Our First Visitors

We apologize for being MIA from blogging for a while, but we’ve been in tour guide mode for my parents, who were visiting from the 24th through the 5th. This week we do it again with Gina’s parents, so we figured we would give you a quick midpoint review of the Great Parental Invasion of 2010. Our first weekend with my folks was in Seoul, which Gina and I had not really visited yet.  They were extremely impressed with everything about Seoul and we were as well. But we warned them not to get used to it.  Seoul ain’t Daegu.

I would like to provide some cautionary tips for people considering a visit to Korea, or more specifically, the areas outside of Seoul. We’ve taken for granted that we learned all of this in the few months we’ve been here,  but it might be shocking or difficult for a first-timer.

1) Know how to use chopsticks or starve. Those are your options. You can also travel with your very own camping spork like my stepdad, but I wouldn’t recommend it. With regard to restaurants in general, you will get exactly what you want the way you want it about 5% of the time. Just be patient and deal with it.

2) Public transportation comes down to survival of the fittest (or rudest). People will push you out of the way to get onto trains, subways, buses and elevators. It might be in the form of a gentle push on the bum from a little old lady, or a shoulder check from a drunk ajoshi on his afternoon commute. And waiting for people to exit anything  before forcing your way on (yes, even elevators) is a fool’s game.

3) People will hock giant disgusting loogies everywhere at all times. I would suggest watching your step. If you’re as grossed out by this sound as I am, just find your happy place. There’s really nothing else you can do.

4) Koreans walk the way they drive, which is with total disregard for every object and living creature around them. I’m sorry, but it’s true. If someone has an umbrella in their hand, give them at least a 5 ft buffer zone, because they will swing the point into your shins and/or testicles. Girls will walk arm in arm in groups of three or more and block the entire sidewalk. Go ahead and pass them on the street, but check your rear first, lest you want to get slammed in the ribs by somebody’s side mirror as I have. Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way here, so if you value your life, assume that the driver will never stop. Also, streets in shopping areas tend to be very narrow, so never assume the driver will make sure he’s allowing enough space to avoid running over people over. And I use the term “sidewalk” very loosely. Cars can go anywhere, whenever they please

Check the Flickr page for pictures from the weekend in Seoul, which included palaces, plays, shopping and a World Cup heartbreak.


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