This is my letter to the world, That never wrote to me, -- The simple news that Nature told, With tender majesty. Her message is committed To hands I cannot see; For love of her, sweet countrymen, Judge tenderly of me! - emily dickinson -

Monday, August 15, 2005


so, everyone's flocking like lemmings to the middle kingdom these days. i suppose many of these folks do not mind being in crowded open spaces, driving along congested routes and dealing with non-smiling, non-english-speaking customer service people. i was there for three weeks, in and around shanghai. it was like being caught in the midvalley mall on a sunday for three freaking weeks with everyone not understanding nor speaking a word of english!

i was told that the population in shanghai was between seventeen and twenty million people, depending on what time of day you happened to be there. so, imagine for a second all the people of malaysia crowding together in kl. then, imagine around a fifth of the people driving on the highways and the roads. and then imagine about half of the rest going around on bicycles, motorized bicycles, scooters and regular bikes. remember that everyone is in a single city. and you thought that traffic around kl is bad? they have up to five levels of elevated highways in shanghai. but if you did not clear your bladder before you step on the accelerator in the morning, don't ever complain about dogs and fire hydrants!

i once read an article on klia. there was mention that it is important to establish an airport that would convey good vibes to visitors from abroad. that we should be all smiles and cutesy. all fine and dandy, everything ought to be. but in pudong airport, i don't think they give a rat's ass about good first impressions. yes, the airport terminal building is swank with lofty sweeping roof structures and tall structures to match the mighty great wall. but talk to the immigration guys, the lady behind the foreign exchange counter. go ask something from one of the leggy porcelain dolls among the cabin crew. try explaining to the guy at the taxi stand that you need two taxis to get your group of five sleep-deprived colleagues to the hotel.

then you have the people minding the front desk of the hotel you're supposed to stay in for the next three weeks. ever met people who talk to you staring down their noses? you speak to them in the most charming manner and they only stare at you as if you were talking gibberish.

it was to be a long and nasty three week stay for me in shanghai.


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