How to Twitter to a local number with your mobile in China

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  1. Setup a zuosa account (Chinese twitter clone)
  2. Verify your mobile number
  3. Sync zuosa with Twitter. Done!

When I started to use Twitter in 2007, there was an option to tweet with text messages (SMS) It makes sense because a SMS is also short and it’s more interesting to see tweets on the go. To keep up with Twitter’s growth the service was limited to UK only, making most people, including me, forget about the service quickly. Until I found Zuosa; It provides the functionality, and allows me to send MMS (pictures etc.) as well! All with a local number! Here’s how it looks like:

Sending a MMS

I compose a MMS or SMS message on my phone. For SMS the number is 13776113557, for MMS it’s cai@zuosa.com. When I send it, it immediately appears on my Zuosa page.

Yes this is a cool first step! But it get’s better, I will setup Zuosa so that it will forward my messages to Twitter or another range of social media tools.

Cool features

Also, while we’re on their front page anyway, you’ve probably noticed the similarity of Zuosa to Twitter, but as Tait puts it, it has grown apart from the original in many ways as it features a lot of extra features:

  • Suggestion of hashtags
  • Sharing of Photo, video, MP3 in the site (see previous screenshot)
  • Pause and play button for the real time stream
  • Linking account with MSN messenger, phone etc.
  • Localization, unlike Twitter – all local features are not evolving around SF, it actually works in every city.

Sending a SMS to Twitter


First provide Zuosa with your Twitter username and password.

Send a text to a local number…

Win! The tweet arrives in Zuoga and Twitter.

Final thoughts

I wanted to tweet to a local number for so long, I have tried a few things but never succeeded. Now it is possible, I wonder if it is still necessary. I have a dataplan so I can use the web interface of Twitter (in)directly! However, I wonder if this method is cheaper. To the least, it is much easier so I am going to try it for a while.

Also, it does take some time before tweets arrive. All tweets are probably scanned but since I am tweeting in English Zuosa is likely verifying the content before it goes out.

Buying a christmas tree in Shanghai (howto)

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treeTo get into the holiday spirit, we’ve ordered a tree from rosagallica.com. A tip from Marc.

Whilst the trees are mentioned to cost about 200 RMB, a lady called Camille followed up on my order and notified me that they exclude the costs made for delivery. I’ve agreed on a price of 400 RMB, which is about 40 euro’s, which is still about half the costs for a simular (delivered) tree in Amsterdam.

Are we happy? Yes. The tree was much bigger then we expected (I’ve intentionally left included the door on the picture to give you an impression), but for that price, I was hoping for a tree like this. The tree came in a pot, but turned out not to have a root so we think it will start losing nails very quickly. All and all, the price was reasonable, it’s great to have a tree in the house, I especially like the forest-smell. At least we have a place to stash all our christmas gifts this year. Oh, decorations were not included :-) Happy christmas everybody!

Quick way to order a tree like this (in Shanghai)

Send an email to info@rosagallica.com with the size you want, your name, address and phone number, and the company will contact you for delivery. You can also call them at 021-2821 2241 or mobile 158 2171 1221 (Camille). The available sizes and prices:

Available sizes Price ex transport
80 – 150 cm 180 RMB *told to be sold out
150 – 200 cm 350 RMB *My tree is about 2 meters
200 – 250 cm 450 RMB
250 – 300 cm 600 RMB
300 – 350 cm 800 RMB

Five fun things to do in Seoul

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I was talking to my friends about my life in Seoul. Our New Delhi cab driver suddenly became excited; he was flying to there the day after! In return, I spend the rest of the drive about the things to do in this marvelous city. He was so grateful for the info that he didn’t want any money for our 15 dollar taxi ride. Since another friend is going to Seoul this week, I’ve decided to list and share a few recommendations:

  1. 1. Start by having a beer in the 63 floor building:
    63 floor building is quite an old skyscraper, displayed on the box of Simcity 2000. You can get quite a spectacular view on the city (from south side to center). Many may argue that Namsan is a better view, but you have to pay to get in, instead for a cold beer. The best part is that a 1.5 dollar cruise leaves at the foot of the building.

Screen shot 2009-11-22 at 1.51.42 PM

  1. 2. Visit a palace, like Gyeongbok for example, for culture, Amazing to see the historic culture while you are in the middle of the city! Especially beautiful in the fall.
  2. 3. Jimjilbang in Dongdaemun: Visit Cerestar, close to Dongdaemun or better, the 6 story high dragon hill spa, for about 5 dollar you can experience traditional korean spa. You can sleep here for the night (public place, on the floor floor) Imagine spending a day here in your pajamas doing fun stuff like watching movies, swimming, eating and sweating in the sauna.

  3. 4. Shopping in Myongdong: If you like shopping, Myongdong is the place. The KRW is climbing again but Korea is great shopping for low prices. If you don’t like it (like me), stay away as far as possible, very very busy.

  4. 5. Shopping you can do everywhere, Korea is about the food. Go to different places throughout the city, including
    eating BBQ fish + wasabi, called: sengsan kui (sengsan meaning fish, kui mening BBQ) Eat some Korean BBQ (ofcourse) I prefer Samgyeopsal, either beef of pork. And another recommendation is to go to “all you can eat” fish houses: Ask the tourist office about these unlimited fish houses, there are a number and you can pick the fishes from the aquarium and they get prepared. Also, you can try live (living) squid here!

bbq

It’s good to take pictures!

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So, it takes about 20 years for me to forget a sight, as it seems. Displayed below is a old and a new holiday picture, taken in the south of France.

The first picture is around 1990, second one almost 20 years later. The chap in blue is me, the handsome girl in the right is my sister Mirrin.

What is particularly interesting is that none of my family members were sure that we have seen the castle before. We all knew about a previous holiday seeing a similar castle, but it didn’t quite look like this.

Coming back home,I was sure that I have seen this castle before, but couldn’t prove it. For some reason, I found it necessary to go through my pictures -what are weekend for anyway- and look for it.

It turned out that we did see the castle before, but that it just looks a lot better then it did 20 years ago. The trees have grown taller, the roof was repaired and the walls have been painted, but the location is exactly the same, astounding how the memory can boggle us some times, it’s good to take pictures!

Wait, I have been there before! 

Learning Chinese with help of Iphone/iPod Touch

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A quick post about learning Chinese Mandarin with help of my iPod Touch, because I think it’s a remarkable useful device for learning phrases and – in the case of Chinese – also for learning to write characters using the touch screen. All and all, very efficient for those idle moments of the day to study a new language. I agree it would not help one to pronounce Chinese right, but I consider it a first steps to learn some basics before commencing lessons in August.

iChinese

*Please note my beautifully written “di” in the picture, just to show of in the screenshot. : )
iChinese uses the iPhone’s touch-based interface to teach users how to write the characters on-screen. At first I realized that the amount of study material seemed to be limited, with four libraries of words available. But the first two packages of ideograms have kept me busy for a month already. The application has a useful dictionary too, which is very useful to support you in explaining yourself on the streets of China. Costs: 7,99 Euro (excluding text to output.)
Link

BYKI

I believe that Before You Know it for Iphone (BYKI) is one of the best apps out there to learn Chinese. Using an intelligent flash card system, one can quickly learn (selected) phrases and words. Intelligent because your faulty answers are being represented from time to time until you don’t make them again, leaving the ones you know behind until you almost finish memorizing a complete package. Each chapter starts with reviewing the words/phrases, followed by learning to memorize the Chinese phrase to English. Then the hard part: Hearing English and memorizing the Chinese phrase correctly. Think this software is definitely worth the money, the app stopped working temporary when I upgraded to OS 3.0, and I found out that their customer service (Twitter/Email) is quite responsive and helpful.
Link

ChinesePod

Besides previous apps, I like to listen to the Chinesepod Podcast. While some don’t like it that much, I like to listen to it to hear about Chinese culture, and get some introduction to simple phrases. I find it hard to memorize what they are talking about, as I prefer the earlier discussed BFYI app much better, but it’s a nice human addition.

Others

Any fundamental language tools that I am missing?

Finding an Apartment in Shanghai: How to pay what the locals are paying

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When I arrived in Shanghai, I asked some of my friends here how I could find a good appartment to rent. Most of them recommended to look for apartments at Craigslist, Smartshanghai or Cityweekend. All these recommendations were a great source to get aquatinted with the housing market in Shanghai from a foreigner perspective. I listed the places and contacted some (English speaking) agents to see the apartments.

A very convenient but expensive way to find a apartment, I discovered later. Instead of taking the obvious path, I’d recommend you to checkout the local websites instead, it’s less hard then you think. With some help from Laurence, I used a Chinese website called Anjuke to enquire about the place I was interested in, and found out that it was advertised – in Chinese – for just 75% of the price that my English agent proposed.

As artonym.com puts it, when you use the local websites:

  1. you will get a much wider range of choice
  2. you can be a lot more promiscuous in your search by engaging several agents to look for a place for you at the same time
  3. you can get the local rate; not the you’re-not-Chinese-so-I’m-going-to-assume-you’re-loaded rate

1/2 Start by asking where you want to live

Find the location, then find a reasonable place within your budget. Using the map, you can pinpoint the place you want to live and see what is available.

2/2 Translate the details and visit some places to get an idea

When you find a place, you swing the URL through Google translate to get the specifics, in the language you prefer.

I was fortunate enough to have a Chinese collegue helping me making the calls and visiting the compounds. After seeing almost 10 apartments this way, I can tell you that the pictures and text do not always reflect on what you will see. I have seen some crack-holes this week, some with the fresh smell of bug spray, facing a building being constructed at just a few meters distance, not a nice place to relax.

tips:

Some seeking tips for people looking for a place here, mentioned by the same post:

  1. Don’t be seduced by subway-adjacent properties. For a city that likes to bill itself as a kick-ass metropolis, Shanghai’s metro shuts down at a ridiculously early hour (10pm on average). Instead, find a property near the end/beginning of a popular bus route.
  2. Electricity is expensive in Shanghai — if you leave the a/c on — eg in summer months its a necessity, expect bills of 500 RMB / 50 euro upwards.
  3. Make sure that the landlord is allowed to rent the place out. Make sure that the name on the rental contract matches the name on the Landlords ID.

Shanghai housing bubble

I was stroling around Pudong yesterday and got annoyed by the amount of leaflets that were handed out to me. Instead of the expected massage or rolex offers, they turned out to be compound brochures. While housing prices in my home country have gone south, Jian Shuo Wang writes that the Shanghai real estate market prizes are still rising, in contrary to expectations of financial experts and Chinese government.
“A recent report I read from the Youth Daily, the second hand house volume in the first half year has been higher than the last year the whole year.
Possible reasons are:

  1. Loans and Morgages are loosened. Most of the restrictions on second and third house loans are lifted, and people can get loans as they wish.
  2. The expectation for large scale RMB inflation.”

I bet this affects the renters market as well. While my assumption was that with the current crisis, it would be a renters market, perhaps it would be a different case for Shanghai. Though, don’t get boggled up with that assumption, as there is plenty, plenty of nice apartments available.

My apartment

The hotel was nice to stay for a week, but it’s still a hotel. I found a decent place to live, close to my office, and I am moving in this Wednesday. While settled down in a comfortable place, I am prepared to dedicate myself to my job to the fullest. Good times!

In Hong Kong for the week #2

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I like this city so much that I decided to upload some more pictures to give you first hand about what I think is beautiful around here. Hope you like it!
Victoria Peak, Hong Kong 
You can go up any skyscraper in Hong Kong, (which I almost did) but you can see the city best from the Victory Peak. Simply take the tram up the hill, and you will see this magnificent view of the city. In real life, the city lights are also dancing around over the scenery. Very pretty thing to look at, almost as hypnotic like a fire or water. I view to remember!

Art gallery building in Macau, China 
Art gallery building in Macau, China

Don’t be fooled by these buildings, the whole area is full with artsy shaped casino’s. Macau was both the first and the last European colony in China. In 2006, gambling revenues from Macau’s casinos were for the first time greater than those of Las Vegas Strip (each about $6 billion), making Macau the highest-volume gambling centre in the world. We lost track of time as well, amazing place to be!

Going down 
The metro in Hong Kong, or the MTR are much simpler to commute in then for example in Seoul or Osaka. However, if you are staying on the island as a tourist, one might as well take the tram. They are cheaper and more fun to ride as you see more of the city.
Buddhistic statues praising Tian Tan Buddha 
Buddhistic statue praising and making offerings to the Tian Tan Buddha.
Fishmarket Sheung Wan is a public market with whole floors devoted to fish, or fruit, or tiny restaurants. The variety is wonderful! It reminded me of those marketplaces in Southern Europe. If you have the chance, order some squid and let the sales men prepare it for raw eating. Little bit of sauce… delicious!