I have heard from more than 1 person that east Asia (China, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong etc) is almost like stepping into the future.
Some technologies they have like bullet trains that go 200mph and 100Mbps broadband I already know about. What else do you see in these cultures that would make a person from a rural part of the US take notice and be impressed?
The subway in Singapore won’t let you get off at the wrong stop.
When you put your fare into the machine it spits out a (reusable) card, you only pay as far as your destination, and you put the card back into the system to exit at your destination. So, if you’re at the wrong station, you can’t exit, so you get back on the train, and find the right stop.
That only happens if you buy point-to-point tickets. Most people buy a stored value card and it just subtracts the correct amount based on the start/end stations. You also can’t fall into the tracks as there is a glass wall there with doors that align with the train doors… just like in Hong Kong, Dubai and other “advanced” transport systems.
Outside the big cities you would not be impressed at all, especially in China. Away from the large metropolises along the east coast, China is very much a poor, rural country.
I’ve also traveled to rural areas in Japan and Taiwan and while these areas are not nearly as poor as the mainland Chinese countryside, they are not modern in any sense of the word.
Singapore and Hong Kong (until recently) are city-states, so when one travels there the modern urban area seems to take up much of the whole country, but you can still find semi rural areas where modern life has not quite reached, especially in what was once called the New Territories in Hong Kong.
In the Central Business District in Singapore buses have an ETA and their time to arrival is shown. You can also send a SMS to a certain number and get back when is a particular bus arriving for the bus stop you are at.
Other than that, I don’t think Singapore is anyway necessary more high tech.
The Octopus card in Hong Kong is also like that. I’ve only spent a few days there, but in that time I came to the conclusion that such a card is the best thing since sliced bread. (which you can buy with it!)
Tokyo’s Suica card (for the JR trains) is similar; most corner stores have a device to let you pay with it. The thing that irritated me is that the cards expired after a while if you didn’t use them. Every time I went back more than 30 days after I’d left, my Suica card wouldn’t work any more. I think that’s changed now, though. I’ll find out in January, I suppose.
The T-money cards, you have to prepay. I think you can link them to a bank account but I’m not sure.
It also is possible to get a credit/debit cards that includes the T-money function. The only annoying part is, is that if you use them in a taxi you have to wait for the thing to spit out a receipt (whereas a T-money card, you just hold it against the thing until it beeps and you’re done).
Korea also seems to come out with new cell phones every month, rendering the previous models obsolete in a heartbeat. The latest one is a sliding phone that has a see-through number pad.
At least in Taipei, I think the “EasyCard” can be described as a form of stored value card; in the US, at least, the closest analogy would be one of those prepaid mall gift cards. There’s no connection to one’s bank account, and indeed nothing to identify the purchaser or holder at all. You just hold it against the reader installed on the subway turnstile, bus or taxi and it automatically deducts the correct amount. Once you use up whatever you initially paid into it, you can place it on a machine and fill it up with more money.