First 48: Thoughts and Observations From My First 2 Days in Korea

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That “First 48” Title was catchy, I know.

Since my arrival here, a lot has happened. It has been a full two days; comprised of acclimation and observation. Some things have been disconcerting while others have been pleasant. Everything is new, though, and that is what I love.

The notes below are taken from a traveler’s notebook I’ve kept with me since Japan. It has been in constant use the past two days. I keep it in a fanny pack that I wear when I travel, where one can confidently assume both my belongings and virginity are secure.

***Don’t really wear a fanny pack. I have a nice North Face Jacket my mother bought for me last Christmas that has two interior chest pockets: in there, I keep my notebook and ballpoint pen. My friend Anthony suggested I buy a fanny pack because the type of guys who stop to write notes in the middle of a city are the type of guys who wear fanny packs.

I do love it here, I’ll say that again. Things are bustling and people are making noise–both in literal and figurative terms. There is activity and there are things to do. After two days I am starting to develop a little familiarity. Hopefully familiarity will become comfortability. I think it will.

Below are some events and thoughts. The events are what I experienced and what I think are noteworthy. The observations are thoughts that are results of the events. That is my process. I’m talented and I like Korea.

The information will be presented in bullet form, because I like alliteration and I want #bulletswithbeau to stick… Maybe.

  • “Bong Juice” is sold in coffee shops and it is good for you.
  • The language is difficult. It’s not like Spanish and there are no such thing as cognates. It’s f*cking difficult, excuse my 프랑스 국민 (French). I’m optimistic, though, and won’t give up. I’m starting with the alphabet first. It is called Hangeul. If you were curious, it was created by King Seijong in 1443. He created it trying to lure hot girls from China.
    • I need to learn the language because I’m having trouble with women. When your verbal arsenal consists of formal greetings, farewells, and numbers one through ten, you’re in a tough spot; reception to “hi, hello, thanks, one, two, three” hasn’t been great. Unable to speak the language and unable to dazzle/manipulate with linguistic subterfuge, I’m left with my looks. As I’ve said before, I’m not glaringly attractive. I’m nice, with a disposition best described as “warm”, but I’m not gonna stop traffic. I’m moving past the alphabet and formal greetings and beginning my videos of communicative relations tomorow. In the meantime I will still continue to smile at everyone I see and try to communicate with my body what my mind wants to say… Also, traffic doesn’t stop in Korea. Seriously (next bullet).
  • Pedestrian cross walks are for show… Watch yourself. Drivers don’t stop, especially taxi’s (see: Buddy the Elf). I’ve nearly been gunned down several times crossing the street. It’s dangerous. I let the drivers have it, though, shouting in vehemence, “ANNYEONGHASEYO, ANNYEAONGHASEYO, HANA DUL SES!!!” (HI, HELLO, ONE TWO THREE!!!)
    • Delivery drivers operate mo-peds. They travel via interstate, street, train-track, warning-track,sidewalk, canal, escalator, etc.
    • Cars drive on the right side of the road. I found that interesting. I think Koreans hate Japanese enough that any chance they can do something differently, they will.
  • One Dollar is worth about 1,142 Wan. This would be another example of why I need the skill of language: so I can tell local women I’m a millionaire.
  • The street-markets are the most fun. I know that’s not terribly eloquent, but that’s the best way to describe them.
    • In a span of 40 feet and 60 seconds I was presented with the option to purchase jalapenos, dried fish, fresh fish, pastries, Nike socks, miniature bananas, Korean pizza, fried rotisserie chicken, kimchi, noodles, bark, a sweater, cheese, and an octopus. That’s special.
  • Losing weight and smaller feet is something I have to work towards.
    • Amongst the bevy of shops that line the main streets there are tons of fine clothing and apparel stores. Husky isn’t something readily available when buying suits/shirts and a size 12 shoe is viewed as inconsiderate. I did come across a shop owner though who amiably tried working with me. There was a nice pair of Rockport shoes I liked. I held them and searched for a price tag. He told me to sit and asked my size. While waiting for him to fetch a pair of 12’s, his wife brought me a cup of tea. He came back with an 8.5. Out of respect, I tried to insert my foot. Hoping he would see that the match wasn’t quite right, I smiled and started to put back on my shoe. He stopped me, pointed towards my tee, and loosened all shoe laces. I tried again. 12 still didn’t equal 8.5. He had his wife fill my tea and then removed all shoe laces. I tried, one more time, because I had already said “hi, hello” in every inflection I could. I was forced to leave the shop as he beckoned for me to sit and try on another. He was an extremely pleasant man though.
  • Grocery bags upon checkout are not free.
    • Pay for groceries, put away credit card, then grab more bags. Smile and bow and speak only in English.
  • At meals, pour and serve those next to you.
    • Do not serve yourself first. This is difficult for me. I’m selfish and I eat a lot. Our translator Jason informed me of this. I think he regrets sitting next to me at dinner as he wasn’t ready for the pace at which I eat/drink.
    • Jason is a top quality human being whose favorite new song is now Bad and Boujee.
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