Sunday, April 10, 2011

Suwon si

Suwon si, where the headquarters of Samsung lies and where Indians rate very next to Koreans in terms of population, is the city I stayed for 40 days (the worst 40 days of my stint in my current company).  This city is the capital of Gyeonggi-do province and is located about about 40km south of the country capital, Seoul. Since I had to work for Samsung, I lived in this city in the  Royal  Family Indian Guest House, though there was nothing really "Royal" about it but the prices are indeed on the "Royal" side.

I'm actually not the right person to write about this city, coz in all 40 days I stayed, I got 2 days break during which I explored Seoul (Part I and Part II).  I got another 1 day (half day each on 2 different days) to explore some places in the city.  I felt the city is a pensioner's paradise (Bangalore's got that misnomer somehow) - there's not much traffic, no pollution, not much noise, there are parks every few meters with exercising equipments I had seen in China, a very laid back culture, shops open late and close early, innumerable coffee/beer houses.

But we were so damn busy with our work that for first few days we didn't know anything other than Hyowon-ro, the road from our guest house to Samsung office.  The only lively place on the road was a plaza which had whole lot of restaurants both Korean and western, coffee houses, convenience stores, norabans (karaoke bars where in you shell out $20 to sing with a girl), beer-and-fried-chicken bars.  I particularly liked "Garten" beer bar which had small refrigerator bowls which would keep your beer colder.  We also tried out many small restaurants which neither had English menu nor photographs, we used to order our food by "eena meena mina mo" or seeing food on other tables and saying "that one".

Korean food is pretty palatable for Indian tongues provided you can digest all creatures.  Koreans love octopus, you can find it a tentacle here or a head there or if it's a baby octopus, the whole small thing could be found among the hot noodles soup or other sea-food dish.  All food is accompanied by radish pickle and kimchi (the national dish of Korea made of cabbage, garlic, chillies and other spices).  I tried quite a lot of Korean dishes I don't know any names, except "Bulgogi", which is the traditional Korean beef barbecue.  I tried some very delicious mixed rice, rice and curry, batter fried pork fillets and chicken wings, cold noodles with spicy sauce, hot yummy noodles in soup, burgers, pizzas and pastas, delicious dumplings with pork and kimchi, hot fish bread with kimchi filling and what not!

There is Gallerias, a super posh shopping mall selling branded clothing, electronics, sports equipments, exotic food etc.  Near that there's Kim's Club, yet another shopping mall, HomePlus a bustling supermarket and HiMart, an expensive (compared to Yongsan market in Seoul) electronics market.  There are many restaurants and bars near here, a good place to take a walk since there's more life here than near the Indian guest house.

On the penultimate day, I got a chance to visit Hwaseong palace, for a short while.  I took 62-1 bus from our guest house and alighted right in front of the Hwaseong palace, a UNESCO heritage site.  Realizing that all palaces look pretty much the same for my eyes I didn't bother to enter the palace, instead took the steps that led to the hill top behind the palace.  The view of Suwon city from the top of the mountain is quite impressive - Suwon station, Suwon first church, skyscraper residential complexes, the aerial view of palace et al.  As I was busy clicking photographs, I get a call from office "LCML error reoccurring, very critical, get back to office immediately!!!".  The worst part is, after 5 minutes of receiving this call, the battery goes dead!!!. 

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