On a work trip to Shanghai last Friday, I sat in my cab and marvelled at the gleaming towers, giant billboards and the frenetic pace of the people in the business districts of the giant city.
Then my cab driver asked me something which I assumed to be permission for him to excuse himself because he needed to find a toilet urgently. I also assumed that he had spotted a public lavatory somewhere close to the junction where he had stopped the taxi.
That public toilet turned out to be a bush on the edge of a small park next to the road.
There have been other rude reminders that I was in China, but this one still shocked me enough for me to fumble and drop my phone while I tried to sneak a photo.
On foot later, there was the usual array of people spitting on the sidewalk before crossing the road, people not fearing for their lives by riding a motorcycle while holding an umbrella and people not caring about other people’s health by smoking in a taxi queue and at the top of the subways’ escalators. I stood in the rain just to avoid smokers blowing smoke at me.
Maybe it’s because I go there without my family, but I’m always glad to leave Shanghai for home, and can’t wait to get on the plane. At the airport, the feeling becomes stronger because no matter how modern the terminal looks, the ground staff are unsystematic – causing chaotic queues at boarding (Krisflyer Gold one line, PPS, first, business and Star Alliance Gold, one line, so it ends up with Economy passengers having the shortest line).
Hossan and I both agree that there’s nothing like coming home, and it begins when you board a Singapore Airlines plane. I don’t care if the stewardess asks if I’d like the “G-ken with Podaydo” after she announces that the “sit beowt sigh has bin tendorf”. The service is fantastic and I think, in the last couple of years, even improved to the extent that I’d say it’s the first airline I’d consider flying anywhere, as soon as I figure out what’s wrong with their website.