Video: A Trip to Asia, Part 5 – Peking Duck

The following is the last in the series of videos from my trip to Asia. I thought you might enjoy seeing a professional Peking duck carver in action. It took him 2 1/2 minutes to completely dismantle a blazing hot duck, including its crispy skin. The video below is sped up 2.5x to get it under a minute.

Video: A Trip to Asia, Part 1

Here is the first short video from my trip to China. It contains a few highlights showing my travel from Seattle to Beijing and glimpses of a couple locations in Beijing.

Hover your mouse pointer over the bottom of the video to bring the controls into view. You can go into full screen mode by clicking the button farthest to the right. The video is jittery—the entry-level Flip Ultra video camera I took on the trip does not have any image stabilization.

Let me know what you think and stay tuned for more videos…

From Far East to Northwest

Terra Cotta Warrios - Xi'an, China I made it back home after dropping off the grid for about 10 days traveling around China and Korea for work. The business side of the trip was very productive. I kept a dense agenda meeting with colleagues from the three main regions (Japan, China, Korea) in addition to press, customer and partner briefings while in Seoul. The leisure portions were few and far between. After working 12-16 hour days, I generally would return to my room to work an additional 2-4 hours to sync up with my team back in Redmond. There was a lot going on last week with the launch of Expression Studio 2 which we have been gearing up for since MIX.

I found a few hours on a few days to do some sightseeing, take some pictures and get a glimpse of the Chinese and Korean cultures. In fact, I achieved the tourism objectives I set at the outset of the trip. I have added pictures I took of the Terra Cotta Army in Xi’an, the Shanghai skyline, and the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The Great Wall of China - Beijing, China As an added bonus to you, my faithful readers, I also recorded some video during my trip using a handy Flip Ultra that I bought from Amazon right before the trip. I’m now a big fan of the Flip. You just can’t beat its combination of price, convenience and video quality. I’ll post some videos from the trip once I’ve finished editing. Stay tuned…

Tiananmen Square - Beijing, China Some unplanned but immensely enjoyable experiences include biking along the Xi’an city wall, dancing until the wee hours of the night in a Sanlitun club, and in Tiananmen Square taking pictures with Chinese couples (and their children) who clearly hadn’t seen a Black American person up close before. The White coworkers I was traveling with had a ball with that last one, walking around telling the locals I’m a famous basketball player. Thankfully, English literacy is relatively low throughout most of China.

Though I’m suffering from some serious jet lag and recovering from the long days, it’s great to be back home. There is so much to catch up on and so much I’ve already missed (a birth and death in the family, for example) making the trip to Asia even more surreal than the countries, their histories and their people. TB left for Chicago early this morning to meet our newest niece, Abria Lynn, born to her twin sister and her husband on Cinqo de Mayo. While being home alone is, generally, no fun, I’ve been around people non-stop for ten days. The peace and quiet is sure to be therapeutic. Speaking of being therapeutic, the Chinese foot Shanghai Skyline massages are amazing. For only $16, you can get a 90 minute foot, leg, back and neck massage at a high-end establishment. I had two in ten days. I fell asleep both times. If you’re ever in Beijing or Xi’an, ask your concierge or tour guide for the nearest “Massage & Spa” franchise—you won’t be disappointed.

So, what about Seoul? It definitely ranks in the top 3 of places outside the States I would like to live—Cape Town, South Africa is still #1. Seoul is a new New York done right. The city uses technology in ways that blow away a techno-gadget geek like me. For example, their automobile GPS/navigation units provide real-time traffic avoidance and display broadcast TV on 7” widescreens…for free…no monthly charges! The units even warn the driver of nearby police cameras to avoid speeding and parking tickets. Yes, the police department scans the streets for parking violations using cameras mounted throughout the city. I must admit, it was eerie knowing our actions were being monitored at all times—there are cameras everywhere in Seoul.

I also had lunch in the touristy Itaewon district home to many American stalwarts including McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Outback Steakhouse, Cold Stone Creamery, etc. I didn’t get a chance to visit the Korean DMZ but I did eat kimchi and partake in an authentic Korean barbecue, as planned. I stayed in the posh Park Hyatt while in Seoul. The service and rooms both eclipse the Tokyo Park Hyatt (reference) in terms of ridiculous opulence. Below is a panorama view of the city I shot from my 22nd floor suite—the highest floor for guest rooms. (Maybe Park Hyatt will hire me to shoot panoramas from all its hotels.)

Seoul Park Hyatt - View from Room 2207 - Seoul, Korea

By the way, I kept running while on the road and have surpassed the halfway mark of the “108 miles in 12 weeks” goal set back on March 29.

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.