China Trip Nov 2006: 1

After a long flight I reached Shanghai.  The airport – at least the arrival side and the immigration and the customs, were clean and efficient.  Surprisingly at the time I arrived they were not even crowded.  I was out very quickly after landing.  Considering that Bangalore and Shanghai are considered as two major Asian cities that are rising and represent India and China in growth, I could not stop comparing them and you will see the comparisons many times. Big difference in the first impression from Bangalore.  They are quite extremes – Shanghai is not Singapore but is better than many cities that have been to in all parts of World.

Lei Yao was waiting with a sign outside the customs and I had no difficulty finding her.  I was in 2 minutes in the car that was taking me to Hangzhou.  What a difference and contrast from Bangalore!  Everything was organized and orderly.  Lei is a graduate student who was sent to receive me.  She wants to go to US for PhD.  She has already analyzed UCI program and wants advise.  She had studied my blog and asked about Osito.

The traffic was orderly, roads impressive.  It feels as if you are in one of the better Eurpean or American cities.  Hangzhou is about 2.5 hours.  Everything went smoothly except an interesting incidence.  Our driver was caught speeding and was not allowed to drive on entering Hangzhou.  They had spotted him on freeway, but stopped only on entering the city.  I could not understand exact reasons.  I was put in another Taxi to get to the Hotel – HNA Resort.

All roads and the city looked very ordwerly and impressive.  I was surprised how clean is Hangzhou.  This is very different from Indian cities.  I arrived at at the hotel at 9 PM.  Hotel restaurants were closed and since I was hungry, I was taken to McDonalds by two grad students.  In Bangalore I could arrive any time and get food and get it fast if needed.  Here I had to go away from the hotel and the only options at that ‘late’ hour were McDonalds or equivalent.  The Chicken sandwich that I always order when forced to go to McDonalds was very oily and quite different from other countries.  Not good.

When I came back to hotel I found that my internet connectivity is not there.  After struggling thru operators – they usually don’t know English – I found one to come to my room.  Was told that I will have to wait till next morning.  Again both things were surprising to me.  I went to the conference registration and checked my mail.  All organizers were there.  Very nice.  Uong Rui, who is with Microsoft and invited me to be here, promised that either my connectivity will be fixed by morning or I will be moved to another room.

That was my first evening in this part of China.  Clearly this place is progressing very fast but in services due to language and the system they are not as customer oriented as one expects.  But in efficiency, cleanliness, and prosperity they are definitely progressing rapidly. 

Now I have to prepare my Keynote talk on ‘Events in Multimedia’.

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