanghai is much more cheaper than living the U.S. way in U.S.

Is this Water Safe to Drink?

Wendy and I was in a decent restaurant the other day. A well-dressed couple from Florida were seated next to us. We chatted a little bit when they seek for help to order the Chinese dishes.

After they completed the order, the lady pointed to the glass of water before her and asked: “BTW, is it safe to drink the water here?”

“Well. I think so”, I answered.

Safe or Not? What is the Standard

I know they just arrived in Shanghai and had started a short vacation in Shanghai. The whole route was arranged by a professional foreign tour agency, and they just want to grasp something to eat before the dinner arrives about 3 hours later. It seems we are the only persons to ask whether it is safe to drink water in Shanghai.

I can understand their questions. Just as I just landed in the U.S., I suspect the water is different from Shanghai and asked the question to myself. It is even so when they just arrived in a city in which the average water quality is not as good.

Don’t Drink Water directly from the Pipe

It is for sure that do not drink un-boiled water in Shanghai. Although it is still safe to drink the water (I think), it is not recommended.

In restaurants, I think it is pretty sure to assume the water in the glass is drinkable.