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.
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.
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.
A friend of mine is leaving Korea back to Australia. He’s been my best friend while I’ve known him over the last year. We’ve had a ton of fun, commiserated over Korea, women, jobs. We’ve laughed our asses off at some of the bat-shit crazy things we ran into. Going to be quiet going forward.
I will miss his presence and look forward to meeting him again in the future.
I might as well also let everyone know that the decision to leave Korea has been made. February will be my last month here. I am going back home for a while til I decide exactly what my next move will be. Europe is a strong possibility 😁
But don’t worry, I’ll always be able to find crazy stuff to write about! Probably some reverse culture shock I suspect. Like bus drivers who know how to modulate breaks by NOT jabbing them I’m strong, short bursts!
Sigh. Don’t really want to leave. Made some incredible friends here. Had some way awesome times. Yet here I am, waiting for the sign in the airport to tell me what gate to go to.
In the plus side, I’ll be doing some time traveling. I leave here Saturday night and arrive in Seoul Monday morning, yet only flying 18hrs-ish :) Not sure how to manage my sleep to adjust to this. . I’ll actually get into my house about 6hrs after I land…. one of the downsides to living on the opposite end on the country.
I’ll be posting up pics that my friends took after they send them to me. Damn good times.
Lets start with the literal start of the 12th of June….midnight.
I was out with sure friend, eating food, decided to do a bit of odd school video arcade, grab done ice cream from somewhere. All in all it went really well. Now, it was getting late, my knee was bugging me a bit, I was feeling lazy so i decided to take a cab. Trying to get a cab, in Seoul, between midnight and 1am is impossible. Spook the fuckers wasn’t is long-distance fares and they will ask you where you want to go before you get in the cab. Their doors are locked so you can’t even get in and then tell them. They will simply just drive away. This even happens to Koreans, so its not a foreigner thing.
So after years of complaining, the government finally opened up a hotline that you can call. Great…..except that when I called, they were closed and it was forwarded to a stand-by tourist hotline person who sounded like I just woke her up and chorus do nothing for me. So essentially the help line was useless when you needed it most. Thanks Korea.
Ok, so now what? I decide to call one of the cab companies. I got the number off one of the local cabs i know that drive around Seoul. Even withmy bad Korean, the lady knew where I was and where I wanted to go. I Hang up and wait. After 15 mins I get a text message that failed to translate worth a damn.
I forward this off to my Korean friend, where I was staying, as he was waiting for me. He tells me that the message said there are no taxis in my area. WTF? There are literally like thousands driving all over the place! Mostly ignoring everyone. Even saw the shady looking mini-van, unmarked, with a taxi “available” windshield light on.
Ok, now what are my options? I could just keep on trying…..find a motel to stay at….i certainly could not walk back to where I was staying. Then, out of the blue, one of the Seoul taxis speed in front of me to let some people out. Well, I wait and while doing so, this other Korean wasps up from the other direction thinking he’s going to grab it. HA! Fat chance buddy! I tell the driver my location and he says ok. Sweet! I give him and extra tip and was just fine paying $7 for that taxi ride.
Fast forward sleeping and the bulk of the next day and I get a message from the girl who is doing my tattoo that she can’t do the second part today. The reason? Her younger brother tried to commit suicide and she had to go to the hospital to be with her family. Wow.
This post will cover South Korea but in reality, it’s about people.
I realized something important when we went to Thailand in 2011. Sure petting a tiger is pretty awesome but nothing compared to the people we met. We met this girl, her name was Merav. She had been traveling for quite a few months in Asia and still have more to do. We found out that she was from Israel and is a dance performer. We had an awesome time sitting and chatting with her.
When we went to Indonesia, we went to visit from people who my wife met the first time she came to visit South Korea. We had the hardest time paying for anything while we were there! I had to sneak away from the table once to pay for our dinner and they were shocked that I did so. The Kindness that we found in a Muslim country was unparalleled.
In South Korea here, we have met friends that will be so till the day we die. This next person is Ahyoung. An extremely pleasant person who has gone out of her way to make us feel welcome here. When she worked at a coffee shop in Itaewon, she invited us there for breakfast, before the place was officially opened, made us breakfast, coffees and didn’t charge us a dime! We were stunned.
Today we went to a Korean BBQ place (lovingly called Meat Home) to celebrate my birthday with friends.
Everyone who was here was a completely new friend to us and we have damn good food at this $14, all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ place.
These people, whom I have only met just once, were kind enough to join us for supper and even got me the beset cake I have had since I’ve been in Korea!
We still haven’t even got to the coolest part yet :) See, those who know me, know how much I love Dragons. I was a little saddened to find out that, despite being distantly related to the Chinese, Koreans have very little Dragons as far as imagery goes in their culture. You’ll find some images at BuddhistTemples but not much beyond that. My wife met a foreigner here who bakes cookies. Not just any cookies but once that are damn near hard to eat because they are so damn artistically beautiful works!
This is what I mean by the people we meet. The skills that I have seen in these people are simply stunning and awe-inspiring!
The people I have shown here are by NO means complete. I’d be here for a week solid if I tried to write out every single person we have met and became friends with!
So, if you have never traveled outside of your own country, you are SERIOUSLY missing out. If you have a child that is thinking of college/university, then open their minds and soul to studying abroad! They will get a great education that goes beyond the textbooks and will give them a perspective on the world that is impossible to be had by staying in their own country.