First, for those of you who may find yourselves wasting time on the computer, Korea is a great place to surf the web and update your blog with high speed internet in most cafes and restaurants you go to... sometimes even local parks have a wifi zone that my ipod picks up. Fast internet is always awesome when you’re far away from family and friends.
Next, public transportation is easy to come by, and it’s quite affordable. A bus will cost you roughly a dollar to get you from one side of the city to the other, as well as the subway. Also, taxis start at about two dollars and climb up ten cents every so many seconds or meters. Bicycles and mopeds are quite common modes of transportation as well, however, due to the way Korean drivers drive... you’d never catch me on either.
Also, Korean is the easiest Asian language to read. I didn’t say understand... I said read. You can learn the symbols and sounds of the Korean alphabet in roughly two hours and have it down. Once you can sound out each syllable, sometimes you even get lucky with a Konglish spelling like so: KO-KAH-KOL-LAH :-) 코카콜라
In addition, English t-shirts with random prints are quite popular here. You just never know what you’re going to find on a t-shirt, and most likely 90% of these t-shirt wearers don’t realize what is exactly on their t-shirts.
There are certain things here that are just different from anything you’d see back home in the states... for instance: DVD 방 this is a room you can watch a movie in. It’s like a movie rental place, except you stay there. After you choose you’re movie, you’re led to a room where you’ve got your own personal movie showing. They always have some older movies hangin’ around... but they also always seem to carry those movies that are fresh out of theaters and not yet out on DVD ;-)
Another unique thing about Korea are the street vendors and markets. Like you saw before, during my mention of food... a lot of street vendors sell different kinds of fried foods which are always fun to try. I prefer 튀김 (pronounced twee-gim) which is deep fried veggies. In relation to these street vendors there are also many market places where you can get better deals on fish, produce, and even meat (which I prefer to buy in the supermarket) In many markets you’ll see many little 아주마 (ah-ju-mah... or old women) sitting on short stools or just crouching near the ground with their sell of the day spread out in front of them. It’s always a cool place to visit, especially when a new fruit is in season so you can save some money (once you’ve learned money talk!)
찜질방 said: jim jeel bahng is a new thing I’ve come to love. It’s not necessarily a new discovery... but more like I became brave enough to dive in. A jimjeelbahng is kind of like a spa that you sleep at. First, you put your shoes in a locker, then you have the option to change into the stylish (usually creamy-orange) t-shirt and shorts they provide for you and go straight into the sleeping room OOOORRR you can put on your birthday suit, purchase some shampoo, soap, body wash etc. and find your way to the shower room where you’ll find showers, a hot tub, a warm tub, a cold tub and a sauna... and you can spend as much time as you please soaking or scrubba dub dubbin’! I went to a jimjeelbang and a spa in one week. The difference with a spa is you pay a bit more sometimes and they also offer massages or other special treatments like foot scrubs or exfoliating back scrubs. Oooooo! Ahhhhh! Anyways.... I’m a fan.
Next up: Temples. The wood carvings and hand-paintings in Korean-Buddhist temples never cease to amaze me. This past weekend I got to visit 해인사 (Hay in sah) temple which is located outside of Daegu. The road on the way there goes over a mountain or two with twisty turvy curvy swirly roads and it was well worth the drive. Every temple is. There is something wonderfully peaceful about the sound of a monk chanting and playing the moktak (see below) It has this lovely wooden hollow sound that could just lull me to sleep or put me in a trance.
Finally, at the end of the day in Korea, you can always visit the comfort of the 24/7 EMART and kick back in the comfy chair section (there are also massage chairs that are quite powerful on the achin’ back.)