Andy's CIIE 2020 vlog #2: Million-dollar camper truck and world's spiciest noodles
It turned into a spicy day on Friday after checking out some of the world’s latest cars and trucks got me a bit hungry. My snack of choice would lead to tears, and some regrets.
The day started off innocently enough at the automobile hall, which is filled with some of the newest and hottest cars, bikes, buses, campervans and trucks in the world, all here in Shanghai in a bid to capture the lucrative Chinese market.
All of the world’s famous brands are here, including BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota and Tesla, as well as many lesser-known brands hoping for their big breaks.
Every year, the automobile hall is among the most popular, mostly with people looking to catch a glimpse of what will come out next year, whether they’re in the market for a new set of wheels or not.
And for me, well, I’m solidly in the latter camp. Apart from Shanghai having an amazing public transport network, coupled with the fact that I live close enough to work to walk every day, I just don’t have the money — or the need — to buy my own car. Have you seen how much it costs just for a license plate?
So my time in the automobile hall was really just a chance to dream a little. I started small, taking a seat on one of Honda’s new motorbikes — probably a bit closer to my (non-existent) budget than many of the other vehicles in the hall. In fact, it reminded me a lot of my first car: a 1999 Honda Civic. Ah, those were the days.
I decided to go a little bigger, checking out the new Mini Cooper which, despite its name, is rather roomy inside, even for my 190cm frame. The Cooper retains its classic, retro style, but this year they’re bringing out an updated model featuring new colors and reshaped headlights and brakes.
Next stop was Toyota with their new AI transporter which can take passengers — or goods — from point A to point B, or even to point Z with multiple stops in between, all without a driver. I guess we can call it a minibus, but it really depends what you want to use it for. In particular, Toyota has made sure this vehicle is friendly to those with physical disabilities. It is rather low to the ground and can extend a small ramp, all using AI, if it notices someone with a wheelchair approaching. That’s neat!
The last stop was probably the vehicle I’d love to buy the most, if I had endless money at time. It is the mammoth Mercedes Acros, an eight-wheel camper — camper truck that looks more at home as an army transport vehicle or monster home on wheels. It can not only drive on all normal roads, but is also an off-roader and can even cross rivers.
Inside is no less impressive, with two double beds, a large lounge with big-screen TV, a kitchen with an oven and all the required pots and pans, a Siemen’s coffee machine, full bathroom with shower and full-sized toilet, and more.
I asked the big boss what one of these beasts would set me back. The answer was no shock: at least US$1.5 million. So what kind of customer would buy one of these? “People with lots of money,” he laughed. Touché.
All that driving and dreaming got me hungry, so we decided to head to the food hall for a quick bite. My eyes fell on South Korea’s Spicy Chicken ramen noodles, famous for their hot, hot, hot flavor. But their new product, three times spicier than their regular hottest — and even hotter than the hottest Chongqing hotpot — sounded even more tempting.
They cooked me up a fresh batch and were giggling when they handed the bowl to me. I should have known!
The first mouthful was okay, but the aftertaste caught up super-fast, and soon my eyes were watering and my mouth was red hot. The lovely girls from the PR team reminded me of the new national policy that looks harshly on food waste and suggested I finish every last bite.
And that I did. If I don’t film a vlog tomorrow, you know where I am.