TW's Comments

20 In Beijing, Just Before Olympic Games

OOOPS! I didn't proof read my earlier post. I had a typo by spelling candidness with cindidness. By the way, please remind your reader to be extra cautious with their belongings when travel to BJ, especially the valuables and their passports. Unfortunately, at a chaotic time like the Olympics, it also invites many pickpoketers. I've already heard many people, especially the foreigners, having their briefcases, handbags, computer bags etc stolen right from one foot away from them.
Posted by TW at 2008-07-31 07:48:06. More

19 In Beijing, Just Before Olympic Games


Thank you for your cindidness sharing with your readers what your overall impressions are of Beijing weatherwise, traffic wise and most importantly how its residents react to the pros and cons the Olympic Games are bringing to their life. As a mega city itself, BJ already has tens of millions of people. Coupled with the athelets, visitors from all over the world, Chinese government and BJ city really have massive problems to deal with. I truly believe they have been trying to do a good job.

I'm glad everyone will sigh with a big relief when the Games are over. Beijinese can go back to their own normal lives. On the flip side, I think the government and BJ people will learn a great deal from having to cope with all ins and outs of this historical event for them.

Posted by TW at 2008-07-31 07:31:27. More

18 Lost Passport and Found it

I can imagine how panicky you were when you couldn't find your passport just weeks prior to your U.S. trip. I keep my two passports and a few other travel documents all inside a bag, which I can wear over my neck so I always have them in one place. My husband says no guys carry bags (that's not true, but he insists so), and he just sticks his loose travel document either in his brief case or his shirt pocket. And he often fumbles in different places to look for them. One of these days, he's going to lose his passport.

Always make extra copies of your passport, carry one with you, and leave them with your wife and secretary just in case you lose your passport while traveling. I had my passport stolen in London one year on July 3rd. I had to wait one extra day till July 5th to go the the American Embassy there for reissurance. Because I had a copy of my passport, I had the replacement passport reissued in one hour.
Posted by TW at 2008-07-28 23:22:08. More

17 Beijing Apartment for Olympic


I talked with a friend last night whose brother and cusins live in Beijing. She says priced of hotels are so ridiculously priced, and security is extremely high with many restrictions. Many people who were planning to go to Beijing during the Olympic Games have decided not to go. Her brother told her many businesses have spent a lot of money expecting to do great business with all the visitors they thought would be going to Beijing. Now that visitors would number much fewer and these businesses are going to lose money big times.

Originally, her family was going to go to Beijing too, but when she found out the 2-3 star hotels are charging 1,500 Yuan per night. A short family vacation of a week will cost them more than 20,000 Yuan with room/borad/transportation. Therefore, she and her husband chickened out and decide to watch the games from their home instead.

Personally, I think the 5-star hotels which had reservations from foreign groups will still do well, but the 2-3 star hotels will be disappointed when their false hopes failed, and may drastically reduced their room rates.

Time will tell how this whole Olympics pens out.
Posted by TW at 2008-07-26 19:46:48. More

16 CRH Train from Shanghai to Hangzhou

This is great news for folks who want to travel between the two big cities. Do you have the train schedule and a list of the fares? How far it it rom Hangzhou's train station to the Westlake area by taxis?I assume that there are many bus routes to different parts of Westlake.
Posted by TW at 2008-07-03 18:55:59. More

15 SHA to SFO Air Tickets are Cheap Now

Sorry, I forgot to mention my sample fare was round trip from PVG to LAX.
Posted by TW at 2008-02-13 18:31:22. More

14 SHA to SFO Air Tickets are Cheap Now

Okay, for the heck of curiosity, I just went on and put in some date in early March. The cheapest fares come to RMB5,030 inclusive of taxes and fees. I don't know what fare code these fares are at and if passengers will accrue mileage from this fare.
Posted by tw at 2008-02-13 18:29:39. More

13 SHA to SFO Air Tickets are Cheap Now

I don't believe these prices are the final price one will pay. Usually the advertised prices are deceiving as they do not include the different taxes. If someone is serious about taking a trip to any of the above destinations, he/she should go on Northwest's website and plug in the flying dates and see how much the actual fare would be.
Posted by TW at 2008-02-13 18:19:57. More

12 I Fixed My Sony P8 Battery

JS, Your tip of reviving the dead battery is interesting, and I would like give it a try on some of my cellphone batteries, which lose power very quickly. What I want to know is did you put the wrapped battery inside the freezer or the refrig? Will you send the answer also to my email box as I check my emails much more often. Thanks.

Posted by tw at 2008-02-13 12:32:18. More

11 Snowing Huangshan

Wow! What a gorgeous scene!! I went there last May when the weather was very warm, so it's a big change. What I'm curious to know is whether the trails would be very slippery from all those snow. If some of the snow was melted and then refreez, the narrow steps could turn into icy patches. Another thing I wonder is if the indoors are adequetly heated. Many of the buildings in Shanghai are not heated, so it feels just as cold indoors as outdoors.
Posted by TW at 2008-01-15 15:24:36. More

10 Shanghai Metro Line #4, #6, #8, #9 Opens

I can imagine the confusions and chaos of a sudden addition of 58 stations with a few days and some new Metro lines during the last several months. From personal experience, I was often at a loss which exits I should take once getting off the trains. It would be very helpful for the Metro station to post many more maps throughout the stations or even posting big maps outside the entrances so people can check their routes prior to even entering the stations.

I have been to many big cities in the world that have subways, some cities do excellent jobs offering information to riders. I particularly like those in Tokyo, Paris, London As in many other glabal cities that have subways to print small pamphlets showing the lines and their connection stations, Shanghai city ought to do this too in both Chinese and in English. Shanghai is not a tourists-friendly city. It's very difficult to ask for directions from people on the street or inside the stations. Having an information desk within each major stations such as People Square, Jingan Temple can be great helps for passenger who are not local. Perhaps the Shanghai city ought to hire helpers or recruit volunteers who can direct people where to go.

Posted by tw at 2008-01-06 12:02:46. More

9 My Baby Arrives

A big congrat to you and Wendy!! I didn't hear you mention about expecting a baby!! Do fathers get pathernity leaves in China so they can spend some time learning how to care for the newly born and their wives?

Posted by tw at 2007-06-03 12:22:41. More

8 Where to Buy Tea in Shanghai

First off, Zhengwen, I understand you perfectly although your English has plenty room to improve; however I give you credit for willing to give it a try. With time, you should improve.

Speaking of where to buy tea, obviously there are many places you can go to, such as tea shops, supermarkets etc. I liked going to Tien-Fu Tea Shops, which have chain stores throughout Shanghai and perhaps in other cities as well. You can sample the teas you're interested in. The saleslady there will brew tea she scoops out fromthe big containers. You can smell if they are fresh. If you live in Shanghai, buy just 200 grams of it first and try them at home. If you like it, then go back and buy more. I wouldn't buy too much though cause you can always go back and buy more. They will vaccum pack it for you.

A word of caution: Avoid buying tea from tourist areas. They know you are just toursts and will probably never go back. Once I bought 500 grams of Longjin (green tea) only to find that the tea contained a lot of particles floating ot the top. I wonder if the shop owners add something to increase the weight. Also try not to buy teas from places the tour guides take you too. Many tour guides take tourists to tea farms and take a 30+% kickbacks. They let you sit down and watch a tea ceremony and sample the teas. The teas you sampled are all fresh with good smell, but when you buy them in cans, some are stale. Plus, the prices are so high they are for tourists, who don't know better. Years ago before I moved to Shanghai, I went on a tour to Hangzhou where many tea farms exist. The demonstrators did such good jobs selling, people in our group bought tons of tea. When they arrived in Shanghai and visited some tea shops, they realize they paid TOO much in Hangzhou. When in Hangzhou, you will find many peddlers swarming to tourist buses selling teas and scarves. I was told some cans contains good tea leaves on the top only, and underneath is poor quality teas. By the way, some peddlers sell silk scarves very cheap when you board the buses. If you do want to buy, then you better take out the scarves from the plastic bags befoe you pay. I know people on our bus bought a few dozens and then found out the scarves are only half the size they ought to be. Of course, I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my seat.

Posted by tw at 2007-04-25 20:34:07. More

7 Reasons of Bad Traffic in Shanghai

Apparently while I was composing my above long comment, a few other people also sent in theirs. I realized that after I pressed "post". Interesting enough, they all mentioned the pedetrial light rules. I guess I wasn't the only person who was aggrevated by the SH traffic.
Posted by tw at 2007-04-25 12:50:37. More

6 Reasons of Bad Traffic in Shanghai

Shanghai's traffic is one of its worst nightmares. People blame it to the vast number of population, but I think there's much to it. Again, being non-Shanghainese, I used to be told to "get out of China if you don't like our traffic" if I complained. I don't know how many locals have such mentality, but it's not taken well by many foreigners.

Aside from the good reasons given by Jianshuo and Jakob upstairs why there're forever traffic gridlocks, I also think:
1) The city ought to widen many of the one-way streets. As developers keep putting up high-rise buildings, many of the adjacent streets remain original. I presume many of the cureent 2-land one-way street used to be two-way streets perhaps 40-50 years ago. Do some math, if the city evicted the old residents who lived in 1-4 story dwellings, which means lower populations to 30+ story high buildings, commercial or residental, the populations swell exponentially, and I think the adjacent roads must be widened to accomondate the much increased traffic flow. I'm not an urban planner, but I can figure that out easily. In addition, many buildings don'thave enough parking space. In California, I know builders must set aside a set number of parking space for the building, which is included in the total buildable area. I know the city has to compensate the old residents either money or a new apartment when people are evicted. Could it be that the developers want to build as many units as possible because each square meter worths so much money, so instead of widening the streets would mean fewer units to sell and hence less profit. I think it's the goverment's job to tighten its ordinances for the builders. With one-way street, if one misses or past the building he wants to go to, the driver has to drive around blocks to get to where he wants to go to.

2) Lacking of public parking structures especially with affordable charges. If I drove, which I didn't, I would prefer to park my car within safe parking lots. I don't know how many buidlings have affordable parking lots, from what I know, most drivers don't want to park in structures that charges them 10 or 20 + RMB/hour. If average people's pay is 5 yuan per hour, they are not going to park inside expensive places. You can't blame them because how many Americans are willing to pay $12USD/per hour if that's how much the average pay per hour.

3) As Jianshuo mentioned, most pedestrians don't know traffic rules in order not to jepodize themselves and incoming vehicles. It's true a lot of people J-walk on SH streets. But I got something to say about this too. I used to get so mad at cars squeezing right in front of me when I walked on crosswalks with the pedestrian lights are on. Unless China's traffic rule is that muc different, I believe when pedestrian lights go on, pedestrians have the right-of-way, and right-turn cars must yield to people first. I also think the government ought to use medias to educate peoples, drivers as well as pedestrians, how to drive and cross the streets. I know some people will say the goverment has done some work, but if the current traffic pattern relects people's knowledge, I'll say much much work is needed.

4) Drivers should clear of intersections. So many intersections are filled with cars that hardly any or them can move.

P.S. I moved to Taipei now. It's amazing how well traffic light works here. One thing really impresses me: Pedestrians will ONLY cross the street when pedstrian lights flashes with a counter. Time allowed on the counter varies depending on how wide and how much traffic flows there are.

Okay, I can elaborate more, but I guess I better stop and let some other folks comment.
Posted by tw at 2007-04-25 12:42:37. More

5 Back from Xiamen


I think you meant to say you guys partied until 2 AM and not PM, right? Indeed, it's great fun catching up with good friends, especially those we haven't seen for a while.

Posted by tw at 2007-04-23 07:47:34. More

4 Cheap Way to Visit Hangzhou


It's people like you who make the world more beautiful and living in Shanghai more pleasant because you have always been son helpful and are so sincere.

I've moved out of Shanghai, but when we used to live there, we used to like going to Hangzhou a few times each year. We've tried many different restaurants there. I can recommand one Sicuan food It's called Chuanweiguan restaurant. Excellent food at very reasonable prices. I found a website on its business card, There are three branches in Hangzhou. If you like spicy food, you can give it a try.

jianfeng, I trid to open your blog listed above, but it says it can't be found. Did you list the correct url?

Posted by tw at 2007-04-18 12:21:02. More

3 Future Shanghai Metro and Maglev Map

Hi Jianshuo,

My question is on Line 2: I know it has already been extended to Songhong Road as of last year. When will it extend further westward to Hongqiao Airport? I hate to wait for a taxi at Hongqiao Airport. The lines are always so long...

Meantime, your map above shows that Metro Line 2 will also be extended to Pudong Int'l Airport. Do you think it will actually be built since the Maglev is already running from PVG to Longyang Station. If Line # overlaps Meglev's route at much cheaper fares, probably very few people will ride Meglev. I believe if indeed Metro Line#2 will connect PVG with Hongqiao Airport, it will not only be greatly welcome by the public, it will substantially improves the traffic jams around these two airports.

Posted by tw at 2007-03-26 01:36:15. More

2 Weekend at San Jose


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.

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

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.

<<It's interesting to know who's right, if you are on the way to the hospital or the morgue>>>

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.
Posted by tw at 2005-12-13 10:04:38. More

1 SFO Pictures

It's not just the blue sky I miss. I yearn for the crispy, clean and cool air outdoors as well as the non-smoking environment as well. I read in an article not long ago. Percentage of smokers in the Bay area stands at around 12%. Only 7% of the Chinese American men smoke there vs 67% of the men smoke in China.
Posted by tw at 2005-12-10 06:55:49. More