Escapades…. from Plasma to Kimchi

Posted: February 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

Following 11 hours flight from Doha, as the plane cruises through 30,000 Kilometers above the sea levels, the down blanket of clouds is not permeable enough to look through the long extended South Korean Peninsula.

But as soon the descent commences the earth welcomes you to a huge view of sea girdling huge surface of inland and islands littered with small and huge boats tiding lines through the water.

Due to difference in time of about 6 hours from the Central and East Africa, the sun rises from the South East and makes a curtain of white yellowish horizons as pilots handle turbulences allowing passengers to have a glimpse of the peninsula ahead of Incheon International Airport.

Being the busiest Airport in the South Eastern Asia, Incheon International Airport, and the mega semi circled airport has around 140 terminal gates and is elevated to 23 feet.

The airport has both subways and surface metro services, in fact our plane dropped us on the 102th gate and we took an underground metro of 10 minutes to Immigration stands.

No room for Security laxity

As I was checking-in domestically in before I connect to Daegu (another city) via Korean Air, security officers screened a razor in my wallet; to my knowledge I partially got surprised, simply because I know it was there, but it has never been detected before.

It seems screenings were not tight in some countries prior to that trip, I happened to have gone through other African countries and Middle East never to be caught, the security officer in his humble tone tells me ‘you can’t continue with It,’ it was so hidden I had to throw everything out of the wallet, including mugs of my beloved, Yes! Exes were there too.

Anyway I proceeded in less honor but respect, I tell you Koreans, in facts Asians, are reputed for one core thing, ‘Respect’ and ‘Humility’, unlike self-high esteemed individuals and or those with superiority complexes, these cute short fine people will be addressing you in small but fine tones full of modesty and discipline.

Land of high tech and energy

Transit areas are normally gigantesque and very quiet, believe me the internet is free and super fast, just sitting down to post a note on whatsapp or respond to an email, it takes fraction of seconds.

As if the computer or the phone sensed or preempted next commands, the internet is so fast that it can download an entire human being through your phone (I am lying).

For huge file down-loaders and online movie lovers, Korea is a place to be, in fact a friend of mine, whom I had the honor to meet, Professor. David SanGang a senior lecturer at Korean University of education told me, absence of technology and industrialization in Korea is like stripping the country off its cherished golden robe.

Taxi cabs, mostly own brands ‘Hyundai’ and ‘Kia’, are heavily equipped with cutting edge technology, by just entering the comfortable 2015 model, it feels like being in workshop full of ICT gadgets, they range from meter numbers, Global Position satellites (GPS) devices; radio phones; screen boards; cameras to name a few.

By just handing a piece of paper to a driver, normally written in Korean since many some won’t speak English (deliberately), on chosen location, the person searches through GPS and set the car on loose with the help of the device till the final destination.

Going through subways in lengthy tunnels, you can notice IT mini stations that control sign posts for highways users, indicators of locations, kilometers, levels of temperature outside and the rest, no driver would wish to see power cuts in a middle of the tunnel.

The technology is abundant that Americans regularly borrow and or purchase some of the countries highly modified applications, softwares and other IT programs and Gadgets.

For a record, when I was reading  ‘Korean Time’ that morning I bumped on a piece about US delaying to submit a purchase order of technological items they wanted to buy from Korean high-tech firm.

Unlike many developing countries where load-shedding, power rationing and water scarcity are orders of the day, nobody would survive in Seoul without electricity; the country has made it, energy is in galore to allow production of everything else.

As of 2011, the country total production on electricity hovered around 497 million Kilowatts, of which 65 percent comes from thermal, 31 percent from nuclear power plants while hydro and others including coal and oil share 3 percent of the remaining sources of energy.

A former class mate and a friend who is studying in Pohang, another metropolitan city, tells me the backup is enough but the country has been trying other technologies to boost production for export purposes.

One of the contemplated energy which has already been tested is Plasma Energy, a complicated process that uses too much of chemistry, it is considered the fourth fundamental states of the matter on top of Gas, liquid and solid, if you see what I am talking about from a chemistry view point.

Like composant of a normal lightning, plasma energy according to my friend is created by heating a gas or subjecting it to a strong electromagnetic field applied with a laser or microwave generator.

Once in place, the revolutionary energy source will help countries generate massive power from simple chemical phenomenon.

Climate and culinary

As soon as you get exposed to the country’s ordinary weather, not the air conditioned one from the plane and or the temperature pumped inside the airport through oxygen reserves, the weather is cold and windy, no wonder massive supply of wind energy is guaranteed.

Cars, Buses, houses, hotels, churches and any other sheltering facility in this time of the year must be ventilated accordingly, as the temperature goes down to minus 2 up to 10.

Stepping outside calls you to be in heavy warm winter attire, including gloves and ear covers; thanks to the strong economy and higher gross domestic product, many Koreans own cars, so rarely you will see people marching outside in such weather.

Very often you will see a group of people outside shivering as they smoke tiny cigarettes before they rush quickly in-houses for warm drinks and bites that are mostly rice and flour based.

Unless you are a regular traveler who takes interests in continental delicacies, Korean food tends to be oceanic with a lot of sea items that are rarely seasoned with spices, Koreans like fresh food, although some of it is imported.

Mind you, ability to eat with chop sticks is a must or else you are likely to look like a lost soul in the middle of something. A few minutes practice will help you look good, although forks can be supplied should you decide to look stranger.

The agriculture is less than 20 percent of the mainstays of the economy and is highly mechanized and technology based leaving the country to survive on other drivers of the economy.

The side dish ‘Kimchi’ is very popular, just like ‘beans’ in Rwanda which accompany basic meals, the dish is made of vegetables mixed with cabbages, cucumber and white reddish and is served with sea food mostly based with shrimps and or grilled meats.

Small in quantity when it is served on a plate, you can clearly see that Koreans belong to the high end of global gastronomy, where a simple supper can be served in 4 series before you sum it up with a desert made of pounded short-grain rice, it is locally known as Tteok.

For binge drinkers, Korea is a place to avoid unless you want to be a permanent resident of a rehabilitation center.

Ranging from rice liquor to tomato wines people buy alcohol in huge quantity and surprisingly in a bar you are served with highly trained waitress whom you will share the drink but not the bill.

My friends and I once checked in a bar and we were treated to such services where we asked so many questions about the culture of sharing a drink with a waitress, ‘what if she consumes higher than you can actually afford?’ my Ethiopian friend asked.

We were told girls normally drink to your speed and can never get drunk before you, despite your level of consumption, and in case you decline to such companionship, waitress will go but you will be referred to as a mean client.

A take home souvenir

Now, unless you hire from a wealth family where money is not any issue, mind you Koreans purchasing power is extremely high at least compared to ours (third world countries); going there with a mind of buying an-up-to date gadget simply because you are not far from a Samsung factory is wrong.

A mere fact of looking at an item price in a store, let’s say a ‘Samsung S6’ edge, you will be surprised if you start to compare with the local price; it is a bit expensive, which makes someone think whether exported products are substandard and or whether traders have dodged taxes due to the tariff that is almost the same of $1200 (approx. Rwf.800,000)

However, for women, Korea is a place to be for makeup, skin cleaners are everywhere and at affordable price, and Koreans are skin doctors with milliards of makeup items for every type of color.

As you return home don’t forget to get something for your wife, sister and or daughter.

Also don’t forget to pose for photos with elegant Korean beauties in touristic areas; Korea does not fall short of them.

See you in Seoul next time…..

 

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