Saturday, August 27, 2011

The first two days part 2

Funny enough, I came back to the PC Room with Gabe and Peter and I couldn't log in. I got it right the first time, but this time I didn't. After futzing with it for a bunch of minutes, I asked for help. The girl at the counter was helpful. Out here not many people speak English, but everyone seems respectful of foreigners. I've read (and have seen it firsthand) that if you make the slightest effort to speak in Korean or use Korean customs, the people will be accomodating. Such has been the case so far. I've gotten many smiles and nods of understanding.

Peter, Gabe, and I just got back from a short, but exhausting hike up to a Buddhist temple. Check it out:

The angle is off--Peter has the better shot of this one.

Me and Wasu.

View from the hill.

A shot of one of the streets in town.
Upon arriving here (as in Seoul) I was surprised to see that most Korean cars are full size. In fact, they drive the same cars we drive in the States, plus or minus a few models. Prior to coming here I'd formed a picture in my head about Koreans driving small cars because of the small country and dense population. I thought so since Korean (and Asian) cars have a reputation for being compact and economical in the States. It seems that's only the Korean cars marketed there. Here's something else: some cars here, like Mr. Park's Sonata, run on propane gas. A propane-fueled car has to have its ignition primed before it can be started. This was explained to me when we were loading the groceries yesterday: I'd asked about the big tank I saw in the trunk and Mr. Park told me that that's the gas tank. Since my dad drives a Sonata as well, I'd estimate that the propane tank takes up half the trunk space. [I should have asked about the gas mileage. Perhaps later]

A couple more bits about cars, since I'm on the subject:

Korean police cars look about the same as American police cars, but their lights are always flashing. Maybe they do that so people know they're there, I don't know. I do like the idea of the constant flashing.

Koreans have amazing creativity when it comes to parking. So far I've seen cars parked on sidewalks, half on/half off the sidewalk, on 45 degree inclines up and down, up against store windows. Koreans park in places no one I know would dare to park, haha. Evidently the parking laws here are lax or non-existant. What a change, coming from Waukesha and Milwaukee, where parking checkers are notoriously vigilant. Everyone I know has stories of getting shafted on parking meters and tickets.

Some other quick bits:

I mentioned earlier that there's a soldiers' station here. Earlier we found about 3 soldiers' stores, or Post Exchanges (PX's), I suppose. Back home they'd be called surplus stores, except here soldiers actively frequent them and they're open to the public. Like Army PX's, one can buy office supplies, and lots of other stuff, including some sweet looking Army gear. [DMZ Reconaissance Police t-shirts, anyone?] Earlier I bought a nice camo bush hat for about $7. Zippo lighters are quite plentiful here too, I might add. I haven't inquired about their cost though.

To my friends who smoke: please don't kill me when I tell you this: cigarettes are abundant and cheap here. They cost between 2 and 3 dollars a pack. And the smoking laws? Again, more relaxed than at home. Just a few minutes ago the soldier next to me was smoking. Last night I did a double take when I saw people lighting up in the bar because I'm so used to Wisconsin's smoking ban that I had to remember that I'm not in the US anymore. The Koreans have an easier time with smoking, it seems. But at the same time, as plentiful as cigarettes are, not many people smoke here. Curious.

Mr. Park and others have told me that cigars are largely unavailable here. It looks like I won't be getting a Zippo and sampling the local cigar fare after all. Oh well, no big loss.

Cass, popular Korean beer, tastes exactly like PBR or Blatz. Many people have told me they loathe it, but I'm enjoying it because it reminds me of home. I'm told Korean beer isn't anything special. Oh well again--beer's beer to me.

Miller Genuine Draft, Budweiser, Corona, Heineken, and Guiness are all available the the GS 25 convenience store. They cost about the same as they do in WI bars: $3-4. It's comforting knowing that I can buy an MGD here if I want.

The stuff I've heard about Koreans and how they love their online gaming? True, so far.

Since I've never been to an Internet cafe back home, I can't comment on their costs, but here ~1.5 hours of computer time cost me a 1700 won, or ~$1.70. [An easy way to convert American dollars to Korean won: Add 3 zeros, for $1=~1043 won. Everyone's helpful with money here.]


1 comment:

  1. Hey, Uncle Tim here. looks like you are having a exciting time seeing the site. Hey, just wondered if there is a US Military post near by? You being so close to the DMZ I would think you would see allot of Us troops around. well i gotta go keep in touch, here is aunt tilley.

    Hey Ben, Sounds like you are really enjoying yourself so far. Heard that you have tasted some different food like squid and that you like it. Your mom said that you have gone to the school where you will be teaching and that you also live close to some of the other ones that have travel over with you. Sounds great so far. We will keep in touch. Love,Til