Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Think I'm Turning Japanese...I mean Korean

Last week I went to Japan for business purposes, people.  I'm not that frivolous with my money yet.  But since I had to go, I decided to take the long way there - i.e., the Korean speed train KTX from Seoul to Busan, and then the ferry from Busan to Fukuoka, Japan.  Overall the trip was up and down.

The KTX train was great, and it was great to see the Korean countryside.  And the trip from Seoul to Busan was only $60, which is a great deal I think.  The train took 2 1/2 hours because it was going really fast.  Originally I think it's supposed to take 6 hours.

The ferry was fun, but I was so tired when I got on (around 9 pm) that I went straight to sleep.  I woke up around 2 am and I could feel the boat swaying back and forth.  I got up and got some water, and I would sway to one side of the hall and then sway to the other side.  I wanted to go outside but the doors were locked.  The doors were also locked on the way back because the sea was so choppy.  The waves were 4 meters high.  I took motion-sickness medicine both times so it wasn't too bad.

When I got to Japan, I realized quickly there was no way I could figure out the subway system.  It was all in Japanese and the maps were impossible to read, so I had to ask help how to get where I was going.  The first guy who helped me looked like one of the Beatles except he had really gross teeth and bad breath.  But he was nice, so I tried not to mind. 

The people in Japan looked really cool.  I could see right away why Americans know about Japan but not Korea.  Koreans are so clean and polished compared to the Japanese.  I was talking to some kids outside the terminal in Japan and found out they were Korean.  I asked what's the difference between Korean and Japanese?  He said Koreans are more handsome.

I had 2 full days in Japan, but each morning I had to get up early and take care of stuff so I was pretty tired the whole time.  My favorite thing was eating sushi.  They have restaurants with the chefs in the middle, like a bar, and rotating plates that go around the whole bar.  So you can pick whatever you want.  I chose 4 different plates with sushi and had that.  It was so good.  My other favorite thing was the zoo.  The animals were so cute, and it was different from America because there was hardly any glass in front of the cages and the walkway came really close to the animals.  So you could see everything.  I don't have any pics from that because it was raining the whole time.  I also went to a botanical gardent connected to the zoo and it was gorgeous.  No one was there because it was raining, so it felt very quiet and beautiful. 

I'm back in Korea now and I had the feeling that I was relieved to come back home. :)  Can you believe it?  That was a surprising feeling to have.  Enjoy the pics! 

KTX Speed Train through South Korea

Port of Busan, Korea

I stacked 3 of those beds on top of each other to sleep.  It was comfortable believe it or not.

Fukuoka, Japan

Home Sweet Home!

Thanks for the purple towel Gran! It matches the roses in my bathroom perfectly.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Art Museum Etc

We went to this art museum in Seoul about 2 weeks ago.  It was really cool because every picture had some way you could interact with it.  This one you act like you're pumping air into Mona Lisa's mouth.  There were a few I didn't show.  The coolest was too dark on my camera.  It was a slanted room where one person stands on one side and the other on the other side, but the roof is tilted so it looks like one person is really small and one is normal. 

Afterwards we went to walk around and have dinner.  My dinner was at a hot-dog stand, and it was pretty good.  We walked through an area that had a lot of clubs and it was fun to see how the people were dressed.  In the last picture, if you look closely, you can see bubbles.  They were coming from one club trying to draw in people.  Marketing strategies here are pretty intense.  I'll be just sitting on the subway on my way into Seoul, and the door will open and this random person will jump on the train with a bag of stuff.  When the doors shut they start talking quickly and loudly in Korean, showing everybody whatever it is they're trying to sell.  I've seen women's pantyhose, feet scrubbers, and a kid's light-up spinning toy so far.  They talk and sell until the next stop, which is usually only a few minutes away, and then they disappear again.

Things are going good.  The people at my church are really nice and helpful. Last night we went out to a restaurant where they bring you an endless supply of beef for you to cook on a hotplate in the middle of the table.  There was a pile of lettuce to put the meat on, and a little plate with raw garlic and a red sauce.  After we grilled the garlic and put it all together it was really good.  At the end of the meal they asked if we all wanted ice cream (they love it here), and of course we all said yes, so a guy ran to a nearby convenience store and came back with a bagful of ice cream pops.  Mine was a green tea cone.  It was so good!

I've been taking Korean lessons once a week from a person who goes to Danguk University, which is just down the road from BHCS.  At this point I can mostly read the whole alphabet and make all the sounds.  I can't understand everything though.  We meet every Sunday, and I get the chance to ask questions about the culture and why people do this or that.  This past week I found out that, yes, it IS rude to give your trash to the person behind the counter.  I was wondering why I got nasty looks for that, but it's so hard to find a trash can!