September 30, 2011

Jeju-ing (Day 7, Sep 30)

Just like that, a week has passed. Will be boarding for home soon, just chilling at Incheon now.

A fruitful day it's been. After stocking up on breakfast, me, Phyllis and Aunty Judy headed to the Yeomiji Botanical Garden to stop and smell the roses.

Except there weren't any roses, in fact hardly any flowers. Nothing spectacular, I think give me Botanics anyday. The highlight for me was the cactus display and a cute little Korean boy who looks like a future K-POP star in the making. So stylo!

Next door was the Cheonjeyeon Waterfall, so we made a pitstop there. Our driver Mr Won helped to take many pictures of us, he posed with me too, but stood a little too close for comfort. Kept calling me Cute Susumita!

He brought us to a local market next, we were still looking for dried tilefish but had not much luck at the market. Everything was either frozen or fresh, no vacuum packed ones.

But he tried one more place, a co-op run by Nonghyup in a small coastal town and we hit the jackpot there. I bought a couple of boxes and Phyllis bought lots of packets.

We then went back to the hotel to check out and pick up our bags before heading out again. Phil and the others opted to stay in for massages and shopping at Lotte whilst we ventured to Jeju Loveland for a laugh.

There are a few erotic museums and parks in Jeju and this was one of them, with lots of sculptures, some graphic, some subtle but after a while they all looked the same and I didn't find them that artistic.

Actually a lot of the attractions in Jeju just felt like tourist traps to me, very artificial, small and no value for money. I think it's better to stick to the natural attractions like the caves, craters, cliffs, mountains.

Before we headed to the airport, we made a quick detour to see Yongduam Rock, or Dragon Head Rock. It does sort of resemble a dragon's head but it was smaller than I anticipated. Barely had enough time to snap a couple of pictures before we rushed to the airport to catch our Asiana flight to Incheon.

There wasn't much time for duty free, I just grabbed a large navy Longchamp tote for the sake of buying something, only US$120. Came in handy as I repacked all the stuff me and Phil we hand-carrying.

And can you believe for 7 days I didn't have a proper Korean meal till dinner at the airport today? It was Western mostly at the hotel, had a couple of noodle dishes but they were udons. So me and Phil just had some bulgogi at a Korean restaurant in the airport. Bought some ginseng chicken to bring home...can't wait to see my bubs!

September 29, 2011

Jeju-ing (Day 6, Sep 29)

With the event over and the main purpose of today to oversee departures, we had free time on our hands after Phil volunteered to stay behind.

Phyllis, Germaine and I shared a cab to sightsee for half a day. It rained a bit in the morning but it cleared up by the time we arrived at our first stop, the Jeju Glass Castle. It was a bunch of tacky glass sculptures and figurines, nothing spectacular.

Next we headed to the Yongmeori Coast where we tried to look for Haenyo divers but the water was too choppy for them to dive and there were none in sight. We did pull over to take in the rugged seascape, posing for pictures with Mt Sanbangsan in the distance before we went to the mountain itself.

There was a Buddhist temple there and we went in for a while. The weather was lovely, sunny but cool. After exploring the surrounding area, including a nearby smoke stack, we headed to a local shop to try and find the dried fish that Germaine and Phyllis tried at one of our Hyatt food tastings. There was only a couple of boxes of this dried tilefish and the gals snapped them up.

Last stop was the International Convention Centre where there is supposedly some shopping available. There was a duty free store and Germaine attempted to buy some Diesel watches but to cut a long story short, she cancelled the transaction in the end when she realised she had to pick up the goods at the airport, something she wasn't willing to do.

I bought myself a Kraze burger and some Baskin Robbins, ate the burger in the comfort of my room. Germaine departed in the afternoon and we hooked up with Phil, Boon Huat, Wee Ngee, Wai Leng and Phyllis' Aunty Judy to continue sightseeing.

We hired two cabs to bring us to the Manjanggul Lava Cave, it was over an hour's ride away. As we descended the steps, the temperatures dropped, it was around 16 degrees I think, luckily I had a sweater.

Nothing much to see or do except trek through what is supposedly the longest lava tube flow in the world.

Next stop was Seongsan Ilchulbong or Sunrise Peak, a volcanic crater rising out of the sea and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Unfortunately the weather had turned cloudy and misty so the place looked a little dull. Some of the others attempted to go to the peak while Phyllis, Aunty Judy and I stayed down to cam-whore.

For dinner, we headed to Mint. I was a bit hesitant about showing my face there but thankfully no one recognised me and Phil, although service wasn't that great. At first, one of the managers refused to join tables to accommodate our group of 7, insisting we split up even though there were lots of empty tables, just not one big enough and they were too rigid to join.

My boss was prepared to walk out but the guy finally relented and added more settings to a large table that was set for 4.

I had a half lobster and beef tenderloin, I think I've eaten way too much on this trip!

Last stop was Gecko's for drinks. I stuck with my one glass of white wine sangria all night while the guys knocked back Jaeger bombs. Phyllis joined the guys for some pool, she claimed she didn't really know how to play, but her actions proved otherwise!

September 28, 2011

Jeju-ing (Day 5, Sep 28)

My joy was short-lived. After the high of yesterday, attendance at today's sessions plummeted by some 70 percent I think, thanks to the customers deciding to skip the conference and blatantly go sightseeing instead!

The main culprits were the Chinese, their absence was conspicuous. But there was nothing much we could do about it, I felt sorry for the presenters who had flown all the way and spent time preparing their material only to present to a handful of people.

Actually the Summit and Sophis attendance was still okay because they had other nationalities, it was just the Opics stream that had a high Chinese registration.

With things relatively slow and running on auto-pilot, Phyllis and I had a chance to go over to the Lotte Hotel and check out their duty free. Was tempted by bags from Tods and Prada but decided to be good.

There was a mix-up during lunch, the hotel cleared the buffet even though a number of staff and crew had not eaten so they compensated by offering us lunch at the Terrace Cafe. Germaine and a few others took advantage of their mistake by having expensive set meals, I opted for just a king prawn main course. It was really yummy!

It was a windy day and before we knew it, the event drew to a conclusion and it was time for a closing cocktail session. Some 'tourist' customers made an appearance after their day of sightseeing, shamelessly coming for the free food. Tsk tsk.

I've been distracted by my colleague's Tiffany Legacy ring the past few days and asked for permission to try it and she didn't mind. Sigh, this is my dream ring...

After we settled things for the night and packed up, Phyllis and I went out with Germaine and her crew to the nearby Gecko's, an American-style bar for a late dinner and some drinks.

Bumped into a customer there, Ranu from Papua New Guinea and he joined our group and later on played pool with Germaine. Some weird Korean guy looked like he was trying to pick him up at one point and our impatient cab driver nearly drove off as Ranu tried to fend of the attention!

September 27, 2011

Jeju-ing (Day 4, Sep 27)

Yay, Day1 of the event is over and by all accounts it's been a success so far.

Things pretty much ran smoothly today, we kicked off with a staff briefing in the morning and the event proper only started at 11 am. Our EVP arrived in time to deliver his opening address, providing an update on Misys followed by a few other plenary presentations before breaking out into solution streams.

There was a big lunch buffet spread but I didn't get to enjoy it much, having been called back to attend to something. Managed to check on the birthday cake we ordered, Hyatt pulled through for us even though it was something we requested only 2 days ago.

Spent the afternoon scrambling to prepare games for dinner and finalise the seating plan and by some miracle, it was approved wholesale save for 1 swop. Phew!

In the evening we had a cocktail reception by the poolside, everyone was in a relaxed mood and I even had time for a quick shower and change. Phyllis helped to place the customized tent cards and before we knew it, guests were streaming into the ballroom and it took a while to get everybody to the right tables.

But once the programme started, it was quite straightforward. No one would have guessed we planned the whole thing in 2 days, things ran smoothly and our emcee Alex just winged it like a pro. People had fun during the games, we had a pop quiz and scavenger hunt plus 2 sets from the in-house Filipino band.

There were copious amounts of alcohol consumed, my MD and Alex went around like a wedding couple toasting every table and they got pretty high. By the time the cake-cutting came around, everyone was in high spirits.

In between I managed to eat in the secretariat, the thoughtful staff at Hyatt set up a dining table smack in the middle of our 'command centre', complete with wine and all the necessary cutlery!

After the event, some senior staff started fooling around on stage, trying to pretend to be the Wonder Girls and lip-synching into mikes. It was hilarious and I have blackmail-worthy footage, LOL! They were effusive in their thanks, thinking that everything went well and very touchy-feely with their hugs. Phil even got 'molested' by Alex a few times!