Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thoughts from Far East.

I am posting this column from Shiheung City, South Korea. This week blog almost didn't happen as the scrips on home page by default goes Korean. So Clicked by practice the link and the new post link opened up. Looks like practice, practice, practice as they say.
I reached here Thursday on a week trip. The land of Morning Calm looks calm in a sense as we go out of Seoul. Yes, I had heard a lot about Seoul traffic jams and we did get stuck in to one Saturday. The 60 Km journey took 5 Hours.

My colleague SH Kim from Honeywell Korea, set aside his personal situation to take me to the Korean folk village at Yongin city which is about 80 Kms from here. Any foreigner visiting Korea must visit this place to understand the Korean value, culture, belief and tradition. The 4 Hrs I spent gave me a lot insight in to Korean life. I could also see lot of similarities as seen across Asian culture. Some of the practices and customs (Like grand celebrations of one's 60th Birthday) was similar to the Indian traditions. It was time well spent. The food court is worth spending time. The folk dance was amazing. It was thrilling experience to watch the Korean wedding ceremony. I will post the pictures next week once I am back home.
I also did some shopping in the Insadong shopping area for Korean Souviniers, It is worth spending time to see Korean art. Of course, overall the cost seems at least 40% expensive for everything I purchased. Looks like Korean Won is a strong currency and Korea purchase power parity seems High and not favorable to tourists.

My wife was insisting that I pack some food item from home for this trip as the general belief is that vegetarians have problem in this part of the world.(More so with my additional special needs). I must admit this week in both Shanghai and so far here, I have not faced any problem. In fact, I had one of the best barley drink here in Seoul. I fully believe that as long as you are able to communicate what you want, you would get something. Yes, the tongue should coordinate with mind. Communication is the key to a full stomach.

Moving from food, I had the great experience in Shanghai traveling on the MAGLEV train to Shanghai airport.The train reached max speed of 431 Km/hr. It was an amazing experience. Try that out. Yes,be warned that when you take the MAGLEV from the airport and then take taxi to the Hotel etc. Be ready to see and insist with the driver to down the TAXI meter as soon as you board in. You may be ripped off, if that doesn't happen. Also insist for print receipt.
I was also impressed with Dragon Air which I flew from Bangalore to Shanghai.

The service was good. Coffee the best in a long time in a flight. The flight from Bangalore was delayed and I missed the connecting flight, but the customers service personnel were waiting with Alternate boarding pass.

Further on travel Marshall Goldsmith has posted an interesting forum on Business travel tips in HBR. As he mentions, I always change the watch to the new time zone and makes sure I think everything in that time zone. It is tuff but you would get used to it if you practice.

It was amazing to read and watch the followup interviews on the rescue of Ingrid Betancourt. What an effort by the rescue team and what an ordeal She has undergone??. Larry King Handled that well. Bravo.
Till next week, take it easy and take care; Live Conciously.
Regards
Karthik.
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