Si vs. Sh vs. SF

International travel is eye opening. This time around my trip got me thinking about commonalities and differences among Singapore, Shanghai, and the US.


People staring into their phones, oblivious to the world around them. It makes me kind a little sad to see it.

Bikeshare. Everywhere. It’s a great idea, but will this industry survive?

Gig economy 1: Hailing a ride on your phone. Also a great idea, but will it survive either?

Gig economy 2: Food delivery, by bike, by scooter, and in the US, by car as well. We used this in Singapore, and I use it all the time at work. Definitely a great idea, but unsure of survival here as well.

Contactless payment.

  • Singapore has NETS (NFC, QR). Happily, the NETS terminals accepted my contactless Visa card.
  • Shanghai has AliPay and WeChat Pay (both two-way QR). I love that it can be deployed without special equipment.
  • We have NFC terminals deployed in many places now. (Thanks Apple Pay! Love, me and Google Pay.) My one upgraded contactless credit card is now my go to and I look forward to the day the rest of my cards get an NFC chip as well.



  • Singapore has four official languages, and most people speak more than one. The term “melting pot” comes to mind here.
  • Shanghai operates completely in Mandarin, but if you listen closely you’ll hear a smattering of other dialects. The ability to speak English is a bonus skill.
  • We operate in English, and if you listen closely you’ll hear languages from around the world. I love languages, and think it’s really cool that we have access to so many of them here, but for some reason the language diversity here feels divisive. I suspect this may be a reflection of how I feel about our country right now.

Public transit. It’s cheap and easy to get anywhere in Singapore and Shanghai by metro and bus. In the San Francisco Bay Area, many things require a car. That, and my 1 stop BART ride from the airport upon returning home cost several times more than any the multistop metro rides I took on my trip.

I’m sounding a bit grass is greener whiny here. Shanghai and Singapore have downsides as well.

Okay, here, some balance:


  • Singapore is HOT. Expect anything you’re wearing to get soaked with sweat the moment you walk outside.
  • Shanghai is smoggy. Your lungs will probably hate you if you live there.
  • San Francisco weather is so nice it spoils you. We never get snow, and even when we have a heat wave it’s dry.

San Francisco weather is actually one of the reasons I live here.

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