China and the Endless Number of Rules

Rules

China appears to be a country and society obsessed with rules.  Over the years I have observed on many occasions how the rules are constantly repeated, over and over again, on the planes, on the train, on the subways, in the banks, and on the street…and those same rules are hardly followed and more often than not, actually broken.

Years ago, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I remember going to the bank and being very surprised to see how many people were involved in a transaction like exchanging US$100 into RMB…so in several occasions I used to ask in an innocent tone, “why does it take so many pieces of paper and so many people to do the transaction…?”

In all cases, my question was answered and if I continued to ask, I was usually stopped with a statement “Shi Guiding…”  = “it is the rule”

That actually meant “Stop asking questions and be quiet” (my interpretation)

Nowadays, the story continues.   I am constantly surprised by how rules are repeated on speakers and blatantly disregarded. 

For example:

  • I have been on multiple flights over the last 12 months on multiple different airlines in China, where upon boarding the plane you hear the statement that you need to shut off your phone and not use it while on-board.   What do you think happens on the plane though?  Majority of passengers – obviously very able to hear and understand the announcement stated in crips Mandarin, continue to use their phones, in some cases even making calls…
  • Then you go for landing at your destination in a Chinese airport – and immediately comes the announcement that you cannot turn on your phone until you are off the plane.   This announcement is “greeted” by the well recognized barrage of audible signals of phones coming on-line….
  • Switching to the streets of Shanghai – very cosmopolitan city with tons of people.  I am constantly surprised at the large number of people who try by any means possible NOT to wait for example for a green light when crossing the street…and all that in order to may be save 1-2 minutes of wait time.   It is really frustrating to start crossing the street on a green light and then out of nowhere you have this guy or gal rushing onto you with their electric scooter and beeping at you to get out of their way..!!!
  • Then, there is the case of the metro manners – you see the famous video cartoon that teaches all of us residents of Shanghai to be orderly in how we get on and off the metro – give way for people to get off the train before you get on….But then the reality comes in – I have seen it too many times – I am waiting for the metro to stop and doors to open and inevitably, there is the man or woman who comes and stands directly in the front of the queue and blocking the door for passengers to get off the metro car — in a singular objective – to rush and get on the metro before anyone else….

At any rate, so much about rules and regulations.  It is very obvious to many here that those rules are very much a guidance and not really to be “followed”  – right…?

Sanya Trip: Haitang Bay Waves Photos

Haitang Bay Waves

Some of the more exciting experiences when visiting Haitang Bay in Sanya is to take long walks along the beach and observe the Haitang Bay waves, enjoy and take tons of photos.

Which I did.  Here they are some of the photos… The rest I will keep uploading every so often.

China, Sanya, Hainan Island, Haitang Bai
Haitang Bay, Sanya, Hainan Island, image taken with Nikon

China, Sanya, Hainan Island, Haitang Bai

China, Sanya, Hainan Island, Haitang Bai

China, Sanya, Hainan Island, Haitang Bai
Waves at Haitang Bay, Sanya, Photo taken with NIKON D7100

 

Ping me for the larger resolution of the images.  Here are more postings on Sanya

Day Trips from Shanghai: First in the Series

Day Trips from Shanghai

Well, folks, I decided to start a series of eBooks on day trips from Shanghai.   Why?  I think those will be convenient to take with you on your smart phone or tablet and explore as you travel in the Shanghai area.

Shanghai is on the list of target and hot destinations for 2018 on many travel specialists lists…But the city by itself while very exciting and interesting to see, the surrounding area offers many options which are considered as the “off the beaten track” destinations.

Here is the first in the list of eBooks – Let’s go see Fengjing

Explore and drop me a line or two with feedback… Thanks!

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum – Not Worth the Visit

Science and Technology Museum

This weekend my family and I had some free time and after considerable debate on which place to visit in Shanghai zeroed down on the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.   

After an afternoon at the place – the unanimous verdict was… “What a waste of time..!”

Why do we say that? 

Well, we started with a brief stop at a replica (I think) of one of the ancient Beijing observatory tools – the Armillary Sphere — we had seen a version of it in Beijing – and did not know its name, so we were excited to see it in the corner of the front yard at the museum.   We were going to learn something 🙂  Well, not so fast…

China, Shanghai, Science and Technology Museum, Armillary Sphere
The Armillary Sphere

China, Shanghai, Science Museum

The plaque above gives some basic idea as to what the Sphere is supposed to do…but I wish it actually gave us the understanding of how it worked…

Then we went into the museum and the same story repeated itself. 

Here is our summary – from both adults and daughter (who loves technology):

  • the physical plant is great – I mean the museum building is very impressive

China, Shanghai, Science and Technology Museum

  • but the exhibits are underwhelming!
  • I wish the various exhibits would stimulate questions and provide some level of science foundation to the visitors thus sparking more interest.
  • Instead the exhibits are done to the level of kindergarten kids with very little learning being built in…
China, Shanghai, Science and Technology Museum
Surprise…! The robot can do the Rubik’s Cube…hm…
  • I doubt there is an elementary or middle school kid who does not know already that robots can play chess or solve the rubic cube problem… – you have to have lived under a rock not to know that the Rubik’s cube can be done by a machine;  Those were some of the main exhibits in the Robotics area.

I guess enough with the examples.  One more interesting observation – the visitors guide – at least the one we found at the entrance – was published ONLY in Chinese.

A museum is supposed to inspire learning, raise your interest.  I guess this was not much of the intent (in my opinion) of this one…Oh, well….

Happy New Year from Shanghai – with Bad Air Quality Situation!

Bad Air Quality

Well, we are at the end of 2017 – and unfortunately the year end came with a very bad air quality day in Shanghai.   See below for yourself…. 

My family and I walked around Xintiandi this evening and were pretty affected by the pollution.  The picture as usually speaks a thousand words – hence what you see here

China, Shanghai, XIntiandi, Air Quality

And then here are two more views — at 10pm and at 11:45pm on December 31st:

China, Shanghai, XIntiandi, Air Quality

China, Shanghai, XIntiandi, Air Quality
Camera capturing Pudong from the Bund… The haze is VERY heavy

Luckily most days in the city are nowhere near like this!

Sanya Trip: China Duty Free Mall – Yea or Nay

China Duty Free Mall

So you go to Sanya for a beach vacation, a place to enjoy the sun and waves – then you see tons of promotions for the China Duty Free Mall… You think – what is this all about?   Well, in a short answer – this is China’s insatiable desire for luxury and showing off.    This December, as part of our Christmas trip, we traveled to Sanya – here are some of the earlier postings on the topic.   We had really a great vacation and probably the only low point in it was the trip to the China Duty Free Mall.

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, China Duty Free Mall

Upon arrival in our hotel – there was a casual mention of it.  We quickly stated – “…but we live in China and upon departure from Sanya to go back home…we will fly to Shanghai and not leave the country.  How can we buy duty free?”

Turns out, the Chinese government has allotted Hainan and Sanya a special status – to stimulate the purchase of luxury foreign brand goods domestically tourists (non-living in Sanya) are allowed to purchase duty free goods up to the amount of RMB8000 twice a year.  And the Chinese consumer appetite for luxury goods is never too small (per Statista.com)

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, China Duty Free Mall
Sales of luxury goods in China from 2010 to 2020 (in billion euros)

So, we decided to check out the mall for ourselves.   The photo below is a snapshot of the map where the Mall is located in relationship to the Grand Hyatt hotel – in Haitang Bay area

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay

Here is the summary of the experience:

  • Main verdict:  Don’t waste your time…!  Really…!  No need to leave the beach for this.

 Why?  Here are the many reasons:

  • Prices are incredibly high — even after duty free is considered.   If you have the ability to shop in the US or Europe – do that there
  • We compared real time on Amazon.com for the prices on Toblerone chocolates – in the store after 15% sale price discount, the prices of the same chocolates were about 25% lower price on Amazon.com vs in this Mall
  • The selection is limited 

But the Mall is a great place for people watching.   Really…and had a good Christmas tree…Here are some more photos from those observations.   

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
View of the CDF Mall from the road
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
The Mall is Big, so is the Food Court
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
Sarah in Wonderland…Wait, wait, that was Alice, I think
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
Tired of too much shopping…
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
Weird Ad… I am NOT compelled to shop…
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
Another tired soul – too much shopping…
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
Matching Shoes make the world go round..
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
Security First…Menacing looking police truck
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
CDF-Mall…December…Christmas tree
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
CDF Mall – at least an interesting architecture to see
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay, China Duty Free Mall
More of the CDF Mall architecture

At the end of the day – at least the architecture of the CDF Mall is interesting – something to experience… 

Sanya Trip: Grand Hyatt Haitang Bay

Grand Hyatt Haitang Bay

I rarely post a review of a hotel.   My views on the various hotels, restaurants, and places to go and see are mostly posted on Trip Advisor.   Having said that, the Grand Hyatt Haitang Bay deserves a posting on my blog.   Why?  Because it is a very nice hotel, and as such I want to both give you visibility to the great service and value it offers as well as give you a visual of the grounds and hotel overall. 

As you can tell from my previous postings, we decided to go to Sanya for a Christmas vacation sort of in the last minute.  Our daughter, visiting from California, was able to snatch a great deal on a 5-day stay at this wonderful hotel.

We had read some of the reviews on Trip Advisor and certainly were very intrigued.  So once we arrived in Sanya and Haitang Bay, our first order of business was to explore the hotel, the grounds, the suite we had booked and get quickly first impressions, which were great!  

Subsequently, while enjoying the great benefits of staying at the hotel we observed the following:

  • The hotel overall has a very pleasant and interesting architectural design.  The lobby, rooms / suite we stayed at, the club lounge – all were very nice, good setup and pleasant implementation
  • The hotel grounds were very nice – lush – as you can tell from the photos below
  • Service:  Well, here the hotel staff really outdid themselves.  We felt truly taken care off.   The club lounge staff, the pool grill staff, all of them were extremely attentive and more than willing to help.   Even the pool attendants were always ready and in place to provide you with cold bottled water and/or towels in order to take advantage of the great swimming pools in the hotel 
  • Rooms: There are multiple options here.   We chose the Suite as it came with club lounge access and space for our family.  There are multiple different room options.  If you go for the suite – in principle there are about 3 options:
    • Suite on the ground floor with its own swimming pool.  A cool option – but we wanted to be on a higher floor
    • large suite – 140~150mm square.  Rather nice and impressive.  Great showers 
    • Smaller suite – approximately 105 mm square.   Probably more than adequate — but we liked the bigger suite 🙂

There are some quirks that the hotel needs to work out – but overall these were minor items on the list of great things the hotel and its staff did well. 

  • The pools would have been nice to be somewhat heated.   In December the weather can be rather chilly….
  • One of the afternoons we decided to relax by the ZEN pool.  Well, we expected somewhat of a silence and tranquility…. Instead we got grand parents spoiling their grandkids and quite a bit of noise…Oh, well…

Some additional information:

  • If you desire to eat outside of the hotel – the shopping mall attached (pretty much to the hotel) offers a large number of restaurants
  • There is also a very large grocery store – fruit, candy, drinks….

Overall, the hotel was great and we will recommend it for sure to friends in the US and China.   Here are some photos from the hotel and premises – day and night views.   Enjoy!

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Grand Hyatt
The Grand Hyatt hotel grounds with the Yan Cun Chinese restaurant

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Grand Hyatt China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Grand Hyatt China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Grand Hyatt China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Grand Hyatt

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Grand Hyatt
Nice hotel grounds

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Grand Hyatt

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Grand Hyatt
View of the Club Lounge – nice balcony
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Grand Hyatt
View of the Grand Hyatt Beach

 

Sanya Trip: Haitang Bay Beach Photo Summary

Haitang Bay

Haitang Bay beach is very special.   I have visited Sanya now three times – each time about 12-20 years apart — and each time we discover new places to go.   Progress and development is coming fast to Hainan Island and with that the usual impact on places that are desirable to many — crowds and beaches filled with people.  

Haitang Bay is different – take a look at the photos below and hopefully you will see why I say that…

We really enjoyed our trip here – and since we are still at the place, I am posting very fast – mostly photos…More information to come later this and next week.

Enjoy!

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay
Haitang Beach – peaceful and quiet
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay
Haitang Beach – a great beach
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay
Haitang Beach – peaceful and quiet
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay
Haitang Beach – more waves
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay
Haitang Beach – only the waves making noise
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay
Haitang Beach – peaceful and quiet
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay
Happy Holidays Everyone!
China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Bay
Serenity on the beach

 

 

Sanya Trip – Series of Postings – Contrarians Views

Sanya Trip

This Christmas holiday our family spent a lot of time thinking about what trip we will take – and the winner turned out to be the Sanya Trip.    How did we come about it?   Well there was a lot of anguish and debates.   We polled a large number of our acquaintances in Shanghai… Where should we go

  • Vietnam?
  • Thailand?
  • Southern China? Sanya?

The unanimous feeling from the crew was that we must escape the close to zero (early in the morning) Celsius temperatures of Shanghai and find a more pleasant (read warm) weather in the southern parts of the Northern hemisphere. 

The condition the family put forward as a very important one was the length and ease of flights to our desired destination…

So, Sanya was a clear winner in that regard.  However, many of our friends told us “you should avoid Sanya….it is overpriced and overrun with tourists…”

 Well, we decided to play the contrarian card – and chose…..wait for it…. Sanya,

In the following few installments on this blog I will share our experiences with summaries and photos.   Here are some of the initial images to give you an idea….

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Beach

China, Hainan Island, Sanya, Haitang Beach
Haitang Beach, Sanya

 

Queuing in Shanghai – Observations

Lining up and queuing

Let’s talk about the concept of queuing – in the metro, or while waiting for the city bus…or at the train station and at the airport.   Years ago it was a common situation to have a fan out of people trying to enter a bus or get to a ticket window.  
 
These days the situation in the metro area of Shanghai is different:  there is at least an attempt at creating a queue while waiting for tickets at the train station or for boarding the metro cars
China, Shanghai, Metro, Queue
 
Except there are still plenty cases where a seemingly young and educated lady will sprint in the last second and storm the entry door of the metro car
 
Or an able and strong guy will try to jump the ticket line at the train station
 
Why?  It looks like those are itching to be ahead of the queue even if the line is only 4-5 people long — i.e. ingrained impatience and desire to be out of the group.
China, Shanghai, Metro
The photo above shows you the major crowds getting in and out of one of the stairs leading to Line 2 of the Metro in Shanghai -next imagine this large number of people, getting onto the metro…
 
Individualism is not well regarded in China so this seems to be a special way to get your kicks…
 
Now, after this introduction, here is some suggestions and points for the travelers to China and Shanghai.  Queuing is a representation of discipline and manners – in reality it will manifest itself in different ways across the city.  Shanghai has actually become a relatively organized and disciplined city.  People do try to maintain order (most of the time), as I mentioned above, when you go to the train station, you may see people coming and trying to jump the line – but I chalk those incidents to the “out of towners”…. 
 
When you are crossing the street, you still have to be careful and look in all directions, even if you are crossing on a green light and feel you should be protected.    There may be a silent scooter coming and trying to cut a corner and save 2-3 minutes (what it takes to wait for a green light)… But in general you will find that cars give way to passengers on crossing points and are patiently waiting when making a turn for the pedestrians to clear the street.   Very positive development vs 7-10 years ago..!

 
Beijing is a very different story – there is a lot more shoving and pushing – when you are on the subway there and when you are crossing the street.  So, as you can tell, I do prefer Shanghai as a much nicer place to live.
 
 

Travel China and Beyond!

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