Early morning in Song-do Bay and my Interim Busan Bureau is in full swing.
Being nine hours ahead of London time has its advantages but it sure as heck guarantees long working days, as all my team arrive into work as my own draws (or should draw) to a close and the European business gets into full swing.
I love writing across time zones and from different geographic points, though. By the time my first coffee kicked in as day broke over Busan I had big stories on the boil from the USA (14 hours behind) and Brazil (11 hours), news in from New Zealand (four hours ahead) and correspondence aplenty from all around the world. All I need is a store opening from Kiritimati and I could (almost) report on yesterday, today and tomorrow simultaneously. Now that’s what I call readership reach.
I’m writing from the kitchen table in my Airbnb but it serves the purpose just as well as the swankiest headquarters at the Wall Street Journal. Have laptop, have Wi-Fi, will travel (and will report). That might be The Moodie Davitt Report’s new motto, though I still prefer the semantic nonsense of ‘The Website that never sleeps’, as it truly doesn’t (and, on this trip at least, nor do I).
I’m hoping to pay a visit to the Lotte Duty Free downtown store while I’m here, having been wowed by the same retailer’s department store in Gwangbok yesterday. The standards of merchandising, range and service are hugely impressive and it’s enlightening to see the plethora of emergent brands across the beauty and fashion categories. Korean retail must be about the coolest on the planet and the big department stores such as Lotte and Shinsegae are emporiums of excellence and delight.
Thursday offers the chance to view the Lotte Duty Free and Dufry Thomas Julie stores at Gimhae Airport before a short flight to Japan followed by a rather longer transit at Tokyo Narita Airport. I mustn’t miss my connection. I have to be home by Saturday for a certain rugby match between my beloved All Blacks and the white might of England. I reckon the latter’s chariots won’t be so much swinging low as careering off-track without their wheels.
I’m taking along Jonathan ‘Chaps’ Holland, Founder of Singaporean travel retail specialist Jonathan Holland & Associations, and his wife Eleen. I have prepared my consoling words already though it is possible that I may yet have to eat my own. Perhaps I better take home some soju to wash them down with just in case. [Postscript: Or, as noted by Irish travel retail executive Alan Brennan below, perhaps I might have to eat my words with some Irish stew a week later. As I said Alan, perhaps.]