One thing that never changes is that you need to visit your customers to find out what is really happening, so I headed to China and Korea for 2 weeks in April. I had visited Beijing once at my previous job, but this time I got to see a lot more of China. Shenzhe/Shunde were my least favorite, but they are really industrial places. The places I went were not really geared to visitors which made it quite a bit harder. Qingdao was a little better, or maybe I was just getting used to it by that time. Shanghai was my final stop and much more interesting and cosmopolitan. I spent the weekend there doing some shopping, visiting the Jing An Temple, and seeing a Chinese acrobat/circus performance. The latter was completely kitschy and touristy, but the performances are really amazing and make for a fun night out.
My next stop was Korea, where I’ve been before. However, I find that each time I visit, I like it more. For me the food is great – spicy, generally good quality, and well cooked. In China, many of the dishes had a little too much sauce or oil for my tastes, and some of the ingredients were just unidentifiable. Even when I asked my co-workers to describe what I was eating in China, I got strange answers (pig throat?) or none at all (it’s something very popular… OK, but what?). I don’t have much food phobia any more, but there were a few times when even I was pushed to the limit. I tried the sea snails. I tried the chicken, even though I couldn’t figure out what possible part of the bird the pieces might have come from. But finally, there were some seafood dishes that I just could not eat. Defeated.
The other thing I totally enjoyed in Korea was the late shopping hours. Unlike Austria everything is open, all the time. And it’s generally less expensive than Europe too.
Finally, my last complaint about China is the coffee, or lack thereof. I fully understand that it’s a “tea country” but after a week with either no coffee or just bad coffee, I was very happy to see the streets of Seoul. Nearly every corner has a Starbucks, Angels-in-us or Coffee Bean. Caffeine replenished, headache gone.