One month being home

I’m mostly over reverse culture shock.  Subtle things are the worst. Like I’m still a little surprised when people hold a door open for me, or say sorry when they just happen to be in the area I’m walking towards.

Then there is the food!  Oh it is so nice to have variety once again.  I can once again walk over to a deli, ask for “some of this and some of that”. There are tons of foods that I want to grab when I’m in a grocery store.  I’m trying real hard with not over doing it. Just but one thing different/extra each week.

I’ll try not to grumble too loudly about the f’ing insane cost of my 10GB mobile data plan…..>:(

I also bought a car. You really do need one in Canada unless you are a hermit.

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Is a 2002 Volvo S40. Only had 159K on it. Need to attend to some minor issues but once the weather is nice out.  It’s a good car and the turbo is fun to play with :)

Also, each week a connect with another friend/family member.  I realize this is a good plan as trying to contact every single person I knew at once would be hard.

Yes, it is nice to be home. Good to catch up with family/friends/food/cars again.  Well see how long it lasts ;)

Pretty adjusted now

I think finally back on track with proper sleeping schedule. I picked up a cold when I got back, it’s finally down to a niggling cough and McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes such these days.

Sigh. I’m really trying to like it back home…. honest!

Friends are nice to see, Tim Horton’s coffee is still good. Family is always good to me. Hmmm, need more time to plan my next move.

The fond farewell

Being in Korea for nearly 10% of my life has been one hell of an experience.  It has given me a perspective on life and the world that could not be had any other way.  Having visited Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia/Singapore, the United Kingdom and obviously South Korea, I learned that it had always been the people you meet that makes the journey memorable.  Oh sure, petting a live tiger in Thailand is pretty freaking awesome, and a tough act to follow, but reality, he never answered his emails or wished me happy birthday…. So, he gets second place to the people I have met.

Saturday night we had our one last blast at a meat buffet place in Jinju called SelfBar.  Basically you grab a plate, pick your own meat, cook it yourself…. no limits. All for a whopping 11,000 won(about $10).  We had a few friends come down from Seoul and it was great.

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With 17 people there, we pretty much dominated the place.

Then we went to Starbucks and owned that place too!  Must have been quite a sight for the local Koreans with so many of us all on one place.

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Everyone signed a book for us too.

Well, I am writing this from our hotel room by the airport. Tomorrow afternoon we fly back to Canada. Thank you Korea, it has been an experience everyone should have at least once in their lives! Hopefully you won’t make the mistake of ” I didn’t realize how powerful the stove is in the place. I put the kettle on it and… ” “Dude, it’s an electric kettle…”

In any case, our sun sets this land….. I’m sure I’ll always more to write about in my “story” here.

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The fun and amusement won’t stop

“Love Motels” are a thing. Is pretty much what you think it is. A place to have sex.  This might sound kinda strange but are kinda bit of a necessity here.  See, kids live at home till they get married basically. So, not like you invite your girlfriend over and get any private time at home!

So, when you see things like this, you aren’t 100% surprised.  90% maybe but not 100%.

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Let’s not forget the shelves of VCR tapes.. for educational purposes only of course….

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What gets even more amusing is that we are staying in one because we have to be out of our place today. They are reasonably cheap (about $50-70) and pretty decent places to stay….. As long as you don’t think to hard about it.  This morning a Korean friend helped us move our luggage to the hotel and the owner was asking what decent people like is were doing here?  Gotta appreciate their honesty I must say.

So yup, stories till the end of my time here!

SCORE! One last point.

Ok, so today is my last day in Seoul and without fail, xenophobia raised its head over last time.

I am sitting on the bus back to my city and it happened. But first io needed to explain a few things.

These ‘Intercity’ buses are awesome. There are only 3 seats to a row. Two on one side, one an another.  They are comfy, spacious and not only do the recline, the leg test pops out too!

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Look at all that knee room!

There is a good amount of space between my seat and the seat beside me, and that’s saying something for a guy my size. The Koreans must feel kinda dwarfed by theses seats.

That being said, when you but your rocket, you get a seat number. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Koreans NOT sit on their assigned seat only to have the property owner of the seat tell them that it isn’t their seat. 

So today I see a got her on and by his looks/actions he bypasses his seat beside me and sits further back. 5 mins later he’s kicked out and forced to suit on his designated seat.  I still count this as a score as toss bus is usually well populated.  So there he did, looking kinda nervous. 

At least I don’t think he’s going to be one of those people that leans forward and hands onto the seat on front of them for the whole trip.

So yeah. Today plus 3 days left!

My Time in Korea – A Pictoral Walk from Nov 2010 till Feb 2015.

Former Spy Chief in South Korea Sentenced in Election Case

“What I did was for the nation and for the people,” Mr. Won told reporters on Monday.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/world/asia/former-spy-chief-in-south-korea-sentenced-in-election-case.html?_r=0

You know, when you abuse government services, it don’t matter how you look at it….you are breaking the law by NOT allowing people to make up their own minds.  This is the kind of stuff the makes modern politics really freaking creepy.  If anyone thinks their current government does NOT engage in these kinds of activity, they are fooling themselves.

A night out in Seoul

As my time here draws closer to the end, I decided that I needed a good night out with one of my friends.  And thus was planned the random about town adventure.

It started with going back to that Ramen place for some awesome, awesome noodles.  I was really hungry and those noodles hit the perfect spot!

We then walked around the area, to work off that full feeling and did some casual shopping. At one point I saw a game machine that had Minions in it. Had to play it!

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I plunked in 5000won and got 12 tries. I got so damned close many times but ultimately didn’t get one. My friend also tried and got one on the first shot. Technically I set of up for him. This was one of those “shovel” types. See that metal plate on the back, left of the pic? That would move back and forth. So essentially you had to pile minions in front of it and eventually they would get pushed off the ledge. He had more tries left then proceeded to get three more minions to fall off after! By this point we had a small crowd of Koreans watching us and we all cheered. He gave all three to those watching. Totally worth the 10,000won we spent together. We continued our adventure.

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I wanted to get a new hat, looked in a bunch of places, only saw one that had the type I was looking for, she wouldn’t haggle at all! My first hat cost me 11,000won, my second 15,000 but there was no way I was going to pay 20,000 for the same thing!  And who the hell doesn’t haggle here???  Meh, no skin of my back, we left and continued on with our night.  Having had enough of Hongdae, we got into a taxi and hit Sincheon. 

Sincheon had recently shut down a street and turned it into a pedestrian walking path. I love this setup. It promotes more business and more people to come to the area. Also, is generally more pleasant to hang out around and enjoy the night.

We again wandered the area, looking for a bar my friend had been to before but we could not find it. So we settled on a place called Occult. Couldn’t resist a place with a name like that in Korea!

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We walked up the steps to the second floor and my friend commented ” Oh, this is a place where they read Tarot cards for you .”. Strange but I thought, meh, I’m game and we went in. Was a little concerned about that sub-sign though…

The place was pretty much dead. Just one other patron and us.

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The Korean waitress , who spoke really good English, was cool. We chatted with her for a bit bit since the place has an upstairs and she had work to do behind the bar, she asked if we wanted to move over to the bar to keep talking. We said sure and moved on over. So it was the former owner who did the tarot readings so they have stopped. Hence the name. We sat there for about two hours I think. Had a few drinks (never had Amaretto & Coke before…. Tasted kinda like Dr Pepper!) and then we decided to move on.

We were going to go to a casino but when we realised it was midnight and the casino was quite a ways away, we decided to hit Sincheon area instead. Only one subway stop away but we took a taxi. Just quicker and not really that much more on cost. Subway would have cost us 2200won, taxi was 3000won.

We wandered around trying to find a bar my friend has been to before. Not finding it after walking around a lot and setting such artwork as this:
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And the wildest Alice in Wonderland decorated building:

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We eventually settled on a place called Blue Monkey. The steps going down were concerning. There were solid metal steps and I’m thinking that knowing how drunk Koreans can get (indeed after seeing two of them passed out in front of a bar literally sleeping on the ground, their friends standing around while police officers tried to wake them up, unsuccessfully) these steps are pretty much a hazard.

The place was kinda dark but one section has a little slide in it. While amusing, again I questioned the sanity of the owner and how lucky these people are that as far as I know, there aren’t any laws regarding safety rules and such compared to back home.

So another cute waitresses showed us to a table, we sat down, ordered some drinks and cheap cheese nachos while watching music videos on the screens and discussed deep thoughts of the universe.

3am rolled around and we called it a night. Didn’t feel like staying up till 6am when the subway starts again, would have been a total waste of that hotel room I paid for too. So back to a taxi and we ended a good night out.

I grabbed a shower and went to sleep. This was a great night out.