Using Contact Lenses

My glasses were broken the night before the last. I put it on the bed (what a stupid action) and put my arm on it (this will happen in the future if not today). It broken from the middle. Now I two identical parts of the glass. One is the left lens with the left leg and the other is the right lens with the right leg. I have to get a new frame but couldn’t find some time to go to a glasses store.

Fortunately, I stocked some contact lenses at the time when I started to learn swimming.

It was not easy to learn to wear contact lenses. I still cannot put it on. I have to ask Wendy to help put it on. I cannot relax and my eyes always closed tightly when Wendy attempted to put the lenses into my eyes.

It was terrible experience. So it was to Wendy.

It took up to ten minutes course to put the lens into both eyes in the morning and at least 5 minutes to take it off at night. Everytime when it was done, I saw a red-eyed face in the mirror, full of tear.

Was it me, the poor guy?

Old Houses in Shanghai – Part III

This is to follow up the hot discussion under Old Houses in Shanghai – Part II.

In that post, I put one of the 35 private villas in Lane 120 of Tai An Rd.

JH commented:

I believe that all (or most) of these houses are still state owned property. Based on the newspaper article, each two story house has about three families — not a very comfortable living condition. This actually reflects an interesting reality: There are many beautiful old houses in some very nice areas in Shanghai. But the actual condition there may not as good as it seems.

JH’s comment is quite true. Most of the houses are owned by the government, not private. But it really depends. There are several types of status of the old houses. Here is a breakdown.

Old Houses with Harsh Living Conditions

Many old houses are in this status. I visited a house that is owned by a rich family. It is a three story stand alone villa on Yong Jia Rd. After the state occupied and “assigned’ many residents, the origin owner only owns the part on the 3rd floor. When we visited the house, the living condition was really harsh. Many people lives there – I remember 7 old men/women lived in the narrow space of the stairs – they have no room, just a bed put into the stair corner with simple cover. It was really hard to march to the 3rd floor. Other families occupy the rooms. In one word, it is a hell.

It is a pity that the old house was very nice for one family but was too crowded with the many families living in the same house. The apartment on the 3rd floor was sold at 6000 RMB sq. meter at that time. The apartment was very good by itself, but it is unacceptable to live with so many people. You even have to pass many people’s bed before you reach your door in dark if you go back home late. There is almost no light in the stairs since they don’t want to save the electricity.

Standalone Houses

If someone bought the 3rd floor of the house I mentioned, and later, persuade other families in the same house to move out (by promising enough money), then buy the whole house and decorate it, the house will be super expensive.

Take this property as an example: A 350 sq. meter standalone old villa sells at 30 million RMB. It is almost 100,000 RMB/sq. meter. This is the average price of a Stand alone old villa. The picture I show before (Old Houses in Shanghai – Part II) is of this type. As rogi pointed out, the owner has a BMW, so only they can afford a house like this.

So the key is, whether you own the WHOLE villa or part of it. If you own part of it, its price is almost the same (if now lower) than other new apartments. If you own the whole villa, the price will be 10 times higher.

Other Villas

Look at the lane of 120 An Tai Rd. This is the view from the villa I posted before. There are many similar villas. They are not decorated so well. I suppose these houses are owned by more than one family.


© Jian Shuo Wang. Villa in Lane 120 of Tai An Rd.

Famous Villas

There are some famous old villa in the city. There are about 400 listed historic buildings that is under strict protection. Here are two examples.


© Jian Shuo Wang; Located at 22 Pan Yu Road was the residence of Sun Ke (Dr.Sun Yat-sen’s son).


© Jian Shuo Wang. Mr. Muller’s private residence at 30 Shaanxi Road. Now it is the office of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League.

Old Houses in Shanghai – Part II

Old Houses in Shanghai continued.

Wendy and I wandered along the Tai An Road (map) and entered a lane numbered 120 on the road. We were quite impressed. There are more than 33 stand alone old houses in Shanghai. They were built almost one century ago and are still in good shape. The area is so quiet that I can hardly believe that it is in the downtown Shanghai.

© Jian Shuo Wang. West side of one of the houses. Image in courtesy of the house owner – I didn’t got permission from the owner when I took the picture. I hope they are not incomfortable to see their beautiful house here.


© Jian Shuo Wang. House picture.


© Jian Shuo Wang. North door of the house.

I believe every tourist to Shanghai should spend one hour or two in these area – it is a different life style in the same city.

Just Few Steps Away from My New Car

I am picking up the plan of buying a car in Shanghai again. I thought I have dropped the plan already when I started to seek for apartments in Puxi again. It is disappointing. I have to re-consider my plan. I visited some car stores. It seems my first car is only 100 meters away.

I started with Buick Sail. I only want to have the cheapest car as my first one to start with. Obviously, the Buick Sail at 78,000 RMB (9,390 USD) is the cheapest on the Shanghai market. I mean the cars with well known brand. I don’t consider cars like QQ.

Later, I found FIAT Palio and Siena is almost at the same price range as SAIL but looks much better. More importantly, it is bigger.

I checked the Internet (, regarding Siena. It sounds not bad. I want to have a test drive this week and maybe buy it within this week.

The reason I have to be rush to get a car is, I MAY re-consider to move to Pudong. Also, I can get a car plate in nearby areas if I am hurry. The door to get a non-Shanghai plate is closing soon. Last month, a car plate in Shanghai has risen to 40,000 RMB. That is more than 50% of the car price already. In contrast, a plate in Zhejiang is only 3500 RMB.

There are some limitations of foreign plate car – they cannot use the elevated high way in rush hours in working days. I don’t really care this limitation. This is a simple calculation.

Days of working day per year: 260 (days)

Times to use elevated high way per day: 2 (/day)

Years the high-price plate policy exists: 4 (years)

Price of the plate: 40,000 (RMB)

Cost of using elevated highway per times= 40,000 / (260 * 2 * 4) = 20 (RMB)

It means I have to pay 40 RMB per day for using the high way, which means it is among most expensive roads in the whole world.

Meanwhile, the road under the high way is typically less crowded. Sometimes it is faster to use the normal road than the elevated high ways. The elevated high way sometimes becomes the elevated parking lot. Why bother to pay the high price?

Control It or Encourage It

It is reported that the high price of a car plate has greatly changed the way people in Shanghai buying a car. KIA shipped a new model that is less than 10K RMB last year. However, people in Shanghai are less interested in it since the plate price is 3K+ already. Why not add a little percentage to buy better cars? KIA sold 5000+ cars in Beijing last year while sold only 1000- in Shanghai. That is the difference.

My personal view is, the high price plate policy will be abandoned in one year. The high price does not help on the transportation system too much while it hurt the automobile industry greatly. Shanghai is not Singapore. Shanghai has mess areas outside the outer ring. Without cheap cars, that areas can hard catch up.


I will go ahead to get a Siena if no strong reasons found in one week.


Image courtesy of Sina Auto. The dashboard of Siena

Dynamic Traffic Display Board

© Jian Shuo Wang. The dynamic traffic display board on the elevated high way of Yan An. Rd. near Jiangsu Rd.

From the display board, drivers can clearly see the traffic condition of the ways ahead and choose one of the three channels to go to Pudong – the tunnel, the Nanpu Bridge and the Lupu Bridge. The green lines mean normal traffic. Sometimes, it is red, meaning the traffic is high on that road. It also gives drivers estimation to the Bund.

I think this is very cool.

Automatic Door in Metro

Did you notice the automatic door in Hengshan Road Metro Station?


© Jian Shuo Wang. The automatic door experiment of Hengshan Rd. Station of Metro Line #1

It has been installed for almost one year I remember, but very few people noticed the doors. It is for experiment. According to a old news report, the door will be installed to all underground metro stations after it is proved to be functioning. Now, when metro train comes, the door opens and closes with the doors of the train. Since it is installed on one end of the station, the train does not actually use it. It opens and closes, just to test whether it always works.

Learn Photography – Seriously

I was greatly influenced by my elder brother. He bought a second hand Huqiu (虎丘) camera when he was in university. It was back to 1989. I doubt whether this brand of camera still exists. It was the camera inspired my interest in photography. I took some pictures with this camera (including many sweet memories with Wendy). I selected Photography as my elective when I was a junior. That is the best course I enjoyed in my four years in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

New York Institute of Photography

I am reading the courseware of the NYIP course these days. Yes. Be serious, I want to learn the photography and develop better sense of photo. I even thinking about enroll some class of photography in the future. I didn’t find any school offer photography so far.


I attended a exhibition of photography equipment. I took the picture below using my simple Sony P8. It looks not bad.


© Jian Shuo Wang. With the right equipment, good picture is much easier.

It proof that if you have good lighting equipment and a frame for taking static objects (the white curve background that won’t show the annoying horizontal conjunction line), the chance to take better pictures becomes larger.

Benz Taxi Accepts Credit Card

Benz Taxi accepts credit card and the price is the same.

I took a picture of the Benz taxi yesterday. From the picture, you can see the taxi begin to accept credit card. It is not news in U.S., but in Shanghai, it is historical change in a city where even PizzaHut does not accept credit card.

The price is the same as any other taxi, 10 RMB per km. I begin to wonder it is reasonable? They have to pay the service fee, and equipments for using credit cards.

Benz taxi on the road.

Continue to Seek for an Apartment

After I decided not to move to Pudong, I continued to seek for an apartment near the Hua Shan road. I cycled around the decent area of nice old houses today (taking annual leave). The more apartments I saw, the more hopeless I were. There is almost no chance for me to move into this dream area.

The area within the red line is among the best areas in the Xujianhui

There are many old houses (built in early 1900’s) alone the quiet roads. I have to say, the architecture of that times are wonderful. They have large gardens, nice design, and perfect decoration. Each house will have its own history back to the beginning of the last centaury. Their price is typically 20,000,000 RMB or higher. (Yes. I am not wrong with the zeros).

At the same time, there are some very badly designed, old, dirty, and crowded apartments among them. They are the legacy buildings of the 1970’s. Even these houses are more than 10,000 RMB per sq. meters. Although there is no doubt that their locations were perfect, I cannot be convinced to relate it to high quality life. The stairs have been full occupied by residents so one have to struggle to find his way to home. Not to mention to the typical bad habit of old Shanghai style (the major reason why Shanghainese has bad reputation in other places of China). For example, I found myself monitored by everyone in that area and some old ladies gathered and talked about my visit to an apartment. I only heard they mentioned that I was the forth person to see the apartment – if they want, they will know all the details of your life. :-(

Good luck for me. I still have a dream to enjoy the decent life Shanghai has to offer.

How Interviews were Conducted

I received a series of photos disclosing how an interview were conducted. It seems the picture were taken in a small city. I was curious when I was in Luoyang that why everytime some major conferences or policy change, there will be some “encouraged” people expressing their happiness because of the conference or the new policy. Maybe some of the conversation were conducted this way. No description is added since it may mislead. I am not a witness of this. The order of the photos may not be in the original order.





Hardship of Living without Twix


Image courtesy of Twix. Twix logo is trademark of Mars, Incorporated

nostaljia’s blog described her boy friend’s life in Shanghai without Twix:

He’s American, and he really likes Twix. The times I was in the United States before, I had never noticed Twix at all. He told me that you can’t buy Twix in China, so he was conserving his Twix, eating them slowly and not letting me eat any. This made me realize the hardship of living in a foreign country so I felt “sympathy” for him. I bought him a whole bunch of Twix in the U.S., and then again in France. I hope that if he really likes Twix, he can eat them to his heart’s content, hahaha!

Ops. I never heard of Twix or saw one before. This smallest detail of live educated me that a foreigner living in Shanghai is definitely not as easy as I think from a local person’s perspective. There are so many stuff that I never saw or be aware but they are essential for their life.

BTW, what is Twix? Sounds like sort of candy.