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Sunday, October 10, 2010

*TOKYO TO SEOUL

It's Sunday, so I'll keep this short and entertaining.  The above photo shows my lunch of a musubi (rice ball), kakimochi (rice crackers) and edamame (boiled soy beans), with a Bloody Mary and beer in the United Red Carpet Club.  Only In Tokyo will you get this assortment.  I caught Asiana to Seoul.  I thought it was funny that a Japanese newspaper ran a story where someone mentioned that airline stewardesses once were glamorous, but now look like your mother.  Except a second person remarked, no, closer to my grandmother.  Well, the photo below is what Asiana attendants look like:

Do you think, maybe, they are overstaffed?  Anyway, in the three or four times I've flown Asiana, I have yet to see anyone even middle aged.  Also, a high percentage of them are really tall.

It was only a two hour flight, but they served a Cattier Brut Champagne, Seresin Sauvignon Blanc and a Makgeolli (cloudy korean rice wine) with my bibimbap, which is an assortment of vegetables with minced beef...but cold.  To this bowl, you add hot rice, hot pepper paste and sesame oil. All this comes with kim chi (above) and soup.  I never cared much for it, but Pearl liked this dish, so I tried it and was pleased.

It is not an exaggeration that items in Seoul cost half that of Tokyo, as for example, the airport limousine bus into town.  Taxis in Tokyo, though, cost almost 5 times more.  My hotel room (both Westins) is, yes, half price in Seoul.  I should add that the Westin Chosun is one of the top 100 hotels of the world (Institution Investor) and the Best Hotel in Seoul (Asia Money and DestinAsia).  I noticed that the room comes with a free cell phone which you can carry around for your personal use.  This cost factor is why you can splurge on a drink.  Here I am below with my bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label in my favorite bar:

My recollection is that my next hotel, the Shanghai Westin on the Bund, is even cheaper.

For dinner, I strolled to the basement of the Lotte Department store next door and bought a gigantic bulgogi sandwich at Lotteria.  Sort of like a Big Mac, but larger.  It was Sunday night at 8PM and the entire store was packed.  The economy must be good in Korea.

Finally, remember how I mentioned that all hotels in Japan had toothbrush/paste and razor/gel?  My Seoul room had a sign that explained:

Your understanding is appreciated.  Due to new government regulations, we are no longer permitted to provide disposable toiletries as an amenity in our rooms.

I guess these free items are now considered to be wasteful.  However, I got a call apologizing for this inconvenience, inquiring as to when I might want these amenities to be delivered to my room.  Strange.

A great day in football for my schools yesterday:  Hawaii beat Fresno State, LSU over Florida and Stanford edged USC, with the latter two games in the realm of miracle victories.

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