Jian Shuo Wang is Going to U.S.

Breaking news! Jian Shuo Wang is going to U.S.

I will attend a business meeting in Seattle from Dec 7 to Dec 9, 2004. After that, I will start my vacation, the longest vacation since I graduated. I will be in America for two more weeks and get back to Shanghai after X’mas. My vacation will expire by the end of this year so I have to use it up quickly. My current project happens to end by the end of November, and it is good time to take a rest. The reason I choose U.S. (I thought of Tokyo before) is, I can combine it with the business trip – so I don’t have to worry about the visa. It is not easy to get a visa for U.S.

I am going to visit as many places as possible, across America. Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington are on my list. I am interested in visiting cities instead of nature scenery (like Grand Canyon, Yellow Stone).

I can safely claim that I have many friends in U.S., right? Some frequent readers emailed me to offer help when I go to his/her area one day. I appreciate it. I do need some help to prepare the trip and I am sure I can get your help.


The schedule is not finalized, but here are some dates I have decided:

Dec 4 – Dec 6: Tokyo

Dec 7 – Dec 10: Seattle

Dec 11 – ??? Chicago

??? – ??? Not planned yet

Dec 14 – Dec 15: Boston

Dec 16 – Dec 19: New York

Dec 20 – Dec 22: Washington D.C.

Dec 23 – Dec 26: Chicago

There is a very good U.S. rail route map on AmTrak’s website.

My Question List. Abridged Version

Here is my list of questions so far.

Q1: Is there any other great places I should not miss in the trip?

Besides the cities I listed, is there any place that is so special that I need to stop by? I am taking the east route and won’t stop in California (sorry, carroll). I will visit it the next time. I take the trip as a great opportunity to really dive into the lives in U.S. so I have better understanding about some discussion on this blog regarding the different between U.S. and China. I am particularly interested in Metro systems, the public transportation (buses/ferries) and tourism guide boards there…

Q2: Is there better way to stay in Youth Hostel? What about Greyhound? What about AmTrak? Any one happens to know very cheap tickets or website?

Transportation and accommodation are the largest portion of the travel expense. It is interesting that when I plan the trip, I ask exactly the same kind of questions others would ask me about Shanghai. I guess after the trip, I know the needs of travelers to Shanghai better and therefore, be able to provide better public service to foreign visitors and help make Shanghai friendlier.

Q3: I am going to spend 3 days in Chicago, 3 days in New York, 2 days in Washington D.C., 2 days in Boston… Is it enough? Should it be longer, or shorter, considering my 2 week schedule?

Q4: Should I visit Texas or other south areas? I guess it is warmer there and it may be good to drive there.

Like Dan Washburn’s Cross China Trip, I am considering to find contact person before I visit any city. The route may also change based on whether I have a contact there. Send me an email if you would like to propose a meet.

Blogging on the Road

I decided no matter how tough the budgeted travel is, I will try to keep up blogging everyday during the trip and share the pictures. Can anyone suggest a good way to get connected? I will bring my laptop with me.

35 thoughts on “Jian Shuo Wang is Going to U.S.

  1. hi…i lived in southern Cali (Riverside) before for two years. I would say L.A is not worth to go anyway, there is simply nothing to see except the hollywood blvd and of course Chinatown. I went to S.F two times, Las Vegas three times (not for gambling but nightlife and food), NYC one time. As for NYC, everything is hype, doesnt live up to my expectations except the Times Square. I would love to see the Mid West one day, Texas, Mississippi…what is in my opinion the real America. The Niagara fall is nice to see too if you are up as far north as Boston, just plan a one day trip there.

  2. plz check ur mail box jianshuo. I’m sending u a very detailed plan that i developped for my 12 days road trip in the States last summer.

  3. Regarding your connection question, as a microsoft employee you have dial up numbers across US (phone numbers are in your OTG connection wizard). Alternatively, you can find (paid) wireless hotspots at Starbucks or some McDonalds. You may also try http://www.wifinder.com/ to find some free hotspots if possible.

  4. If you do come to Texas, you can visit us at Austin. :) But if I were you, I’d go to Colorado / Arizona / New Mexico first. Those places have mountains, deserts and many national parks — the stunning beauty of the American West. Also, if you have not been there already, Las Vegas is a good place to go.

    In terms of travel, the easiest way to get around is to fly and then rent a car when you get to the place. You can stay in Motels as you travel by car. That is especially true in western states (less true for big cities in the east).

    The problem I had with Amtrak or Greyhound (I only took them 1-2 times, so do not take my word for it) is that their stations tend to be in the downtown area of big cities — these are the worst neighborhood (as *unsafe* at night) and very poor local transportation services.

  5. Mr. Wang,

    glad to heard you coming to US for vacation!

    While you are in Seattle, don’t forget to visit the flag shop of Starbuck by the waterfront near fishman wharf.

    During the break of Dec 11-14, you may travel south to California or east to Yellowestone.

    For Yellowstone, you can rent a car and take I-90 east to Montana, the drive is about 900Km from Seattle, Yellowstone is located at SE of Montana joining Idaho and Wyoming, inside the park the drive is about 3 hours and accommodation is available outside of the park gate. There are lot of points of interest along the route but half of them may be closed in winter, check the weather before you go, you may not able to handle the mountain road in the winter.

    For Grand Canyon, you may fly to Las Vagas and rent a car travel east to Grand Canyon, it is about 200 Km and can be completed in one day, don’t forget to see the Hoover Dam on your way back, tour in Las Vagas is self explanatory, but try to stay at the main stripe.

    Should you need any advise or hotel booking, you may web the AAA and find it useful.

    Have a good trip!


  6. Mr. Wang,

    Another alternative for you may be simple, join the local Chinese east coast tour from Seattle, if not available, join it at Vancouver. Check with toureast.com.


  7. Looks like you are going places Mr Wang, in two meanings. Enjoy the States. I hope you will take time to visit Europe soon too, it is quite different from The US in several ways.

  8. Dear Jian Shuo Wang,

    This is my first time writing. I enjoy your website very much. In 2002 I spent about 3 weeks in Shanghai on holiday while I was working in Beijing. I had the best time there. The Shanghainese were great and the food was awesome. I plan to spend one year in Shanghai in 2005/2006. It is so exciting to hear you will come to North America in December. Congratulations on your opportunity. I live in Vancouver Canada which is just north of Seatlle. It has some of the most spectacular scenery on the continent. Be sure to go to the beach and see the ocean from this side. It may be a bit rainy and cool but it is not humid like your home town. Also, if you like basketball check the NBA scedule of the cities you will be in and go and see a game, it is quite an experience. I hope one day your travels will bring you to Canada also. Have a great trip

  9. Well, when I saw the title of this post I got very excited, Jian Shuo, but it made me smile to see that you had anticipated my feelings of disappointment so accurately, and of course I do understand. It’s a very big country, and very difficult to see everything and visit everyone you might like to in such a short time. The places you already have in mind should be exciting for you, especially during the holidays when everything will be decorated and festive. I will e-mail you directly with some suggestions that come to mind (I grew up in Boston, lived for one summer in New York, and feel sure you will enjoy them both) but two free sites that might be of general interest to your readers are http://www.globalfreeloaders.com and http://www.hospitalityclub.com. They both operate on the premise that people all over the world are eager to get to know people from other countries and to share hospitality with them. We used globalfreeloaders on our recent trip to New Zealand, and have just had out first visitor from hospitalityclub. I recommend them both!

  10. Glad to hear that you are coming to the States. The December weather is very cold in the Mid-West and the North-East. If I were you, I would visit the warmer places, places like California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. If you come to Los Angeles or Orange County, Please let me know. I would be very happy to show you around. Contrary to what people say in this forum, Southern California (including L.A., Orange County and San Diego) has a lot of places to see. Grand Canyon and the caves in Arizona and New Mexico are also great places to go and visit in December.


  11. IMHO, you should not miss San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Of course, LA is also very meaningful to visit.

  12. Chicago is not as important as before in the US. No need to spend 3 days there. The buzz of everything should be found in NYC, SFC, LA, Boston or DC.

  13. Hi, JianShuo, great that you have such long holidays for a tour in US.

    My two cents tips: Spend sometime on coastal cities, like Boston. Most of American cities are the same, driving around downtown Seattle isn’t that different from driving around in downtown Chicago or New York, well, there something indeed you only find in New York: central park, wallstreet, broadway, radiocity, time square, and lots more… And MIT and Harvard in Boston.

  14. Dont forget to eat Chicago deep dish pizza. There is nothing like it in the world. I would recommend that you watch a hockey while you are there. The NHL is on strike so you would have to watch a minor league team like the Wolves. Another place you must visit is Ed Debevics. The staff is also purposefully rude. If you like that kind of fun, try it out.

    Chicago can be a lot of fun. I am from Michigan and my family would often go there. (my brother and his wife even live there!) You just need to plan it right. It will be cold, but that is one of the best parts of Chicago–the cold and the Christmas shopping on Michigan Avenue. The museums in Chicago arent very expensive, yet they are of great value. Another option for you is to volunteer at a homeless shelter. You may think I am crazy, but you will see a side of America that most tourists never see. And you will enjoy helping out others.

  15. Mr. Wang,

    Please bear in mind America is a big country, if you wish to see her in two weeks covering the cities you mentioned is not practical.

    Would suggest you tour either west coast or east coast in this two weeks and perhaps you’ll received an indepth feeling of the cities and people you visited.

    N.B. Ever think about to include Canada in you visit?


  16. Good to hear that you are coming to New York. I am working at NYC mid-town,and I like your site the update constantly. So if you do need any when you in the town of New York, let me know. You can contact me by email, I will leave my mobile number.

    See, that is the great stuff of blogging and I am sure that you will many friends around the US cities. Enjoy the trip!

  17. DO NOT MISS deep-dish pizza in Chicago! Find out what REAL American pizza is like, and why Americans love it so much! :-)

    There is no place on earth like Manhatten. It’s so exciting!

    Wow, you will have so much fun, great itinerary!

  18. It looks like you have had your mind set on a east coast tour, otherwise I would have suggested Disneyland in LA or Disnayworld in Florida. It shows the positive spirit of fun-loving Americans.

    If you want to study metro/subway systems, be warned that many systems in these US cities may not be that new and clean, in comparison to HK or Tokyo, say. The beauty with these system is not in the trains themselves, which they cannot aford to replace/update untill absolutely necessary, the beauty is often in the management, the efficiency. Some systems are infected with graffitis.

    In Chicago what you don’t want to miss is how famously busy O’Hare Airport’s air and passenger trafic is, on the runways and between the terminals. The Chicago skyline, looking from the lakeshore, is quite spectacular during day and night.

    Some have suggested that you visit Harvard and MIT in Boston, when on MIT campus do walk INTO the main building and have a feeling. I would also recommend the Science museum in Boston esp. the section about transportation. Ask about the “big dig.”

    When travelling in the US, do not be attempted to “historical” places that much, they are usually only 50-200 years old. Many of these major cities are quite similar, you see one and the next one has many aspects more or less the same.

    There are three Americas: the downtown, the suburbs, and the country. I gues you will be seeing the first two.

  19. Thanks for everyone’s information. Although I know it is not the right season to travel to the east, I am still so attracted by New York, Washington and Boston. I don’t think I can miss it after I visit U.S. for many times.

    Since my desitination are often in Seattle for my trip, and I always transit at SFO before, I still have plenty of chance to visia LA or other nearby places in the future, when I only have two or three day free time. But this time, it is very rare that I decided to spend so long vacation and I happen to finish my current project so I can go… East coast seems a better choice for me.

    bigbro, I won’t miss the attractions of Boston. I have bought the Boston for Dummies and the author mentioned bigdig. I also visited http://bigdig.com already.

  20. Hi Jiang Shuo, as I am going to visit Tokyo next week, I thought that you might be interested in knowing the place I have found. It’s called Kimi House, and their website is http://www.kimi-ryokan.jp/. From the look of it, it seems nice. You can check it out and decide.

    As for places to stay in the US, you can try your luck with priceline.com. There is a good website (http://www.biddingfortravel.com/) where people list out the winning bid price they have gotten, and the hotel that they got for that price. It gives you a good reference price for the bids that you place on priceline.

    Hope this helps.

  21. I would say cut back to skip Chicago. Nothing really there except the Sears tower and minor attractions.

    For the same reason a lessor degree, you might want to cut back on Boston and DC.

    Definitely load up on NYC. There’s so much to do: Wall St., Statue of Liberty, Chinatown (LA’s chinatown is nothing compared to NYC’s THREE C-towns) , Midtown, Soho, Broadway, Museums, etc, etc ,etc, etc.

    San Fran, Vegas, and LA are all nice too.

    Since you will probably be able to visit the US again in the future, my advise would be to go to a few places first, and really experience all of it, instead of making a whirlwind tour. You can visit the 2nd tier cities on future visits.

  22. If you insist to visit northeast and Chicago during the month of December, my advice to you is to try making your travel plan a bit flexible. Let’s say to have a plan A and a plan B. Comparing to Jan. Feb., although December does have the worst weather, it still can cause the roads closing and airport shut downs. The possibility is there.

    As far as Chicago, I have to agree with LTZ, Skip it! This will allow you to have more time in the East Coast. All the cities there are not far from each other and all those cities have Chinatown. In Chinatown, there has the long distance bus services to all other cities you want go and it is cheap. The buses are operated by the local Chinese. They depart from one Chinatown and arrive to another. Ask the locals when got there.

    I live only hour and a half away north of Chicago. The city of Chicago has a magnificent lakefront. But you only can fully appreciate its beauty during a warmer month. Visit it next time. Good Luck!

  23. Don’t miss Las Vegas if you are a young city goer.

    Don’t miss Yellowstone if you like nature.

    I wouldn’t go to Chicago, NYC and D.C. in December unless you don’t mind cold like Beijing’s winter.

    If you want go ski, let me know. CA has some best ski areas in the world. Even they are snow covered mountains they are still much warmer during the day than Chicago or NYC.

  24. Very time I click on your site index I got 5 viruses showing in my anti-virus. Can you check it out? Thank you very much.

  25. Hey, Wang Jiaoshuo, Long time no see!! A couple of days ago Xiao Fan told me about you guys’ visiting US in near future. It looks like that you already got plenty of opinion/feedback regarding trip planning:) Good for you and I really hope you have a pleasant vacation. If you ever change your mind and decide to drop by Northern California (the San Francisco Bay Area, the Silicon Valley, whatever you want to call it), be sure to gimme a ring. I look forward to meeting you guys here. BTW, I live in LA for about one and half years totally. Unlikely most of other people, I would say I like LA quite a bit, a fun place to stay. Of course for visitors you might prefer San Francisco for its unique landscape and cultural circumstance. Anyway, let me know if you guys come to California.

  26. Anyone else got virus when they visit this page? I didn’t find any problem and I searched but no result.

    Jing, nice to hear from you. We may not visit SFO this time but we will definitely visit you in the next trip to SF. Thanks for the offer.

  27. Yes, I’ve been surfing around your site for the past several days and also get virus alerts every time I click on the “Directory” link from your main page. The viruses are detected as “Exploit-MhtRedir.gen”. Cleaning the file fails, so I delete then instead…

  28. You didn’t even bother to include Silicon Valley!

    It’s either the Valley is going out of business, or Redmond is.

  29. I have been living in the States for the last 24 years, and have traveled extensively (million miles on UA alone). My advice is to skip Chicago – too cold (worse than NY,DC,Boston) and nothing better than those 3 cities – unless you have friends to spend Christmas with at Chicago.

    In NYC,DC,Boston, the subways are very good so you can consider finding a cheap place away from downtown (like Cambridge near Boston where Harvard is, or Georgetown area in DC although it’s still expensive there – maybe try Bethesda which is also on subway line). Avoid Greyhound or Amtrak stations – they were developed 100 years ago in the middle of town and by now most of them are inner city dumps, full of drug dealers and drunks and hookers. Seriously, be careful out there!

    In case you take the train from NYC to DC, you can stop by Philladelphia easily for 2~3 hours and take in the sight of Independence Bell and Constitution Birthplace. If you have one more day, Niagra Falls in the winter can be very striking too. If you get to Yellowstone, I consider Grand Teton National Park (right next to Yellowstone) to be much prettier and not as boring (Old Faithful spring gets very predictable and boring – sorry to disappoint you). Yellowstone is better if you like wild life like buffalos. No one mentioned Yosemite National Park (4~5 hr from San Francisco) which is absolutely beautiful, and it has a unique peace in the winter.

    Good luck!

    David Ai

    Menlo Park, CA

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