Friday, April 30, 2010

Tsim Sha Tsui Hong Kong

10PM and tons of people... Headed back to hotel to cheesy fabulous lounge
in hotel at Sha Tin... Having Mai Tais and singing the Carpenters and Billy
Joel with my coworkers...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sha Tin, Hong Kong

In the New Territories, which is about 30 minutes from downtown Hong Kong. This seems very suburban (albeit with gorgeous water/mountain views), kinda like how Schaumburg is to Chicago. It feels far away... but there is a train station literally next to the hotel and apparently runs every 3 minutes.

The Hyatt is only a year old, looks great (and has a deadly bakery inside). Will do some exploring later...

Saturday, April 24, 2010


What a great day in Seoul. Brunch at the Park Hyatt, then a long subway ride to Namdaenung Market to shop, have stall food and enjoy the nice sunshine. My last night in Seoul. I am sad to leave but excited to see Andrew a week from now in Bali!! Tomorrow... Korean Back Scrub, then a quick flight to Hong Kong!

Friday, April 23, 2010


What an interesting day. I got a chance to hear Michael Breen, a foremost authority on North Korean affairs, address our group of 30 people about leadership. He talked about the differences between the two Koreas and about how individuals need to make choices in leadership - look at the stark contrasts between the decisions made in the North vs South.

Regardless, the opportunity to meet and discuss North Korean affairs in Seoul with one of the foremost authorities was fascinating. He has actually met and had dinner with Kim Il-sung (father of current dictator Kim Jong-il). He mentioned the North Koreans are paranoid, brainwashed to a degree and are made completely dependent on the state through poverty.

One story he mentioned was about this North Korean farmer who lived near the Chinese border. While out walking he got lost and ended up knocking on a door of a nearby farm, not realizing he was in China. When the people answered, as he asked for directions he could see the dog eating rice. He was dumbfounded why someone would feed a dog rice when it is such a rare commodity in North Korea.

Another anecdote was that the people haven't been told that people have landed on the moon, because it would appear pro-American.

I asked if Kim Jong-il was rational: would he press the button? The answer was yes, but he is just strange. Everything is for a specific, well planned reason. For instance, the recent sinking of a South Korean vessel was probably provoked by a North Korean missle. Why? We don't know - why in the world would he do such a thing? Yet there is probably a reason. Maybe it's a show of force to his people becuse there is an imminent transition of power to his son? Maybe it's to distract another internal situation? We don't know. But he wouldn't press the button becuase he would lose what he prizes most: power.

Utterly fascinating. He has an article in today's Korean Times, go here to get it:

Sunday, April 18, 2010


What an AMAZING city. I can't even list the reasons why I love Seoul, but let me start my day.

First, I took a cab across the city to one of the many palaces, Gyeongbokgung. Truly beautiful, and I got there early before the crowds. Just a pleasure to walk around and look in the quiet. They are all walled with temples and residences inside along with gardens and walking areas. Very spacious. Beautiful.

I then walked and got lost in the little hills to the east of the palace. It reminded me of San Francisco or Valparaiso, Chile - skinny roads leading to houses with entry only off walkways, up steep stairs. Crazy. Gorgeous. Modern houses next to traditional Korean houses. Every once in a while you run into a cafe or a boutique. Views were spectacular of the city. Just amazing, fun, surprises around every corner. You could spend a week just exploring the tiny roads. Interspersed were streets of blooming cherry blossoms, brilliantly white under the hazy sun.

Then I went to a Buddhist temple (Jogyesa temple) which was absolutely gorgeous, and as it was Sunday many people were inside for prayers. Outside the temple were 10,000 paper lanterns of 100 colors all lined up hanging from sets of poles. It was so beautiful.

The best part was next... a walk through Insadong. It's billed as "antique row" but really a mix of shops of junk, shops of nick-nacks and shops of very nice cloths and antiques. Tons and tons of people, just fun. Then... I walked into a five-story square building with an open courtyard. You can climb each level which is slanted and just keeps going up, one side overlooking the courtyard, the other shops of nick-nacks and cafes. In the middle was a Rock Band playing AMAZING rock music, and on all the balconys overlooking must have been 5,000 kids. It was SO much fun, it was infectuous. I must have stayed an hour just jamming. The band singer looked up at me at the top floor (he was so high from singing, just JAMMIN) and he pointed at me (of course, I'm the only blond for 1,000 miles) and I pointed back. IT WAS AWESOME.

After ambling further down the street, I made walked for a while and hit a river in the city center in which they lined it with a beautiful walkway on both sides and stones to cross it, and waterfalls. A beautiful way to handle an otherwise boring river, it was really nice. Then, off to Myeong-dong which was a massive shopping area that reminded me of Shinkjuku in Tokyo, just a million people and 16 story department stores. It was awesome to hang with all the Koreans going shoppping.

Ended the day with a Cass beer and caught the Hyatt shuttle back to the hotel to check out the amazing night view. Have to start work at 10:30 tonight.

I must say I started the day with no expectation and absolutely loved it. I was exhausted, my senses overloaded with REAL culture. I've heard from so many people over the years that Seoul is a bore. I counter that argument: they must be a bore to think it. It is a true JOY.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Seoul - First Impressions

The Grand Hyatt is located on a hill atop the city. The late day sun warmed the air as we climbed a the hill, past a US army base and then up the tiny streets of Seoul. Upon arrival, the view is truly spectacular - the city is surrounded by a beautiful river lined with parks and newly blooming cherry blossoms. It feels both calm and alive, and I'm energized to check it out.

Unfortunately, my mobile doesn't work here so I'm going to have to stick with the computer. But unlike China, at least I have access to this blog and facebook!

More impressions after my day's exploration. Then a 5.30pm meeting and setup starts at 11pm.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Last thoughts from Shanghai

An interesting city. Like Berlin it mixes old buildings with stunning
massive new architecture. Buildings along the Bund river evoke thr early
1900s European influence while across the river new Pudong has buildings
that look like alien spacecraft rising that have landed.
Behind the modern Hyatt only 2 minutes walk takes you to a lower
middle-class neighborhood with sidewalk stalls of exotic and typical
fruits, vegetables, nuts and meats. Fish wiggle in buckets waiting for
doomsday... To be grabbed by their owner, gutted with a screwdriver and
sold for someones dinner. Children play badminton in their school
uniforms in the warm full light of dusk as cats curl around faded underwear
boxes in the windows of general shops. Down the street another 5 minutes
feels a bit more seedy. Suddenly more westerners and 3 star hotels.
Strange until I notice the shops of prostitutes among the convenience
stores and mechanic shops. A little sad, a little strange, but very
interesting. A quick left takes me out of that zone and back to clean
modern streets, as if I teleported to another China.

Now I leave Shanghai in the hotel car with my driver and modern freeways to
be whisked to another hotel car and five star hotel, the Grand Hyatt Seoul.
Yet another adventure on this 3 month tour... Longing to be home but
appreciative of my experiences!

For more go to my blog at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Peking Duck in Shanghai

Delicious. Skin is eaten seperately dipped in sugar when hot. Very good!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shanghai stop the Park Hyatt

The 87th floor... I'm truly speechless, awestruck. Incredible hotel,
incredible view.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shanghai at Night

What an astounding view from the Hyatt

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Dragonfruit typical here. Love it! Also pictures of a fun area I went to
for shopping and dinner. Downtown view...

View from my room in Shanghai



First glimpse on the way in... Airport 45 mins from hotel downtown... Mix
of fog and smog.. A long flight boy am I glad to be on the ground!