Friday, October 24, 2008

Soju in juice boxes!

I was almost a year into my Korean tenure when I finally discovered a handy dandy innovation that ensures no situation must ever be void of Korea's signature distilled spirit: Soju "juice boxes". Designed to make soju-on-the-go a logistical breeze, the clever packaging means Koreans (or anyone else) heading abroad can tote their revered beverage without concern that reckless baggage handlers will leave their suitcase full of broken green glass and clothes reeking of alcohol. Since the price of soju in foreign countries is often six times higher than the domestic rate, it pays to buy it here and enjoy it there. But of course this nifty option isn't reserved for practical travelers. Since my initial discovery of soju boxes at Costco, I've seen a few people around Seoul actually sipping from the cardboard containers a la Hi-C style.

Chris and I discovered soju boxes during a trip to Costco.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Korea Sparkling . . . in Shanghai!

I was so excited to find this Korea tourism office right around the corner from my hotel in Shanghai, China last week. Unfortunately, the office wasn't open when I walked by, but it was great to find a little taste of "home" during my trip.

This week Korea announced 2010-2012 are "Visit Korea" years. The tourism promotion campaign is the third of its kind and seeks to bring 10 million tourists and $10 billion in tourism money to Korea annually by 2012. The campaign committee has plans for more on-site promotion projects in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. More offices like this could be popping up in a neighborhood near you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back from China!

I'm back in Seoul this week after a great trip to China. I spent most of my time in Shanghai, but also visited Hangzhou, a tourist haven about two hours south of Shanghai. I'll post more photos and reaction later, but wanted to share some videos right away.

I took this video in a section of Shanghai referred to as "Old Town" or "Old City". These lively areas where working class people can be seen hustling and bustling around the clock are always my favorite parts of big cities.

I was amazed by the prevalence of bicycles, mopeds, and motorcycles in China. I had never actually seen a moped in person before. Cyclists have their own lane on most roads and even designated signal lights. Here's a shot from an intersection along Shanghai's famous Nanjing Road.

Students at Shanghai's Yew Chung International School singing "I'm a Believer". Yew Chung's student body includes kids from nearly 70 different countries.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Eye to eye with "Jeff from Maryland"

Nearly every week on Worldwide Friendship we read an e-mail sent by "Jeff from Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.". Last week, we got to meet Jeff in the flesh! Jeff and his wife, Cindy, and their son, Nathan, came to Korea to adopt a baby girl. Nathan was also born in Korea and was making his first trip back since Jeff and Cindy adopted him. Haewon and I had the opportunity to interview Jeff for Worldwide Friendship, then joined Jeff's family for an entertaining lunch near KBS.

Jeff, Cindy, and Nathan with Jeff's mother and stepfather in a KBS World studio

Nathan and I became fast friends over an Italian lunch