Thus far

The rambling thoughts of a simpleton mind.

Driving:

Korean drivers take much greater pride in their craft.  Gloves, suits, clean and aromatic vehicles.  Always aware of their surroundings, directions and destination.  The path of travel is well thought out in advance and taken with complete consideration for the passenger, other vehicles and traffic situations.  They have a fairly accurate internal compass and sense of direction.  We took 2 airport buses and 5 Ubers, all of which I gave a 5 star rating to.

Chinese drivers, not so much.  For starters, bathing on a regular basis is optional.   Same with proper dental hygiene, attire and staying in your lane.  Farting in the cars should be expected and (if enough rides have been taken) graded on a scale from; Do you smell something? -to- How long can you hold your breath?  Of the 2 private airport cars and 2 taxis taken around Shanghai, I think the highest rating I could award would be 2 stars and a “what crawled up your butt and died?”

In both countries, the general concept of reaching your final destination is the goal, but the manner in which that goal is obtained, differs greatly.  While neither countries have much concern with road rage, they do have an unspoken way about how they change lanes and navigate turns and off ramps.  Nobody seems to get bothered with cutting-off or being cut-off.  They all obey traffic signals and speed limits, as if they could be arrest for not.  But the lane markers are merely suggestions, when other traffic isn’t present as a buffer.

Dining:

There are two sides of the river that separate Shanghai.  One side is the Financial District and the other side is what I call “Old Shanghai”.  In the FD, the dining options are limited to nice restaurants, most of which suggest reservations.  Prices tend to be higher, $$$-$$$$.  On the other side, street vendors, hip bars and a great variety of restaurants are available.  Costs range from $ all the way to $$$$.  But there really isn’t anything or any cuisine that identified itself as “Shanghai” food.

In Seoul, there is food everywhere.  And I mean EVERYWHERE.  It’s a culinary adventure and I’m Indiana Jones.  Seafood and Pork are the 2 staples here.  BBQ is the #1 way of preparing it and they love spicy.  Seoul has a food pulse and it’s racing.

The Work Ethic:

The Koreans we met, spoke with, encountered and employed, were all very professional and concerned with their work.  Only once or twice did I ever feel that someone didn’t like us or didn’t want to serve us.  And in both cases, they were younger people (20ish).  The older generation takes great pride in what they do.  It didn’t matter if they were drivers, trash men, waitresses, ticket takers or street hawkers.  They were honored to be doing what they were doing and it showed.

On the other side of the China Sea, they’re a lot less concerned about their reputation and the level of service provided.  Albeit, the hotels were top notch (as they should be).  And we received very decent service in most places.  But it felt more like American service, when buying or ordering or asking questions.  I’m not saying everybody gave off attitude, I’m just saying it felt so normal to us, that sometimes you’d forget you were in China.  I just thought I was at a mall in Irvine.

Items of Note:

  • Google, Facebook, Instagram and any companies related to them, are GREATLY restricted.  You can jump on Yahoo and search for anything, with results returned in seconds.  Want news from America?  Piece of cake. You Tube?  You got it.  But try to search the same thing on the Google machine, and it will take you nearly 5 minutes.  You like Twitter?  No problem.  Facebook?  Got another 5 minutes to wait/waste?  It didn’t matter if you were on wifi or just using you own data plan, those sites were highly “discouraged”.
  • Coffee is the number 1 drink on the streets of Seoul.  I was expecting tea to be king, but not anymore.  Coffee and coffee roasting is a huge hit.
  • Smoking is very rare to see in both places.  They have gone to great lengths to discourage public smoking.  Parks, streets and other public areas have designated smoking areas, but you’ll still find a million cigarette butts on the ground.
  • Smog, non-existent in Seoul and no worse than LA, in Shanghai.
  • The martini olives in Seoul, have pits in them.
  • When given a choice between “beef” soup and “vegetable” soup, know that the later contains pork (sorry Maddie).
  • Dim Sum is an art.
  • Both Countries are masters of lighting.
  • The Chinese can expel phlegm with hurricane force.  Or as Maddie put it, “they really go for it”.
  • Koreans will hand money to you with two hands and bow slightly.
  • Paper table napkins are smaller and thinner than Kleenex.
  • The craft beer movement has finally emerged here, but their IPA’s are East Coast style with very mellow hop flavoring.
  • Personal space.  What’s that?

Ohh, just looked out the window.  Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong.  This looks fun…

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