Trip in Xi’an China

Finished a short trip in Xi’an, had some amazing experience in this old city. I hope this is something will be kept and promoted in the cold and financial-oriented society of China.

My flight landed in Xi’an airport on Dec 14th late evening. Without any difficulties, I quickly found a taxi. The taxi is in black color, old China brand car with a big crash on windshield. My first impression is whether this is an illegal taxi, but a private car who runs their own business. With the taxi miles counting machine listed in the front, I thought it’s OK as long as he can provide me a receipt.

Xi’an airport is 40 kms away from the downtown, the car drove in the local highway under a light foggy weather. Taxi driver began to chat with me. He showed me where to go, and where to eat. Something beyond my expectation was he also told me how to avoid overpaid. This conversation made me feel released a bit, at least my taxi fee will not be overpaid. So as a return, I asked him to pick me up 2 days later going back to the airport.

On Friday morning, I had to leave around 7:15am because of my early flight. As promised, he called me at exact 7:15am to ask me waiting in the lobby. Within 2 mins, his car arrived. Same car, same driver and he began to talk about how he helped the other passenger tour around the Xi’an city yesterday and other stories, like how he felt angry because some local tour guys forced tourists pay extra on food or tickets. Once again, I know he is a pretty good honest person who could only follow his rules to run business. I got his business card, his name is Niu.

Then in the last 20 mins on the highway, what he did deeply touched me was a car chasing activity, but I indeed wish more and more Chinese people would treat others the same way. We were about to enter the highway, first thing he needed to do was to pick up a ticket at the entrance. What we found at the ticket machine was a ticket left from the car in the front, however the car left without picking up the ticket. Immediately without think, he picked up two tickets and began to run to catch that car up. The other car is much newer running about over 140km/h. While running on the way, he kept saying “he is such a fool, without an entrance ticket, he’d pay the entire journey which about RMB600~700 RMB. I’d stop him to pass the ticket, I’d stop him to pass the ticket.”

After 3 mins chasing, we finally were 3 meters behind that car. Niu began to honk trying to catch the other car’s attention, meanwhile he caught up in driving parallel with the other car with one hand holding the ticket showing them through the driver window.  However, the other car did not realize at all even with our noisy honk. The driver kept staring front. And 5 seconds later, the other car switched to our right ready to exit. I saw they switched the direction, then shake my right hand to them. Though my jacket color is bright orange, they still did not look at us. Another 5 seconds later, they merged to the exit lane and we had no chance to pass the card to them.

I thought it’s the end of story, but Niu did not think so. He kept talking “it’s too bad, I hope they would not pay the full fare. Maybe there would be a chance for them to check in the computer system to find out where they entered the high way etc”. The car arrived the airport after 10 mins driving, but my mind could not calm down. Caring others do not seem to be common nowadays especially in some tier 1 cities. Could people still help each other? That’s not Niu’s business, he could walk away easily. Driving on the high way with over 150km/h is very dangerous. Do he care about his own safety? Why would he do that?

My mind was full of those questions. After all, my conclusion is we still have lots of warm-hearted people in our society. We shall protect them and keep their spirit and passion in helping each other.

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Fast Speed Train Beijing to Shanghai

I am on the training travelling from Beijing to Shanghai. This is my first experience since the fast train service was established in China. In the past, it used to be 12 hours to commute between Beijing and Shanghai over the night. But now, with the fast train service, the commute time has been shorten to 5 hours.

The training station in Beijing is in Beijing South, only 15 mins by taxi. Facility was newly re-modeled with modern looking. My original schedule was 8am on Monday. I left home around 6:20am, then arrived the training station about 6:40am. Why not catch an early training instead of waiting in the train station. Yes, I did and it did not cost me anything to change the schedule. Wonderful! So I caught an early training left Beijing South at 7am. I am supposed to be in Shanghai around 12:23am. On the way, the train will make 3~4 stops with 2 mins break at each station only.On the way going there, the train speed keeps around 304km/h.

I bought a 2nd class ticket, which only costs me 555RMB (equivalent to $88 single way). I think the first class ticket is around 990 RMB. As for seating place, it’s relatively comfortable. And the space btw seats is bigger than I thought and seat itself can be moved back forward. Compared to coach experience on a flight, it’s much much better. Rest room is located on every other coach. Occupancy rate is around 40% maybe because of early schedule.

Overall experience reminds me the train system in Europe. People used to have pretty good comment on Eurostar, I would not score low for this new train system between Beijing and Shanghai. The only thing they need to consider for future training system is Wi-Fi connection.

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New Experience with Delta Business Class

New Experience with Delta>Beijing Business Class

Dec 8, 2011, I followed my schedule travelling from Seattle back to Beijing. As soon as I checked in, I surprisingly found out I got upgraded from Economy Comfort to Business class. Wow…how wonderful! The flight is scheduled during Seattle evening time, so it means I can have a good sleep on the way. I think it’s because of Christmas overbooked tickets.

Good thing keeps happening. As soon as I was onboard, brand new business class shows in front of me. A flight attendant told me that they changed all business class to Beijing about 2 months ago. I was so excited and can not wait to experience the new seat. Even better, she told me that the seat can be flat, what a joy!

The new design is to have all your control buttons located on one side with brand new panel board. I can tell they re-locate power access plus-in from lower seat location to upper place, which is much convenient to use. Also they add a new USB access plug in to be convenient for iPhone or other mobiles. I love this part. However, it does not have a personal storage room. Not like 747, each passenger has its own personal storage room where you can put your readings, noise cancelling headsets, laptop and etc. See in the middle of the board where you can rest your arm, originally I thought it can be opened as storage space. But it’s not, it’s for table. They hide a foldable table underneath. Em…I feel space can be better used as I really do not know what’s underneath the table. It looks deep, but do not know what’s inside.

OK, let’s take a look the seat itself. The good thing is this seat has massage function! Though it’s not fancy, at least it adds a big fun somehow. And the other outstanding function is it can be flat and TV screen is much bigger. For the downside, I do not really enjoy the room where you put your feet and legs. That space is quite narrow if you are a big guy. Though the seat can be flat, it’s not easy to bend your knees as part of the leg room is in the back seat of the passenger sitting in front of you.

What else? I think I’d score the seat 7.5 out of 10.

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Christmas Party

I’ve just had the first real Christmas party today in my Seattle home. It may not be a prefer Christmas party for Min, but certainly a real experience for me. For me, I am not a big fan for any public holidays, including Christmas or Thanksgiving. It does not even matter if I do something to celebrate them. This year, we will be away at Christmas again, so Min decided to have potluck and Christmas gift exchange.

He started to wrap this mug gifts in this afternoon without my help and put everything under the electric Christmas tree. The tree looks nice with lights on and this is something to warm up the atmosphere. Our guests seem to like it. After dinner, we all sat in the living room waiting for the gift exchange. They used poker cards to decide who was going to be the first and last to choose gift. Luckily I was the last, but I did not take the great opportunity to steal anyone else’s gift, but Yang’s travel bag gift. Though gift options are not great, this is something specially for Christmas and I am happy to be part of it.

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