Last week I went to Asia for the very first time. Although I was gone for a week (Monday through Friday), because of the time change I only had a few days in Seoul. It was jam-packed with business meetings, so I didn’t see any tourist sights, but I got a taste of the culture.
My full fare business class ticket included the right to wear leggings!
I chose a seat on the upper level, because how often do you get to do that? The Delta One® Business Class seats are like little cocoons, with seats that lay flat for sleeping and Westin Heavenly® bedding.
Airplane food usually gets a bad wrap, but I think the airlines must compete for international business class travelers, because the food was really good.
Silly me, I thought I had to choose one of these appetizers!
I planned to work for about half of the 13 hour flight, but when the wi-fi got wonky somewhere at the northern edge Canada (about 3-4 hours in), I turned my seat into a bed and started watching a movie until I realized my time would be better spent sleeping.
I thought I’d sleep for a few hours at the most, but I was awakened by the smell of coffee and only about one hour left in the flight. I sucked down three cups before I remembered that we would be landing at 6:30 pm local time, so I really didn’t need all that caffeine in my system.
My first view of South Korea.
The Incheon airport is HUGE, but we cleared immigration and found the bus to our hotel pretty quickly. After checking in and grabbing a bite to eat, we went to bed–trying to forget that it was noon back home.
My First Night And Day In Seoul
I slept in 2 hour increments, finally giving up at 3:50 am. I forced myself to stay in bed until 4:30, and got dressed for the hotel gym. Unfortunately, it didn’t open until 6 am, so I created a 25 min body weight strength workout on the Johnson & Johnson 7 Min Workout App, and did that in my hotel room before heading to the hotel gym again. I thought I would do 5k on the treadmill, but struggled through 4k until calling it quits. With the metric readout on the treadmill I couldn’t tell if I was pushing myself too hard or just too tired–probably both.
View from my hotel window.
After a day of business meetings we had a slightly more relaxed business dinner. Our hosts helped up order “safe” versus “adventurous” foods, but the appetizers were from a pre-set menu.
The clams (bottom right) were good.
The pork (top) was OK.
I couldn’t touch the “chicken slices” (bottom left)
after our hosts explained they were made from chicken feet.
My Second Night And Day In Seoul
My second night brought the same sleep pattern–sleeping relatively soundly until about midnight and then waking every few hours after that. At 4:30 am I got up and dove into an urgent work matter that I was coordinating with someone in California–where it was mid-afternoon yesterday. I was able to hand it off again at 7:30 am, by which time I was starving, so I headed to breakfast before talking myself into a session at the hotel gym.
The hotel has a very fancy fitness center that offers local memberships. There was a pool, a long bank of treadmills, ellipticals and bikes, weight machines, an area with free weights, aerobic studios, and even a putting green!
These machines made me think of an I Love Lucy episode,
but it looks like people use them for massages?
I walked on the treadmill for about 25 minutes while reviewing my afternoon presentation, and then did a short weights workout.
After the conference one of my clients took me too dinner for “American” food–pizza! They explained that pizza is an “elegant” food in South Korea, always eaten with a fork and knife. They told me they were shocked when, as grad students in the U.S., classmates ordered Dominos delivered to the lab and ate it with their hands!
The first pizza we had was a fancy cheese pizza which they told me to drizzle with honey–a delicious South Korean custom. Then a blueberry pizza was served! It was surprisingly delicious too.
They graciously stopped serving so I could take a picture!
My Third Night In Seoul
Of course, by my third and last night in Seoul, I was starting to adjust to the time difference. I made myself go to bed before 11:00 pm, but still woke up at midnight. I went back to sleep until about 3:30 am, and then couldn’t resist turning on CNN. Let me tell you, the news about North Korea is much more stressful when you are on the same land mass.
After watching the news, there was no way I was going back to sleep. I decided to do another 25 minute workout with the 7 Minute Workout App, knowing I had a long day of sitting ahead. By the time I finished that it was time to get ready to meet my colleagues for breakfast and start the long trek home.
For some reason I had higher hopes for the wi-fi on this flight, but it was even more useless than it was on the way over. (Once I got home I contacted GoGo and got a refund of both charges.) I was able to do some work without an internet connection, but then started a cycle of watching movies, reading, dozing, and eating.
I was happy to see this progress!
I watched The Lion and Manchester By The Sea, dozed through The Meddler, and then watched Arrival. I ate dinner–which they served right away even though it was 11 am local time, maybe because it was evening U.S. time–a “mid-flight snack” (a grilled chicken sandwich and fruit) served when I woke from my nap, and breakfast served about an hour before we landed at 10 am local time. Apart from the mild frustration at not being able to get the wi-fi to work, it was a blissfully uneventful flight.
We cleared immigration and customs in Detroit, and had about an hour before boarding our short flight to D.C. There were lots of Spring Break travelers on the plane, and I started missing my kids hard when I saw parents picking up their college kids at the airport. I’ll see my son in early May and my daughter a few weeks later, but I think being away from home makes me miss them more, even though they are not home anymore!
My colleagues already have plans to return to Seoul later this year, but I think my clients will be visiting the U.S., so I can meet with them here. I wouldn’t mind going back again, even though I know I won’t be in business class next time!
The Weekly Wrap
Wednesday: strength + 4K TM run
Thursday: walking + strength
Saturday: 9 mi run
Sunday: 34 mi bike ride
I have another race this weekend: the George Washington Parkway Classic!
Have you had blueberry pizza?
Would you have tried the sliced chicken feet?