Never let ‘em see you sweat

Posted in Travel at 16:45 by RjZ

The key is to be very calm. It’s not like it’s working, but I think even when sweat is pouring down your neck and dripping off your nose, you don’t smell as bad when you’re not stressed. That’s my secret when I come to sub-tropical and tropical climates. Admittedly, business travel is different than personal travel. On the one hand, there’s plenty of access to approximately air-conditioned taxis and comfortable air-conditioned rooms like the one I am writing this from in Shanghai, but there’s also considerably more luggage to drag around, what with you, suits and ties to wear, laptop etc.; no easy accomplishment for the cool-climate acclimated.

And being calm is different too. On personal travel, mistakes cost money right out of your pocket. I am far from one who spends company money without thinking, but companies I’ve worked for have always agreed that getting to appointments on time and without looking like you’ve been put through the wringer is part of the cost of the trip. Just like internet in hotel rooms and rooms with locks nice enough to leave your computer inside. None of these is typical for a personal trip. The result, especially for a business trip, is that even if you make a mistake, keep calm about it and work out a solution, or the sweat will start pouring even faster.

Maglev train, Shanghai, China

Yesterday my mistake was a pretty small one. I passed by the ATMs and money exchangers near baggage claim in Shanghai figuring I’d see plenty more later. I kept walking, hoping to see one before I took the Maglev train, where I paid with a credit card. After boarding the train, we arrived in Shanghai in only 6 minutes after traveling on an incredibly smooth and fast magnetic levitation demonstration train that travels at 300 km/h (188 mph) in off hours and even faster 430 km/h (269 mph) during busy times. I wandered around the station, dragging my luggage figuring there would have to be an ATM there somewhere, and trying not to sweat.

It’s a cool day in Shanghai, probably not more than 30 °C (86°F) but the extremely high humidity coaxes my pores to open up like spigots. Fortunately, I was able to take my time and find a money machine after a little while. I made my way back to the taxis (hey, this is business), already soaking like wet towel and the cab was, at least a little, air conditioned. The hotel lobby was steamy, but the room was cool, once the AC kicked in, I began to dry off.

This morning looks to be more of the same. I opened up the window and at 6 am (yup, jetlagged) it’s already a sauna out there. I’ll likely walk to the train station and travel around the bay to the equally hot Ningbo. Tonight I meet with some colleagues and clients. I clearly can’t avoid sweating…my goal is just not to stink so much!

1 Comment »

  1. Traveling Hypothesis » China Travelogue-2: By taxi, bus, plane, bus and taxi. said,

    November 10, 2009 at 13:40

    [...] too late for the Maglev train into town, but the trusty Lonely Planet says there’s a city bus. The Maglev is an experimental [...]

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