Was anyone else an Alastair Cooke fan?

Don’t worry, my pretensions are modest this time–I just stole his title.

It’s Korea day 2 if you count an evening to get to the hotel, have a drink, and crash. I don’t.

An aside about business travel: when I travel in my real life, I’m about as low-budget as they come. I’m happier in a pup tent with a pup curled up next to my sleeping bag for a $10 camping permit than a hotel, especially when I’m spending my own money, even Super 8 costs more than I can see spending for a lousy bed in a noisy room that won’t get dark no matter how hard you try. My dream vacation involves that tent, a canoe, and nothing resembling a telephone or email device. But when you travel for work, at least if you’re I, you completely wear yourself out in marathon workdays, and the hotel where you grab too little sleep between onslaughts can’t possibly be too luxurious, all the moreso because you need to be looking crisp, cleaned, pressed, and otherwise professional, and these things are not natural occurring phenomena right out of the suitcase. Quick services for pressing, shoe-polishing, and so on really count.

Anyway, I’ve decided since I have little choice about how I eat when I travel for work, I can at least be strict about working out each day, in yet another ambitious plan to avoid packing on ten pounds per business trip. This morning I got up at 7 and hit the gym, which is gorgeous. I survived only 13′ on the treadmill, outfitted with a personal LCD TV with headset jack yet!, but to make up for it I did all my arm weights for the first time in centuries, so now I can barely lift my espresso cup. Then I wandered into the lovely aerobic room, complete with hardwood sprung dance floor, for some pathetic push-ups and sit-ups, and finally strolled out past the swimming pool, where there was a little station offering pots of Korean “herbal detoxifying tea, provided with compliments,” which was a hot, sweet, gingery delight. Yum! Now that’s a classy touch! There was also a little refrigerator full of Gatorade and the local equivalents, such as “Pocari Sweat” and “Enerzen” for W2,000-8,000, or about US$2-9.

Tomorrow (or late tonight) I might try the pool and sauna. Everything in the fitness center is free except the sauna–go figure! Fortunately the club rate includes sauna. Luxury can be addictive.

I can’t decide if it’s good or bad that my room rate includes breakfast in the club lounge. On the one hand, it’s nice to use the free wifi and save the $25 or so it would cost to eat in one of the hotel restaurants; on the other, I could get traditional Korean and Japanese breakfast there, and here is your basic European continental (cold meats, cheeses, beautiful lox, pastries, cereal, etc.). It’s a pretty good version of that, but I’m in Asia, for crying out loud!

One consistent theme I’ve found in world travel is that you can never tell about juices. I’ve seen the reddest looking V8-y tomato juice in the world turn out to be (blood) orange, something that looks like generic lousy orange juice turns out to be some kind of carroty concoction, and so on. You just pour what looks most appealing and hope it tastes good if not quite what you expected. This theme is at play again this morning.

One juice that looked like grapefruit tasted more like some kind of melon, and the red stuff that looked like pink grapefruit but was incredibly pulpy and frothy turned out to be tomato–not V8ish or anything like that, but more like fresh tomatoes had been thrown into one of those juice-it-or-else machines approximately two seconds before I poured my glass. Not exactly what I was wanting for breakfast this morning, but an incredible taste all the same. I can’t help wondering what sort of bloody mary could come from this stuff, but the rest of the ingredients aren’t on offer, alas.

It’s 9:30am here, dinner time yesterday at home, and it’s time for me to pack up the pair of laptops, gifts, etc. and head over to the office, which I think is across the street. I’ll be happy to get all the chocolates and teas for the team and two of the three bottles of wine I schlepped over here out of my suitcase and even happier to get it out of my backpack today. (I know, I should use a briefcase, but when you schlepp this much crap on your business trips, a briefcase is a lousy idea. I can only take the whole “dress for success” thing so seriously…)