onto the last leg of my asian biz trip over here. i left hong kong yesterday afternoon and landed in singapore late last nite. the difference was spelled out almost immediately. my driver in hong kong was an efficient, no-nonsense chinese guy who quietly took me where i needed while i played away on bubble breaker in the backseat. the driver in singapore was a jovial indian fellow who interspersed jokes into commentary on the remarkable changes in singapore since my last visit, which involve even more land reclamation, formula-1 races starting soon and the development of a sands casino on the island. the latter of which was loudly decried i'm told until they discovered how unbelieveably lucrative it was. they're still taking pains to discourage singaporeans from gambling away their mortgages, including an education campaign and the requirement that any singaporean must make a deposit (100 bucks) before they can start gambling at the casino each time they play, presumably to make sure they can still pay for a cab home and meals the next day if they lose their shirt. hrm.
the difference b/w singapore and china (and to a much lesser extent HK), can be illustrated by the fact that in china you never have to wait in line to wash your hands at the bathroom and you're pretty lucky if you can find paper towels or a dryer outside of higher-end places. blecch. in singapore, i ran into a sign today next to a well-stocked paper towel dispenser which outlined a 8 step technique for thoroughly cleansing your hands from all germs that i'm fairly certain is based on an advanced tai chi maneuver.
only real final thoughts on HK is that the place is nice enough but it is overrun by bankers and their kin, making it very money-centric and as such a heckuva lot less interesting than other places. it also means people are always on their damn phones! i witnessed people nearly shouting into their cellphones in the elevator, on the train and at every biz meal i had someone either got up and left the meal for 10 minutes for a call or just took it at the table, blabbing away. ugh!!!! there did seem to be a small design culture there and my stay was short but i wasn't disappointed to leave. i will say that hands down HK has the best public transportation i've ever used. dead easy, super efficient and fast.
the final old college pal and roomie i've seen on this trip is jeffrey lam from my freshman year at the university of michigan on rotvig hall of bursely. jeff's married with 2 kids now but has somehow managed to evade the grasping hands of time as he looks exactly the same as before. here's jeff at dinner tonight: