Sallie and Angus here (we’re supposed to say that, right?):
After almost a week here, we’re feeling good. We’re confident bordering on cocky. Heck, despite Angus having never left the states until last Friday, we took a day trip by ourselves yesterday while poor Whit and Lindsay were trapped inside with a bunch of rugrats. Sounds like it’s time to make our blog post and fill everyone in on some things W&L may have failed to mention in their 18+ months of blogging.
- “Ow” means the same in all languages. This will come in handy should you decide to get acupuncture for “fun.”
- In Korea, when you walk into a convenience store and buy a quart of beer, they will give you glasses and encourage you to drink said beer at the plastic patio tables set up outside. In America we call that loitering.
- Obeying traffic laws is optional. As long as you come to a rolling stop and honk your horn, feel free to run any red light. And if you are a pedestrian, be on the lookout for scooters and motorcycles while on the sidewalk. As Whit and his bike can attest, sometimes that’s more convenient than using the actual street.
- In America we believe hiking trails should have gradual slopes and switchbacks. Koreans believe the shortest way to the top of a mountain is straight up – and they will put in hundreds of stairs to get you there (yes, we are still aching from a “short hike” whit took us on Monday).
- Speaking of hiking, even if the weather feels like a Florida summer, natives will cover themselves from head to toe like a cold front has just come through when exercising or working outside. Of course this leads to…
- If a local looks 20, s/he is probably 40. Looks 40? 65. Looks 65? 137 years old! Just yesterday our “teenage” cab driver announced to us that he was 42.
- Restaurant with pictures of meat on the windows outside: amazing.
- Restaurant with pictures of seafood on the outside: you’re on your own. Despite the fact that Lindsay will encourage you and say it’s a “nice” meal, seafood means anything that lives in the sea, in the sand at the bottom of the sea or in the mud around the sea. And it will all be thrown together in a pot and have sacs and tiny bones all about.
- If you are craving some southern food, the Lotte Mart makes a mean fried chicken (but serves only drumsticks for some reason).
- Finally, if you look dumb and/or lost enough, there will always be someone there who wants to help. We must stand out or something.
On a serious note, Koreans are the nicest and most hospitable people we have ever encountered. Within 10 minutes of getting off the plane, a man proactively offered us his cell phone when he saw we couldn’t figure out how to use the pay phones. A family having an outdoor get-together brought over rice cakes and watermelon when we sat at a picnic table next to them Monday. A woman who passed us on a hiking trail turned around and gave us tea from her thermos just because we said hello (swine flu be damned).
Whit and Lindsay have embraced this hospitable attitude full force. They have been the ultimate hosts, and we’ve been lucky enough to see some of their favorite parts of this beautiful country. For anyone looking for an adventure, we highly recommend the W&L Korean Tour Experience. They’ve given us their time, energy and very comfy bed (this felt particularly good after our 26 hour door-to-door journey). We think they are way cooler than any couple they may or may not be dating in Gwangju.
And now we are off to corrupt the young minds of Korea.