Glimpse from Narita

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quick few snapshots from Narita on a sunny day

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Shanghai – More in Pictures

I went to Shanghai as a student in 1988…This was so very long ago…!  1988 Shanghai and the city today are (as you can imagine) completely different.  In previous postings in this blog I had provided images from the 1980s and 1990s Shanghai – I left the city the first time after spending two and a half years – departing in December 1990….I like to cross reference the photos as they tell so much about life styles – then and now..!

This time around I felt it is time to post some updates from daylight and night time Shanghai (Pudong and Puxi)…as I have said many times – nothing better than images to tell a story…


China-Shanghai-Pudong China-Shanghai

China-Shanghai China-Pudong

And then we even see the old JingAn Temple that adds a nice touch of history and culture to the rest of the modern metropolis…..

China-Shanghai China-Shanghai-Old China-Shanghai China-Shanghai

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Shanghai – Modern and Quaint

Shanghai-PudongMost of you already associate Shanghai with a modern metropolis – a city with very glitzy avenues, fancy shopping malls, luxury brands from the world over, and architecture to match it…  All areas of Shanghai – Puxi, Pudong, Minhang – have all grown into mega cities with a great density of high rises and great open streets, which appear to always get congested with vehicles no matter how many new ones get opened to traffic.

All in all Shanghai is a cosmopolitan and vibrant city focused on commerce, and of course the hi-life :-)   But if you search – you will discover!  The city still has its old charm in multiple areas, predominantly in Puxi – which still carry the old world charm of the pre-1940s architecture – when Shanghai was often referred to as “the Paris of the Orient”.

What I am referring to are the so called Shanghai Lilongs – hidden behind the grand avenues of the city anChina-Shanghai-Lilongsd a great discovery for all of us.   These neighborhoods have existed for over a century now and still carry somewhat tough to describe charm – but provide with the opportunity for a great multi-hour walk through their small alleys.  I think the best way to describe them to you is to show you a bunch of photos – like the one to the left of this paragraph…

What you would see are one and two story (mostly two story) buildings with stone and cast iron archways and plenty of interesting corners, and angles.

Here you go a few more photos to bring you some idea and then may be you will start the exploration Sunday afternoon stroll yourself.  Just be aware – wear comfy shoes – my last walk through the neighborhood behind Nanjing Street West took about 3 hours and quite a few miles – starting from the Jing An Temple and reaching to Nanjing Lu Xi and the near-by market.

China-Shanghai-Lilong  China-Shanghai-Turn-of-Century China-Shanghai-Lilong

All these images are something you can experience when you get lost in the alleys of the JingAn Villa Lilong near-by Nanjing Lu… Enjoy!

Shanghai-Nanjing-Lu-JingAn-Lilong                   China-Shanghai-JingAn-Villa-Lilong


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Sichuan Hot-Pot….in Pudong

Pudong-MorningSichuan Hot-Pot

Well, so you are in a mood for some Sichuan Hot-Pot and you wonder,  where should you go?   If you are in Chengdu – well, anywhere around the corner I suppose….But you are on China’s East coast….in Shanghai…in Pudong….so where do you go.

Turns out, you are in luck.  There are plenty of hot pot (火锅 – huo guo) restaurants in the area.  Recently, I tried one of them near the Hongta Luxury Collection hotel on Dong Fang avenue in Pudong.  The address of the Hot Pot restaurant is 潍坊路162号 (Wei Fang Road, No 162)

The place offers great huo guo – my friends and I spent an evening here with plenty of beers and of course great spicy food…

Pudong-Hot-Pot Sichuan-Hot-Pot-in-Pudong-3

Pudong Hot Pot

The combination of beef, lamb, mushrooms, lotus root, of course noodles and fresh veggies is great;

So is the use of mix your own dipping sauces…

Overall a great place to have hot pot, enjoy the company of your friends and overall have fun.


The contact info for the restaurant is 021-68769097;  Enjoy!

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Cost of Living in China and Inconspicuous Consumption

To continue from my previous posting, China (as you probably know by now) has become an economic power – which by itself is a great achievement (given its humble situation in the late 1980s) but one which has come at a great price – heavy pollution – which is visible in the big cities like Beijing more and more frequently – as the pictures below are showing you – the haze is almost omnipresent most of the time in the city…

Hazy-Beijing Beijing-China-May-2016 China-Pollution I think these photos from recent days in Beijing speak for themselves – May in the city – I wish the situation was different.  But then one would ask – what is the cause for this ?  Well – here comes the increasing wealth of the city dweller in China – and with that wealth comes the rapid growth of vehicles….

Which then brings me to another topic for today’s posting – the inconspicuous consumption.  What made me thing about it in the context of China?  These two photos did:

Hangzhou-pink-mazzeratiA pink Mazzerati “proudly” parked at the entrance of a hotel in Hangzhou – color and place all screaming – “see me, see me now!!!

And just so you do not think that this Mazzerati was the only “see me now” vehicle, take a look at the photo below – this one taken a few days ago, in Pudong, Shanghai: Don’t you love the pink car…

Shanghai-Pink-Audi I post these pictures as a decade or so ago, the mere ownership of cars was the coveted and standout situation.  Then came the fancy Lamborgini and Ferrari vehicles…but today for the raising and looking to differentiate middle class those may be out of reach – but a pink car is certainly well in the reach of many – as just those two photos taken 2 days apart can attest…

So, smog and pink cars…the price of progress…!




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Cost of Living in Beijing – China Economics Series

Beijing-China-May-2016I have been a China observer for many years.  As you may have seen in some of my blog entries, my experience in China started as a student way, way back in 1987.  It seems like centuries ago.  In the years since then whether by living in the country or coming in on business and personal trips, I have been observing the great phenomenom of the country’s development.

There are many aspects of China’s development that are mind boggling – the pace of its growth has been very fast and of course, the changes it has brought are also impacting on the standards of living for both locals and expats alike.

In the last few years, car ownership has been growing on a very fast clip.  The local governments of Beijing, Shanghai, even smaller metro areas like Tianjin, are imposing all sort of financial barriers to rein in that rapid increase in vehicles.  The issues are multiple:

  • Huge congestion on city roads – all you need is to visit Beijing and get on the loop roads at some point in the day and you will know exactly what I mean
  • Hazy skies – you can find multiple references to that on my blog here


  • Overall cost of living imact due to high taxation to attempt to limit access to vehicles

So, what would you think is the cost of owning a car in Beijing or Shanghai?   Here are some bare bone statistics – which will make you appreciate your truck or sedan back at home even more…

  • Cost of acquiring the car itself…?  Well, even a relatively low-end (in my opinion) VW can run you in the range of RMB100K – divide this by 6.2 and you will get the price in US$…. I will let you do the math….

China-Car-Ad Advert from Beijing Airport

  • But wait, this is not everything…You have to acquire a license plate.  In Shanghai that will cost you!  What you may ask?   Only RMB80K….Again, please go ahead and divide by 6.2 to obtain the cost in US$

Amazing – isn’t it?  Of course the costs above are not all – you still need to add the annual road tax etc.

Then comes the gas bill.  Just for your reference, this week, the cost of regular unleaded in Beijing or Shanghai is around $3.60 for a gallon…

Happy Driving Everyone!   Oh, how about a bike ride to your next destination…?

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Picturesque Bulgarian Village – Brashlian

Click on the image to follow a link to the Brashlian Page and Gallery on this Blog.  Enjoy! Related PostsBulgaria: Pirin Mountain Lakes – Continued Bulgaria: More About the Pirin Mountain Lakes Bulgaria: Pirin Mountain Lakes Arbanasi Bulgaria – Picturesque … Continue reading

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American Airlines Boeing 787 Business Class Seats

American Airlines Boeing 787 business class brief review.  My wife flew to Beijing late last year – and experienced the first of the American Boeing 787 aircraft which due to their high efficiency have been deployed on the long distance flights between Dallas and Beijing (as one example).  Her luck was good and she was able to get a system wide upgrade and had a great experience in the new business class on those planes.  All great with one BIG exception – when she came back home she complained about have a pretty weird experience flying and noticing each movement of the person in front of her (sitting on another business class seat).

My experience was better – I was in seat 6L – rear facing – first row in the mini-cabin which meant that my seat was solo i.e. not attached to another.  As a result I had a much better in-flight experience, undisturbed by others.

Reading through flyertalk I noticed that many are complaining about the movement of the attached seats.  To that effect, I think if you can you should avoid the middle seats in the minicabin and 1A & 2A and 3A & 4A, 1L &2L, 3L&4L… as those are likely to cause you the effect of the disturbing neighbor.

What else about the seats – they are narrow and shorter than the business class on the Boeing-777;   for a tall person 6ft and above – they will not allow you to truly be in a flat sleeping position.

The amenities were packaged in a Cole Han pouch which was weirdly made of of some artificial material (like PVC) – makes you wonder – why Cole Han then…?  But I think this was a minor nit pick.

American Airlines B787 business class seat American Airlines Business Class American Airlines

Interesting new controls for the seat in business class.  Made to look like an iPhone / Smart Phone.  Not sure why, but ease of use wise – not a bad design…






The verdict – it is up to you – if you prefer the lower prices of the new B787 flights then you will need to compromise and enjoy the better entertainment and food on the flight.  Otherwise proactively seek out the B777 service.


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Beijing Pollution – Not Getting Better

Greetings!   For all of you who need information on the weather and air quality in China and especially Beijing, here is an update – I was in Beijing this week – until earlier today.  Over the years I have spent a considerable amount of time – including 2 long term periods of living in the city as an expat.  The air quality has become an increasingly hot topic (in a negative way) and one of concern to a huge number of local residents and visitors from within China and abroad.

The city government has been trying (for years) to improve the situation.  Tons of measures have been taken:

  • Moving coal burning industries away from the city
  • Restricting the usage of bad quality coal for domestic purposes (although I still see the tricycles with stacks of coal being carted around the neighborhoods in the winter)
  • Heavily regulating the usages of cars – no cars from outside the city are allowed further inward in the city beyond the 3rd loop road;   The usage of motorcycles is also extremely restrictive
  • Cars with odd and even plates drive on different days of the week
  • and so on and so forth….

The results however, are NOT great.   Here are the snapshots of today’s / current (as I write) Beijing weather:

Beijing-Pollution-Readings                               Pollution-Readings-Imcl-Austin

And then – there are the photos from my window and photos taken from Hangzhou on Monday:

China-Pollution Beijing Smog

So for all of you doubters – is China really that polluted – the answer is – “We do not know…” but it is most likely bad.

Hangzhou, by the way – which used to be incredibly nice to visit and less polluted, not has similar problems  Here is a photo from Monday of this week….

China-PollutionAll in all it is a scary situation.  The reality is that the city has been under the watch for a awhile

I see a number of photos in my collection that reflect the slipping situation in the City.

Long story, short, be careful to research your destination and put it in perspective and comparable readings/assessment of the likes published by AirVisual (one of many applications reporting the air quality around various global locations)


None of this listed above is something new for those who have a lot of travel or living experience in China.  I have done multiple updates over the years on the pollution situation in Beijing and China.  You can see it in a 2015 posting, then again in a 2014 one, and earlier in a 2013 posting, then several in 2007 (here and here, and yet another here);

Having said all this (above)  a trip and visit to China is still an awesome idea.   Just make sure to be well informed and well prepared.   Happy Travels!

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Las Vegas – a City of Opposites

Everyone (I think) knows Las Vegas – however, I believe the know if for its gambling and lavish shows, huge hotels, endless buffets, and overall a city which never sleeps, and has dedicated itself to all things entertainment…

On a recent trip in the area, I actually determined that this is a place of huge differences.  While we all know it as an entertainment and gambling hub, a glitzy city with modern architecture, please take a look at these photos – taken as we approach the Las Vegas airport (from the air of course) and then from several spots in the city – you will see how different the place is just outside the city and on the Strip…

Las Vegas Nevada

Las Vegas

Approaching Las Vegas




Las Vegas

Now above the city outskirts


Las Vegas

Approaching the Las Vegas Airport

Las Vegas Sky

Las Vegas Morning

Las Vegas Nevada

I will publish a photo album on Las Vegas and its surprising diversity in the next week or so,  till then hopefully the photos above give you the idea…

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