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Visiting Samsung’s Digital City

June 25, 2012

I flew to Korea last week to visit Samsung’s Digital City in Suwon. It was my first trip for work, and my first visit to Korea (and only my second trip to Asia; the second was to Japan back when I was interning with Alan Kay’s team at Disney Imagineering). Things were a bit different on this Asia trip, though. I discovered that rank does indeed have its privileges; rather than being crammed back in coach, I had a business class seat. Definitely advantageous on the 12.5 hour flight between San Francisco and Seoul (sadly I’m a bit too tall for the “lie flat” seat to be really comfortable, but the extra leg room was extremely welcome).

Although we flew into Seoul (well, technically Inchon), we were actually visiting Samsung’s Digital City in Suwon, which is around an hour drive south of Seoul. One of the things that surprised me on the trip was how much people use taxis for longer trips. I was told a taxi was the best way to get from the airport to my hotel in Suwon, and it ended up costing around half what it likely would have cost to travel a comparable distance in the US.

Since we were flying east to west, we left around 1:30 PM on Monday and made it to the hotel around 7:30 PM on Tuesday. I personally find it easier to handle jet lag in that direction; rather than going through a shorter night and trying to adjust, you get a really long day and then can immediately crash for an extended period when you arrive. I hit the sack nearly immediately after check-in and slept through until 5 AM and was ready for the day.

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The next two days were taken up with meetings and presentations at headquarters. Overall I had a lot of fun meeting folks, seeing what they were up to, and exploring a little bit of the Digital City campus. Thursday evening we also went out for barbecue with the team, and the food was extremely tasty (I personally liked the plain meat dipped in just a little bit of salt best, but the marinated meat was also good).

Although we returned to the States on Friday, we had the morning free (our return flight wasn’t until 5), so I opted to do a little sightseeing. I opted to walk over to Hwaseong Fortress, which is a World Heritage site and was only around a 15 minute walk from the hotel.

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I’d originally planned on walking a complete circuit of the walls, but quickly discovered that the little tourist map I’d gotten from the hotel was definitely Not To Scale. When I first reached the wall I noticed the structure on the hill in the distance, and thought it might be a good destination for a future hike if I could determine was it was. But after walking the wall for awhile, I soon realized that it was actually the far side of the wall! So sadly I didn’t walk a full circuit on this trip (not only because of concerns about time; it was really hot and humid, and despite starting around 7:30 after an hour of walking I was pretty sweaty.

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But I did end up walking roughly a third of the wall, and walking along the river that cuts through the area enclosed by it. It was a very nice walk. Since the wall is elevated you get a nice view of the city as you go, and there are a variety of different structures intermittently along the wall as you go. Each one had a small explaining the significance of the structure and what it was used for.

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One of the things I always enjoy about visiting foreign countries is seeing the different types of architecture. I found Hwaseong Fortress doubly interesting, not just for the general Asian style of architecture but also for the variety of the individual buildings. At least on the eastern and northern sides, no two buildings were alike (although there was some repetition on the southern side on my walk back to my starting point).

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The walk by the river when cutting across the enclosed area was also quite lovely. And shady; there was a path below street level, allowing you to walk beside the river and stay in the shady (quite handy, because even by 8:30 the sun was getting very warm).

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After my shortened hike I made it back to the hotel around 10, which allowed me plenty of time for a shower before checking out (thankfully). Next time I visit Korea in June I must remember to pack shorts for walking around in my free time. After checking out it was back to the airport (using the airport bus this time; a good deal at roughly $12 for the hour drive to the airport) and then hanging out in the Prestige Lounge before boarding the plane. That business class ticket coming in handy once again…

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So all in all a very enjoyable trip; I’m looking forward to my next visit to HQ.

From → Travel

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