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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jeju: Part 1

Jeju-do is considered to be the Korean Hawaii. All Koreans long to visit at least once in their life. I'm lucky to have a friend who recently moved here and a great excuse to see this magical place!

Flying to Jeju was one of the more comical flights I've ever taken. I knew this was probably the first time flying for at least 50 percent of passengers. (20 percent were infants or children... Don't get me started on crying babies on airplanes! I was fortunate to be seated next to silent old people.)

I heard a few "oohs" as we covered the runway. The "ahs" were plentiful as we leveled off - which is completely not worty of such gasping and amazement in my opinion.

It took me back to my first time flying that I could clearly remember. (That time when I flew with my stepsister at age eight in matching polka-dot tank tops. The cool kind that tied in the front, revealing the every so small bit of midriff.)

I was 15. So excited but so scared. I can remember my palms sweating profusely and heart racing as the plane cruised faster and faster down the runway. I gripped the armrest as tightly as possible. Eyes closed, I eagerly waited for take-off to be over. That wasn't so bad, was it?

It was at the time... Luckily it only took about one or two more flights to conquer my fear and develop a love of flying. That trip actually included a lot of flights. Jetting off to Europe at sixteen with no parents isn't something that a lot of people I know do.

Ever since, I've been blessed to have travled to ten other countries and constantly want to add to the list!

(I'm happy to announce my next travel destination to the public. I'll be going to the Philippenes for twelve days at the end of September!)

Stay tuned for more on my Jeju trip and other summer happenings!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gmarket: Internet shoppers worst nightmare

Koreans do a lot of their shopping online. My Korean friend always has new gadgets and beauty products and when I ask where she got them it's always, "On internet!" or, "Home shopping!" It's not surprising because you can find insane deals. I, myself, bought an oven from this website and not only was it a great deal, it's been alive and kicking for a year and a half now!

The site is  http://www.gmarket.co.kr/  It's (obviously) all in Korean but you change the language to "English" but most of the print is still in Korean... When I bought my oven, it was so simple. The most difficult thing was tracking down my address so it would turn up at the right place.

This time, however, I did not have such luck. I simply wanted a poncho. Cheap. Low quality. The cheapest one I could find at the store was like $5 and I didn't want to spend that on something I'll only use once. So Gmarket seemed like a great idea. At the time.

Within a matter of minutes, I'd found what I wanted. Poncho. Fifty cents. Two-fifty shipping. Perfect. I'll take four.

The next hour and half was spent trying to check out on that damn website. Seriously. An hour and a half. I tried English. I tried Korean. I even enlisted the help of a Korean coworker who was even unsuccessful. First, I couldn't use Google Chrome. This wasn't surprising. Korean websites have way over the top security software that only works in Explorer. Whatever. My online banking is the same way.

Then I had to download a special secure pay program. Whatever. (I was on my work computer so I don't care what I download on it! Ha!) **Sigh**


It wouldn't accept my American credit card. Come on, Korea! You accept Mastercard! What the hell?!?! So I tried my Korean bank card. First it had to connect to the bank's server. (What?!?!) Didn't accept my card number. **Humph...**


Switched to Korean. No luck. Back to English. Tried my Mastercard again. I have to download yet another special security software, register my car and set up a username and pin. But there was no link to download said software.

Finally it accepted my Korean card number! And then it took another half hour of putting in pins and usernames and passwords, registration number and some random typing of Korean characters and numbers (still not sure what that was for, but oh well). Just as I was about to give up, the damn thing finally took my money. $4. Yep, an hour and a half for $4. For all my time they should just give me the stupid ponchos for free.

Email confirmation? Nope.

This is the spokesperson for Gmarket. The captions translate what the Korean characters say.


You will spend half an hour on the very last part of the checkout process.


Take a picture of this useful screen because you'll never find it again.


I'm already thinking of new ways to make my website even more difficult for you next time.


You will curse your computer at least 100 times before you're finished.


You will waste a minimum of 5% of your whole day trying to buy four cheap ponchos. 


As Gmarket is laughing in my face it's saying. "That's how I roll, yo. Anyanghasayo... SUCKA!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wicked Seoul

After a completely relaxing weekend after Thailand, the next week I was geared up to go to Seoul. We'd gotten tickets to see the musical Wicked performed (in English!) by an Australian troupe.

We started our Saturday morning journey with some road beverages of the alcoholic sort. After lunch and a quick little siesta we were ready to make our way to dinner and the theater. The guys opted to drink their dinner outside on the street corner but the ladies enjoyed drinks and appetizers inside.


Enjoying mozzarella sticks, the way they are meant to be enjoyed!

After some quick photos and chit-chatting outside the venue, the show was ready to start!




All the ladies.


Cool set.


We were in the last row so Amber made some "binoculars."

Even though we were the farthest back, the venue was small enough for us to see just fine. We did get in a little trouble. Apparently it's "illegal" to take refreshments (for example, soju and mixers from Family Mart) into the theater. And even worse, after drinking said beverages, our bladders were bursting before the end of  the first act. We tried to get out to pee but the nazi usher wouldn't let us out. So we wanted to wait by the door so we could bee line for the bathrooms once the lights went up for intermission (very soon) but the nazi made us go back to our seats. The guys made it out but Leigh didn't get back in. Low and behold, he sat practically front row for the first act. All in all, the show was wonderful. It wasn't my first time and probably won't be my last. It's a great production.

Then it was out to get our party on. Who knows how many places we went. I even ran into a good friend from Pohang at one of the insanely packed bars. We also got to meet up with a few lovely friends living in Seoul. It was so nice to see them, and luckily, they will make another appearance later.

At the bars and clubs, I felt like the guys were really threatening and... just stupid. I felt more comfortable, ironically, at the gay bars. So a friend and I spent most of our late night there. Early into the morning, almost all of our group had gone back to our hotel for sleep. I, however, ran back into my friends as the sun was coming up (actually it was probably already up at this point) and decided to get breakfast with them. I was so excited for a real western breakfast! But after walking around for what seemed like ages (and it probably was), we settled on McDonalds.


So tired...


Some random friends I'd made earlier on the dance floor.


This guy was in bad shape... Notice the beers on the table (at McDonalds at 9 a.m.)

I finally made it to bed around 9 a.m. I think. Had just enough time for about an hour and a half of sleep before everyone else in my room was up and getting ready. Needless to say, I was the last out the door, still in a drunken stupor. What better in that state than to have a Bloody Mary breakfast! I did get my real western breakfast (and a few of my favorite red drink, including one to go!)


Drink to go? I think so! And a quick note: I didn't even have energy to put on real clothes so I'm wearing my nightgown/mu-mu as a dress. My friends said I pulled it off well but pretty sure they were just trying to be nice.

After shopping for the rest of the afternoon in the heat wearing my nightgown, I pretty much felt like death. We eventually made it back home and I got to think about exactly how much money I'd spent over the weekend. It was a ridiculous amount. The title, Wicked Seoul explains what we did along with the experience. Seoul is indeed wicked to my wallet. It was probably close to the same I spent in Thailand to cover accommodation, food and activities for ten days, or definitely as much or more than my flight. I justified my splurge because I don't go to Seoul often. And luckily, the summer weekends can be pretty cheap when you're a beach bum!






Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer rant

It's full on summer in Korea. I'm definitely enjoying it (more posts to come on my summer fun). However, after spending the morning shopping with Koreans who are just completely unaware of their surroundings, always, and trying to doge the idiot drivers on the road, I need to rant for a moment. These are the things that annoy me today.

Ajummas (and old men, too):

I understand your culture, ladies. Women can wear the shortest shorts and skirts possible, but heaven forbid they show their shoulders. My dress is at my knees, my cleavage is not showing. I finally have a tan so I'm going to show it off. My culture doesn't have the dress codes yours does. So staring me down, eyes all judgy  and gawking doesn't help the situation. It's freaking hot out. I'm a foreigner. I sweat. When I sweat, I typically kind of stink, and not the kimchi and garlic stink like you. Sooooo I will continue to wear my sleeveless clothing and you can just suck it!

I've been nice so far, but I notice your eyes and what you mutter to your ajumma friend. Soon I'm going to start looking you bitches straight in the eye and gawk back at the hideous print on your visors.

Driving:

I like the fact that I can get away with driving my scooter, definitely illegally. For that (until the law buckles down and I get fined), thank you, Korea. However, learn how to freaking drive. When you notice my scooter driving next to your window, don't try to merge into my lane. Don't stop in the middle of the road when I'm behind you to look at something that strikes your fancy. When you can see that your lane is ending or is closed up ahead, don't get all the way up to the closing, expecting me to let you in. Because I won't. When my friend is driving her car and needs to get over one lane, let her in. That's what nice drivers do. If you don't, I'll curse you in a language you can't understand.

Air conditioning:

Use it. I've heard horror stories from my public school teacher friends about how they just can't use their air conditioner this year. That is bullshit. It's hot out. It's hot in. Luckily my school does actually use the air conditioners. However, every day, I go into my "air conditioned" office and start to sweat profusely. Why, do you ask? The temperature on the thing is set to 26 degrees Celsius. Outside it is 27 degrees Celsius. Hmmm... If the inside temperature is basically the same as the stinking hot outside temperature, doesn't running the AC defeat the purpose? America and central air, I miss you! The one place in this country I've found central air is at my business class. I get cold in there. No complaining about that though. I'll take all the coldness I can get.

I'm done ranting for now.