Korea does not know moderation

It is one of the most bizarre aspects to this culture I have noticed. It is either full out forward or nothing with them.

Transportation:

When you are on the bus, you WILL get car sick.  I’ve been driving for a very long time, consider myself to be better than most yet the bus drivers here are something! There is no light slow stopping. No, it’s a series of quick jabs to the brakes.  Most time it’s emergency braking because every single one of them tailgate.  Every one! 

It doubly sucks of you live in the country side and have to take those twisty back roads at the speed limit! Seriously, you are flung around, back and forth. I was on an intercity bus once where I was literally holding for dear life or else I would be dangling from the seatbelt sideways. The most fucking annoying ride ever but I’d take that over feeling sick any day.

Now, while on the buses, there is the matter of temp control. The vast majority of drivers are like FULL BLAST then nothing. This for for heat of cold. My ride today is a prime example. There is snow on the ground and I have to strip down to a tee-shirt because I’m sweating on the bus. Stupid drivers is their window to keep cool while the rest of us are hot as hell.

I can also say the same for drinking.  Soju is the world’s best selling spirit and not by a small amount either. Were talking by a factor of 2 versus second place!  With the cost being around $1 per bottle and averaging 15% to 19% abv), even the homeless can get wasted with ease.  It’s a real problem here.

Like I said. No moderation here. Not when 12% of your population is your main source of income. (See article linked and the reference to 6,000,000 consumers every day).

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Welcome back to Korea!

Two weeks back home was nice but I definitely won’t do it during the winter time again methinks. Glad I missed the nasty ice storm but still hit this ‘polar vortex‘ buzz word the media seemed to jump on too much. Well, that is all done, I’m looking forward to my double-digit temps that we are getting now. And here we go, I got my typical Korean experiences back.

So, rough start to my morning. First, the hotel driver doesn’t pick me up at 10am like he said. So I grab a taxi at 1015 and will bitch at them for that cost. Not that I suspect it’ll do much….things are that much more difficult for us foreigners here.

Then I find out that my 10:30 bus is sold out. Ugh. Ok, I ask for the next one, 1:20pm. She says it goes to some place in the city I need but not either of the two bus terminals. I hand her my tablet with map and ask where. She is confused and just repeats the name. Ohhh, I am so back home now…..

Ok, so I now need someone who can speak Korean better than me. I Call the free translation help line…..on hold forever. I try one of my Korean friends….no answer, I try one of my foreigner friends who speaks Korean pretty well, no answer. I try my Korean friend who looked after my cat while I was away….no answer. Dafuq is this? No one answering?? I try another foreigner friend who is really good at Korean…..success! He’s home. I hand the phone over to the agent. They speak, I hear her repeat the area again and after a few mins she hands me the phone. My friend tells me she can’t tell him where it is, just repeats the area. I say thanks and try something else.

I hand her my tablet but I already have the map open and the city name typed, I then ask her to type the name she keeps repeating. Map opens up and I know where it is, just didn’t know the name. Geeze. I get my ticket and head to the Starbucks to kill a couple of hours till the bus leaves.

So good to be home again….mostly.

This is surprising even for Korea

This is surprising even for Korea

I don’t even get why the bus driver let this happen.

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This old lady seemed to have loaded up the bus with crates and now using the bus as a courier service….

Oh this aught to be an entertaining bus ride

Oh this aught to be an entertaining bus ride

The bus driver I currently have seems to like commenting and complaining while he drives.  There is a festival going on, traffic is a bit heavier but he’s just one of those complainers.  Even honking at drivers at red lights.  Oh yes, a fun ride indeed.

Seems I might be able to have a few updates along the way.

Dude, if you weren’t doing 80km/h(50mph) in thecity, I would have to experience a -3G effect when you come to a stop! I pity the poor maintenance guys (not like seems to always be a top priority with many local city busses…).

Oh and liberal useof the horn is sure to alieviate your anger. Please continue.

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A Sunday in Singapore

Everytime I hear about Singapore, I hear how “clean” it is.  How many fines there are for everything (like chewing gum.  You can’t buy it any where!).  So you kinda have this expectation when you go there.  There are quite a few signs in the subway station that say don’t eat/drink on the subway/platforms and yet I saw a lady do just that.  Being an obvious foreigner, I try to be mindful of such things and them simply observe the reality that appears.

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Burning trash (paper only?) On the street.  I saw a few of these around. And not in “rough”areas either.

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No city is perfect.  This was taken from a window in the hostel we stayed at.  Sure not street facing but then again, Singapore is starting to get a little”rough around the edges”.  Sure it had all these fancy, funky buildings but those are few compared to the rest of the place.

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Saw this tree with a very weird thing growing on it.  If anyone knows what it is, feel free to speak up.  No, it didn’t quiver when I walked by.  Wouldn’t that be a story eh? “Blogger eaten by a Singaporean tree fungus….”

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So let’s take a little stroll thought a Chinese mythological park shall we?  Haw Par Villa.

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I’m not even going to try to explain this one….

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This is the gate to the 10 levels of Hell.  Ohhh….they are special.  So much so that they deserve their own album.  You are really in for a treat once I am able to make the album.

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Asia had some weird myths……just freaky stuff….

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Aren’t you glad you subscribed to this blog now?  But wait….there’s more!

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Yes….that’s an old woman breastfeeding…..as I said….weird.

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Ok, some of the more serious stuff.  This place is filled with really awesome depictions of famous events.

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One thing about being here is the country is multicultural.  It casually mixes East Indians, Chinese and Malays.  We spent a lot of time in the Little Indias of the areas we were in.  I wasn’t giving up a chance for butter chicken everyday!  :)  You really don’t understand how crowded some places are till you visit them.  This is a pic of “Little” India in KL to demonstrate.

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It was like walking through and endless sea of Indians, and I’m not exaggerating!

The good thing, I got one last meal of butter chicken and gaelic naan in before we left for the airport hotel.

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Because we are leaving on an 8am flight, we need a hotel close by the airport.  So we wake up Tuesday morning, and try to get to our final hotel.

Now, the hotel is near the airport.  I check and there are two trains.  One is direct to the airport (same one we took when we arrived) and one that makes 4 stops.  Since one of those stops seems near the hotel, i figure well take that and grab a cab.  We got told that there is no public transportation near there.  So, to the airport and then a bus to the hotel then.

First, we arrive on the first floor of the airport.  I ask where information is….5th floor.  I get there, ask where the buses are….1st floor. Fuuuuuuuu……seriously.

But wait….the bus driver didn’t know where our hotel is! “I’m new here”.  Despite reassurances from the airport staff that the bus driver will know where it was.  Ugh, so we wait till all other passengers are on and try again.  I show him the map on my Galaxy Tab which just seems to confuse him.  I try to name some other things on the map and another hotel rings a bell.  Ugh, finally.

But wait….there’s more(I feel I should be asking you for multiple payments of money by now….).  As the bus driver goes along, shifting gears and such, he’s also counting cash!  WTH?!  And why is he not wearing his glasses when we first got on?  Sigh, we eventually get to our hotel without careening off into a Malaysian ditch.

Sadly, the “YouniQ” (unique) hotel is on a kinda deserted area.  Only one little restaurant open, with a dismal selection of food, and a convenience store that’s more convenience than store.  After a bit of spicey chicken fried rice, we head back to our room and set the alarm for 445am, so we can make the 5am breakfast and get on a 6am shuttle to the airport.

Well, if you guys are lucky, I might have more crazy things our PCs….if you are unlucky, you’ll just get a bunch of pics that didn’t get posted here yet :D

Seat belts in #Korea

The further away you get from “civilized” society (in other words, the modernization attempts at older cultures) the looser the rules become with regards to law.

In Canada there are zero exceptions to the seat belt law.  Zero.  If you are in a car and it is on a public road, you are mandated by law to wear a seat belt.

In Korea, only the people in the front seat are required to wear a seat belt, at least that’s what we keep being told.  Just make this insane lack of thought that went into the law a significant point, when a family goes on a trip, where do the children sit?  Same place in Canada as they do in Korea….the back seat.  I have seen no end of kids wandering around the back if a car or SUV.  Hell, I’ve seen a kid sticking his head out the sunroof, all  while the vehicle was in motion….on a public street.

In Canada, specifically Ontario, there is are inter-city busses and I have never once worn a seat before in one of them.  They simply do not exist.  I do believe that had to do with the odds of such large vehicles ever being in an accident, where you would need one, are pretty low. Yet, here I am on Korea, having to wear a seatbelt on an inter-city bus.

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There seems to be some consistency issues with the laws here….

This shows the degradation of respect for the laws that goes with converting native cultures into modern standards, I’ve seen whole families on mopeds in Thailand and saw one lady riding “side-saddle” as a passenger there.

To borrow a SciFi acronym, YAKI (Yet Another Korean Inconsistency).

Finally on my way out of #Seoul!

Ok, my wife said to just get in the bus to Sacheon (as opposed to where she was training in Changwon), which is where I thought I was going any ways.  I refunded my ticket to Changwon (for full price surprisingly!), got back on the subway, went to the other bus terminal (Nambu), got a ticket and just made the 9:30 bus to Sacheon. 

I said it once before and I’ll say it again, Korea’s buses are awesome!  They have theses buses that are only 3 seats wide (2 on the left, 1 on the right), they recline and have a leg rest that supports your whole leg.

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Damn….forgot my towel at my buddies place…..oh well