Archive for July, 2010

Bulgogi Pizza


2010
07.27

I enjoy Korean food, especially the spicy stuff.  But there’s not as much variety in the food as I’d like.  So I went out to dinner one night determined not to eat Korean food.  I only half succeeded.

I came across a pizza shop that looked pretty good.  I went in thinking I’d get something Italian traditional, but couldn’t resist trying something new.  Bulgogi is one of my favorite meals in Korea.  It’s a meal of marinated beef cooked on the table in front of you along with mushrooms and some other miscellaneous veggies.  They say is “barbecued”, but being a BBQ snob from the south I have to mention that this is not really BBQ.  Real BBQ is smoked.  Bulgogi is cooked in a pan over an open flame, but honestly it’s even more braised than grilled, since they cook it with so much marinade in the pan.  But I digress…   So I’m a big fan of bulgogi, and I see that they have a bulgogi pizza.  I wasn’t going to eat Korean food, but this sounds too good to pass-up.

As soon as I ordered, they brought out some appetizers.  There was a basket with two types of bread, a mustard & oil dip, oil & balsamic vinegar dip, and the ever present pickles.

bread & pickles

The pizza arrived looking rather delicious!  It was topped with bulgogi and potato wedges with a white sauce including mushrooms and onions.  It was very different, and that’s what I told the waitress when she asked if I liked it.  She seemed hurt and said “Oh, you don’t like it!”  No….no…it’s good, just different.  My favorite pizza is Neapolitan style.  A thin crispy crust, with minimal toppings.  With the meat, potatoes, and cream sauce…this was a very hearty pizza, but I really enjoyed it.  Hopefully the empty serving plate made that clear to the waitress.

I’m already looking forward to going back and trying some of their other non-traditional pizzas!

bulgogi pizza

Hot Pot Lunch In Beijing


2010
07.20

I was treated to a delicious lunch today after morning meetings!  “Hot pot” is a pretty generic term for a group of Asian meal styles.  Wikipedia has more info for you.  The one common component is a pot of boiling liquid at the table, but the composition of the liquid varies widely.  Today we had  Beijing-style hot pot, which has two different broths for cooking.  The one on the left was a beef broth, made by boiling beef bones for many hours.  The right side is filled with a vegetable broth.  Both were very mild.  Notice that both sides have two ladles: one slotted, and one solid.

two-sided hot pot

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Isn’t It Incongruous, Don’t You Think?


2010
07.20

They say you shouldn’t drink the water in China, and I think they’re right.  Even the locals don’t drink water from the tap without boiling it.  Maybe this is why tea is so popular.  In any case, I found it rather amusing that the drinking glasses in the hotel bathroom were right next to the sign that says not to drink the water.  So what exactly is the glass for?

Thankfully the hotel provides you with a couple bottles of water every day.  In public places, there are no water fountains.  Instead they have “drinking water stations” that dispense drinkable water.  You can usually get hot water there, too.  It’s odd how many Chinese like to drink plain hot water.   Ick.

PS  Am I the only one that finds it gross for the drinking glasses to be right by the sink?  When you’re washing your hands, dirty water sometimes splashes a bit, and could easily get on the glasses.  Who wants to drink from a glass that 1) was probably only washed-out in the sink anyway, and 2) has been sitting there being indefinitely splashed  by God knows what.  Pass, thanks.  I much prefer the individually wrapped plastic cups in the cheap hotels I usually stay in.

Here's a cup, but don't drink the water.

Where Am I?


2010
07.20

I got to the airport quite a bit early for my flight today from Beijing to Seoul, and didn’t yet have a boarding pass.  I stopped at the ticket counter to check-in and the guy asked me where I was going.   I answered “Beijing” and he looked at me like I had three heads!  After a short pause I said “Sorry, that was yesterday.  How about Seoul?”  LOL   I’m looking forward to staying in the same place for three whole nights!

Lunch in Wuhan


2010
07.18

After my long/late trip to get here, I didn’t roll out of bed till about 10:00 on Sunday morning.  I pulled down photos of the trip, made a blog post, called my family, etc.  By the time I left the room it was time for a late lunch.  There’s a restaurant here at the hotel, but where’s the adventure in that?!?!  So off I went in search of food and fun.  Thankfully, I found both!

The restaurant that I chose didn’t have an English menu or even a menu with pictures.  The ordering process was one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced!!!  But I’ll have to write more on that in another post, since I’ve got to get out the door.

I’m trying out a new photo gallery, rather than putting all the photos in-line.  There are descriptions of the photos below each picture, after you click on a thumbnail.  Please let me know if you like this, or prefer the images embedded in the post.

PS  I had some family ask about the cost of my lunch.   Food in China is very cheap!  The fish was $4.32 , beans were $1.79, and beer was $0.89 for 16.5 oz bottle.  CHEAP!  The fish and beans could easily serve 3 people, so call it $2/each.  The beer was drinkable.  Not good, but worth 89 cents on a hot summer day.   So for under $3/each, you got a delicious meal.  Beats the pants of a $2.99 burger value meal!!!  :)

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Wuhan, China


2010
07.17

After 28 hours of travel, I arrived at my hotel on Saturday night just after midnight local time.  This is my first trip to central China, and I’m really excited about experiencing the cultural differences here.

Unusual for Google, the street map and satellite views don’t line-up here; the satellite view is right.  The Lake View Garden Hotel is the red building to the west of the park on the south edge of Swan Lake (seriously!). It’s a nice hotel.  The grounds are very well maintained, with lots of beautiful garden areas.  The room is well worn, but fine, and it has a great view of the lake and city in the distance.

I’m going to get cleaned-up and head out to see what I can find.  I’ll grab some lunch and wander around for the afternoon.  I’ll meet my colleague for dinner, then start our meetings in the morning.

This is the view from my room at the Lake View Garden Hotel

A Couple Milestones


2010
07.16

By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to China.   This flight will push me over a couple of mileage thresholds.

First, I’ll surpass 400,000 miles flown on Delta, all since joining SkyMiles in 2001 when I took my first job that involved any real travel.  These are “butt in seat” miles, not bonus miles for certain fares, frequent flyer status, or credit card rewards.  I’m still a long way from being a Million Miler, though.

Second, I’ll pass the 75,000 Medallion Qualification Mile mark for the year.  These are miles that earn status on Delta.  While most of my flights earn miles at 1:1, some flights earn 1.5:1.  Including this flight, I will have flown 63,038 miles, but earned 76,678 miles.

It’s probably sad that I care about these things at all, but the reality is that your status with an airline makes a big difference in the treatment you receive.  It’s very nice to be able to call Delta, and have an English speaking person answer the phone almost immediately and say “Hello, Mr. Garrett!  How can I help you today?”

So…Happy Platinum Medallion to me!  :)

Asia Trip – July 2010


2010
07.14

I’m getting ready for a very hectic week in Asia, and have decided that I need a day at the start to recover a bit from jet lag before adding sleep deprivation.  So on Friday I’ll fly from Atlanta to Wuhan, China, via Detroit and Shanghai.  I’ll get to the hotel late on Saturday evening and will have Sunday to explore Wuhan.  I’ve never been there before, so that should be fun.  Wuhan is the largest city in central China (10M+ people).  It’s also known as one of the “Three Ovens” of China, so it’ll be nice and toasty in late July!

I’ll have meetings in Wuhan on Monday, then fly out to Beijing that evening.  After meetings in Beijing on Tuesday, I’ll fly out to Seoul that evening.  Finally after two days of meetings in Seoul, I’ll fly home on Friday, via Portland.  That’s 7 flights in 8 days, covering 16,861 miles.  Please put your seat back and tray table in their fully upright and locked positions.  And remember, smoking is…not allowed…on any Delta flight.

ATL-DTW-PVG-WUH, WUH-PEK, PEK-ICN, ICN-PDX-ATL

Google’s World Domination Continues


2010
07.13

Google has acquired ITA Software, the leading search engine for flight info (routes & rates).    When you’re booking a flight, it’s all about the search.  You need to find the right routing, the right time of day, the right airline, the right number of connections, and the right price; not necessarily in that order.  I often check Expedia and Bing to get an idea of what I want to do.  Then I check with the airline directly to make sure there’s not a better option.   I don’t dare book with my primary airline without looking elsewhere, because sometime their price is just nuts.  And I don’t dare book on the 3rd party sites without looking at the carrier directly, because sometimes they don’t show me the routs I’d prefer.

I’ve been fully assimilated by The Borg Google.  In my mind, NOBODY does a better search than Google.  Those folks are AMAZING, so I’m sure they can do a bang-up job with flight searches.  I love Google’s search engine, e-mail, and calendar.  So what could they do?  I’d love to see a search that sorts flights by distance flown, not just travel time.   I have a trip to Asia coming up this week, and there are LOTS of way to get to China.  I’d like to be able to sort flights by total travel time as well as distance.  I mean, if I’m going to be away from home, I’d rather be accruing miles than sitting in a terminal.

Delta Flight Delights


2010
07.06

I previously blogged about Delta’s Travel Treats snack pack.  And now I’ve had the opportunity to sample the Flight Delights box, too.

Flight Delights

Lots of little snacks

The bagel chips and cheese spread were pretty good.  Toblerone is one of the worlds most popular chocolates for a reason.  The olives were pretty good.  I wasn’t real fond of eating an oily food with my fingers on a plane; kinda messy…but they do include a large napkin in the box.  haha  The cashews were good; quite different, but in a good way.  And the dried fruit wrapped things up nicely.  I think next time I have to choose between the boxes I’ll go with this one again.  The Travel Treats were good, but I think I enjoyed these more…and I at least have the impression that it wasn’t as bad for me.