Funny Things to Ponder

Thursday, October 23, 2014

China experiences

Impressed, happy and enriched are words that describe how I feel right now. After two incredible weeks in China, I am now starting my journey back to Bengaluru.

One of the first thing I discovered as soon I landed in China, there is no access to Facebook, Google in China. So, it was kind of hard for me to remember the passwords for unused email accounts in Yahoo or Hotmail. 
I ended up creating a new account in Yahoo so that I can write back to my family that I reached China safely. 

My trip consisted of 2 parts
1. The official work
2. The personal weekend trip to Beijing

As soon as I landed in China, the internet censorship which was heard of ; but I was experiencing it first hand. It was kind of tough to imagine , how would I know something if I cant access google. We are so much used to few sites that we dont even remember alternatives offlate. With these thoughts in mind, I left the airport and was picked up by hotel staff in their Audi car. hmm! an Audi for taxi. But, wait ; I see so many Audi car on the road as soon I hit the highway.  

But, later once I came out of the little disappointment that Audi was just another car here and was able to see the city. I was impressed. 

Some background story before I talk about Linyi

If you see the map of China, Linyi is exactly in the middle of Beijing and Shanghai. Before starting my trip to China, I tried to search for Indian restaurant names in Linyi and found nothing on internet (I forgot that Google cant index Chinese websites)

After giving upon internet based search, I decided to check with my colleagues in China regarding the vegetarian food options in Linyi. Most of them said that its a small city or small place and there wont be any such options available. 

So for a Kannadiga; small city would be something like Tumkur or Davangere. When I landed in Linyi, I realized what does "small city" mean in Chinese terms. 

Linyi city has a 45th rank in terms of GDP and earnings among the Chinese cites. A city with 45th rank in terms of earnings has got infrastructure which cannot be matched with Bengaluru (stands 4th in Indian cities GDP earnings) 

In this small city (in Chinese terms) I could see huge wide roads, extensive range of hotels, nice cars etc. I landed in 5 star hotel and my room was in 17th floor. The hotel had 70+ floors offering various facilities , rooms and in-house entertainment options. 
 I would have never imagined a "small city" in Indian terms having such a hotel with big skyline building. 

When I saw the view from my room, I was even more surprised to see the skyline around. One of the view from my room. 

View of Linyi skyline

The other side of the room offered a view of the new attraction built by the government to promote tourism. 

Linyi Watch tower built on riverside
So, a small city in Chinese terms had so much of infrastructure, buildings, construction activity happening that we cant see even in metro or capital of India. 
I still remember a Chinese colleague saying 
"Chinese government believes in building hardware, not software like India " 

For them, hardware is not just electronics, its real infrastructure. Look at the below graph to get a idea !

Next obvious Q would be , how is the real estate in China.

My colleague said,  Prices have increased but the price rise is due to rise in new infrastructure facilities. 

Real estate in China is more linked to the average salary of the place. So, if the average salary in a city is 4000 RMB per month ; then 4000 RMB for 1 sq mtr (roughly 10sqft ) for a apartment would be the median price. That is kind of thumb rule for evaluation of property. 

Even 8000 RMB for 10 sqft of space would be considered as costly and would have lower occupancy than others. 

Where as in Bengaluru, if average salary is rs. 40,000 per month for a person (Blame it on IT for higher average salary) ; then its hard to get 10 sqft of constructed property for Rs. 40,000

In Bangalore, real estate prices increase since owners, brokers decide the price based on demand or just they like a fancy number.

I saw lot of interesting things around China , apart from the usual tourist things. 

Power plant in China
Source :
The coal plants pop up anywhere inside the city since cities grow so fast that its difficult for them to relocate everytime the city expands. 

Also, looking at number of coal plants ; I realize that China is self sufficient in power generation and distribution compared to India. 

But, domestic consumer (household) demand is going up and there is plans to increase output even more in coming days

How do the Chinese manage to build cities so fast? 

Infrastructure Expansion is always a problem when people are asked to resettle in India. I heard this from one of my colleague in China, whenever there is a new project or rehabilitation happening. 
The scheme of operation is as follows: 
Old buildings are demolished and new high rises are constructed in smaller area. The new apartments are 2-3 times larger than the old living spaces. Its something like the TDR which is offered in Bengaluru for acquiring property for sake of government/public infrastructure projects. 

So, people are happy to move from old buildings to newer one with better living space. Therefore, it makes it easier for government to build, rehabilitate at same time. 

Some more interesting things in China

1. Good highways

6 lane highways are common. There are 12 lane highways inside bigger cities where 8 lane are for high speed traffic, 2 lane of service road on either sides of highway which has bicycle lane included most of times.
So, its quite common to find internal roads within apartments or commercial offices are atleast 4lane wide to allow traffic in and out of the campus. 

Internal roads inside company 

2. Bullet trains

Hmm! this one , we are still talking of building a network of bullet train. We allocated rs. 100 crore to study the prospects of building one. The Chinese are using it already. :-)

China started building these high speed trains (HSR) in 2007 and by now, they have the largest network of HSR in the world. 
China has taken some extensive measures after the high speed train accident in 2011. 

I could see that safety standards are strictly followed in terminals, coaches, stations and I think, in other infrastructure related to HSR.  Also, the security around the stations are top-notch. 
There is a SWAT team (yes, similar to one seen in movies) which would be monitoring traffic at all times along with other security forces. 

Speed information display inside train

Bullet train or Fast train in China reach speeds upto 310 km per hour. Most of the journey is in elevated bridge since its easier to manage traffic and stay clear of obstructions from animals, humans etc. 

There are some parts where its goes underground but the speeds are at constant 308-312 km per hour during journey time. 
If the speed drops below 300, then its kind of indication that a station is approaching :-)