Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Seoul Post

Jan 24, 2006
6:30am- So this day starts off pretty much the same as most of the others...with Rowing team practice. Yea even on the day I leave for Korea, I go to practice (I'm that hardcore, and even my friends were shocked when I told them I had to leave at 11am when it was around 10am). Today I was on the ergometer (fancy technical name for the rowing machine) we did two sets one of 10min and the 2nd of 15min. For the last minute I went from a rate of 20 and average time of 2'08" to a rate of 23 avg 1'48" It was pretty good. But still not as good as the guys who were holding the rate of 2'00" for most of the duration. I don't really have enough time to go to my economics class, too bad. But I did have enough time to stay with the crew team for little while in the weight room.
11:00am - Met up with Zhang and Ton in front of the Ikenoue rotary and got the low down on how to get to the airport. Bus to Saijou station, Train to Shiraichi, Bus to Hiroshima Airport. We got there with plenty of time and exchanged our money for Korean Won. I brought 50,000 yen with me and exchanged 30,000yen into approx 230,000won. I guess the exchange rate was 732won per 100yen. We got hooked up with our tour group and got our tickets and all that stuff. Around this time, the hunger kicks in again (did I mention I had a sandwich on the train?) and after we go through security I gotta grab something.
2:30pm - Off to Seoul~ Not really much to say about the flight, funny to have the flight attendents try to talk to me in English and after my reply in Japanese, we just stick with the Japanese :)
3:30pm - I'm in Seoul!!! I've never really been able to tell the difference between different Asian people (Japanese from Korean from Chinese) and pretty much there isn't but here I think the style and hair and faces of people definitely seem a bit different than in Japan. Police are pretty scary. I am accustomed to see the police with guns..even sub-automatic guns from when I was in Germany, but here, the police just walking around are in bulletproof vests, pistols on the side, fully-automatic weapons carried on their back. I looked for handcuffs....none, at least I couldn't see them...not a good sign if something comes about.
We took a bus into the city and got our meal from a pretty decent restaurant I suppose. We had a common course of karubi. Karubi is Korean yakiniku..just cooked meat, but it is cooked over coals that are in the middle of the table. You take the meat and put it into a leaf of cabbage and add whatever else you want (Kim chi, daikon, some spicy sauce, tofu, kelp) to make a small wrap (think build your own fingerfood). Of course, we three guys, being guys, this single course doesn't put a dent into the hunger tanks so we got this other thing...I'm still not exactly sure what it is, but Zhang explained it was probably a tendon or ligament from a cows knee. Even without knowing what it was it didn't taste too great in the end. It was so chewy and lacking of most of the flavor..all we could taste was the spicy sauce put on it, and that wasn't quite enough.
around 8:00pm - We got to the hotel. But not for long, because I love the night life so we went to Dongdaemun. Wow! There is such a nightlife here. The sidewalks are covered with street vendors selling insanely cheap fake brand goods. Just everywhere! The places there aren't stores, there are trash bags full of the contraband goods. Even the normal stores are packed with this stuff at night. (These kinds of stores are only open at night, and the real stores are open during the day.) There is music anywhere you go and there was even a hip-hop dance stage around one of the more interesting areas. One of the nice places that we found is the river that runs through the city, you can go down some stairs and walk next to the river and there isn't much music here, so you can just listen to the water and enjoy this.
11:30ish - We don't know how long the subway runs around here so we decide we had better get back to the hotel so we can continue our antics for the next day~ Did I mention how cheap the subway is here!? To get from the hotel to Dongdaemun took around 20minutes but only cost 900won!! Maybe this is around 75cents.

Jan 25, 2006 - Woke up at 7:30 bright and early...not really but let's imagine it is. After my hearty breakfast of dry cereal and some water. We make our way down to the lobby. I checked the exchange rates, because I'm that much of an economics geek to care about it. Turns out that the exchange rate changed to a little over 800won per 100yen. We economics geeks get our kick off making percentages of cents.
So we are with the tour on the morning of duty free shopping malls...We went to two places that were duty free, which means that it was all brand name junk. Even without taxes it's not worth looking at it. Then we went to an area of town where it was the cultural goods shopping scene. Set up like a traditional Korean street, you could buy things like fans, masks, lacquer boxes, steel chopsticks (in ancient times the Emperor used the steel chopsticks because if the color changed, it meant that there was a poison in the food) and of course cell phone straps.
After the traditional street, we went to around the area that we went to last night alone, and afterwards was free time so instead of going to shopping, we grabbed some food from the mall food court, a krispy kreme and headed on our way to the Palace, Kyanbokkun, I think that's where we went at least. It was really huge! It's too bad that that most of the buildings look exactly the same, so unless you know specifically what the buildings purpose was, it's hard to distinguish one from the other. We also saw the changing of the guard.
5:00pm - Off to the Amusement Park Lotte World!!!! Woooo!!! What better thing is there to do when you get to a foreign country than go to amusement park? If you figure it out, tell me. First the indoor rides, you know its indoor so it can't be too spectacular. But inside it's warm and thats what we like. After the inside was conquered, we went to the outside portion! The rides were so great...Gyro Drop...Atlantis something...and the Flame. I'll admit it. I'm a chicken, I have no idea how high it was, but the Gyro drop..isn't really a Gyro at just drops...and yea I was freakin out by about half way up. Falling at 9.8meters per second though doesn't take too long so we got to the ground pretty quick. Ohh...the mistakes we make. And ask me to do the Korean wave...I don't know how to explain it, but they just took the Western hello/goodbye wave and added their own Lotte World touch. One more thing about Lotte World is that each ride has it's own music..hip-hop, hyper techno, or anything with a strong beat and good kick to it, because all the workers who are working at the rides do their little dance non-stop. It's not too much, but I can't imagine if the people at six-flags are dancing for however long their shift is...5hrs of dancing before the break...I guess it does have its advantages,.like being warm..and looks a lot better than the 'i-love-what-i-do' face that people at magic waters or six flags have.
On another note, even being in Seoul I get the little weird "hey-is-that-really-a-foreigner-HERE?" look. Funny~
12:30ish got back to the hotel

Jan 26, 2006
8:00 - wake up
9:00 -take off from the hotel for Kim chi and Seaweed sampling place. Kim chi tastes good, definitely can tell the difference between the flavors. Seaweed is good too, but not good enough to be crazy about. Ended up I got a bottle of Korean Sake and a bottle of Ginseng Wine. I am deep in the souvenir debt, so I'll plan on giving the Sake to Harada-san, he is a good friend of mine. Also because of the heirarchy here, he is one of the oldest students in the club, so he and I being good friends really helped me to find my place at crew team. Then the Ginseng Wine I'll enjoy when Noriko arrives from Tokyo. Next week (Feb 3) she is coming to visit me for Thursday and maybe a little of Friday before I leave for Kuchiwachou on the weekend. We will go into Hiroshima city and do some sightseeing maybe a museum.


Anonymous mi said...

sounds like you had a great time in korea. i have never been there even though korea is closer to ube than tokyo!! thank you for your message in my facebook.

4:11 PM  

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