Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chill of the torch

I met my friend Gege in Seoul today. I originally met him in Mongolia, where he served as my guide for 3 weeks as we drove around the Mongolia countryside northwest of Ulanbaatar. He is working 6 days a week from 6p to 6a, so we only had a few hours to hang out this afternoon. It was great catching up with him. He moved her from Mongolia a few months ago, and he's currently learning Korean, working 72 hours a week, and taking several hours of class each week at a local university. Every time I think that my situation is bad, I will think of Gege & realize that I haven't learned the definition of hardship or even hard work. Gege - if you read this, I hope that you are successful in your goal of making it to the US. I'll do whatever I can to help you get established - your persistence gives me faith in mankind.

The police & Chinese students were out in mobs today. I saw more Chinese flags today than I saw during my entire week in Shanghai. In total, there were probably about 1000 - 2000 students in the area of Seoul that I was passing through. I made the assumption that the Olympic torch was coming through town in the next few days, since there were mobs of Chinese students who were peacefully demonstrating.

After I parted with Gege, I started to walk back to my hotel. About 2 km into my walk, the street was booming with voices. I increased my pace to see what the commotion was about. As I drew on further, there were a few Olympic floats so I assumed there was a little parade. About 2 minutes later, the yelling turned into a roar. The chanting was laced with so much emotion that I had a feeling shoot towards the end of my limbs. I think that my brain realized that I was in the middle of so many people who were pro-China, and I hold the opinion that Tibet should be its own sovereign nation. Needless to say, I think that I was surprised & fearful of the power that radiated from the crowd.

Before I knew it, there were buses of athletes passing by. About 20 seconds later, I saw the Olympic torch run past in a mob of about 100 runners. I tried to take some photos, but unfortunately I wasn't prepared.

I'm very fortunate to have seen the torch being carried through Seoul, as I doubt that I'll ever see it carried through the streets of Milwaukee. The experience resonates within me; anyone that sees the power & feels the desire of the Chinese people will understand. China will become the world's next superpower. While there will be some transition time, I think about all of the poor decisions that superpowers make; and specifically how the rest of the world must just watch it happen. I think of the US and it's push to start the Iraq war - these types of unsubstantiated decisions & injustices will only feel more bitter when another country commits them.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Somewhere in Seoul...

I had an awesome food experience last night. Awesome like the first time that I had gelato in Italy or sushi in Japan. What made the experience even better is that this was my first time. I recall eating Korean food on a number of occasions back home, but this was beyond what those restaurants could only hope to attain.

I found the place within 15 minutes of my hotel last night; the name is Pool Hyang Ki. I walked in, replied to a greeting that I didn't understand with 'hello', and took off my shoes. The restaurant was empty, save for the 50+ year old women who were working there. My server pointed to the a page on the menu, and said '[korean words I don't understand] vegetarian [more korean]'. I nodded & smiled in approval, not knowing what was coming next.

Soon enough, she came back with a serving tray of food. 5 to 8 dishes, at least. I started to dig into the food, chopsticks in hand. She came back with a fork - I shook my head no; I don't need those things! Before long, I had 18 dishes of food set in front of me. Good thing that I was sitting at a table for 4 people...

The tastes were amazing, savory soy flavors with the sour & salty flavors of the kim chee. Other dishes were extremely spicy. I was smiling. This is the best food experience that I've had in months. I had a table of food in front of me; I didn't know the names of any dishes, and I didn't recognize many of the ingredients, but all of them were incredible. One of life's moments, where I sit back & smile, happy that I'm alive.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I came across an article on BBC that showcased some medical studies that were happening in Europe. It seems that we cannot rely on pills/supplements alone to keep us healthy! Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a bit of a health freak, and I find it humourous that (time & time again) the advice from medical experts recommends eating a well balanced diet.

It's further proof of one of two things - vitamin marketing really works or we ignore 'ideal' suggestions in favor of convenience. I wonder if the day will come where we can take meal pills, instead of the tedious task of preparing & eating food...