iTien Blog
Late to the blogging world but better than never

February 2008
« Dec   Mar »
Good Housekeeping in China
Filed under: Shanghai, China
Posted by: Alan @ 5:41 pm

Love this picture, taken off Nanjing Lu, center of Shanghai.  Explain to me how this is Good Housekeeping?  It’s MY idea of good housekeeping to have a roomful of beautiful women all dressed up but I don’t think I’m the target market.

comments (0)
Buying a Buick GL8 Minivan in Shanghai
Filed under: Shanghai
Posted by: Alan @ 6:10 pm

Now that I have my driver’s license, I’m ready to embark on my next China Process enlightenment.  Thank god I have friends who have already done the process and can give me references. 

We were renting a pretty new Buick GL8 with driver for 12,000 RMB/month.  We negotiated it as all-inclusive so we didn’t pay gas or tolls.  It’s a bit more expensive than owning, considering that the resale value of cars are quite good right now in China, but I would’ve probably continued renting for the convenience, but the driver was getting on our nerves.

So I went to the recommended sales consultant at the Buick dealership, and she explained the process in Chinese.

Getting the License Plate
Shanghai has an auction for license plates, ostensibly to limit the number of cars on the road, but many people skirt this by buying much cheaper license plates from other regions.  The primary benefit of the SH license plate is that you can drive on the highways during rush hour, but supposedly the ticket for not having the right plates is not that much, maybe 200 RMB, so you can get a lot of tickets before it justifies the cost of the SH plate.  However, that doesn’t factor in the inconvenience of being pulled over.

Shanghai is revamping the process because the price was getting too high, almost 50,000 RMB.  In January and February 2008, supposedly 40,000 people tried to bid for a license, but only 20,000 got thru the internet or phone.  It’s a 2 stage bidding process in the monthly auction. In the first half hour time slot, you put in your bid.  In the 2nd half hour slot, they show the lowest bid that still got one of the fixed number of license plates available.  In Feb, there were 16,000 available plates, and the lowest bid for #16,000 was 8000 RMB.  Then, IF you can get in the internet or phone, you can change your bid to plus or minus 300 RMB from 8000.  However, since the access is quite bottlenecked, is very possible you’re stuck with your first bid.

To bid, you have to know when the auction is taking place.  A week before the auction, you have to go to the office in XinZhuang to register.  You need 2000 RMB cash, passport, visa, temporary residence and some ID showing your Chinese name, like your drivers license.

If you are successful in your bid, then you have a week to make your payments.  You take the piece of paper back to your dealership to have them get you the actual plates, which of course needs your passport for 2 business days to complete.

Buying the Car
Once you’ve registered for the license plate auction, you can go to your dealership to make the deposit of 5000 RMB and sign the contract.

Once you’ve successfully bid, you can go into the dealership to inspect the car and pay the remainder.

Once you’ve gotten the license plate paperwork, you bring it to the dealer to get the plates.  They’ll do the upgrades at the same time.

2008 Buick GL8

  • one time tax: 18,000
  • insurance: 8500
  • Other fees: 1200
  • Grand Total: 230,700 RMB

  • 1 comment
    Getting a drivers license in SH
    Filed under: Shanghai
    Posted by: Alan @ 1:55 pm

    I followed the instructions below to get my drivers license in Shanghai.  It’s like a wild goose chase just to get the test date scheduled.  I go in today to take it.  I’ve scanned the test guide

    [Update]  Yay, I passed the test.  The hardest part is getting to the station.  Takes forever with all the traffic.  My appointment was at 2:50 and I left at 2 thinking the roads would be pretty clear at that time of day, but it still took 40 minutes.  I took the metro because the station is right around the corner from the traffic regulations office and I couldn’t find a cab, but that took over an hour, including the long walk home from the line #1 station - but the weather here is finally warming up so it was a pleasant walk and I was inordinately proud of myself for completing this seemingly simple task.

    So the test is on a computer but they do jumble up the order of the questions so you can’t just memorize the answers in order.  I seemed to think they may have even jumbled the order of the answers within a question but maybe not.  Once you past 90 correct answers, the test stops.  You then go downstairs to pay your 55RMB for the license, go back up and wait like at a bank teller, and then - voila - you get your very own Chinese drivers license.

    The translation of the test guide has some funny stuff in it like “zebra crossing” for “pedestrian crosswalk.”  I thought it was the translator making a joke at first.  #15c is hilarious:

    15. Before driving motor vehicles, drivers….
    a. may drink a little alcoholic drinks
    b. must not drink alcoholic drinks
    c. are only allowed to drink beer

    Most of the test answers are expressly not followed by 90% of the drivers on the road.  In fact, I can see many of the test takers being confused by what seem very legit answers like “drivers may smoke when tired” and “a running vehicle should speed up, not letting the vehicle behind to overtake, when it finds another vehicle behind it signaling to overtake.”

    1 set of instructions fowarded to me by my friends:

    Address: qingcun lu 179
    Phone: 6498-7070
    Directions: subway #1
    xinzhuang station, switch to #5 cunsen lu (or
    take cab)
    hours: mon-fri
    no reservations; just show up– if pass the written test, can get
    same day
    [Alan: not true anymore I think.  My test date had to be scheduled.  Also the test is on a computer.]

    We need four
    temporary residence certificate (he said different from work visa– it has to be
    like a “work permit” that is in your passport; easiest is the yellow slip that i
    [Alan: You have to go to the local police station/registration office and bring your passport and a copy of it, and a copy of your lease or deed to prove you live there.]
    - original drivers
    - certified
    translation of drivers license
    56660545 rmb60 dongtiyuhua lu 100 nong #3; 8:30-4:30
    63233608 rmb50 nanjinglu #66;
    9-4:30 (minus lunch hour)

    Another set:





    went to applied for a conversion last week at
    Qingchun Road

    If you follow the procedure well, it will be a breeze.


    You need to first go to building 11 counter 1 for application
    form filling (they will key the information into computer and give you a printed
    form) and photo shoot. You need to pay RMB40 for that.


    Next, medical check at the room next door. You need to pay RMB60.

    They will issue you 2 forms. Paste your photo onto one of the form and
    another on the earlier printed form. Fill in the particulars
    [Alan: Form in Chinese so act dumb, and ask them to help you fill it in.  If you’re Chinese and speak Chinese but don’t read and write, apologize profusely for being so ignorant and illiterate]. and queue for eye
    sight test and hearing test. You will get the report on the spot.


    Go to building no8 room 200 for the conversion.


    You will need the following documents:

    Application form (The earlier mentioned printed form)

    Medical report

    Photocopy and original copy of your passport and driving license.

    A translation of your driving license (I actually got a free
    translation from the counter while the officer process my application)


    They will give you the examination date (about 7-9 days later [I must’ve been lucky and got it 2 days later]) and a
    booklet on the highway code.


    It probably take 1 hour for the whole process.


    It doesn’t make sense to pay the agent as you have to go through the
    process. He can’t be taking the medical exam on your behalf.


    On the actual exam date, you have to go through the exam.


    No matter what, you have to go down there twice.


    You can take line one to XinZhuang change line 5 to Chun Shen station and
    take a cab(RMB 11)

    comments (0)
    Filed under: General
    Posted by: Alan @ 2:19 pm

    Mae-Ling and I have been talking a lot recently.  She found an excellent Myers Briggs analysis of my personality type ESTJ (the Supervisor or Director or Guardian).  She’s an ENFP so we only share 1 attribute: E.  What’s most interesting is that she found an analysis of how we’re supposed to love each other: a relation of activity.  Wow, it’s scary accurate. 

    Turns out there’s a ton of these analyses online, kind of like horoscopes but more accurate.  Here’s another really good summary of how I feel and think.  Here’s how I’m supposed to be on a team

    Susan found this hilarious post and thought of me.

    Gals make passes at guys who wash glasses

    Men who share the load (of laundry and otherwise) inspire lust

    comments (0)
    Filed under: Shanghai, China
    Posted by: Alan @ 1:05 pm

    Services in China are ridiculously affordable.  In other words, labor is cheap.  We pay our ayi (nanny, maid, cook all in one) double the going rate, and it’s still a great deal, at least half to a quarter of US costs.  We get massages all the time, not just because we invested in Diva Life.  And haircuts include a long massage and hairwash.  Here’s Kyle at our favorite hair salon:

    Kyle haircut

    Taxi rides start at 11 RMB.  I still think that’s only slightly more than a dollar, but with the dollar is devaluing so quickly, it’s $1.50 now.  Rides in town center only add a few “kuai” to the bill, so we never worry about bar hopping or visiting friends after we’ve sent our driver home - yes, we have a driver, but it’s really like leasing a car and the driver comes with it.  The great side benefit of cabs is that you can drink and not drive. 

    Also, there’s no tipping, except included service charges at hotels and fine restaurants.  It’s galling to go back to the US and have to add another 15% onto restaurant bill.  If you try to tip here, half the time they want to give it back to you.  There’s one time when a waiter ran after our party for a block to give the tip back.

    Yes we feel spoiled and pampered here.  But it makes up for all the annoyances of living in China, well-documented in the government’s attempt to teach the whole country manners before the Olympics.

    comments (0)