We’re down in Shanghai for a few days as my DH has some business to attend to, and I thought I’d tag along, get out of the Beijing air, and have a mini-break. It has been great, the weather is absolutely gorgeous, perfect temperature, sunshine and clear blue skies.
Our hotel is right on the fabled Bund, and at night looking across the river at the glittering lights of the skyscrapers of Pudong the view is quite magical.
On my bedside table there is a little flat touch-screen thingy (excuse the technical description) not unlike a small iPad, which has various options so we can control the environment. There is an app for controlling the air-con, an app for controlling the curtains (both heavy drapes and sheers), an app for controlling all the lighting.
In the middle of the first night I woke up and wanted to go to the bathroom; groping around I pressed what I thought would switch on my bedside light, but found that I’d touched the wrong icon and the curtains had swished open to expose Shanghai in all its flashing neon glory. And it turned out that I needn’t have bothered – because when all lights are off, there is some little gadget that detects when you put your feet down on the floor and a dim light path appears along the wall skirting so you can see your way to the bathroom, closet or bedroom door!
When you do make it into the bathroom – which is large enough to swing umpteen cats, and clad in enough marble to refurbish the Parthenon – you are in for even more hi-tech surprises.
First is the loo itself, set to one side with its own frosted glass door, the lid swings open automatically the moment you open the door. The loo seat is heated … hmm, not too sure I like that – after all we are hardly up in the Arctic circle. Then neatly fixed on the wall to the left is a little metal bar with an array of buttons to be pressed.
The top row of seven buttons reads: FLUSH, Oscillating, Pulsating, DRYER and then three buttons showing different positions for the lid and seat.
The next row of six buttons reads: STOP, REAR CLEANSING, REAR CLEANSING Soft, FRONT CLEANSING, PRESSURE +/-, POSITION +/-
You practically need a tutorial in how to use the damn thing – believe me there is nothing more shocking than being half-asleep, fumbling for the loo paper, mistakenly touching the control panel at which point a jet of cool air is aimed straight at your unsuspecting nether regions. This whole bag of tricks is apparently old hat in Japan, and my DD said she had experienced it in Tokyo ten years ago – indeed the system in our hotel was made by Toto, a Japanese company which is the world’s largest toilet manufacturer.
The final hi-tech touch was revealed when I was cleaning my teeth – suddenly in the middle of the enormous bathroom mirror the BBC World News appeared….WTF?
My DH had found a small remote control gadget beside the bath, and when he pressed the buttons, the centre of the mirror immediately became a flat-screen TV with 23 accessible channels. In the bathroom. Whatever next.