Friday, 12 June 2009

PostHeaderIcon Seouled myself

I guess I have put off talking about my trip to Korea for long enough. I probably should have written it when I got back about 5 weeks ago because now I can't remember that much about it. Although I did spend a lot of the time drunk so that could have contributed to my memory loss.

Before we even left Kansai airport I was being coerced into drinking white wine. Now, this is obviously too feminine a drink for me to consume... what with my rugged beard and all. However, I appreciate the silky ease of it as it pours down into my belly. Still, there is the increasingly difficult task of tilting the glass to a ridiculous angle the more you drink. My main point is I spent most of my time in Korea drinking wine. Mainly because their beer is atrocious and I liked to finish off the bottle for breakfast. What? I was on my holidays.

Also, I became addicted to the breaking news of swine flu and was excited to be scanned by a heat camera at Seoul airport. Naomi pointed out on the bus to the city that they drove on the right hand side of the road. I confirmed this observation by pretending to drive and acknowledged that this was correct. That evening we went out for some Korean barbecue and had the strange sensation of not knowing how to communicate. I began to speak in Japanese before remembering where I was and continued in sheepish English. Of course, it turns out that the majority of Korean people that I interacted with were outstanding at English. Japan and all their English teachers (ahem) should be ashamed of themselves. Also, during the trip a lot of Korean people started speaking to us both in Japanese. I think it is because we both have slanty eyes or it could have been the Japanesey way we conducted ourselves at the dinner table.

I never did quite get over the hurdle of communication. Mainly because Korea is almost exactly like Japan on the surface. The only difference I could detect (apart from the obvious language/writing) was that Korea had a lot more western chains of delicious food and that Koreans had a more determined look on their face. I say that because Japanese people tend to wander about like a child whose just walked into Disneyland for the first time. It really is a very similar country though. If you were to show pictures of Seoul and Tokyo then I doubt you could really tell them apart. They're just very clean, busy, modern East Asian cities. A lot of the traditional culture of food, temples, dress is all very similar. Even modern stuff like the television format is almost identical if you ignore the language difference. It's amusing because the two countries detest each other and each nationality would punch me if I compared the two. I guess it's like comparing Spain and France. Europeans could talk endlessly on how different these countries are but a tourist from Japan would probably see all the similarities.

So yeah we went to some stuff in Seoul like the imperial palace/gardens, up Seoul Tower which was alright and a 'teddy bear' museum that I thought was appalling. There isn't much to see in Korea outside of Seoul apart from the demilitarised zone and Gyeongju (the old cultural capital). Our plans to go there were scuppered when it became apparent that the 'Golden Week' holidays occurred at the exact same time in Korea. See... they're exactly the same. So their version of the bullet train (KMZ) that leaves every 15 minutes was booked out the whole day. We had to pay a lot more for hotels too but it wasn't too big a deal. Anyway, we got there the next day and looked about all the sites and that. Some of it was alright and some of it was pretty disappointing. We saw the oldest observatory in Asia and I could have probably built one myself in about two days. Listen... I'm boring myself here. We saw more stuff there and then got drunk again in Seoul and went home. The end.

Thoughts on Korea

Korea is probably on par with Japan in my opinion but with a lot less to do and slightly less significant. Korean people seem to have a bit more of an edge (common sense) to them. I think I prefer Japan if only because I'm scared Koreans would punch me (2 years compulsory military service) if I said hello to their missus. Furthermore, they're are too many braindead American military walking around for my liking.

There national dish is fermented cabbage and I think it's boring and rubbish. It doesn't help that they serve you up about 15 small dishes of it when you have a Korean meal. They use metal chopsticks as well... they're horrible. It's probably that reason why we spent our time eating proper steaks - what is wrong with you Japan? Also, their cans of juice are amazing. They're all small, slim and the perfect amount. Their shops also stock Twix.

Korean people are just as stupid as Japanese people. They have a really annoying habit of dressing up in matching clothes. Young couples will wear some designer brand and one of them will have the exact same top but the colours reversed. Families will wear the exact same t-shirt when they were out sightseeing... maybe so the kids don't get lost? They look like idiots.

The most annoying and vanity driven cultural difference I have ever noticed belongs to Korean people. They are all obsessed with taking photographs of themself or their nearest and dearest. You see young women taking about 20 pictures on their mobile phone from different angles and lovestruck guys attacking their girlfriends with a camera that resembles a telescope. The worst is their complete lack of courtesy and I often found myself stopped on a busy path whislt a father configured his camera for the perfect shot. I think it is essential that the world is aware of this.

It's my mum's birthday today. Happy birthday mum.

I took this outside a toilet you know. Above the urinal said "I can see you".

Gyeongju mounds. Like 'Kinder Surprise' but with dead emperors inside.

Another temple in Asia? What a lovely surprise.

I'm happy. Also, I don't really like 'The Strokes'


Manda said...

Maybe that's why you look so pissed cause you where forced to wear that shirt.

Anonymous said...

I never got the chance to see the pic of you...but yuor observations and comparisons are so funny.

Hope you are still alive at your work desk judging from your last entry/.

Ahoy hoy said...

Oh... I changed the privacy settings by mistake.

I am alive but tomorrow is Monday so I'm not feeling too great about work at the moment.

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.