My First Trip to China and Korea

Flag_of_the_Peoples_Republic_of_China Tomorrow afternoon I board a non-stop flight from Seattle to Seoul, South Korea, on Asiana Airlines. After the 12 hour flight and a 90 minute layover in South Korea’s Incheon airport, I depart on a Korean Air flight to Beijing, China for the first leg of my business trip. I’ll be in China for about a week participating in an Asia strategy summit alternating between Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai. This is my first time visiting China and mainland Asia and my travel buddy, TB, isn’t coming with me—TB is also short for travel buddy, he he.

I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for my first trip to a Communist nation but everyone I know who has been to China says it’s an amazing place. The only negative I’ve heard so far is the poor air quality in Beijing. I must have a good time since just getting there is such a pain. For example, acquiring a business visa for China is no easy or inexpensive endeavor. The final tab was close to $300 for a one-year, multiple-entry visa and required two visits to the federal building in downtown Seattle and overnight shipment of my passport to the Chinese embassy in Los Angeles. I also had to have our assistant sign a cover letter to the embassy promising I wouldn’t become a financial burden on their government, I would have the means to care for myself during my entire time in China and my employer would guarantee my return to the U.S. The cover letter also had to provide the names, addresses and phone numbers of the people in China responsible for me during my stay. Crazy.

I plan to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors while in Xi’an, do a day trip to the Great Wall of China (of course) and check out Tiananmen Square while in Beijing.

Flag_of_South_Korea After about 10 days in China, I’ll return to Seoul from Shanghai on Korean Air, arriving at Kimpo airport in about 2 hours. I’m not sure what I’ll do in Korea except try some authentic kimchi and Korean barbecue. Following two days of customer and partner visits in Seoul, I return to Seattle with memories to cherish and jet lag to suffer.

My running will continue during the trip and I will take pictures as possibly shoot some video if things go as planned with my packing. You may recall, I only do carry-on regardless of climate, trip duration or weight. If I can’t carry it with me on the plane, I can’t take it on the trip.

TB told me to bring her back something nice. I told her I’d bring her a couple bags of rice with the recent retail and wholesale shortages and all.

100 Miles and Running

roadrunner Today I broke the 100 mile mark with the Nike+ system. It took 4 months since I started in December but I lost about 6 weeks rehabbing old but persistent ankle and knee injuries. I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made and I’m able to run considerably faster, longer and easier than I could back in December.

It seemed fitting to pass the 100 mile mark running along side TB. She’s the long distance runner in our household. The funny thing is I vowed never to run with her again after a previous outing led to a trip to the emergency room and a week of me not being able to take the stairs. We ran outdoors, too, which has grown on me despite the bizarre weather (80° last Saturday, 50° today) we’ve been having.

A good friend invited me to run the Kirkland half-marathon with him next month. That’s distance I’m not ready to tackle just yet—I’m more chicken than roadrunner when it comes to races. Who knows, if I keep running with TB, I may get there by the summer.

[Update: The Nike+ site presented me with the certificate below to commemorate my 100 mile achievement. How nice.]

Nike+ 100 mile certificate

Keith’s Greatest Hits

greatest hitsAlmost 120,000 words and over 270 posts in, I figure it is time to recap some of the top posts by traffic and some of my personal favorites. This post is also a good reference if you are new to Keith’s Amusing Musings and don’t want to sift through 55 pages separating wheat from chaff.

Leave a comment with your personal favorite posts, categories or topics. I like comments. 🙂

By the way, the nifty “greatest hits” graphic to the right is a Keith original. I “borrow” most of the other images used throughout my blog.

Top Posts

  1. How to Test Your Internet Connection Speed
  2. Using Windows Live Messenger to Send & Receive SMS Text Messages
  3. Spending a Day Touring Florence, Italy
  4. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 100 Years and Counting
  5. Boondocks Theme Song

Top Searches

  1. alpha phi alpha
  2. boondocks theme
  3. make vista faster
  4. zune 80 vs. ipod
  5. united 1k

Top Categories

  1. Photography
  2. Music
  3. Observation
  4. QOTD
  5. Workplace

Top Tags

  1. nano
  2. exercise
  3. ipod
  4. running

And now a smattering of oldies-but-goodies and posts worthy of dubious praise…

Most Inaccurate: My Lists for 2006

Verbose: Honeymoon & Amsterdam travel series

Funny:

Adventurous

Informative

Nerdy

Tech Support

Take it to the Streets

I completed my first road run today. It is 80 degrees in Seattle today, much too beautiful to do the treadmill thing I normally prefer. TB and my mother-in-law, MommaB, looked legitimately concerned for my health and safety when I laced up and told them to come looking for me if I wasn’t back in 90 minutes. I ended up running 7.5 miles in 84 minutes—my longest run yet.

Nike+ SportbandThe first thing I noticed about running outside is it feels a lot slower but actually is a lot harder. This is a hilly area and the terrain changes often compared to the dialed-in settings of a treadmill in a temperature-controlled environment.

The second thing is running in the 80 degree afternoon sun with no water is no joke. Luckily my route took me through Bridal Trails which is shaded by the dense foliage of towering evergreen trees. TB and MommaB were much smarter. They went running earlier in the day when it was much cooler.

The third thing—don’t tell TB I admitted it—is running outdoors is more fun than running indoors.

In other running news, Nike released the Nike+ Sportband this week. Essentially, it eliminates the iPod from the Nike+ equation which is great if you don’t want or need music while you run. Dropping the iPod also lowers the price to get started with Nike+ as the Sportband is $59 at the Nike store.

Blu & Exile: Below the Heavens

Blu & Exile - Below the Heavens While in Chicago a few weeks back, my brother-in-law-in-law (TB’s sister’s husband) introduced me to Below the Heavens, an indie/underground hip-hop album released last summer. The critically acclaimed work combines DJ/producer, Exile, and new-comer rapper, Blu. I purchased the album for $6.99 in DRM-free MP3 form from the Amazon Store.

The duo’s chemistry is reminiscent of that last heard on the Gnarls Barkley freshman release, St. Elsewhere, one of my favorite albums of 2006. There is an interview with pictures on illRoots.com. Curiously, while Danger Mouse is skinny and Cee-Lo rotund, Exile is big-boned and Blu could play Pookie in New Jack City 2.

All jokes aside, Below the Heavens is hip-hop Bundt cake: dense with an amazing panoply of old school samples, glazed with lyrical dexterity. This album will lift your spirit and may expand your brain matter. Last night, the album lifted my spirit (and legs) so much, I ran my first 10K (6 miles). Not bad.

Below the Heavens gets 4.5 out of 5 on the “Tyrone Biggums” scale. (reference)

Full Tyrone Biggums Full Tyrone Biggums Full Tyrone Biggums Full Tyrone Biggums Half Tyrone Biggums

Exile’s production gets sloppy and Blu’s lyrics lose focus in a few lulls. Otherwise, it would be perfect.