Stews on a cold night

It’s been raining the past couple of nights and the wife was in the mood for some loach soup or 추어탕 (chuo tang). There’s this Korean soup restaurant near my office which serves really good loach soup called Seorak Chuotang, located along Jl Senopati, South Jakarta. The place was packed with Korean salary men having their weekly dinner and drink session with the boss and even for lunch this place is normally packed with Korean office employees and I’d be hard pressed to identify any local clientele.

I opted for something more substantial as the cold and wet night demanded something heavier/hearty. Went for the 해장국 (HaeJang Guk) or hangover soup instead and it was simply a thing of beauty. There’s nothing quite like a bubbling pot of spicy stew with beef and dried mustard greens topped with spring onions.

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HaeJang Guk which costs Rp90,000 or USD6.70

Polished off 1.5 bowls of rice with the soup. Not exactly diet friendly food.

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Sometimes I hate flying

Between the weekly flights, the mad rush among frequent fliers to board first, checking in online early enough to avoid the dreaded middle seat, I’ve developed quite a list of things that make me dread Mondays and Fridays when it’s time to head to the airport.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been getting very familiar with Air Asia (less so after QZ8501), Garuda, CGK and SIN. Flying is truly an experience of observing what can be the best and also the worst in human behaviour in economy/coach/cattle class.

MIDDLE SEAT. Right on top of my list of pet peeves is being assigned the middle seat in a flight. Now I know someone has to sit there but frequent fliers will avoid it like a plague. Being sandwiched in between 2 other passengers is bad enough but when it escalates into a war contest for the arm rests, this is truly a special kind of hell. If you are familiar with Garuda’s A330-200 you will know that the middle seat offers only half of the space available for your legs as compared to the window seat due to the placement of the life vest container under the front seat. It should not be that difficult to be nice and allow the person in the middle seat the benefit of arm rests. Early check-in normally solves this issue, but if not (especially when it’s a full flight and you’re flying alone) abuse that platinum frequent flier/skyteam priority status at the check in counter and be extra friendly to the counter staff.

MULTIPLE AND/OR LARGE CARRY-ON BAGS. There’s a reason why frequent fliers are always rearing to board first. With airlines fitting in more seats on planes and often charging for checked luggage, the overhead luggage bin space is in high demand. Many airlines are still being too lenient when enforcing the carry on luggage limits and on every flight I’ve been on there will be passengers boarding at the end that will find that they have to check their baggage in simply because there’s no more space in the overhead bins. With airlines warning that no valuables should be checked in, you’re basically up shit creek should anything happen to your carry on that had to be checked in. Garuda has this habit of storing blankets in the overhead bins, thus further reducing the available space for passengers – something I find really annoying. Unless you have priority boarding, the best solution would be to opt for a seat at the rear of the plane since passengers sitting there will almost always be boarded first.

SEAT KICKER/SCREEN PUNCHER. A problem that as prevalent in a plane as it is in a cinema. More often than not it is a kid that doesn’t know better but if the parent is sitting beside him/her, you would expect them to intervene and tell their kid not to kick the seat in front. Being a kid does not give them a free pass to jack hammer the crap out of the front seat. The adults tend to be the ones jabbing at the touch screens/monitors with such intensity and ferocity that you’d think they were trying to finger punch their way out of a coffin buried under 6-feet of earth ala Kill Bill.

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I can only imagine the situation getting worse with airlines continuing to find ways of fitting in more and more seats in their never ending quest to improve margins, all at the expense of passenger comfort (hopefully not safety).