I am in Bay Area Again

I am at T2 of Shanghai Pudong Airport, and ready to get on board UA858 to San Francisco. I will be in the bay area from July 14 to July 19, 2012. Besides some pre-arranged meetings, I’d like to visit more startups during this trip. I visited Google, Facebook, eBay for too many times, and even Apple, and Yahoo!. This time, I am looking forward to meeting more friends from startups – companies with 5 to 20 people and understand the subtle difference between a pure startup and a mid-sized company, and how to push the company psychological age down.

Interestingly, I found I hand around San Francisco area more than bay area this time.

PVG to SFO in Febuary

Just packed everything according to a previous check-list – feeling so good to have a reference of what to bring to the States. I will fly to San Francisco tomorrow via UA858.

Looking forward to another exciting trip in the bay area. I am always inspired by the people there. Here I am coming!

Itinerary

PVGUA 858 20FEB 1334 0814

SFOUA 857 02MAR 1157 1745+1

I will basically in the Palo Alto area (Stanford!). Ping me if you want a meetup. Current schedule is very busy, but I am sure I can manage to get few hours out of it.

P.S. I am still flying with United, and I promise to change to another one the next time. I got one Sorry coupon on each way via United the last trip (first, second), but this time, I really had no time and not in the mood to seek for another airline.

Back to Shanghai

Quick note: I landed at Shanghai Pudong Airport at 12:30 PM, July 11, 2009. From leaving Super 8 at Stanford at 9:00 AM, July 9, it is 51.5 hours (yes. I surely understand that there is 15 hours time zone difference it it), or 36.5 hours on the road.

Interestingly, United Airlines gave me another “Sorry for inconvinience” card. Am I lucky to receive two cards during the trip? One for bad equipments, and service, and another for delay for 10 hours?

I didn’t have the energy to update the blog since I am back – what I did was to play a while with Yifan. He loves all the yellow machinery car, the red tractor, and the music book I brought back, and played one of them in turn. I chatted for a long time with Wendy before I fell asleep at 1:00 AM Pacific Time. Now, I wake up at 1:00 PM pacific time. Think it this way, the limit I can sleep in normal days in Shanghai is about 1:00 PM. My internal clock works every well.

My United Airlines was Cancelled

Too quick to say bye bye to America. I am now still sitting at a bigger table, and a nicer room at Best Western El Rancho Inn & Suite near the San Francisco Airport (so near that I see flight landing just out of window!).

My flight UA857 from San Francisco to Shanghai was cancelled today. It is scheduled to leave tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM, and arrive in Shanghai at 12:30 PM, Saturday.

I would Prefer Bad Service than Delay

… and I would prefer delay than cancellation.

After sitting on my seat 61H on the flight for three hours, slept, waked up, fell asleep, waked up for many times, and replied many emails on mobile phone, I was told that flight was finally cancelled due to the plane engine gas leaking that could not be fixed within several hours.

Then we moved to counter 2 and waited their standing for two and half hours to get 15 USD dinner voucher, and free night at Best Western Hotel. Hmmm… It seems there is no additional financial cost to my trip so far, but my whole day of July 9, 2009 is spent at the SFO airport.

Sensation of Time

I was so bored that I drew a picture of the Spanish style hotel.

Some times, people were forced to do something that they won’t do in normal time, like drawing. If there were no such a flight delay, who knows what I will use the time for? At least not in a very interesting way. Sometimes the contrain gives people more focus (nothing to do!), and more focus makes life better.

SFO Pictures

Post some pictures in SFO on US 101. Victor was with me and took the pictures.

Photograph by Victor

Photograph by Victor

Photograph by Victor

Photograph by Victor

Photograph by Victor

Photograph by Victor

Photograph by Victor

Night, had dinner at Los Gatos – I love the small town – the town were lit up for X’mas – really nice place.

Flying to SFO

Flying to San Francisco again tomorrow. I will be back to Shanghai on Dec 15, Shanghai time. During these 10 days, I will keep blogging but keep in mind that the time of the entries will be offset by 8 hours.

Itinerary

PVGUA 858 05DEC 1345 0810

SFOUA 857 14DEC 1355 1930+1

I hate jet lag, and I know I have to experience it again.

Life is the Accumulation of Mileage

I log into my United Mileage Plus account and found out the following information about my preivous trips from the last year.

6-Dec-04 UA 0876 Q Class NRT to SEA 4,769 0 4,769

11-Dec-04 UA 0938 Q Class SEA to ORD 1,720 0 1,720

13-Dec-04 UA 0648 Q Class ORD to EWR 719 0 719

29-Dec-04 UA 0835 Q Class LGA to PVG 7,382 0 7,382

subtotal December 04 14,590

18-Apr-05 UA 0858 V Class PVG to SFO 6,168 0 6,168

24-Apr-05 UA 0857 V Class SFO to PVG 6,168 0 6,168

subtotal April 05 12,336

What a pity that it does not provide information for me for previous years. Life is accumulation of mileage. I hope I have a precious record of where I am at exactly what date in my entire life.

Thanks Everyone!

I am back from SFO trip to Shanghai (three days ago), and I joined another meeting and they don’t have Internet access, so… sorry for the pause of blogging these days.

I am still very excited about the trip, and feel so happy to have great friends in the bay area. I know I have a very long list to thank. Here is the abbridged version.

First of all, thank RC, Yumi and all the great persons in eBay for hosting me and showing me around. I had great time to meet with all the people I wanted to meet, and learnt so much – much more than I expected.

Special thanks to Carroll and Jim for inviting me to dinner at their beautiful house on top of the mountain. It was a very unique experience for me. I had great time there. The moment that we observe the airline landing toward the San Jose airport is a permement part of my memory in San Jose.

Thanks Tom and Andreas from BVCapital for inviting me to BV. I enjoyed the very interesting discussion we had on Friday and Saturday. I am so happy to meet Mathias, Yann, and Christian. Thanks for Yann to invite me to the sail boat and wish Christian recover soon.

Thanks to Chris from Rojo to host me in Rojo’s office and gave me the thorough introduction for Rojo. Chris was so kind to arrange my Six Apart tour. Thanks Mena, Ben, Barak and Ginger for your time with me. I also like to thank Charles and Jim from Jambo.net to share your great ideas and to come to my meetup. I love their slogan “Wireless Hello” very much. I weared their great gift , Jambo T-Shirt, today!

Meetup in San Francisco, CA

I am thinking of hosting Wangjianshuo’s Blog Meetup in San Francisco at Cafe Flore. I have no idea about this place. I asked Andreas where should I put the meetup, SFO airport or downtown. He directly posted me to Cafe Flore. It must be good, I think, although it can be a little bit far from where I live. So here is the detailed information about the meetup.

Cafe Flore

2298 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Time: 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM, Sunday, April 24, 2005

Map: Google Map for Cafe Flore

All my friends and readers are welcome. No RSVP required. Just show up at anytime within the two hours. It will be great if you post a comment to notify me your participation though. Jing and Nina, you are explicitly invited. Sorry for the late notice. I am not good at planning, and it is not easy to plan a meetup in a completely new different environment. I understand the same feeling for visitors to Shanghai. Sometimes, for visitors in a city, a meetup can be “Anywhere in this city”, but the problem is, where is the Anywhere.

I am excited to meeting you at Cafe Flore tomorrow morning. I will catch my flight back to Shanghai at 14:20 at San Francisco Airport.

The Silicon Valley Spirit is Back

I was sitting in the office of Rojo.com, the newly launched website to manage RSS more effectively with the help of tagging and friends’ recommendation (some kind of SNS). It is located in a large warehouse-like space – actually it is the AT&T building in downtown San Francisco. The reason it looks like a warehouse instead of an office is, it is a large space, in terms of areas and height. Evryone share the same open space by placing their tables in the middle. It is just like the architecture company in the Suzhou creek art district in Shanghai. There is no separation between – no cubicles, no offices, no meeting rooms – it is just a large open space.

Chris, the CEO and founder of Rojo.com, introduce the team to me. They are all nice persons and Chris showed me the functions of Rojo.com. It is quite impressive – RSS made it easier to track many feeds (around 100? Some has 1000? Are you kidding?), and Rojo helps to recommend those only matters to the user. I would recommend everyone to open an account, take a look and share your feeds with me. My account ID is jianshuo. Free feel to add me as your friend in Rojo.

During our talk, Chris mentioned there are many blogging related companies nearby. “Really?” “Yes!”.

“Six Apart is 2 blocks away”, Chris pointed to one direction, and “Technorati” is two blocks away” Chris pointed the other direction. “Feedster is there, also two blocks away”. I said: “Wow. That is cool!”

This is really cool. There are many small dot.com companies popping up this year (or becoming famous this year). I feel a little bit strange to call these innovative company “dotcom” since they no longer have the attribute of the old dotcom has. These services provide values and start to spread by the word-of-mouth. Some has succeeded already.

To be honest, I feel boring when I look back to the computer history between the year 2000 and 2004. It seems the curtain of the wonderful Internet drama was closed. When the legend of Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and HP fades in 1995, Yahoo!, Netscape appeared. But after the year 2000, there are actually not so many interesting application on the Internet. From the year 2004, new things are happening very month. Many blogging software, social network software, taggings, podcasting emergesÂ… Google start to become hot. It is exciting.

For me, to read the story from the history book (at least from magazines) is one thing, to experience it in real life with me is another. In my trip to Redmond last Decemeber, I met the wonderful guys Eric and James, the founder of picture sharing application Heypix. I planned to write an article about the product but they said “hold on for several days since our website will release in 3 days”. 4 months passed, I dropped an email to those guys and update the current situation. They replied and say: “We were just aquired by CNET”. It is amazing. When this kind of stories happen around me everyday, both in China and America, I clearly feel that the Silicon Valley spirit come backs again.

Trip to SFO

I am afraid there may be a short pause in the following days. I will be on my trip to SFO. I know I have lots of friends there in SFO, like Carroll. however, I am not sure if I have time during the trip to meet everyone. Maybe a Sunday meet-up (April 24) in Starbucks in SFO before I get on my flight is possible. The Art of Travel told people that when you assume that there is nothing new in something, you lose the passion for doing it. It applies to travel. I remember that when I was in middle school, I spent the whole month preparing my train travel to Beijing. But now, I didn’t pack anything for my flight of tomorrow yet. The easy answer is, I had enough time to spare for the training travel and I am just too busy these years. However, the real answer, as de Botton suggested: I lost the excitement as a traveler when I assume the UA858 is still the UA858 I experienced many times before, and the airport is still the familiar land I visited before. It is 11:00 AM PST, and I just finished some work. I hope I won’t experience too bad jet lag since I have been working according to the San Jose time for quite some days. :-)

Chinatowns in U.S.

The travel is perfect, except the food. I am sorry but I still cannot enjoy the food in America. I tried different types of foods according to the recommendation from local listing, but I cannot find a good one for me. After eating American food for two days, I am feeling like I eat the food on the airplane everyday. You may imagine the feeling – hungry but don’t want to eat, eat but still feel hungry. I tried to stay at American restaurant at the beginning. Since I am here, I should do things like locals do. Food should be an important part of a journey, isn’t it.

I finally gave up and started to eat my favorite Chinese food at Chinatowns. In Washington D.C. we went to the Chinatown Express for three times. In Boston, we went to the Yan Jing Restaurant at the Harvard Square (just on the other side of the Harvard Widener Library). The second time, we took the red line directly from our hotel to that restaurant to have lunch before we start our tour that day.

Chinatown

I have visited the Chinatown in Washington D.C., in Boston, Chicago and New York. What amazed me most is that I saw so many people there who cannot speak or read English. Chinatown seems to be their jails that they can never step out. There are Chinese newspapers, Chinese signs and small businesses serving the local Chinese community. I saw many famous business names were translated into Chinese which I even didn’t see in China.

Meanwhile, I feel sad when I visit some local residents in the Chinatowns. The area in the big city seems to be a replica of old China’s streets – small shops, simple and cheap restaurants. The shops are good at lower the price for their service/good by decreasing the cost. Often, they decrease it at the cost of quality. It is for sure that any people who think China Town is a window for the current China will be misled. Of cause, for big countries like America and China, it is always risky to conclude situation in one sentence. I heard the conversation in Chinatown that went like this:

A: “It is cold, isn’t it?”

B: “Yes. In China, they still wear t-shirts”

The second person must forget China’s territery is large enough to cover the hot and the cold. It is the same to conclude on the economic or culture side.

Chinatown Buses

I had very high expectation on the Chinatown buses, but I was disappointed this time. Taking the Chinatown buses running between Boston and New York as an example, they are cheap (15 USD per trip) because they don’t accept credit card; there are no waiting room for passengers; they don’t run advertisement; they don’t have automatic ticket vendering machine (so don’t need to hire anyone to design the system); there is no customer service; they stops at cities in the middle without telling the customer about it; they don’t need to print flyers; and don’t need to rent a terminal at the Port Authority Bus Terminal – they use streets. I am not comfortable to see the Chinese bus owners do business like there. Finally, I was disappointed with the Chinese bus although I took the motivation to try it and help to promopt it after that.

U.S. Trip Update

Wendy got her U.S. visa smoothly. Not many questions were asked at the visa office. The only exception is, the printer to print the U.S. visa broke down again so she needs to get her visa the next day.

We also booked flight tickets. Both of us fly with United Airlines. It seems Northwest is better but there are no seats available on the date we fly. Although we fly to U.S. on different date and different flight, we go back together. That is great. There are only middle seats, while I always love window seats.

Here are my itinerary.

1. WANG/JIAN SHUO

2. NH960 W SA04DEC PVGNRT HK1 0855 1235

3. UA876 Q MO06DEC NRTSEA HK1 1725 0850

4. UA938 Q SA11DEC SEAORD HK1 1409 2001

5. UA648 Q MO13DEC ORDEWR HK1 1330 1650

6. UA835 Q TU29DEC LGAPVG HK1 0900 1715+1

I like the format of the itinerary very much. Simple. Concise. It is a good balance between the computer world (the reservation system) and the human world (the people’s understanding ability). It is nice!

Stays

I will stay in Seattle for 3 to 4 days, and stay in Chicago for 40 hours (almost two days) and start the two-week long east coast journey after meeting with Wendy in NEWARK LIBERTY airport (EWR). I may spend 3 days in Boson, 2 days in Washington D.C. and the rest in New York. It is based on the suggestion of the readers to spend as much time as possible in New York. Wendy loves New York after reading the National Geographic book on New York. So do I.

Audio Blog on the Trip

Pacific Time“, a radio program on public radio heard all over the US, kindly offered me to conduct some kind of audio blog for them. Their focus is about Asia and America and the connections between them. This focus matches the propose of my trip perfectly. It is more like a research project to learn the difference between the two countries than a vacation. Recording the first impression of the large cities in America is meaningful for me and for readers/listeners. I have accepted the offer and hopeful, you will hear the story soon.

They will lend me a MD (MiniDisc) recorder and a microphone and I could record my impressions and even a few bits of sound from the trip as I go along, and I also plan to go to the their studios in Boson, and Washing D.C and conduct the interview via ISDN lines. The plan is to broadcast the three installments in Dec by three weeks. When I arrive in Seattle, I guess the equipment will already wait for me in the hotel I stay. We agreed that I can publish the part they don’t use onto this blog. Maybe I can get some $ for this to buy Wendy some really nice meal. If someone can sponsor a nice camera, I don’t need to buy one in a hurry and I can share some of the digital photos with the sponsor. Just an idea… My Sony P8 is good but I need a more professional camera to take more digital pictures.

The Terminal, the Movie

I watched the The Terminal, the movie, tonight. It is a nice film – funny story, and nice actors and actress. I guess it may become another classic film like Sleepless in Seattle. However, I sensed a little bit unfriendliness in the film against China. Why at the beginning the flight has to be from Beijing and they mentioned China in a wired way in the film. It seems China is still the best eye-catching topic if the director has to find some mysterious and not-like-America land.

UA858 PVG – SFO

UA858

United Airlines UA858 is a symbol. It connects two important cities (Shanghai and San Fransisco) in China and the States. Millions of passengers visit U.S. via this flight. All of my previous trip to the States was via UA858. It is often the starting point of many stories. If I were an artist or novelist, I will definite create something around this flight. I didn’t see arts or literature for this flight. At least I didn’t see one in Google search.

Here are more information about this flight.

UA858 connects SHANGHAI/PUDONG and SAN FRANCISCO

Departs at 1:45PM and arrives at 8:10AM the same day. This is the most interesting part of the trip – after many hours of travel, you go to the past because of the international day line.The trip is 6168 Miles.

Check status of UA858.

My trip on UA858

Inside UA858. (src)

Pacific morning

Wendy will also go to U.S. via this flight.