Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Seoul, South Korea | Oct 20th, 2006 - Jan 2nd, 2007

While working with Samsung for more than a year then, I had built up a good reputation with employees across the hierarchy. One fine day, I was working at Samsung office at Bagmane Tech Park, C V Raman Nagar, Bangalore. My TL (Team Lead, his name was Anshul Sharma) came and asked me, "Gahlot, have you worked on driver development?" As I had worked earlier in this field, I said, "Yes". Few days later, my name was nominated for a project on Home-networking on 1394 (Commonly known as FIREWIRE). It was about developing drivers on Windows XP platform for connecting various Audio-Video nodes available in home-networking. The work was to be carried out in South Korea. So, I submitted all the documents for visa processing, collected forex from finance department and was ready to see off my beloved land for some months. I was to fly from Bangalore to Incheon via Mumbai. 19th October 9:45 PM, flight took off from Bangalore to Mumbai.

20th October 3:55 AM, I boarded flight to Incheon and before 4:00 PM (KST), I was well in the limits of South Korea. Though very few people are comfortable with English there, I managed to hire a taxi to hotel highland which I had already booked few days before. I paid hefty 87000 Won to taxi driver before making my move to the hotel room. Highland hotel is in Seoul and situated quite near to subway station SINSA.

Within two days time, I was sure that I couldn't stay anymore in Seoul. I had all my friends put up in Suwon, a satellite city to Seoul. 22nd October 8:00 PM, I took a cab to Suwon with my luggage packed again. I met up my friend (Abhinav Gupta) from Samsung and I put up with him in his fully-furnished flat and hence started the fun part of my trip.

Every working day (5 days a week), I used to board bus no. 500 to travel from Suwon to Seoul (Gangnaam) and then, in turn, travel from Gangnaam to my office by Metro. At office, work was as usual new, challenging and frustrating at times.

South Korea has everything that a develop country usually has. 10 or more lanes roads, super connectivity by Metro, mall culture everywhere, big cars, high speed internet speed capable of streaming live TV on laptops (350 Kbps or more) and other similar things. I still remember it took me 45 minutes to download new DON movie (starring Shahrukh Khan) of 700 MB size. It's so much fun living in these places with all the state-of-the-art infrastructure. Life looks without any ups and downs. Everything is so easy and simple to do, that at times I felt it's getting boring.

It was somewhere in December 2008 that I saw snow-fall for the first time. I was in office along with my colleague Ajay. We could see long lanes, building roofs, roads etc covered with white flakes. Next night we had a big party at Abhinav's place. We both went out in night when it was snowing and walked around playing with soft snow flakes.

To add one more first-time-activity in my life, we did skiing for the first time at Jisan Park. This park is 1-hour drive from Suwon. We were four friends namely JC, Sids, Abhinav and yours truly. JC went on to try snowboard and rest of us tried Skiing. After falling for innumerable time, we started having some fun in skiing. By the end of day, we were quite well off and could ski the whole range without falling even once.

There are so many other things to write about Korea trip but I would keep this post a little sort. I ll end it up on our Hongik university New Year party. We had the best time there. Again, we were four guys (above mentioned) and reached university area around 10:30 PM on New Year eve. We roamed around the place for some time to have the feel of the place. We came across a place with a very unique name. It's called OM (with OM written in Hindi) night club. We settled in one of the place around Hongik University. And we partied till 3:00 AM. We counted down a 15 seconds countdown to New Year. Rest of merry maker (from different nationality) joined us in our countdown making it our truly global countdown to New Year. We had very good time in Korea. I would especially thank people of Korea for being so polite and helpful.

I flew back to India on 1st January 2007 with lot of fond memories of Korea and a few packets of chocolates for colleagues at office.

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