The Shanghai Collective: Restoration

This morning, I woke up to the noise of my iPhone alarm at 8 in the morning still reeking of alcohol from last night, and still in my red checked Calvin Klein Jeans shirt and Volta berms (I was dead tired, okay!). I got up in a matter-of-fact, without a fuss manner even though I was actually awfully dreading my trip back. I know almost every time I go on holiday, at the end of it, I’d almost always regret returning but so many people, even my hostel roomies tell me that I shouldn’t see it as a negative – the fact that I’m already missing the destination means that it had been a good one. It may have looked like I was an ousted contestant of some reality show, complete with the towing of the luggage but it wasn’t. I walked out of the room, down the hallway, towards the concierge to check out, and down the alley to the subway station – feeling nothing but satisfaction, appreciation and thankful to the city and its people who have offered me so, so, so much. Granted, I haven’t seen all I wanted of Shanghai but there was still one last thing to see/experience, at least for me – the Shanghai Maglev and Pudong Airport.

Something I didn’t expect when I selected my flight schedules was that in order to catch my departing flight, I had landed myself into the morning peak rush hour on the Metro – something I had taken great care to avoid whilst my stay here. Well, one more plus point, since I’ve always wanted to experience¬† the morning peak rush hour on the Shanghai Metro! Consistently, one thing I’ve come to realize is that people really do make a difference to make life a lot better. It’s hard to believe but it’s the small things that make a difference, and many small things add up. From simple things in the Metro like letting passengers alight first, moving into the centre of the carriage without being told, giving way, et cetera, it really adds up – makes commuting a lot more pleasant despite the more intense squeeze compared to Singapore’s.

What?

Shanghai’s citizens are much more civil than Singapore’s?

Well, yes, mostly.

Hard to believe? I guess that people really don’t have a good perception of China and its citizens. People who ask me how’s my trip are skeptical when I rave about the civility and kindness I’ve been greeted with, and are quick to remind me that “in general”, there are still evil people. Seriously? China’s middle class population is currently 300 million – the ENTIRE population of the United States, some of which are in Shanghai, I just tell it as it is.

I wish I could tell you that riding the maglev was a very momentuous affair but unfortunately, it isn’t. Even though the maglev takes eight minutes to complete its journey and dwells at either station for a maximum of two, the wait at the station is surprisingly long. Then after what seems like an eternity, the moaning sound of a vacuum cleaner powers down and the maglev sails into its platform. Board and before long, it floats out of the station and soon, it feels like being in a widebody commercial aircraft virtually on take-off for eight minutes but never actually getting off the ground. Then, then… Damn, we’ve reached and there’s a feeling of “what the fuck did just happen?” in the air. Having said that, it’s definitely one of the things you MUST try before you die. The feeling of being on the fastest commercial land transportation mode is quite the thrill. In my mind, it was exciting: just a few days ago, I traveled faster than high-speed rail passengers in Europe, Japan, Taiwan and Korea… Today, I’m traveling faster than ANY conventional steel rail train in the world. “This is actually very cool”, I thought to myself.

During the entire trip, whenever I wasn’t doing anything, my mind drifted to two guys – Andy and Jeremy – the ratio of affection’s probably closer to 80-20 actually. The “Andy” part is perfectly understandable, but the “Jeremy” component? I just don’t know why he floated into my thoughts. You’re probably wondering why Andy actually… Well, I really love Andy because I do, I just do! They say Aquarius don’t fall in love easily, and it’s true – it takes a very special person, and Andy is that person. Now, I’ve no idea whether he has any clue what he’s done for me, but he reignited the spark in me – showed me that I could actually love again. I had never felt like this for someone ever since my second relationship. With my third, I was more in love with the fact that I was attached and I was getting sexual contact rather than with the actual person. Andy, I love him for his flaws, his beauty, and all that he is. I hate that I screwed it up… It’s a guilt that I still carry, and I’m not too sure what came over me, but during my Shanghai-Pudong to Hong Kong, the waterworks were completely uncontrollable, like a dam bursting, it just flooded my entire face. It might not seem like a long time, but I bawled for what seemed like an eternity… thanks to the sudden temporary closure of the Hong Kong-Shanghai route airspace for 20 minutes. On the second leg, my tear ducts had nothing to release.

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