Travel in New Zealand

Along with thousands of Chinese nationals, I went to New Zealand for the Chinese New Year holiday week. It’s an expensive country and a bit far (11 hour flight from Guangzhou), but so beautiful, clean, and friendly. We toured both the North and South Islands, driving over 2800 km plus hundreds more in a ferry ride between the islands and the Kiwi Rail Tranz Scenic Alpine Railway that crosses the South Island. Everyplace we went to was interesting and worthwhile, with highlights at Rotorua (Thermal Wonderland, Redwood Forest, etc.), the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, the Shotover Jet Boat near Queenstown, and the hike to the Fox Glacier and also the hike to the Hooker Glacier near Mount Cook.

Some travel tips: Be prepared for Internet challenges. Many hotels offer very limited Internet access, such as a maximum of 20 minutes free or, frequently, a limit of 20 Mb or 50 Mb of data. When there is a limit to the amount of data you can access, be sure to turn off automatic updates on your computer because your system can upload many megabytes of system updates in the background and eat up your free or paid account quickly. Also turn off background backups such as Carbonite, Even then, a few unexpected large emails can eat up the bandwidth and leave you without service. A real pain.

The lack of good Internet service at hotels is one of the very few problems we encountered in New Zealand. We love the country and found it very safe and hospitable, with lots of healthy and delicious food as well. Be sure to try to Pavlona dessert, the various honeys (Manuka honey is famous for its healthy properties, but also try the delicious Rata and other types of naturally thick, creamy honeys unique to New Zealand), the delicious seafood, lamb, and beef, and even the pork belly that is popular in Queenstown.

I hope to come back sometime soon!

By |February 18th, 2013|Categories: Travel tips|Tags: |Comments Off

Dental Work in Shanghai: Dr. Zhou is a Professional Offering Low-Cost

Expats in Shanghai often wonder where to go for dental work. Many go to Parkway Dental or others catering to expats, but you can pay much more than you should at such places. When I learned that I needed a filling to be repaired, I recently went to Dr. Zhou, a dentist with good English who has her practice in XuJiaHui. The filling work cost about 1/4 of what Byer Dental quoted me, and I was happy with the techniques and results. But one expat had a bad experience there, so before deciding to go, you can read what he experienced. Much different than the friendly, professional service I encountered.

By |February 3rd, 2013|Categories: Dental, Shanghai|Tags: |Comments Off

Delicious Mexican Food in Shanghai

One of the most common American complaints about food in Shanghai is the lack of good Mexican food. It is not very popular here and only a few places offer it, sometimes with disappointing results. But you can find good Mexican food. One surprising choice is Judy’s on Tongren near the intersection with West Nanjing. After we went there, we learned that this quiet, calm place becomes a lively bar with sometimes questionable content late at night, so I’m not sure I want to recommend this place, but if you go before 8:30 pm, you’ll find a tame, quiet place with very good, basic Mexican food like flavorful fajitas, burritos, and quesadillas. They also have a Chinese menu and I was impressed with the coconut chicken curry. Very tender. You can just walk in and eat without fighting the normal Friday night crowds. Again, go there before 8:30. I don’t know what happens later, but based on a review I read, I don’t think I want to be around there late at night.

For avant-garde high-end Mexican, try Mi Tierra in the French Concession. Some of their dishes are surprising and unlike the typical Mexican fare Americans might know. Delicious, creative, a bit expensive, but worth it. The ceviche, for example, was startlingly good. The staff is warm and friendly. The boss and main assistant were extremely kind and gave us a tour of the beautiful 3-storied building. An excellent place for a corporate event, also.

By |November 9th, 2012|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |Comments Off

Where to Find Cheese in Shanghai

One of the great mysteries of expat life in Shanghai is where to find cheese. Some expats rely on expensive cheese sold in small delis in the French Concession or places like the deli at the Westin Hotel/Bund Center. Some rely on cheese sold at supermarkets such as Tesco. But if you use a lot of cheese or just want the best price on cheese, you should know about the food warehouse in Minhang District which supplies cheese and a lot of other products to restaurants all over town. There you can buy cheese for prices surprisingly close to what you might pay in the United States. A 3 kilogram block of good mozzarella cheese was purchased yesterday by my wife for 150 RMB. That’s under $4 a pound for cheese in Shanghai. Awesome!

This mecca of affordable cheese is inside a big warehouse at 1255 Lianhua Road, Shanghai. You enter this warehouse along a road used by forklifts or other vehicles. On the second lane to the left inside, you will find a row of shops. One of the first is SunPin Ran’s outlet, Shanghai Topwin Foods Trading Company (www.TSFoods.com.cn). Email contact: hero.db at 163dotcom, or call 021-5480-2293. Fax: 021-54934329.

Inside the building, according to the Chinese side of their business card, the shop is on the south side of the warehouse, aisle 4, number 18-19.

上海天圣食品有限公司
上海闵行区莲花路1255号南区四排18-19号

April 2014 update: Here are some photos from my recent 2014 visit to the big compound at 1255 Lianhua Road.

By |October 11th, 2012|Categories: Food, Restaurants|Tags: |Comments Off

Piro Restaurant: Hamburger Heaven in Shanghai’s French Concession

When you need American food, or are stuck with a group intent on American cuisine in Shanghai, one of my favorite choices is Piro Restaurant in the heart of the French Concession (91 Changshu Road, a couple blocks north of Changshu Station on Line 1 and Line 7). This has the feel of a neighborhood restaurant with great service from very warm staff. We first tried Piro just because a friend of ours, Gina, works there, but we gladly came back for the food, too.

Piro apparently uses imported American meat in their hamburgers (so I read somewhere), and it sure tastes that way. They also understand how big, thick juicy burgers ought to taste. But if you’re not ready for a cholesterol high, they have a variety of meat-free portabello burgers that are amazingly juicy and rich in flavor. I’ve tried both the portabello burgers and the real hamburgers, and am torn: both are scrumptious.

Salads are also excellent, but you may be surprised if you order a salad and a burger since a pretty hefty portion of salad comes with your burger already.

We tried a chocolate milkshake tonight, and while it was the best milkshake we’ve had in China so far, it still falls short of the American dream shake. Part of the problem was a big load of fake whip cream on top that was just too greasy, unlike real whip cream. But the body of the shake was at least partway towards real shakedom.

A fun thing about Piros is that you can sit in the richly wooden inside or sit outside on the lively and rather noisy street for a great sidewalk cafe experience.

Burgers start at 55 RMB and go up to about 80, plus you can pay more for additional toppings. Salads are around 45 – 65 RMB. My shake was 55 RMB. So, on the slightly expensive side, but a lot less than many places with Western food, and a lot better. Give it a try! Very popular with expats, but plenty of Chinese hang out there, too.

By |October 8th, 2012|Categories: Restaurants, Shanghai|Tags: |Comments Off

Lost Bags in Shanghai: Trouble with Delta?

Flights into Shanghai have a pretty high success rate when it comes to baggage arriving safely, from what I see, but when there are problems, they can be severe. International airlines line Delta may not offer reasonable customer service. Once their records show the bags have arrived in Shanghai, they just close out the case and assume it’s settled, whether you ever get your bags or not. Local delivery services are where the gap can be, at least with Delta, who failed to get my bags to me yesterday (Sunday) for my Friday/Saturday flight from the US to Shanghai. The local delivery service says they will get it to me around 2 am Monday.

Of course, never pack valuables in checked luggage and always be prepared to lose your checked bags for two or three days. Wish these airlines had a better way of getting bags to you when the airline routes them incorrectly. Mine apparently went from Detroit to Los Angeles instead of Tokyo and Shanghai.

By |October 7th, 2012|Categories: China, Travel tips|Tags: |Comments Off

Shanghai’s Best Bakery: Nancy’s Bakery on Weifang Road, PuDong

At 68 Weifang Road near the east side of the Bund in PuDong is a little strip of restaurants including my favorite bakery and diner, Nancy’s Bakery. It’s the favorite spot of one of Beijing’s elite business leaders whom I have met there a couple of times. It’s a place where many foreigners go who want good bread and food made with top-notch ingredients. Nancy is a bubbly Shanghai woman who has been trained in Europe and Brazil. She offers a menu with outstanding dishes such as a special lasagna and magnificent desserts created in partnership with Eddy, her chief baker. Her breads are worth the trip and are made from imported European flours, not the genetically modified grains that might be behind the gluten allergies that many people face these days. One person I know who was sensitive to gluten found that she could eat Nancy’s bread without difficulty, apparently due to its superior grain content. True story.

Tonight my wife and I stopped at Nancy’s after a meal at the Xinjiang restaurant near our apartment on Dong Tai Street, just south of Fuxing Road. Our local Xinjiang place is terrific but quite authentic (that means lots of bones). Bold flavors, wonderful barbecue, and a lot of things that many Westerners would be shocked to see on a menu (sheep’s head dishes, cold sheep stomach, etc.). We took a taxi through the Fuxing Road Tunnel, made a right turn at the first light, and then right again a couple of blocks later onto Weifang, and there is Nancy’s on the left. Tonight we tried her new coconut-white chocolate-mango cake (awesome), a chocolate eclair, and the best fresh squeezed orange juice ever. This is a good season for sweet oranges in China. Best of all was the chance to chat with Nancy, a warm and vivacious friend.

By |September 14th, 2012|Categories: Restaurants, Shanghai|Tags: |Comments Off

Lost Heaven: Once a Favorite Shanghai Restaurant, But Maybe Losing Its Heavenly Appeal

One of my longtime favorites in Shanghai has been Lost Heaven, the Yunnan-style Chinese restaurant on the Bund (17 Yan An Lu, just a few yards from the main road along the Bund on the west side of the river). It is beautiful, upscale, with an exotic menu. But after many meals there, typically with Western guests, I’m taking it off my list of favorites. Too often the food is lukewarm when it should be hot, and often lacks depth or intensity in flavor. And it’s quite expensive. 68 RMB for a small pile of fried rice with very little in it is just too much. The meal we had last night was OK, but for the guests I had, I wanted and expect something exciting. Nothing of all the dishes we ordered generated any “wows.”

Lost Heaven is beautiful and has a menu to be proud of, but the cuisine doesn’t fit the aura, the expectations, and the price.

For stand-out Chinese cuisine at reasonable, some other choices include Xin Wang (amazing Cantonese), Cui Hua (Taiwanese chain with amazing dishes and great deserts and drinks), and dozens of others all over Shanghai. More on these selections later.

By |September 11th, 2012|Categories: China, Restaurants|Tags: |Comments Off

Experiencing Surgery in China: One Great Experience, One Near Miss

When I moved to China last year with my wife, I had a huge list of things that I wanted to see and experience. I had a much shorter list of things to avoid, with one thing in particular at the top: surgery. I had heard some frightening things about healthcare in China–though perhaps not as frightening as what the Chinese hear about the American system. Many advised me to avoid hospitalization and surgery at all costs.

That healthy goal became a bit impractical after an unpleasant fall while foolishly running across a wet Shanghai street recently and hitting a slick glossy zebra stripe. The sprawling, body-slamming collision not just with the ground but with a projecting curb did more than just impart some painful bruises. I later discovered a surprise hernia that would require laparoscopic surgery. After exploring many options, I found a highly skilled Chinese surgeon that a US physician had recommended, and he helped me become comfortable with the options and the system here. Chen Bingguan is the name of the specialist and he operates at China East International Medical Clinic, a very expensive private clinic for foreigners and rich people. But he also operates at China East Hospital (Dong Fang), a public hospital that is much less expensive. And Dong Fang has a great “VIP Clinic” that caters to foreigners and Chinese VIPs (i.e., people willing to pay extra) that is still far below the cost of private hospitals.

Since my insurance here is rather limited, in spite of buying a second policy to supplement the one I have from work, I wanted to keep costs low. Fortunately, I found that I could have Dr. Chen do the surgery in the “VIP Clinic” of the public hospital for about 1/5 the cost of the private hospitals that cater to foreigners. The experience I had at Shanghai East far exceeded my expectations, with care that seemed better than what I would have expected in the U.S. I had a private room and a group of fun, responsive, and kind nurses who treated me like a celebrity. I guess they don’t get many Americans there. I also had good contact and help from my surgeon. I was on my feet right away and got excellent follow-up care with a full recovery and no pain. Fabulous. I can’t imagine how my care could have been any better.

Shortly after that, I had an MRI done at the same hospital to examine a knee that I had injured earlier. Again, I was delighted with the experience. Getting the MRI was quick, easy, and much cheaper than in the U.S., and I was able to see an knee specialist right away who quickly pointed out the problem: a torn meniscus. Knee surgery was needed to repair it. Let’s schedule it for next week. Simple minimally invasive surgery. No problem.

After the positive experience I had with the hernia repair, I was ready for round two at that hospital. I scheduled the surgery and made arrangements with my employer to miss a few days for the procedure. Would be in the hospital 4 days, then on crutches for a few weeks. And my knee trouble would be gone. Easy. And inexpensive enough that my limited insurance would cover most of it.

As surgery day neared, though, I began to feel like I was missing something. I didn’t really know what procedure was going to be used and what the odds of success were. There had been no discussion of these important details. I called and wanted to speak with the surgeon, but was told I could get all my answers when I checked in to the hospital . When I got there, I was soon greeted by a team of assistants who discussed the procedure. They would remove part or perhaps all of my meniscus, the important shock absorbing pad in the knee joint. But the surgeon has only spoken of “repair” and I assumed that mean suturing the torn section together again–why had the removal not been discussed with me? Now several negative aspects of this second brush with surgery came to my mind–the brusque manner of the surgeon, his visual difficulty in reading the MRI chart, his apparent forgetting of who I was when I saw him on my second visit following initial consultation the previous week. The emotional brain had come up with an answer before the logical brain did and was already telling me to walk away, while I still could. Part of what helped me make the decision to walk were some of the secondary issues after check-in. Instead of the lovely private room I had in my first surgery with my own air conditioning remote control unit, I would be put in a much less attractive, older room shared with a grumpy looking patient and his wife, with several other disappointments compared to my first experience. They contributed to the willingness to flee, as did the unavailability of the surgeon himself to discuss my case.

After punting on the planned surgery, I made a couple of phone calls to get more information and second opinions from other doctors. I learned from a physical therapist that in many parts of the healthcare system here, there is a tendency to turn to surgery as a first option instead of as a last resort. Just two days before we had visited a Chinese friend of ours, a vendor struggling to make a living in a little market near our home, in a local hospital. She had just delivered a baby and was sharing a tiny room with three other new mothers. She had been given a C-section. She wasn’t sure that it was necessary. Apparently C-sections are far more common here than in the United States, and there may be a general problem with unnecessary surgery of other kinds. There are remarkably skilled surgeons here and some outstanding hospitals, but it’s important to make sure that the surgery is really needed.

I took my MRI chart and went to get second opinions, first visiting a surgeon at another hospital and then a physical therapist. Both of them explained to me that my knee trouble was still minor enough that surgery would be ill-advised right now. Better to rely on exercises and other steps to strengthen and protect the knee rather than jump to surgery. This made sense and I’ve began a program with the physical therapist that appears to be restoring my range of motion. Maybe I’ll need it later, but I’m glad to explore other options first. I feel that I came within inches of surgery that may have left me in a worse condition and with high expenses, some risk, and high inconvenience. If it weren’t for some confidence shaking experiences after checking into the hospital, I could have had unnecessary surgery. I’m relieved and even elated that I avoided the knife the second time.

At the same hospital, I had two encounters with the world of surgery, one a glorious success that made me whole again and one a near miss where I’m grateful to have escaped intact rather than have an unnecessary procedure that might have damaged me. Two similar events with trained, experienced men but with different sets of facts.

I was very lucky to have such a good experience with surgery, and perhaps even luckier to walk away from what might have been an unnecessary surgery on an overly trusting patient.

Do more homework, get second opinions, and for goodness sake, be careful when you cross the street over here!

By |August 9th, 2012|Categories: China, Health|Tags: |Comments Off

Recent Visit to People’s Park in Shanghai

One of my many favorite sites in Shanghai is People’s Park, right next to People’s Square (west side of Xizang Road, south side of West Nanjing Road). There is an amusement park there, a great lotus pond, a busy “meat market” where parents and matchmakers try to find mates for unmarried children with resumes and ads (older people also are looking for matches), and a wonderful restaurant, Barbarossa, which I tried for my first time. I’ll be back! Here are some photos from our visit on Saturday, July 7, 2012.

Lotus blossom

Lotus blossom in a lotus pond at People's park, July 7, 2012

Lotus pond


Van Cleef and Arpels Jewelry Museum Exhibit

Dragon Ride

Tunnel of Love

I found my true love at the "Meat Market" at People's Square, where an active matchmaking business is underway. Of course, I was already married to her when I found here again here, in the "Tunnel of Love" lined with resumes and ads made by parents or matchmakers for their eligible children.

Delightful smoothie at Barbarossa Restaurant in People's Park (listed address is West Nanjing Road).


Lunch at Barbarossa in People's Park

Lunch at Barbarossa in People's Park, one of my favorite new restaurant finds. Good food with a Middle Eastern theme, quiet and beautiful setting. Nice smoothie, too.

Water lillies

By |July 8th, 2012|Categories: China, Photography, Shanghai|Tags: |Comments Off

History in the Making: The US-China IP Adjudication Conference, May 28-30, 2012, Beijing

After 3 years of planning and navigating complex political waters, a historic event finally took place in Beijing last week at China’s top university for IP law, Renmin University. Top justices, judges, lawyers, business leaders and academicians from the US and China gathered for 3 intensive days of sharing regarding intellectual property and the courts. There were over 1,000 people that attended, including numerous judges and IP thought leaders from China and the US. The number of judges from China was said to be 300, though most of the Chinese people I met were not judges but lawyers, business leaders, and students, though I did have lunch with a Chinese judge and met several in other settings during the conference.

The leaders and speakers of the conference included US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Chief Justice Randall Rader, one of the most brilliant and influential minds in US patent law whose decisions have long been shaping US law and practice. He is a strong advocate of international collaboration and appears to have been one of the primary driving forces between this event. I was pleased to see a total of 7 Federal Circuit judges present, most visiting China for their fist time, including these 6 Circuit Judges: Raymond C. Clevenger III, Richard Linn, Timothy B. Dyk, Sharon Prost, Kimberly A. Moore, and Jimmie V. Reyna. Also playing prominent roles were Gary Locke, US Ambassador to China; David Kappos, Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office; Mark Cohen, the USPTO’s former Attaché to the US Embassy in Beijing; Steven C. Lambert, President, Federal Circuit Bar Association; and many others. Mark Cohen wowed the crowd by delivering his speech in fluent Mandarin, though his rather erudite citations of Chinese poetry and classics sometimes challenged the gifted translators who made this bilingual conference accessible to everyone present.

On the Chinese side, we were elated to have active participation by Chief Judge Kong Xiangjun, IPR Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court. Also from the IPR Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court were Deputy Chief Judge Jin Kesheng, Supervisory Attaché Zhang Shengzu, Presiding Judge Yu Xiaobai, Presiding Judge Wang Yongchang, Presiding Judge Xia Junli, and Judge Zhu Li. These judges, with the 7 from the US Federal Circuit, were part of an “en banc” panel discussing US and China law and IP adjudication. Fascinating! Also representing China was Chong Quan, Deputy Deputy China International Trade Representative and a leader of MOFCOM (China Ministry of Commerce).

In addition to many keynote speeches and panel discussions, there were also breakout sessions on such topics such as trademark law, patent litigation, pharmaceutical patent adjudication, and copyright law. Definitely one of the most interesting and information-packed IP conferences I’ve ever attended.

For many, the highlight may have been the afternoon of mock trials in which the same case was presented in an appeal to the US Federal Circuit and to the IPR Tribunal of the People’s Supreme Court of China. Judge Rader lead the 3-judge panel for the US mock trial. The mock trials allowed representatives of both nations to quickly grasp important differences in procedure, though both courts came to essentially the same conclusion in a genuinely interesting real case involving an advance in safety equipment for a circular saw. Following the trials, there was further exchange between the judges of both countries as they discussed their different systems and what they had learned from one another. What a tremendous learning experience and example of meaningful international cooperation.

The rapidity of China’s progress in IP law and adjudication has been breathtaking, in spite of the many complaints made by voices in the West, and the obvious need for further improvements. But from a historical perspective, to go from virtually no IP law in the early 1980s to a world-class system that is leading the world in patent filing now, with the ability of foreign plaintiffs to win against Chinese companies in Chinese courts, represents massive progress worthy of respect. Exchanges like this recent one in Beijing will influence the thought leaders of both nations to further learn from each other and strengthen our approaches to IP law. Many thanks to all those who made this monumental event possible.

In the closing session, I was able to ask a question to the panelists about what future impact they anticipated might come from this exchange. Chief Judge Kong kindly fielded that question and spoke eloquently of the growth of IP law in China and the rich opportunity they had to draw from the US experience and strengthen their system. There is no doubt in my mind that China is rapidly learning and growing and a visionary eye toward the future. I hope the US can keep up and remain a worthy partner and competitor!

Below are some photos of the event that I took.

Related resources: David Kappos’ blog, “China as an IP Stakeholder.”
 

Liu Yang, Exec. VP of the China Law Society, introduces speakers in the first session.  Also visible are Mark Cohen (USPTO), Chong Quan (MOFCOM), David Kappos (USPTO), and Shen De Yong (VP of the Supreme People's Court).

Liu Yang, Exec. VP of the China Law Society, introduces speakers in the first session. Also visible are Mark Cohen (USPTO), Chong Quan (MOFCOM), David Kappos (USPTO), and Shen De Yong (VP of the Supreme People's Court).

First panel.

First session. Left to right: David Kappos (USPTO), Shen Deyong (VP Supreme People's Court), Chief Judge Randall Rader (US CAFC), Chen Jiping (Executive VP, China Law Society), US Ambassador Gary Locke, and Chen Yulu (President, Renmin University).

Judge Rader

Chief Judge Randall Rader is one of the rock stars of IP--literally. I asked him if he was going to perform for us in the evening but sadly, he informed me that he had left his band behind in the US for this event. I took the opportunity to compliment Judge Rader on setting a great example by being visibly active in areas other than his profession alone. His pursuit of rock music with a real band, even while in the judiciary, is one of many attributes that makes Judge Rader one of the more interesting and likable people in IP law. His passion for China is also part of the Rader equation. Many thanks for making this historic event happen!

Jeff Lindsay in front of the Ming De complex at Renmin University where the Adjudication Conference was held.

David Kappos, head of the US Patent and Trademark Office, speaks. His support for this event was crucial and much appreciated.

Gary Locke, US Ambassador to China.

Gary Locke, US Ambassador to China.

Richard Rainey, Executive Counsel, IP Litigation, General Electric.

Richard Rainey, Executive Counsel, IP Litigation, General Electric.

By |June 3rd, 2012|Categories: China, Innovation, Patent law, Politics, Products, Relationships, Society|Tags: |Comments Off

A New Life in China

The Bund in Shanghai

The Bund in Shanghai

The Bund Center, on the Right: Where I Work

The Bund Center, on the Right: Where I Work

 

I’m no longer the Appleton, Wisconsin Guy, but have become fully entrenched in the most amazing city I’ve ever experienced, Shanghai, China. Life here is the polar opposite of Wisconsin life in many ways, and I can’t believe how much I enjoy it here. All those years of thinking I was a small-town guy!

This blog is being revised to deal with life in China and lessons from the Chinese experience. The West has so much to learn from the rich history and majestic achievements of China, as well as from the disasters it has faced, both natural and man-made. So much of what is said about China in the West is completely backwards, and I hope I can contribute to progress in understanding.

Come join me as I share the China experience here.

 

By |June 2nd, 2012|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |Comments Off