Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Nov 23rd

It is exam day in Korea today. Students sit four exams, each of 2 hrs duration, on Korean, English, Maths and one subject of their choosing. Poor bastards. In Australia we have 1.5 to 3 hr exams spread over a one to two week period. Apparently they don't have "Schoolies" afterwards. Students still attend school until graduation and the good ones take English or computer lessons etc to ready themselves for uni. The naughty ones go to 노래방 (no rae bang - Korean karaoke) or night clubs and so don't study much.

I have noticed that neary every cement mixer has a glove fitted. In fact, it was one of the the first things that I noticed upon my arrival in this country. The best explanation so far is that it keeps moisture off the drum and prolongs the drum's lifetime due to rusting.

Notice in a taxi - "In case of inconvenience please call" 전화 -851-5000

There is an "Outback Steakhouse" in Busan where they serve Aussie food. Apparently very expensive.

Headed off to get a ferry to travel over to Japan for four or five days. Public Internet is available at the International Ferry Terminal for 100 Won/5 minutes. I was typing an email to a friend when the computer just turned off - I had nine minutes left. Imagine my frustration. A short investigation revealed that Miky had accidentally kicked the off switch. Checked our email and let Yu-Jin play ABC Kids and Yahoo! Games.

On the sign describing Internet usage - "100 won will be use for 5 miniutes".

Had some difficulty getting a ferry as the one we had planned to take was fully booked and we had to waitlist. Luckily the Kobee (Mirejet) had some seats for us. The trip of 213km from Busan to Fukuoka only takes 2 hrs 55 minutes. We didn't pick the best day to go because it was a public holiday in Japan and plenty of Japanese were travelling. Lunch was 2x kimbap (sushi, for those of you who don't know that the Japanese stole this dish from the Koreans), soup and Pringles - a mind-boggling 10000 Won!

Immigration took less than two minutes. Nice 'n easy. Duty-free shop was interesting. Infants Nike shoes were US$49 but Couvoisier Cognac 700 mL was US$31 - quite cheap. Might have to get some for my Business Manager. So much cheaper than in Oz.

Let your position identify whistling.

Light is on automatically when you in to the seawater. Gotta love the translations.

On the Kobee Ferry - Abandon Ship Procedure - "In an emergency case, take derect in point, please quietly follow our crew clerk's instructions."

Interesting to hear safety instructions in Korean, English and Japanese. Mind you, the girl making the announcement had exactly the same dialect for Korean and Japanese so she really didn't sound Japanese at all. English wasn't really up to scratch either. There was a safety video as well and some of the grammar and spelling was terrible.

Perhaps they should build a tunnel although I think the Koreans would resent the ease at which the Japanese could invade them, albeit in the form of tourists. A friendly invasion in this case.

Same hydrofoil as ours heading back to Korea. These things sit on 80 km/h out on the open water and they certainly don't feel like it.

Koreans love to talk, either face-to-face or on the phone. It's not unusual to see people talking on their mobile for an entire subway journey. Almost everyone has a mobile - even 할모니 (halmonis - grandmas). On the bus, in the car, and even driving the bus (not necessarily by grandmas). They must be fairly cheap calls as I rarely see anyone texting.

At the ferry terminal, whilst finishing our expensive kimbap, an older gentleman, by the name of Her Ki-do, came to talk to Yu-Jin and me. He was a professor of civil engineering at one of the local universities and is now retired. He had been to Sydney and Brisbane and played golf. His English was ok.

Can't believe that I haven't seen a cloud on my holiday yet and as soon as we jump on the ferry it becomes overcast.

드보르작 - Dvorak
슈베르트 - Schubert
브람스 - Brahms
모짜르트 - Mozart

You probably can't appreciate the difficulty Koreans have of translating into their language unless you can read hangeul.

Japan - the land where cars stop for red lights, people can cross the road safely at pedestrian crossings, the Christmas decorations and done tastefully and on a grand scale and everything is unaffordable.

Keiko, a former flatmate of ours, was waiting for us at the ferry terminal and drove us to Fukuoka Tower which had Christmas Tree Lights along the sides. We walked along the beach and up to JAL Hotel, the one shaped like a knife - but it is actually huge inside - and we took the extremely fast lifts from the 4th to 17th floors and 17th to the Observation Deck on the 35th. You do NOT notice the lift going up. We then took the lift with views of outside down to the 4th floor. The escalators in Japan are much quicker than those in Korea.

Yu-Jin's Japanese girlfriend. Some poor girl getting her photo taken inside the JAL Hotel and she obliged for a photo.

Saw a woman smoking in public. You don't see heathens such as this in Korea. Not too many cars park illegally - unlike Korea. Lots of cars have GPS including Keiko's mother's car.

GPS - Every car must have one. Lots of the Japanese have them.

We had some really strange backstreets to drive down to get to Keiko's mum's house. Her mum, Kiyoko, made a lovely meal with fried chicken, tomato avocado, salad with mayo, eggs, cucumber etc, Japanese soup, rice, and kimchee amongst others. Absolutely delicious. Kiyoko is a maths teacher, Keiko is an English teacher and her sister Mariko is a violin teacher.

Kiyoko has been to Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra before. Her English isn't too bad. Mariko doesn't speak more than a few words [Editor's note - this was found to be not true as time wore on]. My Japanese started to come back to me.

Keiko's dog, Robby (11), is a Welsh corgi and doesn't act his age. He had a good time with Yu-Jin and got a bit too excited, if you know what I mean.

I found out that the two sides of Japan have different voltages for power. Huh? Keiko leant me her battery charger cable so that I could charge my camera battery. Luckily my charger automatically ranges from 100-250 V, 50/60 Hz.

One of the strangest things was the toilet where the lid tried to open as you entered the room (it doesn't work properly now), the seat was very warm and the toilet flushed by itself once you had finished your business. Bit of a culture shock that. With the toilet seat not opening properly it was going up and down and looked like it was trying to talk to you.

The Japanese have gadgets for everything including an o-cha (green tea) maker [Editor's note - it is just a hot water maker (wife told me off)]. You never know what is going to go off next as you walk around the apartment.


Hammysmum said...

I have heard that Sake is very potent stuff!

NewYorkMoments said...

8 hours of exams? I could never concentrate that long.

Sake is good stuff, hammysmum.