|에 오신 것을 환영합니다 우리의 한국 일기. 당신이 볼 수 있던대로에 의해 이러한 문자하는 것이 조금 어렵습니다를 해결하기. 다행히 우리를 위해, 어떤 사람들은 영어를하거나 동정에 몇 가지의 "노인"찾고있다 혼동!
Welcome to our Korea journal. As you can see by these characters, it is a little harder to get around. Luckily for us, some people speak English or take pity on a couple of "seniors" looking confused!
Korea was a pleasant surprise after Indonesia and Philipines. Here everything is very clean, no rubbish lying around, buses depart precisely on time (don't wait until they are full!). Seoul has an amazing network of about 20 subway/metro lines which go right out to the airport. Because numbers are written the same way (thank goodness!), we have been able to negotiate our way around the metro with not too much difficulty. Stations also have the English name and recordings in both languages tell you the name of the next station. The roads are well maintained, there are many tunnels straight through mountains or raised roads over difficult terrain. Interesting trivia fact - practically all the cars are white, grey or black - only a very occasional blue or red car amongst them.
We have been learning a little about Korea, so we'll share this first. The currency is Won and there are approximately 800 to the NZ $. Makes things sound really expensive! The population is about 52 million, in an area which is 330 km long and 260 km wide. Korea has 503 people per sq. km compared to NZ with 17.34 or Canada with 3.65. 90% of the population is packed into 20 to 25 storied high-rise city apartments. Instead of sprawling outwards, the cities go up, block after block after block of apartment buildings.
Korea has 23 nuclear power plants providing 40% of electricity but permanent storage of nuclear waste is becoming a problem. There are quite a lot of solar panels on houses and in fields. Unemployment is just over 3%. It is compulsory for young men to do two years of military training (optional for females).
It is spring time in Korea, pleasant 25 degree days with cooler nights. Looking into the distance there is a smog haze which limits visibility. Outside the cities, all land is intensively used with many greenhouses. Many plants are planted in holes cut in black plastic - strawberries, red peppers, corn, onions etc. Guess it cuts down the need for weeding. No longer do we see large numbers of people in fields planting rice or water buffalo ploughing - it is all mechanised. Rice paddies are being flooded, ploughed by tractor and planted right now.
When we arrived in Seoul we woke early the first morning because of the time difference from Canada and left our downtown hostel at about 6am looking for breakfast. Nothing was open that early, except for little shops that showed pictures of food we didn't recognise (and definitely didn't look like breakfast as we know it!) After walking and walking we were happy to see a large yellow M and ended up in McDonalds enjoying a McMuffin/pancake and coffee!
Food wise, it has been a culture shock. Some of the restaurants have pictures outside showing different dishes. We thought we were quite safe ordering from a picture that looked like noodle soup. Yes, it was, but the noodles sat in ice cubes! Apparently a dish you USUALLY order in the heat of summer! Oh well! In Seoul we visited several traditional markets, and looked at foods which we had no idea of what they were. We wandered through the odorous fish market wondering who in their right mind would eat those tiny dried fish. Little were we to know that it would be US at our first WOOFing job!!
Even buying shampoo was a challenge! Which Pantene bottle said "shampoo" and which said "conditioner". You probably already know, but we have just discovered that with Google translate you can take a photo, highlight the text and it translates it for you. OK sometimes, but you do get some mysterious/weird translations!
After two days in Seoul, we took a 2 hour bus ride south to Boryeong where we stayed in a hotel before beginning our first WOOFing job. This was a popular beach area, famous for its mud festival in July and a busy fishing port. The first night there we ventured out to a restaurant for dinner. We thought we were ordering chicken noodle soup but ended up with raw pork and some other meat being brought to our table, together with a hot plate, lettuce leaves and half a dozen side dishes of unknown vegetables. Luckily for us, another table of people had arrived at about the same time, so we surreptitiously watched them to see how we should proceed! We since have had several Korean "barbeques".
This is getting far too long so our first WOOFing venture will be the next instalment.