I quite liked Seoul, actually, once I got over my disastrous first night. Got out Wednesday morning and walked around on my own a bit. Seoul is a big, bustling city but not as overwhelming as some we've been to, it feels more manageable to me. You can be on a big busy thoroughfare and turn off onto a side street and be in a totally different (and much more traditional) world.
Plus, you've got to love a town where you can pass four Dunkin' Donuts in fifteen minutes on foot (though the Bostonians among us insist on calling it "Dunkies," rather than its proper nickname, which everyone knows is "Dun-Do's"). Starbucks is everywhere (as is, interestingly, 7-11) but Dun-Do's I have only seen in Seoul.
There is less signage in English in Seoul than in any other town we've been to so far, and when you're going for minimal wordage it leads to some very succinct messaging. Even at the hotel, a lot of people have minimal English, though everyone has been very friendly and helpful.
There is a beautiful waterfall outside the lounge of the Lotte Hotel in Seoul.
This street vendor was selling whole, individual, deep-fried fish.
The JS Texas Western Bar (too bad I didn't know about this the night before we left!)
There is a truly staggering number of bakeries in Seoul, and they sell some of the most beautiful-looking confections I've even seen.
Arrived in Shanghai late last night. Unfortunately we do not have a lot of free time here and I'm fighting a cold. Marathon day today: left the hotel at 8AM for two school visits, then had a short break mid-day and then a big IIE fair this evening (lots of MBA, but some MFA, too, huge preponderance of people looking for graduate programs again). Got back to the hotel around 9:30 pm and went out for a late dinner with some colleagues to an Indian restaurant across the street, where we had a fine meal. There is a shopping foray afoot tomorrow evening, am hoping that I'll feel up to it.
I'll have to watch it, though, because I hear that the Shanghai airport is a stickler for making people (especially us Americans with our mammoth suitcases) stick to the baggage weight limits. There are two questions we frequently ask each other: "How are you today?" (a sincere query, and one having to do specifically with how you're holding up on a given day) and "How much do you weigh?" (by which we mean how much do your bags weigh?). I got dinged for excess baggage in Ho Chi Minh City ($28 US for 4 kilos - even the airport in Viet Nam asks for US dollars!) and have been on a weight loss program since then. I jettison my leftover materials at the end of each city stay, because I know there will be more waiting for me in the hotel when we arrive at our next destination. Shipped a box home from Taipei, and have been shifting things back and forth to or from my carry-ons according to how much the bags I'm going to check weigh. Fortunately, most of the hotels we stay at have scales in the rooms.
Need to be less than 25 kilos when we go to the airport, which should be no problem; among the women in this group I'm actually one of the lighter ones. Have to watch the shopping tomorrow, though! More from Shanghai soon.