Photo by John Buckley
Annyong Haseyo (hello!):
November 4, 2007 —
First, I'll admit that that is about the only Korean I have learned thus far, and at that, I had to take out my phrasebook for the spelling.
I had been meaning to get a blog entry put together by now, but for some reason I am unable to access the website that I use. I'm not saying that Korea is trying to silence me, but it's definitely suspect. I'll try to figure out why I can't get on travellerspoint, or perhaps, I'll have to set up a new blog entirely. For now, I'll resort to the ever-popular mass email, as well as posting on www.realvail.com. (For those of you who actually have jobs and are short on time, you might want to just watch this: Link to YouTube.
Life in Korea - Bearing in mind that everything that follows is based off of one man's opinion after 10 days, I have to say that Korea is a random hodgepodge of total awesomeness (is that a word? I'm the English teacher now, so yes), complete bafflement (again, these are words, I promise you), organized chaos, and surprisingly, much that is just like home.
What has impressed me from the very beginning is how safe I feel. Though the Koreans may not be the warmest people in the world from first glance, not one has seemed menacing. I walk around freely with as much money as I like in my pocket, and think not once that I need to be on my guard. To be perfectly honest, my only fear from day-to-day is that I will get smoked by a passing car or motor bike.
It is an over-used phrase over here that stop-lights are just a suggestion, but it couldn't be more true. Even sidewalks, the refuge of the tame at home, are fair game to everything from cars to motorbikes, to (gasp!) pedestrians over here.
One of my favorite things about Korea so far is that just about every day you see something that makes you think, hmmm. . .that's weird. Example: apparently whenever a new store opens, said store hires two hot girls to stand on a platform outside wearing matching outfits and go-go boots and then has them dance for hours on end to techno music. I don't know what this does for business inside the store, but it's damn fun to watch.
Second example: Koreans love to work out. I've joined a gym where I can do pretty much everything I did at the Vail Athletic Club back home. There is one thing, however, that I was unable to do back home; and that is to watch people do the strangest crap you can imagine in the name of "working out".
Do you remember those Popeye cartoons where they had those exercise machines with the vibrating belts? Well, that seems to be the number one "work out" for middle-aged women in Korea. I have no idea what these machines actually do other than just shake the living daylights out of you, but it's really fun to watch. In addition to the vibrating belts, they also have vibrating platforms you can stand on that essentially make a person involuntarily do the "booty dance".
High comedy, I assure you. I don't mean to downplay the actual serious endeavors that many Koreans put forth towards exercise, but it seems to me that the over-riding opinion on exercise is that if you are moving, you are exercising. My other favorite is the giant hula hoop that does, in fact, look like it takes a Herculean effort to keep suspended in the air.
Other interesting things I've seen over the past few days in no particular order: an elderly woman driving an ATV down a major city street; a "no swimming" sign with a crazed fish jumping out of the water located next to a small cesspool; and a "don't walk" sign where the illuminated red man's physique was reminiscent of a young Schwarzenegger. I could go on.
I had intended to go into more detail on things like my apartment, my teaching gig and the interesting cast of characters I've met so far, but I fear I've lost most of you already. I'll save that for another blog.
Comment on "Annyong Haseyo (hello!):" using the form below