Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Korea, you are swell.

I’m currently sitting seven stories up in the Sky Café. It’s a strip of building that links the boys and girls dorms here at Korea University where we are having our teaching orientation. There’s a Christmas tree near the coffee bar with blinking lights, shiny tinsel, ornaments and, yes, Halloween jack-o-lantern lights. A cluster of Koreans are chattering amongst themselves at the bar – I wish I knew what they were saying. The music playing sounds like Korean-infused Kayne. Despite the fact that I hate Kanye, I think I kind of like this.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the things that I’ve done thus far. It’s only been four days that I’ve been in South Korea, yet I’ve already taken several hundred pictures. Oh! But before I unveil some sweet pics, I have to share—Alex and I got haircuts the other day. They were seven bucks. SEVEN BUCKS! And honestly, she did a great job—better than any haircut I’ve had in a looong time in America. And in Korea (and Japan, too), you aren’t supposed to tip. Like, you just don’t do it. Tips, tax…all that good stuff—it’s included in the price. And Korea just so happens to have crazy-cheap prices anyway! So that was really awesome (although, she allowed me to give her 10,000 instead of 7,000… I just thought she really deserved a little extra somethin’). A few days ago, a bunch of us walked to a bar in downtown Jochiwon and were able to drink for about 4,000 won a piece. That’s about four dollars. Oh, and I grabbed some kimbap (its like a sushi roll) at the 7/11. It was giant and delicious and guess how much... 1,500 won! That’s less than $1.50. It's not that I'm obsessed with money and prices. I am just a thrifty girl. I absolutely love a bargain…

…So, just after I typed that last sentence, these two Korean girls, Florence and Andrea (their English names), sat down to talk with me. This Sky Café is apparently an English-only spot where the Korean students are forced to practice their English. So we started chatting and they told me about some really popular Korean music (K-Pop) to check out. I was typing the names of the groups into my computer, and I think Florence saw that I had written that I like a bargain, because shortly thereafter, she taught me that in Korea, EVERYTHING is negotiable. When you want a discount on something, you simply give the shop owner a big smile and say “kaka-jusehyo.” I think I can do that... Just one more reason why this place rocks.

Anyway, here are some pictures (click to zoom)… I’ll narrate as we go:

We took a group trip into Incheon a few days ago. The first stop was Chinatown, which was awesome. I bought a bag of loose leaf rose petal tea and four balls of flowering tea for only $5!

A teeenyy tiiiiny door. Little old Korean ladies are cute and itty bitty.

It's not every day that you see a doggie on a rooftop. :)

The Korean countryside. I couldn't see it the first couple of days because it was so foggy, but the mountains everywhere are pretty.

There was a park near Chinatown. This was the entrance...

There were several pagodas in the park. From the one I was on, I could see downtown, as well as this port...

So apparently Korean parks have fitness machines in them. I've already seen two, including this one. Alex and I tried to work out with the old Korean men and women, but couldn't keep up. They are in SHAPE! (The lady in the black had her legs almost parallel to the ground. I'm not kidding.)

And finally, here is a picture of our new $7 haircuts! Mine pretty much looks the same, it's just split end-free! But Alex's is much shorter, and I think it looks cute.

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