Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Korea: Kimchi and Fashionable Toilets

Last week was the first time I have had the opportunity to go to South Korea, the Land of the Morning Calm. ;) Not for some touristy stuff mind you but more for a business trip with my company's client, HHI in the southern port city of Ulsan. Going there was not without some nerve rattling experiences as I was informed by the ticketing counter and the Malaysian immigration department that my passport was close to expire (still 4 months left) and that there might be a possibility that I could be denied entry on arrival in Seoul later on. :p And so, with the very conscious thought that I might have to cut my trip short dramatically to the chagrin of my bosses, the GM and my department manager, I calmly walked up to this lady at the immigration counter in Seoul to have my passport stamped after a rather uneventful 6 hour flight. To my relieve, she approved my entry without much hassle and I was off to the connecting flight for Ulsan. The first day of our business trip there was spent mostly at the hotel and some restaurants as we got acquainted with our agents there before the meeting the next day. Here is where the kim chi parade begins, all the way to the last day of our trip! ;) For lunch we had this soupy chicken with rice combination while for dinner we had bamboo crabs and some raw 'sushi' like stuff. ;)
Korean Chicken with Rice in Soup (thingy) ;)
Bamboo Crabs
After that is to the hotels as we prepare for the next day meeting. The hotel we stayed in Korea is unexpected ill equipped despite it's plush outlook. For one, they do not supply you with shampoos, toothbrush or even a toothpaste! But one thing I can really make certain off: is that my 'nether' regions will always be super clean thanks to their fully automatic toilets! This really hits the spot (literally)! ;)
Magic Toilet. Never felt sooooo clean! ;)
Day 2 and 3 were spent mostly at the HHI offices, discussing project stuff with the client and their client. The meetings dragged on well into the night so there is practically no time to do any sight-seeing. But of course, we had to eat, so the only places I can relate to in Korea are the foodstores. ;) For the second day, we had some beef rib soup, what the Koreans call 'Kal Vil Tang'. It's meat is tender and juicy. Very good. ;)
'Kal Vil Tang' or literally translated as Beef Rib Soup... Mmmmm
What is Korean cuisine without Bulgogi?
At night we went to Ulsan downtown to have some Korean BBQ. On the 3rd day, we had standard HHI canteen food for lunch, finishing the day with some Korean Chinese cuisine after being driven again for meeting till 8pm.
Dinner at the Korean Chinese Restaurant
As the supermarkets in Korea close at around 8:30pm-9:00pm, that meant there was NO CHANCE to go shopping. Friday is was an early morning for me, struggling to wake up to catch the 6:55am flight out from Ulsan to Seoul.
Waiting for the airport express rail link
My lady boss had wanted to take the opportunity to visit Seoul little knowing that we would walking into a quagmire! :p Apparently that was exactly the same day the Koreans were mourning their recently deceased Ex-President Roh Moo Hyun.
Funeral of President Roh Moo Hyun
Arriving at the epicenter of the event near the Seoul City Hall, we were immediately mobbed by a sea of people. My boss eventually got frustrated with it all and ordered us to head back to the airport. After marching down a few blocks, we stopped at one roadside shop for lunch. The shopkeeper couldn't speak English so we had to resort to pointing and other hand signals to order. I ended up having this chicken steak thing with rice for lunch.
Chicken Cutlet with Rice
Heading out, we took a taxi back to the Incheon International Airport. There, we separated as I went off to do some much needed last minute shopping, gathering souveniers and stuff. Finally, reaching Malaysia at close to 10:00pm, it was one quiet taxi ride back, as I took a deep breath to calm my hectic nerves after this one harrowing and very stressful trip! Phew! :p Sadly, there'll be another two weeks from now... better have my Prozac ready... :p
Believe me, this smile is under duress! :p

Korean Cultural Show... even it's music couldn't soothe the nerves!

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