Weekend at San Jose

Stayed in San Jose for the weekend. Thanks RC for taking care of me and showed me around the region and Carroll/Jim to host me for their trimming tree party at their beautiful house. I learnt a lot recently about how the U.S. society works. Some very interesting details I found:

Head in or Rear in?

At all the parking lot, most cars will put their head into the slot and rear pointing to the road. It seems the nature way. In Shanghai, most drivers will reverse to the parking lot, let the head of the car facing the main path. This seems to be abnormal behavior. This unified behavior may be because of “reverse to parking lot” is one of the test in the driving test in China. What an interesting result of the unified education! It is the same case to see majority of people in China only use right hand, dress similar with each other, and keep silent at class….

How the City is Constructed

It is amazing how harmony the community and the neighborhood were constructed. I happened to meet Shiloh from VLG. Her expertise was city planning. I learnt the process one need to go through to make any construction. It is a democratic way – you propose the construction to the community with plan, and send notification to surrounding areas. People who disagree will go to the community council to argue about the plan until everything is OK. :-) It seems work very well.

18 thoughts on “Weekend at San Jose

  1. Jianshuo – “democratic” not democrafic…

    So – “democracy” works after all, you see.

    Makes more people happy in the final end.

    AND involves them in the daily life and planning as well.

    (Maybe spread out the word when you come home ? :-)

    You forgot to tell that the chinese drivers are less skillful in this maneouvre, because they always send out their spouse or friend to guide them, when they are attempting to do a reversed parking !

    Just curious : Do chinese learn to make a reverse parking along the curb, between 2 cars ?

    I always enjoy when (most women, however..) try to do this stunt :-) :-)

    Usually it takes 4-5 attempts, and then they give up !

    An idea : Perhaps you can make a posting of the right of way for cars in the traffic in China, especially related to pedestrians.

    It’s interesting to know who’s right, if you are on the way to the hospital or the morgue.

    By the way, did you try any special christmas food so far ?

  2. Drive in and back in. It depends very much at the width of the parking stall. In North America the parking stall width is usually 8′-10′ plus a 18’+ driveway making drive in parking very easy. In my city, SUV, mini-van and pick-up truck accounts 60 % of the private vehicles, so wider parking is essential for practical purpose.

  3. > Do chinese learn to make a reverse parking along the curb, between 2 cars ?

    carsten, most Chinese do not have a car, even in Shanghai.

    And, it’s weekend not weedend. Although some readers here are mad about pointing out Jianshuo’s spelling errors, I never hesitate to do so. :-D

  4. Chinese, it is OK. I feel 100% OK that you point out my English typos. Sometimes, I just get too tired to create a full article – just like that one – I fell asleep one minute after I clicked the Post button yesterday. :-) To keep one entry everyday means sometimes, you only have 3 minutes to post, and sometimes, the battery may not last for the second review and most time, I read twice, three times but still cannot find out some obvious errors. See, I changed it back. however, if you can use another nick name other than “Chinese” will be much better, since I feel strange to address you with this name.

    On the parking, since very few people have cars, and most of the drivres are new drivers – just have car in the last two or three years, and most importantly, their parents don’t have cars. it is like typewriters. People in China don’t know how to type English on computer since typewriters are new thing. For America, most young people grow up watching their parents driving for 18 years, and learnt some basics about driving before they learn to drive. It is a different case in China again.

    Having said that, I would say, it is only because it is so new. Just like chopstick is new to people from other countries.

  5. Head-in park is an easier way for most drivers:

    Suppose that you park your car into a slot between two cars, head-in parking is less likely to hit/scratch the cars on sides. When you back out, there is open space outside the parking slot, which makes it also easier.

  6. At first sight this ‘famous shanghai blogger’ kind of toned down his trademark anti-western rhetoric. A real change?

    Wait a minute, what is this – “how harmony the community and the neighborhood were constructed” ? This is only a cheap echo of the most recent Chinese Communist Party dogma: ‘build a harmonic society’. Even thousands miles away, wangjianshuo’s mind is still obsessed with government propaganda!

    Let’s see how CCP is doing building the social harmony:

    Chinese Police Kill Villagers During Two-Day Land Protest

    By Edward Cody

    Washington Post Foreign Service

    Friday, December 9, 2005; Page A01

    DONGZHOU, China, Dec. 8 — Paramilitary police and anti-riot units opened fire with pistols and automatic rifles Tuesday night and Wednesday night on farmers and fishermen who had attacked them with gasoline bombs and explosive charges, according to residents of this small coastal village.

    The sustained volleys of gunfire, unprecedented in a wave of peasant uprisings over the last two years in China, killed between 10 and 20 villagers and injured more, according to the residents. The count was uncertain, they said, because a number of villagers could not be located after the confrontations.

    (excerpts; full text: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/08/AR2005120802203.html)

    BBC News Government minimises Dongzhou massacre

    AsiaNews.it, Italy – 9 hours ago

    Dongzhou (AsiaNews) – The deadly crackdown against

    demonstrators in the village of Dongzhou was scarcely covered by China’s media. …

    Dissent: Beijing’s Tricky Balancing Act BusinessWeek

    Chinese Mourn Dead After Village Shootings ABC News

    Chinese Mourn Dead After Village Shootings CBS News

    Houston Chronicle – Chicago Tribune – all 683 related »


    So much for CCP and its agent’s ‘harmony’ lines. Next time you lie, find another one.

  7. geez Bellevue, its a blog, if you want to do this crap go write to an actual chinese newspaper, if they didnt report the above news. What a friggin loser

  8. Carsten,

    I have lived in Shanghai for three years, so I will try to answer your following questions based on my observations:


    I wouldn’t say the Chinese drivers are less skillful just because they have their spouses or friends to guide them backing their cars in. In most cases, the parking spaces are very narrow which makes parking into them much harder than it would in the States. The reason dirvers here like to back in the parking space is probably because it makes exiting easier as Shanghai seems to have non-stop traffic, and nobody, I really mean it NOBODY gives you the courtesy to back out even if you are half way out already.


    Do you mean parallel parking? Yes, they do although not as often because many streets in Shanghai are quite narrow with two lanes only. Parking parallelly takes away driving lanes.


    I’d love to know the rules of right-of-way in China too. I am sure there are, but most people don’t follow them. Even when pedestrian lights turn green, you still see cars run through red lights, let alone motorcyles and bikes. What’s worse is often times drivers stop their cars on crosswalks. I understand the police are fining dirvers 200 RMB for doing so, but in most intersections there are no police.

    Another phenomenon is when pedestrians walk arcoss the streets, often they are stopped by approaching vehicles that make right turns. I would think the pedestrians have the right of way in such cases, but then so what? Won’t you stop walking if a car making a turn dosn’t stop in front of you? So in my opinion, as Shanghai’s economy taking big strides, people ought to learn rules of civilizations just as quickly. I think most people from the States(at least) who now live in Shanghai will agree with me that drivers and pedestrians are equally hectic. I am a seasoned driver, but I wouldn’t want to drive here.

    In summary, from drivers who told me: who has the right-of-way on roads? The answer is whoever, be they cars or pedestrians, get onto the street first.

    With 6,000 new licence plates being auctioned off in Shanghai in each month, I’m afraid we will only see traffic get worse before it gets better.

  9. I am trying to educate the drivers in Shanghai that if a pedestrian light is green, then the people walking have right of way. I just keep walking, generally the cars (main offenders are taxis) stop. Every once in awhile when they don’t stop they get a thump on the side mirror or windows with whatever is in my hand at the time!

    I get some very strange looks from the taxi drivers, bewildered looks by the passengers and very bemused looks from other pedestrians.

    Most countries in the world that have a `Right turn on red permitted’ policy also have a sub line to that – ‘After stopping’ or `If safe’ – which means don’t go if there are pedestrians or cars. Also almost every other country also has a sign saying it is permitted to do that turn after stopping – in China, no sign – therefore – no rule!

    A friend of mine also points right at a drivers head if they aren’t looking like stopping (thats an extremely rude thing to do so I’m told) so that often makes them stop.

    The flip side of this is that the pedestrians also need to learn some manners and general road sense. As I driver I would get annoyed at having pedestrians randomly walk across the road or worse, stand in a group blocking a whole lane off while waiting to cross the road. If they all stood on the foot path (sidewalk) the cars would have a better flow and would be less likely to be stopping across pedestrian crossings.

    Its a whole new world that China is entering into, and the general `common sense’ of road and pedestrian rules and safety are not yet developed. This will take a long time, but I am doing my duty – educating 1 taxi driver at a time with a thumb on the window with my grocery bag.

    Sabrina wrote about me `attacking’ taxis last month at madaboutshanghai.blogs.com (use a proxy in China).

  10. Bravo! Mr. Couper,

    I really appreciate the way you try to educate the ruleless people in Shanghai. However, I wonder if it is effective? Recently, my parents and I joined a tour group to tour east coast in USA, and about 90% of the tour members in our group are from mainland China, they are good folks in general, but when it comes to general common senses, it seems that they just don’t have it. They don’t have any sense of lining up for getting into any place, for example: we had to stay in line to get into the Empire State Building, and the line is very long, but those people from mainland China would push you from behind in hope that they can get in faster. It annoyed us very much.

    I want China to be a great country, and don’t know how to help, I reported to the tour guide about the tour members’ no manner issue, such as spitting at anywhere, or cut in the line, etc. “Hopeless” is the answer I got from the tour guide.

    Jian Shuo, I hope you don’t get offended about my comment, I am doing this out of good intention and really wish through your popular blog, we can let more Chinese know that things need to be changed for better future.

    April from Campbell

  11. Do chinese learn to make a reverse parking along the curb, between 2 cars

    Carsten: We Chinese call that parallel parking. don’t slang your English if you yourself can not make it!

  12. It is not the driving skill that Shanghai drivers lack. It’s the courtesy and common sense. Those idiots just don’t care their own safety, much less the safety of others.

  13. In big cities such as SF and NYC, there are many pedestrians who would cross the street at a red light if they think/see there’s no coming traffic.

    I guess people adapt to their living environment. In most of the US cities, it would be a luxury for people to ditch their cars and walk, thus you see few pedestrians on the road. It would be really easy and natural to give them the right of way. However in big cities like San Francisco or New York, there are so many pedestrians in some of the areas, you would see similar situations as what you would see in most of the places in China. That’s it.

    In the past, there were few cars on the road while lots and lots and lots of slender pedestrians. Now there are way too many cars and obese people. Not sure if it is good or bad.

  14. I like the retro style of civil planning in some of the European cities. There are special pedestrian area (usu. downtown ) where no cars are allowed. People walk around cafes, shops, department stores, rivers, bridges, stands, kiosks, etc.

  15. I like the retro style of civil planning in some of the European cities. There are special pedestrian area (usu. downtown ) where no cars are allowed. People walk around cafes, shops, department stores, rivers, bridges, stands, kiosks, etc. In Shanghai, there are some “walking-only” streets too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *