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Shanghai Scores Another First

Long time readers of TalkLeft know that Shanghai is one of our favorite cities. It's one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. They build things with an eye towards what they will need ten years in the future. A lot of completed projects are half empty--intentionally. They know they will grow into them. We blogged from Shanghai on one of our trips there, in late November, 2002. Here's a description of what we found so appealing.

China may be the most service-people friendly country we've ever been in. From the airport pickup which consists of a driver and a hotel staff person waiting at baggage claim to drive us to the hotel in a brand new Audi, to the reception people who showed us three rooms at check-in and gave us our choice, to the staff at the executive lounge who provide three meals a day and cocktails gratis along with big screen tv's tuned to CNN and every important newspaper and magazine we can think of, to the three 20-something year olds who just spent an hour in our room at 10 at night because the hotel's broadband server went down and they wanted to make sure we knew how to get dialup access in the interim--even though they don't speak English and we can't speak a word of Chinese--we are duly impressed.

Shanghai is rolling out every stop to get the 2010 World Expo--the papers here report that all the citizens, from the elderly to the working class to the college kids are in favor of it. It truly is a city of the future and wants badly to compete in every sense with New York, London and Hong Kong. In our book it already does. Business and the economy here are robust and China tends to build things with an eye towards what will be needed ten years from now. The streets are safe and so is the drinking water--parks are filled in the early morning with people doing T'ai Chi--the art museum is world class, Placido Domingo played here last night with two other famous tenors...we're even more impressed with Shanghai than we were last year on our first trip.

By coincidence, we were there for World Aid's Day, and again, were duly impressed.

The New York Times reports Shanghai has just pulled off another coup: Shanghai's Magic Levitation Train.

On Shanghai's magnetic levitation train, the world's first in commercial service, it takes just eight minutes to get to the airport in a burst of speed that transforms the outside world into a blur of streaking geometric abstractions. Faster-than-a-bullet-train technology is a marvel to be sure, the man's cry seemed to say, but in an eight-minute train ride to the airport there is no time to read, or scarcely even time to think.

A gaggle of international passengers speaking English, Italian, Chinese and Japanese was awestruck. "It's so quiet," said one. "It's so clean," said another. "The engineering is amazing," said one man in a German accent .

From the Shanghai website:

Shanghai, the largest city in China, attracts people at home and abroad like a magnet. People come here for its culture, its history, its people and all the vigor and vitality it shows in its rush to international metropolis status. Like a pearl set in the west coast of the Pacific Ocean, Shanghai is the showcase of China's fast growth and a bonanza of tourist attractions, business opportunities and cultural activities..."

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