Kade kneels next to a stream formed by the San Francisco Glacier, about two hours outside Santiago, Chile.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

More South Korea Observations

These observations came directly from my notes - made shortly after leaving South Korea.

The sheer number of senior citizens in parks and on the subway.  Special seating on subway cars for the elderly was nice to see.  And, these seniors were no pushovers.  They are quite assertive as lines form, and as they get on and off the busy trains.  They have to be!!!

Using gloves as a means to keep hands clean (similar to Japanese culture).   This seemed common with bus drivers and taxi drivers.  In some cases, with women, gloves might be used for sun protection. 

Regular and deluxe taxis – both options exceptionally clean, inexpensive and drivers we speak decent English. 

The need for scissors at the dinner table. A large pair of kitchen utility scissors was needed to cut pickles, noodles and other stringy, hard textured dishes. 

Cold buckwheat noodles, served in a broth containing shaved ice, are cut in half with scissors at the table by your waitress, and then served in stainless steel bowls.  Stainless steel chopsticks were used to eat the noodles. 

The Korean bathhouse -  sexes segregated, all types of thermal pools, steam and dry heat saunas, tables for massages, stone "walking paths" to massage the soles of your feet, marble and limestone slanted beds to help realign the vertebrae.  Facilities include Western-style showers and Japanese sit-down versions.  Also, on site were barbers.  Locker rooms were immaculate.  Everyone is naked!  Leave your modesty in your home country or at the door!

The automatic toilet (a souped up porta-toilet) near the shopping area, Isadong - drop in coins, door slides open, voice commands guide you the rest of the way after door closes.   Big, high tech, self-sanitizing. 

In Starbucks, rather than a Tall, Grande, and Venti, they served Smalls, Talls, and Grandes. 

Hotels provide x rated porn on cable TV and a stash of flesh videos near the front desk.  Maybe we just stayed in a Love Hotel and didn't know it??? 

Korean Barbecue - order your meats and selected vegetables.  Many side dishes, mostly pickled, accompany the set.  Grill the meats on an electric or charcoal grill right at the table.   Waitresses stand by to help first-timers (and struggling foreigners) figure out everything. 

Internet Cafes are everywhere.  24 hours a day, smoking and non-smoking sections, AC or giant oscillating fans keep it cool.  Seating is sometimes very posh (love seats and cushioned chairs), but always comfortable.  Snacks ranging from Coke to microwavable sausages are on hand.  Best part.  Fiber optic connection is fastest in the world.    

In front of certain hotels, it’s very common to see, on the sidewalk or in the main entrance way, glossy, indestructible business cards that have pictures of scantily clad and/or naked women.  These are the ladies of the night (or day), and phone numbers are provided. 

Guidebooks warn travelers not to be alarmed if they happen to see demonstrators out on the streets of Seoul or in certain approved areas, such as parks.  Koreans like to protest!!!  We did see organized protests and a lot of riot police.   

Seoul’s tourism offices had a lot of literature, several fluent English speaking workers and free Internet service for tourists. Very helpful and impressive. 

Lots and lots of people smoking.  Some restaurants didn’t even have non-smoking areas. 

Seafood market in Pusan was fascinating.  Fresh catches lined up: squid, lobster, crabs and many species of fish.

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