Sunny Saturday

It is a sunny Saturday! Saturday is always my favorite day. This is the last Saturday before I go to Seattle. I have a short but important shopping list to workout.

I don’t know music

The last thing in the world I know is music. I went to some music instrument store near Shanghai Music Inistitute. There are voilins, pianos, gitar and all kind of instrument. I bought some new reep for the charinet and bow for full size voilin. At that time, I found it is completely another world from mine, which are full with computers and web pages.


Roads in grass before near Fengyang road.


The big Pepsi advertisement hangs high before Pakson Mall.


the Super Brand Mall near the Pearl Tower

The new shopping center, Super Brand Mall, or Zhengda Square in Chinese, opens to public recent. It has been the hot topic with expat community or newspapers. It is designed the be the exnibition center of top brand in the world and occupies the most significent place in the world – just oppsite to the Pearl Tower, besides the Huangpu River and only about 300 meters away from the Shanghai Internation Conference Center.

My tour turned me very disappointed. I am not sure whether it is because the strange Thai-style archtecture design, or the tide of visitors, I don’t feel comfortable in the center.

Click for more pictures.


Irregular publishing in the next few days

I am not very sure whether I will be able to update this page tomorow, since tomorrow will be a very long day for me. My day of Nov 10 is not 24 hours. Instead, it is about 40 hours. I will cross the Pacific, including the International Date Line. This will turn me to the day of Nov 9 – today, after I have already entered the day of Nov 10 in Shanghai. If you look at my ticket, you will find I leave Shanghai at 13:00, Nov 10. After I arrives in Seattle, it is 11:01, Nov 10 – the same day and two hours earlier. It is interesting where my 17 hours’ of flight goes. :-) The other problem for me is, when I come back, I leave at 9:35, Nov 16 and will arrive in Shanghai at 19:10, Nov 17. The days of Nov 16 and Nov 17 will be very short days for me. It is challenging to live out the promise of daily update during these days.

Living Cost in Shanghai

Update If you are looking for Shanghai Weather, please visit Shanghai Weather (TQ) June 24, 2004

Yesterday, I received an email from Raz, discussing about the living cost in Shanghai.

I’m mostly interested in the living costs in Shanghai…what normal salaries are and the rent for a small apartment in the city. Also how mush does it cost to buy stuff…a pc, a bigmac, local food and transport??

/ Raz

Very interesting topic, isn’t it?

It is hard to tell

Shanghai is among the top 10 cities for living cost in the world. Actually, it is the sixth expensive city for expatriates, according to CNN. But during my talk with some expiates in Shanghai, I found they think Shanghai is a heaven. This is partly because the pay for foreigners in Shanghai is much higher than that for local residents while the costs are almost the same.

I’d better start the topic with some prices of daily lives. I will RMB (Renminbi) as currency unless otherwise noted. Please keep in mind that 1 USD = 8.3 RMB.

Normal Salary

According to a goverment report, average worker’s monthly salary is 1492 RMB.

In 2001, Shanghai’s average worker’s salary was RMB17,910, making it number one in the 30 areas of China.

1492 RMB is a magic number and was used for many areas, such as the house fund deduction.

179 USD for one month? This number is astonishing for most people in U.S or Europe. Well, it is true. I told my friends just arriving in Shanghai that people feel happy if they get 400 RMB per month in my home town, they said “Oh, my god!!”.

Don’t get the wrong impression. For undergraduates of computer major, their expectation for starting point salary is about 3000 RMB. Some can get 5000 to 7000 RMB, this will be a very good number. It is very common for employees in foreign companies to earn more than 10,000 RMB per month.

For foreigners, it is another story. The first question when they see a job advertisement is, “Is it local pay or U.S. pay?” This phenomenon is interesting. For local pay, they get RMB and although it is still very high (4000 ~ 12000 RMB? I **guess**), but for U.S. payees, they get a package that is attractive even in U.S. You know the payment level.

Rent for a small house

It depends. Apartments with different size, different area, different decoration style and different environment may vary greatly in price.

I once was living in a rented apartment for 600 RMB per month. It has two bed rooms and one living room – 68 square meters.

Now, I moved into the new apartment I bought. It is rented at price from 3000 – 4000 RMB. For an apartment of 120 sq. meters in Gubei, the area where expatiates gathers, costs about 10,000 RMB per month for rent.

To buy an apartment will cost you a lot. It is more expensive than a house in U.S. Average price is about 5000 RMB per sq. m. in urban areas. The price for some downtown areas will be about 9,000 ~ 10,000 RMB per sq. m.

Other prices

Personal Computer: 3000 RMB can buy a computer that can run. 6000 RMB will get a powerful computer. Seldom can I see a desktop computer more expensive than 10,000 RMB.

Big Mac: 10 RMB. McDonald’s and KFC can be seen everywhere. KFC has opened 60 stores in Shanghai. There are four KFC, 1 McDonald’s, and two PizzaHut within a 500 meter area around the building I am working in. The price is low. 20-30 RMB will get a great meal there.

Local food: About 30 RMB per person will get very good food. There are lots of restaurant in the city. Normal dishes cost about 16 RMB, while some expensive one cost 40-60 RMB.


This is the most easy one since the price is settled and consistent across the city.

Bus: 1 or 1.5 RMB for normal bus and 2 RMB for air-conditioned bus.

Taxi: 10 RMB staring price w/ 3 km and 2 RMB for each kilometer more.

Metro: 2 to 5 RMB depending on the distance. 3 RMB is the most common price.


Movies: about 25-30 RMB

Starbucks: 25 RMB for Cappuccino.

Beer in bars: 30 RMB


Thanks for Uday’s suggestion Here are more examples for the costs.

Medical expenses

Medicine is much lower than in U.S. It is an obvious evidence that medicines are on top of shopping list for most Chinese who returns to China for vacation. Here is some sample:

Berberine (100mg x 24 tablet): 3.3 RMB

Eyedrop (bottle): 5-10 RMB

Tylenol: Around 20 RMB

However, seeing a doctore costs much more. This is not because of the service charge of a doctore is high. On the contary, it is very low – around 8 RMB only. But the doctors tends to write you a prescription with only very high price medicines and much more than you need. This is bad actually, since the income of the doctor heavily depends on the medicine they “sell”.

Thus, typically, it costs about 100-150 RMB for the lightest fever or eye-ache. It cost much more if there is any serious illness. Medical insurance is defintely needed.

Education expenses

Collage tuition: Let’s take one of the most famous university Shanghai Jiaotong Univeristy (Chinese site) as an example. The tuition is 1500 RMB per year in 1995. Now it seems to be 6000 RMB.

After-work study: I mean some classes like guitar, music, Chinese language, driving and other specialty training typically cost about 800 RMB to 4000 RMB per term. A typical term is about 2 weeks (daily class), or two month (weekend class)

Professional training: This type of training means you attend the professional training provide to company like “Communication Skills”, “Sales skills” – it usually costs 1000-2000 RMB per day.

insurance: It really depends on the insurance company and the plan you are using – even the insurance agent need to calculate and give you a number. To give you some idea, I have talked with a life insurance agent and she wants me to pay 1000 RMB per month for 30 years. I forget about coverage since I didn’t buy it at last.

Income tax structure for expats

According to the last regulation (Chinese site)

Monthly income:

<500 5% 500-2000 10% 2000-5000 15% 5,000-20,000 20% 20,000-40,000 25% 40,000-60,000 30% 60,000-80,000 35% 80,000-100,000 40% >100,000 45%


Shanghai’s cost is still very low compared to that in U.S. It is really a heaven for expatiates. Experience it by yourselves.

See also

Update January 30, 2004

In response to Mr. Tan’s question, I added more items to the price list.

Estimate cost for each item below (in US Dollars):

– monthly rent for apartment (fairly new and near town with at least 3 bedrooms)

Wow. That is high above average living standard in Shanghai. So I would say, it should be 5000 RMB (600 USD) or higher for downtown area (inside the Inner Ring Elevated Road. In any area that can be described by any of the following term: decent, graceful, historical, very modern, etc, it should be above 4000 RMB (480 USD) for a apartment of 3 bedrooms. Of cause you can get an apartment of one bed room at around 1500 RMB (180 USD) in downtown or a three bed-room apartment that is far from downtown (but near Metro) at around 2500 RMB (300 USD). Check my articles under Real Estate category for more information on housing.

– monthly international school fees for 2 children (both 8 years old)

The fee varies greatly. Here is the phone list (Chinese page) of international schools in Shanghai. For example, Shanghai Singapore International School offers Singapore – based curriculum and faculty.

– estimate monthly transport for 4 persons

If you take metro only – which is very convenient, it is 4 RMB (0.5 USD) per person and 4 persons make up of 480 RMB (60 USD). If you take taxi, 200 RMB (25 USD)/person should be enough if you live in down town.

– estimate monthly food allowance for 4 persons

I checked with my mom and she said if every day, you cook by yourself and eat at home, 400 RMB (50 USD) should be enough for four people family. If you go to restaurant, 50 RMB (6 USD) per person is the common price for low end restaurant. 100 RMB (12 USD) per person is already very decent(expensive) restaurant.

Again, any estimation varies so greatly depending on your own standard of living.

Stop NET SEND spam

Update: Looking for what is golarger? See this entry. Feb 28, 2003

I talked about NET SEND spam in my previous blog. After that, I found this page become the first item in Google for net send spam. Many visitors hit this page via Google. I believe I share the responsibility to publish something that is helpful for the visitors to prevent this kind of spam.

Messenger service is dangerous

If you keep your Messenger service running, anyone can send you a message and it will pop up on your screen. Even the simplest program ever can drive you mad. Create a file named “NetSendSpam.bat” with the following three lines.


net send How are you

goto sendspam

It keeps sending the same message to you again and again. You will face endless message box stating “How are you.” – Please do not try this script to anybody except yourself. To send spam is as easy as picking up a stone and breaking the store window, but everyone in this world should realize their responsibility and don’t abuse others.

Easiest way – turn off Messenger service

The easist way to stop receiving this kind of message is to turn off Windows Messenger service. If you are running Windows XP, following these steps:

  1. Click Start button on your toolbar.
  2. Click Run…
  3. Enter “Services.msc” (without quotation marks) and click OK.
  4. Browse the list till you find “Messenger” in Name column
  5. Right click and click “Stop” on the pop up menu.

    That is not all. If you don’t want the service to start the next time you start your computer, continue with the following steps:

  6. Double click it. The Messenger Properties (Local Computer) dialog box comes out.
  7. Choose “Disable” in “Startup type” drop down box.
  8. Click OK.

Update The equivalant method

Thanks to Docslax for pointing this out. There is another equivalant way to do this in Windows.

  • Start -> Run -> cmd.exe
  • Then type the following “net stop messenger” after which you’ll see “messenger service is stopping”.

To start it again for any reason open the command prompt again (Start -> Run -> cmd.exe) and type “net start messenger”

Now you can be assured that your world will become silent. No one can send you NET SEND SPAM again.

But wait, that is all

Please note: some alert services and system services like printing, rely on this service to function.

However, as I understand, there are two kinds of people using computers ?those in company or those at home. I believe most people surfer from NET SEND SPAM is home users connecting to DSL or Dial-up. For cooperate users, they need printers and file sharing functions, but they are more likely to be protected by corporate firewall. So my suggestion is, anyone who surfers from NET SEND SPAM to turn off the service using the step listed above.

You can also fight back

If you are using Windows XP or you have personal firewall product, it is even better to enable them. But enabling a firewall, you not only eliminate the chance to be attached by spam, you can also get the IP address of the spammer and you can fight back. I will talk more about this in my future blog.



What does Googlism think about Shanghai?

shanghai is hot

shanghai is the largest city and one of the most popular tourist

shanghai is waiting for freecloud

shanghai is now

shanghai is a combination

shanghai is one of the biggest cities in

shanghai is not about economics only

shanghai is a “work in progress”?

It seems some of the statements are true. I marked them in bold.

Thanks to Google Weblog for pointing me to this interesting web site. You can type in anything you are interested, and the site will give you the answer based on Google search result. Let me give you another example, I asked Who is Jian Shuo, four answers are returned:

jian shuo is always happy when he is with fanfan

jian shuo is prompted as project manager

jian shuo is now dead

jian shuo is one of the ten regular attendants

The first two are very correct, while the third is completely wrong. :-( and the last one, basically, I don’t know what it is talking about.

Why now try your self on Googlism? Type in the city you are living in, or the company you are working for to see what Google says about it. The results are almost always interesting and sometimes surprising, but don’t care the result too much – it is only a humor generator.


Good luck. Why not share the interesting result you have found with us by utilizing the comment function with this blog entry?

Also on today…

Party with Shanghai Expat

I had a wonderful party yesterday with Michael from, Graham, Shanshan, and K at KABB of Xin Tian Di. It is very interesting to meet people from different culture background – from Seattle, New Zealand, Hong Kong and other part of the world. We gather together to talk about the culture shock. They are all very nice people. I am expecting to meet them again.

Christina’s blog

I also talked with Christina (Chinese/English site) on MSN Messenger. She is very careful and sensitive about her life. This makes her blog full of interesting thoughts and thorough observation. I will recommend you to take a look.

United EasyCheck-In

…or steps toward computerized world.

United always surprises me with its avanced equipment recently. EasyCheck-In is another one.

Easy Check-in

Easy Check-in Demo

But bad news from United states that the deployment of Easy Check-in is put on hold indefinitely.

Chief among the projects put on hold at United was the deployment of self-service check-in kiosks at airports, a project called Easy Check-In. Also on hold is the installation of new electronic signs at airport gates.

It is said that the hold is due to the sequela of Spet 11. These equipments really costs much. Easy Check-in costs $70.7 million along in 2001. Source: Subcommittee on Aviation

Hearing on Airline Customer Service Commitments: Status Report

United Airlines is Good

Today, I received my air ticket for Seattle.

I love the ticket

Yes. I love the ticket issued by United Airlines. It is a decent paper ticket with a nice cover. It is also informative. I can easily find the starting point and the destination, with local times. It is bad to see some air tickets in China only give the departure time without arrival time.

For the departure airport, the United is thoughtful enough to add /PUDO to Shanghai, while most tickets only print Shanghai as the departure airport. There is airport code PVG somewhere in the ticket, but it is not easy for common travellers to recongize whether it is Pudong airport or Hongqiao airport. This has caused lots of confusion.

Here is the information printed on my ticket.

10NOV     UNITED             FLIGHT: 858    CLASS: M
ETKT: 016 2188233825

Return ticket:

16NOV     UNITED             FLIGHT: 1547   CLASS: M

It is very good.I believe every business should provide enough information to their client on tickets, invitation letter, or web site like this.

It is a ETKT (e-ticket)

According to United Airline website,

Electronic tickets are stored in United’s computer rather than printed on paper. United’s E-Ticket service is similar to the traditional paper ticket process, but eliminates the time and hassle associated with purchasing or exchanging a paper ticket. Electronic ticketing is the primary ticketing method used by our customers.

I apprieciate this kind of effort to utilize computer and network and reduce the cost of paper ticket. I have the experience of E-Ticket before. When I was flying to Seattle in the year of 2001, the only evidence I need to fly is the passport. I shown the passport to the lady at the gate of the plane and I got my boarding pass immediately. No questions were asked. It is fantasitic – I thought.

A Bug in Mileage Plus

Not all my experience about United is perfect. My mileage Plus is an example.

After travel via United for some time, I finally decided to apply for a United Mileage Plus Membership. It is good that I easy found the entrance to Mileage Plus at the homepage, but when I fill in the application form, I didn’t realize they need at least 3 questions for the “Secure access questions” section. It is buried in the long paragraph. So I entered into only one field and clicked Join.

An error message prompted to enter three. OK. I entered three question accordingly. But after that, whenever I press the Join button, it always tells me “You have submitted”. It is obvious that the programmer associted this message when the “Join” button is clicked but he didn’t realize the submitting process may be stopped by the validation routines.

— Pardon me if I am too picky. I was a test lead for one software project.

I cannot complete the transaction

After I reload the form and re-enter all the required field, I am told I cannot apply a mileage plus. I don’t know why and the web site didn’t tell me about it. I tried to call their Shanghai representivieat +86-21-62798009 only to find their business hour is 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

Anyway, United is a good company

…and I am looking forward to travel with United next week.

Update July 17, 2003

More information about United Airilines:


Telephone: (010) 6463 1111

Address: Scite Tower

Suite 204, 22 Jianguomenwai Ave No.2

Beijing, 100016


Beijing Lufthansa Center

No. 50 Liang ma qiao Road

Beijing 100016


Telephone: (021) 6279 8009

Address: Shanghai Center, Portman Ritz Carlton Hotel

1376 Nanjing Road West

Level 2 South Podium Suite 204

Shanghai 200040

Usability of Pudong Airport

I have been working on information about Pudong for some time and setup a Pudong Airport BBS (PVGBBS). I think this effort is vaulable because:

  • Lack of Pudong Airport information on Internet
  • Poor information guide from PVG
  • Poor usability of PVG

Lack of Pudong Airport information on Internet

Try to search on Google or other search engineers for “Shanghai Pu Dong Airport“, “Pu Dong Airport“, “Shanghai Airport“, “PVG“…, I guess you won’t be satisfied with the result it returned. It is not easy to find a map about Pudong airport and it is even hard to find transportation informations and hotels…. I just created some one page on Pu Dong airport on my personal web site one year before. I didn’t expect it to be the No. 1 entry page for my web site one year later. More than 30% of my visitors to my site by typing “Pu Dong Airport” in Google. The page also contribute to 5.45% of total document hits.

I received lot of very positive comment on the page via email or PVGBBS. This is the reason I want to continue to improve and make it the No. 1 site on Internet about PVG.

Poor information guide from PVG

The information query for Pudong airport is not satisfactionary. The airport is very large, new and beautiful, with great equipments. But the software – I mean the management and service are still far behind airport like SFO. They provides the information hotline, +86-21-38484500, but it is only the switchboard, instead of call center. The only person you can find is the operator.

I believe a web site need to be setup and help travellers to survive in Shanghai.

Poor usability of PVG

Generally speaking, I like Pudong Airport very much. Its modern design is very impressive. However, it is too large and people get tired to navigate from Entrance Hall to the boarding bridge and to ticketing island… The signs there are sometimes confusing. It seems more time and effort need to be spent on it.

Can anyone tell me the rank of customer satisfaction of PVG among all Asia or International airprort? I am really interested in that.

See also:

Seattle – The Charming City

Seattle is a beautiful city – actually a small city after I get used to the big one like Shanghai. I am preparing for my third trip to Seattle in the recently three years.

Here are the events and the time I last visited Seattle.

Microsoft eCommerce RDP Conference

Washington Exhibition and Conference Center, Seattle, WA

Internship in MSN Team

Microsoft campus, Redmond, WA

I love the city since the scenery is so good and people are very kind. They greet with each other on the street, no matter they know or don’t know each other before. The pace there is slow besides the Microsoft area.

There are some Chinese restaurants too, like Sichuanese – which is famous but not very good one and Xiyingmen….

Satellite photo of every square meter of Seattle – even U.S

I’d like to introduce a very good resource for you – the TerraServer. It has been the most amazing thing I have ever found since 2000. It provides the satellite photo of every square meter of the whole United States. Each pixel on the map represents one square meter in real land. Please take a look at Seattle here. You can click on the image to zoom in and in, until you shout out – “My god!!! It is so close!”

Microsoft campus

On this map, you can see the famous X-shaped Microsoft buildings:

No. 1 on top (with half being cut on the photo). It is the oldest building and not SQL Server (Yukon) team works here.

No. 2 on left and No. 3 on the right.

No. 4 is at bottom.

On this view,

you can see the building No. 8, which is the heart of Microsoft. Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and some other executives work in this building.

FairyLand Inn

I’d like to mention is the FairyLand Inn, where I stayed for two weeks during my last visit:

The image is so detailed that I can still tell I was staying under the roof shown as left-most corner of the house.

Can you see the left circle of road? It is a small hill. I passes by this hill every day and once I even climbed up to the top of the hill and watching the busy highway 520.

All images courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey and TerraServer.

Also see:

  • My previous trip to Seattle