Got back to Singapore on the red-eye from Seoul early on Tuesday morning this week. That was a pretty fun trip, totally exceeded my not very high expectations. Actually, all the elements for which I had higher expectations were disappointing, in particular the much-hyped W hotel, where the standard rooms are small and have horrendous decor (Jen’s reaction was “this looks like a cheap motel room!”). Fortunately I managed to switch to a massive suite which was more than satisfactory (the room-size, view and amenities made up for the still-mediocre interior design), and which turned out to be pretty cool, in line with my expectations of this hipster hotel chain. And a huge plus is the impeccable service.
The other rather disappointing part of the trip was the DMZ tour, which was a little on the dull side, overall. Don’t get me wrong – I think it is an absolute must-see, must-go for visitors, and it is very thought-provoking, sobering and surreal experience. Nevertheless, you have to go with the expectation that visitors actually will not get to really see very much, but rather will get to learn about the history of the Korean war/conflict and be forced to ponder the lot of the 20 million North Korean lives on the other side of the border… not to mention their nuclear weapons aimed at the ultra-modern and prosperous South Korean capital city. Very disturbing and depressing to think about.
The food was fantastic, for those who like Korean cuisine. Yum yum!
The shopping was pretty great, both high-end and low-end had lower pricing, greater range (Goyard! H&M! Cool local streetwear!) and better stocking (Fendi furrrr! Prada runway accessories!) than Singapore. I ended up with loads of cool stuff, my top two highlights being a Etro/Cavalli-inspired, made-in-Italy pair of swim-shorts I found at H&M as well as a Prada perforated leather hat straight off the runway/arty short film that I have searched unsuccessfully for in the US, Europe and elsewhere in Asia. And I got to claim back the sales tax too!
If you are looking for other worthy tourist activities, see the Nanta show (fantastic!) and also visit the Korean Folk Village at Suwon (totally fun and also pseudo-cultural-educational!).
And of course, it was lovely to see my sister. (Veeble veeble!)
The front page of the Straits Times today showed a horrifying photo of the Central World shopping mall in central Bangkok on fire after more violent political clashes. What a disaster for the country.
Also, I hope the North Korea-allegedy-torpedoed-South-Korean warship incident does not escalate.
My current project is so cool!