Saturday, March 17, 2007

London calling


Yet another busy week of travel. On Thursday night, I flew down to Singapore for a meeting on Friday morning. I then flew to Hong Kong on Friday night to spend the weekend with friends and get ready for a week of work in Hong Kong. I was supposed to return to Shanghai Thursday night, but a last minute change in plans sent me to London for a business meeting. I may have to rethink the title of this blog and change it to Half of the Yearofthepigshanghai.blogspot.com.

In all respects, it was a whirlwind trip. I was in London for a total of 9 hours. Flew in on the redeye from Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific at 5 AM. Flew out on British Airways’ 2 PM flight to Shanghai. However, in my brief visit, I had a few experiences that underscored my opinions about Shanghai so far.

- The first thing I did when I got off the plane was go to the ATM and get cash. As I have said many times, China and Asia generally are very much cash-based. However, I never touched the money I took out. The car to the hotel was paid with credit, the hotel and breakfast were covered with a credit card, the limo back to Heathrow was charged to a corporate account. My laptop bag currently has 4 plastic ziplock bags, each containing a different currency – one with RMB, one with Hong Kong dollars, one containing Singapore dollars, and now one with British Pounds. Life would be a lot easier if I could just carry a single piece of plastic.

- It was a gorgeous day in the City. London was recently reported to be the most polluted capital city in Europe. All I saw were blue skies, a few clouds, and crisp clean air. It’s such a change from Shanghai, where I have experienced one clear day in total. I’m heading to Vancouver in 3 weeks. I can’t imagine how clean British Columbia will seem after a few months in China.

- Globalization is an increasingly powerful force in the world. London’s streets are filled with black cabs. Those cabs are now being made in China. The company that manufactured them was purchased by a mainland automobile manufacturer, who now has plans to leverage their lower costs and take the design global.

- Labor is so incredibly cheap in Asia. Upon arrival, I checked in to a hotel downtown to freshen up. I spent a grand total of an hour in the room, for which I paid £265 + VAT. Grand total of $615 for one hour, not including the charge for internet access. For that amount of money, I could have gotten 60 custom shirts made in Shanghai, 75 hours of massage, or 400 hours of maid services.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

with your busy traveling, mom is right that your Shanghai apt. is your Hotel Room, your hotel becomes your temp. residence, you transportation is the taxi or airplane, your kitchen is in the resturants. I guess the only exercise are those walking between airport counter to catch taxis, or from hotal rooms to offices. JC

Katie said...

If you think London is clean your lungs are going to love Vancouver ... even though it's going to be FREEZING!