Tag Archives: China

Shanghai: Yu Gardens and Qibao Old Town

Yu Yuan – Yu Garden

I think Shanghai has plenty of well known places to visit – many of them are worth the trip as they are spectacular, but some while beautiful, have become overrun by visitors and are rather tough to experience and enjoy.  I chalk the Yu Gardens (Yu Yuan) to that category.

China, Shanghai, Yu Yuan, Yu Garden China, Shanghai, Yu Garden 

Visited yesterday, on a Saturday mid-day.  The place was purely packed with people – no other way to put it.  If you do want to come and see it, first read through some of the background information on the area – to help you understand the history – then may ne uou can enjoy it some more (besides the overwhelming number of people around)

The Garden was supposedely built during the Ming dynasty around 400 years ago.   The main attractions are just the beautiful architecture and the interesting settings of water features and multi-turns bridge.  

Overall, you need to visit the place in order to gather a better feel for its beauty and significance.

Now, if you prefer something a bit more authethic, you may be better off in visiting Qibao

Qibao is one of the many water towns located around Shanghai.  It is believed the town was built in the 10th century A.D. during the Song dynasty.  

You can jump on the number 9 metro line and look for the Qibao stop.  Once you are there, look for the number 2 exit which will bring you to signs for the Qibao Old Street.

China, Shanghai, Qibao
Qibao Old Town

Overall, come here to experience the views and interesting architecture.  May be you can even find some wood or souveniers to buy….Up to you….

Check out the photo album I have added at the Travel Photo Web site.  I will keep adding albums there.

Happy Travels!





Style in China – Different…?

Style in China

I have been amazed by the rapid pace of development in China.  Me and everyone else, I think.  But one things that continues to baffle me is the style approach taken by many developers and builders in China.   

It is very strange (at least to me) that the same country which is able to construct in no time a science fiction looking city like Pudong

China Shanghai Pudong

is having major trouble keeping up a straght line when installing wall plugs, light switches,…and in the case that we observed today – a whole array of thermostat controllers

China Thermostats

Isn't this surprising?   Why would you install these units in such an obvious disarray?   It really boggles my mind… And the second surprising thing is that I see this in many places in China…. In 5-star hotels…and other fancy places.

Can anyone explain it?  May be it is a strange kind of Feng Shui?


Shanghai Blue Sky – Sunset

Blue Sky

Earlier this morning I was amazed to see the Shanghai blue sky – rare occurrence – and this late afternoon, I had the pleasure of seeing that blue sky in the sunset as well.

Well, it is good to see that!

You can take a look at the photos below and decide for yourself – cool, right?

China Shanghai Zhabei
[caption id="attachment_8856" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]China Shanghai Puxi Sunset And Another Panorama Photo of Sunset in Shanghai, Puxi

What do you think?   Cool stuff, right?  Enjoy!



Shanghai Blue Sky

Blue Sky

These days it seems to be the norm to be talking about the levels of pollution in China.  Some cities here seems like never get blue sky, so it is exciting to see a bright and sunny day happen.

Today is such a day in Shanghai….This morning the sky was clear and eventhough it is still pretty hot and humid – it was nice to see the clouds moving along and big swaths of blue sky everywhere 🙂

China Shanghai Puxi

Surprisingly also, the Air Quality Intdex – AQI – for Shanghai today at 9am was at 21…. For comparison, Austin, TX – which has very good air quality was at 37!

Good to see the progress the city of Shanghai is making!


Puxi Views – at Night and in the Storm

Puxi Views

This weekend, in Shanghai, I had the good opportunity to experience an awesome thunder and lightning storm while at the 19th floor of our high-rise.  It was pretty impressive

Right before the stort, the night was quiet and relatively clear – so I was able to take a few shots (without a tripod) of the view from West Beijing Road towards the Bund.

China Shanghai Puxi

And another photo of this view but this time with a zoom…. Interesting skyline

China, Shanghai, Puxi China Shanghai Puxi

The storm came later that Saturday evening – with howling wind and tons of lightning strikes.  I managed to capture one of them with my camera – wish it was less blurry – but again – taken without a tripod…Manual controls, 4-second exposure….I am amazed I even captured this one.



Sleeping in China

Sleeping in China

ChinaSleeping in public in China – is a national sport.  Almost.  There are so many instances of it in any given city on any given day, that you will be hard pressed not to encounter it. Is it wrong ?  No!  Just amusing to some extent to the unaccustomed foreign visitor.   For those who have lived / stayed long enough in the country – it is a regular occurrence, and something not to be surprised about.

Having said all this – well it is still pretty entertaining – not so much to find people sleeping out and about, but to find all the different ways and places people find as comfortable whether for a small siesta or a serious sleep.

China Chengdu  China sleeping    China street  China sleeping

While to us (the foreigners) this may seem odd, sleeping in public shows some interesting (potentially) characteristics of the Chinese society – namely:

  • Expectations for public safety – it seems no one is really concerned that their well being may be threatened while asleep
  • Surprising expectation of no petty theft – which is strange because there is certainly enough of it in China….May be the petty thief stay away from sleeping folks – their sleep is special state and in an unspoken way, protected….
  • Everyone is really used to loud noise.  I know from experience – I was.  Living in a hussle and bustle of Shanghai, you get accustomed to the noises around you and you tune them out.

So all in all, not a bad set of traits and tricks to learn to leverage.   Those will help you!

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…!




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…?

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!

Beijing – Winter Olympics 2022 – Incredible

China-Beijing Something unexpected and really strange happened in the last couple of days – Beijing was selected as the host for the 2022 Winter Olympics Games!!! Isn’t that incredible…?  Why would I say that – well – very simple:  Beijing and its surrounding areas are NOT a winter wonderland!

Beijing is for sure a very dynamic, interesting, sports oriented and full of energy city.  BUT – that does not make it a good candidate for a Winter Olympics host.

The place is bone dry in the winter – cold and dry.  Usually, in the hotels you have to request a humidifier to ensure you get some help with the climate to help the skin on your body and make your stay more comfortable.

Now think how can such environment be conducive to winter and snow and ice dependent sports….?   The only answer is man-made snow !   But that is very water and energy dependent – and both of those are in relative short supply in the capital ….!

So I fully expect that the local government will mobilize an army of people to both clean up the city as well as man machines to generate snow.  If a country can pull off such a challenge – China is your choice – a society focused on the state’s success and good position in the global view.

I certainly hope the games are successful and snow abundant – I just wonder how was the choice made and was it purely investment dollars (RMB) driven with nature, natural resources, clean air – all being secondary and tertiary…!   Oh, well….!

China-Beijing-Skyline   Beijing-China