[philiptellis] Walking the world in search of interestingness

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Updates from Seoul

Sunday - May 2, 2004

Flight was good. Friend of mine from VJTI was on the same flight on his way to San Francisco. Landed about 5 minutes late, which was okay. Stood in the wrong line for about 5 mins before someone told me that i had to go straight to immigration. Finished with immigration - wanted to take some photos there, but couldn't think of anything to shoot.

Then i went to collect my baggage, but i was too late, so did not see my flight number on any of the belts. Asked someone, and he told me that it was on belt 6, but since the baggage had already been removed, my suitcase would be on the floor in front of the belt. I found it there along with 4 other bags.

Walked around the airport looking for the limousine ticket counter. Found two cops who only spoke Korean, but somehow managed to get directions from them. Got my ticket - 12000 Won. I had already changed a few dollars @ 1130 Won, but I'll need more now - to pay the hotel and all.

Limousine was good, and i think i should have taken photos along the way, but the roll in the camera is the 100 speed one, which is not suitable for moving targets. Will try and finish this roll soon, but it's raining today, so conditions are bad.

The hotel is one building away from the bus terminal, so i just walked it. Had to check in on the 5th floor. My room is on the 7th.

The room is nice. It's a studio apt, with attached bathroom, and kitchen. Also has a TV and DVD player, a wardrobe, a washing machine and iron/ironing board, so i shouldn't need to pay for housekeeping.

After I'd checked in, settled in, and watched Ice Age - the second half of it, I went out. The sun was still up till past 7:30. I went looking around for dinner, since i was starving by then.

There's a mall under the hotel - actually i think it goes on all around the block. The world trade centre is next to my hotel, and the mall is below it. I need to take pictures of that place - it is huge and glass.

I found quite a few food places down there. Most of them have everything except the prices written in Korean. I learnt an important lesson - no use being able to read a language if you can't understand what the words mean.

Luckily, most restaurants have samples of all dishes or pictures put up for you to pick from. I had some spicy seafood thing. I'm not sure though that that was representative of spicy food here, or else, Korean food isn't very spicy.

The dish was a mistake simply because i have never figured out how to eat crab with either a spoon or chopsticks. At least not while it's still in the shell. I decided to go desi and eat with my hands. Was the only person around doing that, and the last to finish eating.

It was closing time before i finished, so i sped up, returned the dishes, and said Kamsahamnida to the lady. She offered me Mul (water) and said Annyeonghi geseyo.

I then walked around a bit in the mall, which was closing down slowly. They have the biggest book store in Asia right there, and it just went on and on. All books in Korean though.

Finally, got out of the mall, and found my way to the glass tower, where I was supposed to go Monday morning.

Returned to the hotel and went to sleep.

Monday - May 3, 2004

Woke up at 9 and was in the office at 9:45 today. Had the meeting in the afternoon when the rest of the team had arrived.

I'd lost the password for the laptop (well, actually the problem is that the Ctrl and Caps lock keys were interchanged). Called up Yathin at 11:30 (8am Bangalore time) and got the password from him, along with other laptop info.

11:30 is also lunch time here, so we went out then. Went to a French place called marché. It's supposed to be an international line. They have Italian, and Korean and Japanese food there. And all the french stuff as well - salads and breads and all. I had some prawn rice. The other guys had spaghetti, and some Japanese soup.

Everything is automatic here. It took me a while to figure out how to flush the toilet - my method was to use the 'manual override' found behind the toilet seat - I suppose most Koreans would use one of the buttons on the right. Oh, whatever. Some of the doors still require to be pushed/pulled.

My card key for my room also tells the elevator which floor to go to.

That evening we had dinner at 6:30pm. We had boiled pork and kimchi, and assorted vegetables and sauces. I took a few pictures.

Finished off at the office at 8, and went strolling through the mall. Looked at some of the clothes stuff, and they have nice outfits, but a little expensive. Not going to buy too much.

Tuesday - May 5, 2004

Today we had some kind of chicken curry with ttokkapi. It was very nice. I think I'm improving with the chopsticks. They have stainless steel ones that are really thin and hard to grip, but I'm getting the hang of it. Today I was able to pull pieces of the chicken out of it.

For breakfast I had fried noodles at another food court. None of the guys at the shop spoke English, and the guy at the counter needed to tell me something. Finally he picked up the clock and pointed to the time indicating when it would be ready.

In the meantime he gave me a coke. I walked around and took some pictures in the bright sunlight. Today is a nice day.

After lunch we went around the mall checking out all the hardware. Then got back to the office and had a long meeting that got over a little while ago.

Tomorrow is a holiday because of children's day. Will be going sightseeing. There's also a river nearby and they have a cruise. I might go for that sometime.

For dinner we had boiled ribs with different kinds of mushrooms and the usual assortment of vegetables and kimchi. It's quite an expensive dish. I'll get all the Korean names later. I can read the names, but cannot remember them. Need to learn to remember what the letters look like.