Plastic Bags in Seattle

In the Pike Market in Seattle, I bought a small apron skirt for Yifan. That was a very small thing that I can put into my pocket. The lady who sold it to me gave me a large plastic bag, and I immediately said: “Oh. No. Thanks…”.

Plastic Bags?

When people travel, and maybe only when people travel, they can be more sensitive to the world, and found out something that they didn’t think before.

Free plastic bags for retailer besides food have been banned in China for quiet some time. (beforeand after the ban). I, and most of people in China, has gotten used to a world without plastic bag. People start to bring cloth reusable bags to shopping already. The free plastic bag in Seattle, and in most of other places in US was very different.

Uncomfortable to Use One

I just feel very uncomfortable to use plastic bags, especially for small things, where a bag is completely not necessary. China has a strong government. Sometimes it makes wrong decisions, and sometimes right decisions, but they can enforce a decision in a manner that no one match. Plastic bag is an example about how easy (if enforced) to remove people’s addict to plastic…

I even wonder, besides the “banned book”, guns, and modern life style, there will be one more item added to the sighseeing list for tourists from China to the US or other countres in the future – the free plastic bags…

P.S. This page was actually created on October 1, 2008

Back from 22 Hours Trip

I am back from Seattle. The trip was very long – left hotel at 7:00 AM Sept 22 Seattle time, and arrives at home at 8:00 PM Sept 23 Shanghai time. That is 22 hours on the road – to be more exactly, on the road, at airport and in air.

I agree that Seattle is too far away. I have get used to my trip to the Bay Area. That is more convenient compared to Seattle. I have not been to Seattle since 2005, when I left Microsoft.

I hope my next trip to US just stops at San Francisco…

I Now Prefer Inexpensive Hotels

I am sitting in the lobby of the Arctic Club Hotel, Seattle. This is a nice historic hotel in downtown, at 700 3th Ave, Seattle. Since I still have 1 hour before YLF car pick me up, I think I should take the time to write down some of the thoughts during my US trip so far. I will beginning with the experience I gained from this trip.

On Hotel Selection

I love Renaissance Hotel in Beijing, I love Shangri-la in Beijing, I enjoy the current hotel I am staying, but on the money wise, I seem to enjoy cheaper hotels with easy parking, like Super 8 in US, or Hanting, Rujia in China.

On Comparison

The good hotels have too much to offer. I will definitely choose a better hotel when I take vacation, but for business trip, and for sightseeing, I don’t need too much of the facilities.The only thing I need is a wireless or wired network, and a bed.

Next time, I am more clear about what I need. I don’t know why, but I am still not in a phase to feel comfortable to stay in expensive hotels, if I pay it by myself or by my company.

Avoid Towntown in US

After visiting bay area, I enjoy so much about having a car and stay somewhere near highway. Although it is far from downtown, I enjoy that life. I drove from Seatac airport to downtown, and suffer a lot. I parked my car on the street, but need to wake up early enough to drive it away, and send them back to Avis, and then get back to hotel again.

The other problem is, when I check out my room at 12:00 PM sharp – they don’t allow late check out today – I have to sit in the lobby. Not a very good idea.

However, a motel outside the city enjoys much more room for parking and the flexibility with a car…

Next time, I will definitely avoid city downtown if my main destination is not city sightseeing.

Dinner with Friends in Microsoft in Redmond

Just back from dinner at Maple Garden Chinese Restaurant at 14725 NE 20th St. (really bad food in standard of China standard).

Washington state is very different from California, and Microsoft is very very different from what I saw in the silicon valley. After several years, Microsoft seems to be more conservative, and more like a big company. I just have a feeling that Microsoft is more like Boeing…

Get back to hotel. Pretty tired. Pardon me for the short and not-in-detail style. Will add more later. Get to bed now.

Grassroot Art in Seattle

This is the part a series travelogue after my U.S. trip at the end of 2004.

Neither The Phantom of Opera in Broadway, nor The Lion King in Paramount Theater, even the Nutcracker in the Lincoln Center surprised me as much as the grassroots art I saw in Seattle. Of cause they are wonderful shows, but my expectation are as high. What I didn’t expect is, at the dirtiest and hard-to-find old abandoned building, there are some artists playing drama tirelessly, and the standard is as high.

The Reason

One night at Seattle, I decide to go to theater. I checked website and found any interesting show. Although the name seems too sexy, the introduction on their website indicates they are serious artist.

I hesitated quite some time before I entered the building. The condition is miserable. It seems to be an abandoned building nobody live in. It is near the viaduct so it is very noisy at night. Later, I discovered at different floors in this building lived photographers, play writers, and painters. The theater was on the second floor.

© Jian Shuo Wang. The building they performs.

This is the stage. They are very professional lighting and audio system, although there are no many seats for audience. 10 persons attended the show that night, and I heard it was among the most crowded show. It is amazing that the performed seriously every night for audience that may be as little as 2 or 3 persons!


Photo in courtesy of Live Girls Theater. Taken inside the room with permission from the theater owner

The Play

Two actors and two actresses performed the one-act play three times according to the three writer’s scripts with the same characters. It was more like an experiment and very interesting. I admit it is a big challenge for my English listening comprehension. I didn’t catch all the details but some scene repeated in my mind the days after.

Secret Gallery

Another great discovery was the secret gallery beside the backstage of the theater (well, they called it theater, which is so different than my previous concept of a theater). The painters or the photographers are normal people who claimed themselves to be artists. It is very inspiring that art is not something we can only find in MoMA or Louver. An big empty room like this works great for displaying personal pictures. They put price tag to the art work so people interested may buy it. It seems more like donation than a deal for these no-so-well-known artists.

The following pictures were taken inside the gallery (with permission).

Art is Everywhere

This is the strongest feeling I had everyday. Imagine a city that has both proven-successful art and grassroots art equally prosperous. At the same night, while Lion King performs in splendid and historical Paramount Theater and well-known painters have their work displayed in SAM (Seattle Art Museum), shows like the Live Girls and painting like those displayed in the gallery also exists. This is quite impressive for me. In Shanghai, I seldom visit any place related to art. This trip changed me a lot. I know there are also lots of art activities in Shanghai. I just didn’t spend time to discover it.

Later, when I visited Chicago and New York, the feeling of art got stronger and stronger. More and more painting like graffiti (thanks Amy), street singers, metro players, but the shock they brought to me didn’t go beyond the experience in Seattle.

Art Story 2: Lion King in Paramount Theater

My friend and I went to see Lion King in the historical Paramount Theatre last night. I am so happy that I visited the theater. From a website, I learnt the show started at 8:00 pm so I arrived there near 7:30 pm. The Paramount Theatre is located at 911 Pine Street, Seattle, WA 98101, just several blocks away. The tickets run from 25 USD to 100 USD. I remember someone posted on my blog to suggest me to try my luck to arrive the theatre at the last minute to get cheap tickets. It worked. A person in hotel uniform was selling his two tickets. The face value for the tickets was $49 and we got it at $20 each. Nice deal, isn’t it?

Before the show started, I was already so impressed by the architecture of the theatre. It was huge! There are many I happened to notice a computer screen at the entrance indicated 2656 persons entered the theatre that night. My seat was on the third mezzanine, 33W 4 to be exactly. It is very far from the stage but exactly in the middle so I can still enjoy the show very well. It is the most splendid place I have ever been in Seattle. See this picture! The elegant decor makes it a palace.

The show is even better: the typical broadway style. I especially love the musical and the way people simulate the lives of animals. Here are the scenes of the show: Act One and Act Two.

Many senior people went there. They dressed well, and behaved well. Parents brought their children. It is clear the tradition of fine arts pass along the generations. It is exactly as the vision of the Seattle Theatre Group stated: the theatre helped “To enrich, inspire, challenge and expand our world through the arts”.

Art Story 1: Dale Chihuly and Shareton

Story 1: Dale Chihuly in Shareton Hotel & Tower

In the lobby of Sheraton Hotel, they display Dale’s glass work and an instruction of the parntership between Sheraton and Dale Chihuly. Sheraton installed Dale’s work in every single room in that hotel! It is impressive. There are two 2-dimension work in the room I stay.


I saw Dale’s work at City Centre this noon. I was happy that I can easily relate the work with the one at the lobby of Sheraton Hotel before I read the author plate.

It is the art from the famous artists that makes the city more approachable and more sensational. The buildings are not stone any more. The artists gave lives to them.

Incredible Prosperity of Art in Seattle

I realized one very important thing Shanghai is lack of, while Seattle has is, art. To be more exactly, I should say I didn’t experience so many art works in Shanghai as I do in Seattle. Shanghai is also a nice place for art, but I may be too busy and didn’t spend too much time on it.

I was impressed by the art works around me in Seattle very hour. There are paintings in hotels and at lobbies of business building. There are many musical and comedy in the many theaters around town. There are tonies statues at many corners. The black beggars played drum on the street. Often, I enter a gallary before I realized it. Everything mixed together with the strong atmosphere of Christmas is just incredible.

Dec 6 – The Longest Day in 2004

Flying around the globe creates very interesting phenomenon regarding time. The time difference is one of them, and the International Date Line is another. The resulting jet lag is not-so-interesting one.

I got up at 6:00 AM, two hours earlier than average, to catch flight to Tokyo at 8:55 AM, Dec 6, 2004. When I arrived in Tokyo, I happily found it is already 12:35. The 2 hour and 40 minutes flight ate one hour of my day. I love to lose one hour in my schedule. It meant I was closer to my bed so I can have a nice sleep earlier, right?

I was somewhat tired after the trip, but still excited. In the next five hours, I waited in the long line of Japanese custom and took train to the city of Narita. It was 10 minute train’s ride from NRT (Narita airport). I was really tired after walking with my big bag on my back – I regretted that I hadn’t checked it in at Shanghai airport so I went to the United counter to check it before my NRTSEA trip. At 5:25 PM, it is already dark outside in Tokyo. It may because the latitude of Tokyo is higher than Beijing. The winter of Tokyo seems like Beijing. Seated on a Boeing 777 of flight UA876, I reviewed the 200 pictures I took in my short stay in Japan, concluding that the day just passed was a very meaningful day.

Night came. I fell asleep, dreamed, waked up, ate/drunk something, fell asleep again… I repeated the circle again and again on the plane. I guess I slept 50% of the trip, ate 30%, and idled 20% of the time on the aircraft. When I was so bored and I wanted to stop this journey as soon as possible, I found there were still 4 hours left in the journey. Long night!

The most interesting part of the story happened when I arrive in Seattle. After 8 hours of flight, the clock at Seattle airport indicated that it was 7:55 in early morning on December 6, 2004, the same day I left Shanghai. It was exactly the time when I completed the check-in procedure at Pudong Airport. It was so funny.

After that, I waited in the long line to pass the U.S. custom, claimed my baggage, rent a car at Avis, practiced driving on the foreign land for one hour and successfully drove to hotel via I-5. Since the training starts the next day, I conducted city tour in the afternoon, had simple lunch and dinner and bought a cup of coffee in the first Starbucks store in the world. I spent the night to watch an experiment drama named Holiday XXX from Live Girls!. It was fantastic. The two actors and two actresses performed the one-act drama three times according to three different scripts by three different writers. There are 10 audiences during the play.

When the drama ended, I chatted with the artists. I mentioned: “It is so nice to end the day of Dec 6 with such a beautiful drama. It is the longest day for me in 2004″. Someone asked road on my way back hotel. I laughed. “I’m afraid I have no idea. I just arrived in this city this morning.” I said. Meanwhile, it came into my mind that “If you asked me about the day of Dec 6, I am more confident to give you an answer because I have stayed in this day for 40 hours already.”

P.S. This page is published at 12:14 AM 12/8/2004

Arrived in Seattle

Just post a short notice onto this web before I go out for lunch. I have I arrived in Seattle safely and have checked in the Sheraton Hotel and Tower at 1400 6th Avenue, Seattle. It is among the best locations in Seattle – at the block between Union Street and the Pike Street. I rent a car from Avis and drove it here. It is so easy to drive in the States than in Shanghai. Stephen’s comment of the last day is correct – it is raining. When I watched out of the window of the B777 aircraft during its landinig, I realized that I would have to drive in the rush hours of a rainy Monday morning. It seemed crazy for first time drivers. To be safe, I drove on the local roads around the airport area for about one hour – first half an hour to get used to the new car and the new driving style, and the second half looking for ways to I-5. It turned out to be a very easy trip. I took 250 pictures on the way already, including those on the short stay in Tokyo. I successfully get the shore pass (or the temp visa) and took train to the nearby town — Narita. ANA shouldn’t have denied me two days before. According to the shore pass, I can stay in Tokyo and Chiba till Dec 9, 2004. I wandered in the town for one and half hour and get back to Terminal 1 of NRT to continue my journey to U.S. I am experiencing jet lag now. The clock on the right corner of the computer reminds me that the current Shanghai time is around 4:00 AM. So many interesting stories to share on the trip. I will take time to create some topics and write around them. I love travel since travel has the magic power to put more stuff into the same amount of time.

Temp share of the photo

Starting the Journey, Again

I will go to Pudong Airport, again, tomorrow morning, heading to Seattle via Tokyo. Good luck to me. I hope I don’t meet any problem at the Seattle when I enter U.S.

P.S. I started my Skype journey and my id in Skype is jianshuo. My friends, you can add me to your contact list. I will also follow Isaac Mao’s practice: I do not accept request with name I cannot recognize. The voice is super and I love the conference call function.

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.

Autumn in Seattle

I am living in the Homestead Village, the self service inn just beside the

Microsoft campus. It is only one road away (NE 28th St) from building 27. The

house above is seen from the window of my room. It should be the 4th building of


This is the building 26, where Windows Media team now stays. I saw the two big

disks hanging on the window. They are the release signing disk for Windows 2000

Server and Windows 2000 Advanced Server. I remember they were hanging in the

lobby of the building before. It is also another most memorable I saw on campus.

It is mid-Nov and the leafs on the maple trees has completely turned burning

red. The campus looks fantastic with all the trees.

Some of the leafs has become light yellow. Look at the leafs. The color are so

pure and I really enjoy the scene there.

The temperature rises a little bit recently. The maple leafs – some are and some

are not – falling to the grass land. The greenish windows are the building 8.

There is nothing to eat and with the serious jet lag, I cannot eat anything. So

I only bought a piece of fried chicken at $5.99 and some orange juice. Bad

lunch, I have to say. It is interesting to see different people treat the same

food differently. The Americans like this kind of food?

Every time I bring a laptop with me, the incompatible plug specification is a

big problem. It is not a problem of voltage. Most laptop converters accept 100 –

240V. I have to go everywhere to find a converter that convert the China plug to

US power outlet. I was wandering near Seals with the shopping cart. Finally, my

conclusions are:

  • Hard to find anything without a car – the online website is a good choice
  • I need to take into account of this and it will safe a lot of time.

Posed before the Windows WHQFest 2002 banner in building 26. I love the printed,

colorful, and simple communication methods like banners, posters, and t-shirt

very much.

Stay tuned

I have a lot of photos and interesting stories about the trip. But I am badly

lack of time to write it down. Will get more stuff later. Thanks for your


Flying over the Pacific

I saw more and more island about 2 hours after the plan took off in Shanghai

I thought "It should be a good place to travel when I have time. It may be

cheap. :-)"

Later, when we went more and more closer, I saw buildings, ports, and

highways. "Why are there so modem architectures on these island? It

is already far from the mainland."

Finally, I realized these island are not normal island in the East China sea.

They have their names – Japan.

One ANA plane was flying below ours, above the land of Japan.

At about 5:00 PM local time, we saw the famous Fuji Mountain.

I call this pictures "Fuji at my fingertips"

The night came and I can see the reddish clouds at the horizon.

Then quickly, the morning comes.

It is cold outside and there are ice on the plane window. Actually, it is about

-58 degree C outside.

Finally, I saw the land of the continental America. It is cloudy there. This is

because the time I took this picture is at morning. Later, the clouds

disappeared and California became Sunny California.

We waited in the long time of custom gate in San Francisco for about 30 minutes. It

was so long

that we almost missed our next flight to Seattle.

We caught the shuttle at the last minute. The door closed and the plane took off

3 minutes after I sit down.

I enjoyed the Starbucks on the plane – well, Seattle is the hometown for

Starbucks. It is also the birthplace for Boeing and Costco.

Clouds after clouds out side the window.

At last, I arrived in Seattle. My brother picked me up at the airport and we

drove on I-90 from Sea-Tac airport to Redmond.

Thank god! I finally arrived in Homestead and had a wonderful sleep there.

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