Unlike my preconceived notions of China, I had no expectations of Korea. I really hadn’t thought of it, hadn’t imagined it. So with no expectations to live up to, for me, Korea was a blank slate.
A couple hour flight from Shanghai, I started to get excited from the view from the plane. Beautiful blue sky and lush, green, hilly coastlines. Dotted with high rises and beaches.
We arrived mid day and were picked up by a driver to take us to our hotel. A couple hours to get caught up on emails before meeting our colleague for dinner.
The one expectation I did have of Korea was Korean BBQ. Appropriately so, that was our very first Korean meal.
The marbling in the meat was practically 50% meat/fat. It was heaven! We were told that we consumed twice as much as typical customers. Making our Alberta roots proud!
We headed home with a mild case of the meat sweats. Full day of meetings and engine tours ahead. Oh, and some more food.
There were meetings, trust me. I won’t bore you with the photo evidence. Our colleagues treated us to another authentic meal in a Korean village for lunch.
If these meal taught me anything, it was that Koreans have incredible core strength and flexibility. This photo may not reflect it, but the physical feat these gentlemen are pulling off is impressive. This traditional meal is served on very low table where you sit cross legged, legs neatly tucked beneath the table, spine erect.
For many everyone in the room, this was straightforward. For me, not so much. I have a special knee which means I don’t neatly fold up, at all. If I am forced to sit cross legged, because I tell you, I will never sit that way by choice, my knees wing up, far from the ground. So, sitting at this table was a bit of a challenge for me. I tried to sit with legs neatly folded off to the side, demure princess style. That worked temporarily but I was really listing to one side and invading on the personal space of the person beside me. I switched to having my legs straight out in front of me, like I was ready to roll a ball back and forth with a child.
Part way through the meal both my legs were dead asleep from the hip. While everyone carried on with a pleasant meal, I was in constant worry about what to do with my legs. I had hoped this had gone unnoticed by the others until it was time for us to depart. For those with normal knees, that simply involved standing up. For me, it was a little more complex. Having sat with my legs straight in front of me, folding them again wasn’t happening. Instead, I had to flip myself over to an all-fours like pose. Leading with my behind was the only way to coax my legs back into action.
I tell you people, I’m nailing this whole “be classy” thing.
Quick aside, recently my two-decades old knee injury made an appearance again. I woke up with a very swollen knee a while back which did not get better with time. A trip to the extremely efficient, albeit expensive, Swiss medical system revealed the issue. After a humiliating conversation about the possibility of gout, (for the love, this aging is relentless!) we determined it was merely a spontaneous flare up and that the excess fluid could be drained on the spot. Good as new. The fun part is that I got to see my bionic knee for the first time! (Back in 92, the digital access to xrays was limited.)
Anyhow, I digress. Other than the humiliation of crawling up off the floor in a downward dog motion, my knee injury did not impede this trip.
Where were we… more meetings and a 1.5 hour drive to visit another engine manufacturer before wrapping up for the day.
After the temple tour, we did a bit of strolling and shopping at a local super market.
Street performers, a universal delight.
The next morning we flew back to Shanghai where we’d take our flight back to Zurich. But not before one last meal.
As a parting note, one really must mention the amazingness that is a toilet in Asia.