So, Korea is a great place…but sometimes the Koreans seem a little ‘off’. Their culture is very family-oriented and they are nice, BUT then something happens and we find ourselves just laughing. Sometimes they are so very ‘…BUT…’ I don’t know how else to describe it. Contradictory is a bit too harsh. So anyway, here are just a few of the funny crazy things we’ve experienced:
Koreans work very hard, BUT the work is low quality. In our bathroom, they appear to have retiled recently, BUT not behind the tub. Plus, all the spare grout and trash tiles weren’t cleaned up but shoved under the washing machine. In our apartment, there appears to be newish wallpaper, BUT behind the original location of the bed it is still the old wallpaper. On the road out front, construction crews were here for only 2 days putting in new piping under the road. They were here all day each day, early to late, BUT never actually refaced the road to match the original.
Koreans seem to be very obsessed with keeping the inside of their homes clean and tidy; wood floors, taking off shoes, daily sweepeing, etc…BUT they just throw their trash out on the road for the trashmen to clean up. They also fill up any available sidewalk or stairwell space with kimchi containers and empty boxes.
Driving is just insane…there is no ‘BUT’ here. The roads are tiny, unlabelled, and full of cars. If there is a single-lane opening you just have to be the one that gets there first, and be proactive into forcing other cars to stop for you to pass. It’s nuts, but fun. It may be difficult to return to obeying traffic laws when we get back to the states. The mopeds are crazy, too, they drive everywhere; sidewalks, markets, playgrounds, you name it. I keep mentioning sidewalks, too, but they are few and far between. Really everyone just walks in the middle of the road, and if you are driving and need to get by a pedestrian you must honk or they will just stay there. BUT….when you are on a sidewalk you don’t walk like cars. As in, you don’t drive your body (walk) on the right side; instead you walk on the left.
Koreans are super-polite to people they’ve met, BUT to strangers they seem to be rude. On the train, or in a store, they don’t give you any personal space. If you are in the way, there is no ‘excuse me’, they just wedge themselves into where they want to be. They also do not queue up. If you feel you are next in line to buy your train ticket, you best be breathing down the other guys’ neck…or even better, you should be reaching your money around him. This really gets Bryan riled up. We generally just laugh about all these funny crazy differences, but he cannot stand, “feeling another dude’s balls on my ass cheek” while he waits in line. I actually think THAT is the hysterical part.
I’m sure I’ll think of and discover others while we’re here, until then let me leave you with this anecdote: Yesterday, on our way home from the super-windy beach day, while we were in traffic (for no reason on a Sunday at 5pm) we notice that there is a party bus beside us. I’d heard of this; people take coach buses everywhere here, and different companies try to entice people with things like free drinks and karaoke. They aren’t public transportation and they aren’t chartered, they’re more like private bus lines that regularly travel between two places. So, the bus we are passing is a nice fancy coach bus on it’s way somewhere; it is all steamed up inside and has tons of disco lights going. People are filling the aisles dancing and drinking. I’m sure it’s loud, but it’s too cold for me to bother opening the window. We’ve inched back and forth past this bus for about 10 minutes when I notice that someone has opened the back window. At first I think someone is pouring a beer out the window until I realize it is a regular stream and it is NOT a beer can. Yes, a man (oh, yes that much detail was in broad headlights for all to see) was urinating out the back window. BUT! right beside it was a small blue minivan driven by a hunched over wrinkely old man full to the top…to the top, I stress, including the passenger seat!… with cabbage.
aaahhhh, my silver fiber optic Christmas tree just laughs along with me.