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Showing posts from June, 2009

Seoul Searching – Part 2 尋覓漢城-下卷

It was 12:05 pm and we were still on item 2.3 of the two-page agenda. Inside the conference room as white as a morgue, bankers and lawyers pored over company accounts and peppered senior management with probing questions prefaced with profuse pleasantries. Jin-hoon, my colleague and friend, faithfully translated every word for me like a seasoned UN interpreter.

Then came the first piece of good news of the day: we were to break for lunch in 15 minutes at a nearby restaurant. Kamsamnida, I whispered the only Korean word I knew despite myself.

Outside the office tower, the midday sun had warmed the urban sprawl to a balmy 25 degrees... _______________________ Read the rest of this essay in HONG KONG State of Mind, available at major bookstores in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.

Seoul Searching – Part 1 尋覓漢城-上卷

I snatched the ream of documents from my secretary’s hands and shoved them into my carry-on luggage. So began the 48-hour cycle of a mundane business trip: a mad rush to the airport, a hurried nap on the humming plane, and two days in a faceless city. 
Far from the glamor its name suggests, business traveling these days is all business and hardly any traveling. Imagine a trip where the final destination is a stuffy conference room and your travel companions a table of men-in-black who take their jobs way too seriously. Outside the dreary meeting room and just minutes from the sterile office building, a city beckons, waiting to be discovered. For an avid traveler like myself, it is the adult world equivalent of leaving a child behind the iron bars of the Disneyland entrance gates. So close, and yet so frustratingly far away.

This time my Mission Uninspirational took me to Seoul. Most of us in Asia know the capital city by its former name, Hanseong... _______________________ Read the re…

A Tale of Three Cities – Part 3 三城故事-下卷

The first sunbeams pierce the morning fog and sweep across the island’s verdant back. A lonesome streetcar emerges from the west praya, still dark in the shadow of the Peak, and rumbles noisily down the tracks. One by one congee shop owners push up their metal gates, not long before the sound of clanging crockery fills the dewy air. As the rising sun pours gold over the silver city, tree sparrows tweet to its quickening pulse and Hong Kong wakes up to another day.

If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Hong Kong must be the one that doesn’t even blink... _______________________ Read the rest of this essay in HONG KONG State of Mind, available at major bookstores in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.