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Malaysia Journal

Leaving, a short trip in Korea.

Things aren't all that bad, it's good to be heading home, after going to Korea for a rather pointless 2 hour meeting. It seems like our guys our there are missing something. And the reluctance to schedule a conference call and waste a week of my time, doesn't make me too happy. I've concluded that it's not a cultural thing. My company is just lame. Then again not too many people at my company seem to willing to undersand the nuances of my job. So I guess I'm simply using this stuff it while I can.

Korea wasn't too bad this time. I ended up staying in a place calld Bundang, about 30 minutes south of Seoul. No it wasn't as glitzy and glamourous as being in Gangnam, but was adequate. Except for on the last day instead of going out for a nice korean bbq, I ended up at a Bennigans. Oh well, I guess I can find better Korean BBQ while visiting my parents in LA. Flying in on the 14th which was my birthday, I thought was going to be the most depressing letdown. Part of me thought I should have just scheduled the meeting for that afternoon, and then left the next day, doing the 1 day trip again into Korea. But I thought I'd stick around, and even through I didn't have a camera this time, I just wandered through the suburb. There was a Big department store above the subway station (named of all things Samsung Shopping Plaza) and in what's becoming a popular style, the store had a pretty upscale supermarket. I wandered a bit through this supermarket just looking in awe at the variety of Korean foodstuffs availible, from the prepared noodles, the banchan, the various tidbits in the deli, the seafood aisle, and the butcher shop. There were samples so I tasted quite a bit, even though I didn't understand anything people were saying.

Flying still sucks. It seems like the Korean security people have learned a thing or two from the Americans on how to annoy passengers. Malaysia seemed fine, and going through security was fine in Singapore. Only on my last leg did someone protest that my carry on was too heavy at 15 kilos (apparently that's fine for the airlines, but for the screeners in Incheon airport it's too much) so after bitching about it, and realizing it was useless, I went back to the counter and checked in the bag. The agent apologized and said they were inconsistant, and she could never tell what they were going to reject. I guess it wasn't my day, so after checking in my rollaway, I ask about the skateboard. She says she thinks it's okay. I go back and they decide to complain about my skateboard. I'm really annoyed right now, because the agent said it was okay, and the first screener, let the skateboard through, only after going through the metal detector did they complain. So I went back to the agent for Asiana airlines, and she shrugged, and helped me wrap the skateboard. What's annoying isn't the fact that they don't allow those thing, it's just that there's no consistancy to the policies.

The people in front of me are a white couple who I think adopted a Korean son, who's 8 months old. I ask them what the boy's name is, it's a Korean name, then I ask them if they plan to give them him an English name as well. They're naming him Michael. Go figure... I thought that practice foreign adoptions of Korean infants ended a while ago, and the adopted baby trade had shifted to China and Southeast Asia.

So I get through immigration and am sitting in the lounge. I'm annoyed, so I sit down and grab a couple of glasses of wine, and end up talking to a guy who claims to be a pilot, who moved to the US from the former Yugoslavia, who lives in LA but spends most of his time in Korea. Somthing's not adding up, but I listen anyways. And then realized that it's 4:20 and the flight started boarding 20 minutes ago, and was supposted to depart at this time. Luckily the gate is close and they haven't closed the door. I get on. I've got the last row in the plane.

Asiana Airlines just doesn't seem to be as polite as Singapore airlines. Nor do they seem to have the fun personality that some of the American flight attendants do.

In terms of skill, I don't think the flight attendants were that great, they were young and pretty, but not all that friendly.

For example. The flight attendnt had no idea what my GPS was when I was looking out the window with it, she simply said "no phones, please." Now I know the flight attendant spoke enough English to ask about it, and I tried to explain what it was, but as soon as I asked her a question back, she dissapeared and got a male pursor to say I couldn't use it. I know there's no rule against it, simply that it's another electronic device, like a walkman, a gameboy, or a computer. I didn't feel like arguing. As I think I'm really missing something culturally here, there's a strict adherance to rules, so much that they're completely lost when things don't fit to what they've been previously told. No ablility for them to judge for themselves what the intent of the device was. Since the other flight personal on other airlines have asked about it, and either understood it, or simply asked the right questions.

So to conclude, like most things Korean. It's quality, and effective and it works, but for some reason instead of catering to an international standards, it's catering for a Korean taste.

October 16, 2004