Pusan is a huge city, with a very good public transportation system. I am slowly learning the language, which makes getting around so much easier (it kinda helps to read the road signs).
The people here seen OK with an obvious foriegner such as myself among them, and I can’t help but notice their smiles when I try my pathetic little bit of poorly-pronounced Korean on them.
Eating at restaurants is an uncomfortable experience at first, as my legs have yet to adapt to kneeling through an entire meal. Korean restaurant meals are very big and filling, but also very spicy – watch out for that Kimchi, it has a kick!
I’m glad I brought a pair of shoes that are easy to slip on and off – 'cause you gotta take 'em off every time you walk into a restaurant or house.
I’m also glad I am proficient with chopsticks – I think a lot of restaurant workers are surprised to see me reject their kind offers of forks and knives, in favour of using chopsticks like everybody else.
Anyways, I gotta go. Can’t sit around in this internet cafe all day, now can I?
AAACCKK! Kybrdbrkn is doing just fine with the McCune-Reicjshauer romanization, so don’t get him going with that awful Ministry of Education mess! Next thing, you’ll be telling him it’s spelled Deogribmoon!
Well, now, there is something I must say about Korea…
Where the hell do the drivers get their licences? Inside a cereal box? I think the following exchange describes how a Korean driver’s exam goes:
Instructor: Can you drive like a complete maniac?
Instructor: Do you have any regard for pedestrians’ lives?
Instructor: Great, here’s your licence!
Sorry, I know I’m over-generalizing, but, man, there are some really bad drivers here! Taking the bus is more of an adventure than a commute. Walking down the street is an excercise in risking life and limb!
I just had to get that off my chest…
I’m done ranting now… And yes, I do know that there must be good drivers out there somewhere, I just haven’t noticed them yet.
No there aren’t. The rule about driving here is simple: go a far as you can in whatever direction you want using whatever space is available (sidewalks, breakdown lanes, etc.), and consequences be damned!
My first week here I was hit while walking down the sidewalk by a motorcycle! Tore my shoe right off my heel.
The funny thing is, it’s WAY harder to get a driver’s license here than it is in the states!
It’s not an over-generalization, just part of the whole Korean “I don’t know you, so you don’t exist” mentality. It’s the same reason why Koreans will shove in front of you at the grocery store. Once they’ve met you, seen your name card, learned your age, your job, and which university you attended, they can file you in your proper status and are the best of friends. If you have not been introduced, then they treat you as an “outside person” to be shoved aside. It’s not a bad thing, just a cultural quirk like kimchi and noraebang.
Also bear in mind that owning cars is relatively new to Koreans. Before Park Chung Hee created the modern prosperity era, South Korea was a desperately poor ox-cart-and-rice paddy place, ranking below Ghana and India in GNP as late as 1960. Consequently, car ownership didn’t really take off until the 1970s.
You’re lucky you’re in Pusan, since you’re close to Haeundae Beach and travelling to the historic and beautiful Buddhist temple, Bulguksa, and Kyongju, the ancient Shilla capital, is a lot closer than they are from Seoul (where I lived).
In addition, there’s a hovercraft service that will take you across the East Sea to Shimonoseki, Japan, which will be nice when it’s time to flee the country during Chusok and Sollal. Flights from Pusan to Fukuoka, Japan, take about an hour or so, but what you make up in speed you lose in scenic beauty.
Hm. Interesting comments about Koreans and status filing.
Congratulations on making to Pusan, Kybrdbrkn! I couldn’t tell if you could read Korean or not, from your posts. Romanization is, in my opinion, not the way to go. The Korean alphabet is extremely easy to learn. I learned how to read most Korean words in about a day. It helps you skip the romanization which I found helpful. My folks were just in Pusan, tromping around, during their wedding anniversary trip to Korea. They loved it and I hope you do, too.