Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kimchi Day at GM Daewoo

Kimchi is a staple of the Korean diet. It is eaten as a side dish with almost every meal every day. Some stats say that each person eats about 40 lbs of kimchi per year. You cannot spend 24 hours in Korea without a kimchi experience. It is so popular, many Koreans say "kimchi" when they are taking a photograph instead of "cheese."

Kimchi has been touted as a significant reason that obesity is not an issue here in Korea. In addition, during the SARS epidemic, I was told there were no cases in Korea and they attribute that to Kimchi. Not sure how true that is, but I am a sucker for health foods.

Kimchi is cabbage (sometimes radish) that has been mixed or "marinated" in a spicy pepper sauce, made of peppers, garlic, salt, radish, sometimes pine nuts, and whatever else your family recipe calls for. It is common that Korean families get together once or twice per year and make the year's supply of kimchi for the family.

Well, as kimchi is so important, and there are less fortunate in Korea, as in America, GM Daewoo sponsors a kimchi-making day every year. In just a few hours last Saturday, we made 40 tons of kimchi. GM's president said that was enough for 40 families for thier year supply + 1000 individual people! What? 40 tons is ALOT! But, it was a good cause, so Mike & I joined forces with over 300 Korean and Americans alike and made kimchi!

Most of the hard word had been done. Cabbages cleaned and ready
Red Pepper sauce prepared. All we had to do was "slather" each cabbage
with the sauce and fold correctly.

In Korean, all of the tables and counter-tops are lower than in the US.
Notice us all bending over quite a was quite hard on the back,
especially for those 6 ft guys!

Working hard, but still have a lot of
cabbage to go!

40 tons boxed and ready to deliver!
There are many Americans here that never acquire the taste of kimchi. I actually think it will be something we will miss here when our adventure is over. So, if you get a chance to come to Korea, try the kimchi, and try not to just stop at the first try. There are 1000's of versions and the sauce varies everywhere, so you are sure to find one you like!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shanghai & Beijing

We are happy to be home in Korea. That is how I will start off our description of our China trip.

Also, for those of you who know my obsession with never eating fast food, you should also know that I had McDonald's in China and I really enjoyed it!

China is this wonderful mixture of old and new, and thinking back over the week, we really did enjoy our trip and we will definetly go back. There is so much to soak in and learn. It is a fast-paced city just busting at the seems. It feels that they cannot modernize quickly enough, but at the same time, there is a comfort and desire to stay closer to the old China.

We spent three days in Shanghai first, spending a very full day at the World Expo, which is basically the next generation "World's Fair."

Proud GM'er in front of the GM SAIC Pavilion, although they wouldn't let us in.

South Korea Paviliion. It is made up of Hanguel, the Korean characters.
We didn't go due to a 4 hour wait.

"No Noising?"

"No Challenging" After being in China for one week, I am sure this is not a
mis-interpretation. This is what they meant.

Proud to an American!

Finally did get into the GM was a good exhibit.
Seats moved and everything...almost a DisneyWorld Ride.

At the GM booth, I learned that the first Interstate in Shanghai was built in 1995!
Can you believe that? I was getting my first Gateway computer and they were
just starting to drive cars!
Shanghai, like Seoul, is split by a river and has a New and Old side. The west side of the river is the Old side and has the "Bund", which is this group of older buildings built in the early 1900's in a European style. They almost seem out of place and don't fit, so have become known as the "Bund."

The Bund at night

Dinner on the Bund with fellow GM'ers from GM SAIC
The East side of the river in Shanghai is the Pudong side, where you'll find the 100-story Financial Building and a new Shanghai Tower in the works, that is planned for over 120 stories. The Pudong side is in complete contrast from the Bund across the river, and I think best exemplifies the constant mixture of Old and New in China.

View of Pudong Side Skyline

Shanghai Tower...just another skyscrpaer they cannot
build fast enough!

Future skyline of Shanghai, with the newest Shanghai Tower all
the way on the right. The 100 story Financial building is second
from the right, looking like a bottle opener.

The last 4 days of our trip were spent in Beijing. This was the part we were really looking forward to, but Mike and I both agree, we actually enjoyed Shanghai much better.

Beijing is the capital of China and, as Washington D.C., the political center of China. There are very few skyscrapers, the city seems to be dirtier and older, there is a much larger military presence everywhere, and you see fewer people on the streets at night.

Tian'anmen Square with view of Chairman Mao's portrait on Forbidden City

Imperial Palace

Cable Car up to Great Wall

Great Wall was built over 7000km over 1500 years
and many dynasties. It sits upon a mountain ridge where many
lives were lost in the building. It is an amazing feat and a "MUST SEE" in your lifetime.
Warning - not an easy stroll along the Great Wall. You are on a mountain.

While we were in Tian'anmen Square one day, there was a Chinese protester that climbed a light pole and had a sign on his body. It was written in Chinese, so I couldn't read it, but within minutes, the guards had the area blocked off by 30 feet, effectively negating the protest, as no one could read his sign from that distance. In addition, they walked around and ordered people to stop taking pictures (including Mike!). They did not want any publicity of this! It was interesting to see how they handled the protester, especially after the events there over 20 years ago. They did not use force, but effectively handled the situation and brought a fire truck to get him down from the light pole.

One of my favorite things about China was that there are as many bikes and rickshaws as there are cars. I took some pictures to show you some of my favorite bikes.

And of course, the Home of the Beijing Olympics...

China is a wonderful country with a history of Dynasties that date back to BC times. There have been many  conquerings of China, switching of dynasties and devastation to the Chinese people over these 2000 years. If you get a chance to even read the intro in the China travel books, take it. It is fascinating and will offer a different perspective to the "lead paint in our kid's toys, salmonella in our dog food, cheap manufacturing" China we all think of in the US.