Monday, August 23, 2010
Impressions of Korea
I am not an adventurer. That would be my daughter Katie. Although I have traveled in the past, I much prefer to stay within the confines of the good ol' USA where I can read the street signs and order up a plain coffee at Starbucks. Much to my surprise – I can do both of those things here. Signs are in Korean and English and coffee is huge here – even more so than Portland. I expected tea served with every meal and cute tea houses on every corner but I suppose that would be Japan. Guess I really do need to get out more. Cute would not describe Korea. I'm not even sure that “scenic” is a good word. Yes, there is beauty here but I haven't seen it. I am in Daegu, a bustling city that awakes in the evening hours when the weather cools and you can finally go out. The shopping centers both old-style markets with fresh fish, dried fish, chickens both alive and dead, textiles and socks, socks, socks and the newer malls with department stores, 3 storied coffee houses and best of all inexpensive plastic surgery centers where you can come out better-looking in an hour. What a country! The people, although not overly friendly, are very helpful when asked for help and love trying out their English on me. As I walk along the streets here in Daegu I am the only Westerner. Once in a while I see a similar face and it's usually another English teacher here for a year.
Katie has taken me to Seoul where we enjoyed a wonderful weekend that coincided with the 65th anniversary of Korean independence.. The highlight was an outdoor concert of Italian opera and a special version of their national anthem by a very old Korean rock guitarist (& obviously a legend judging from the applause he received). We enjoyed every minute.
Let's see, I'll try to speed this up a bit. The food is o.k. Not my favorite cuisine. Korean beef barbecue is good; kimchi, not so much. And it is served with every meal. Yes, even breakfast.
Bullet train, subway and taxis are great. Passenger train is s-l-o-w. Bicyclists passed us.
Here is an interesting note: Recycling. Recycling is placed in a bag outside the door to your home or apartment. Sometime during the night or morning it is picked up by an old woman who places it in her cart as she moves up and down the street. I imagine there are many elderly who do this as it cannot possibly be the same woman – right? It is always gone the next day so the system works. Maybe I can start that when I retire. Hmm.