A bus ticket? Incomprehensible!

Korea has a well developed transportation infrastructure, with bus companies doing very well. The observed phenomena is that Saturday afternoons, the Koreans surge out of Seoul in great hoardes that almost rival the ones that Gheghis Khan got together. Traffic out of the Southern Seoul expressway is almost at a standstill. Come Sunday evening the tide changes course and those that went out, return.

I was incredulous, and then surprised to see how people just can’t read a bus ticket correctly. The elderly and even men in suits got it wrong. What’s so difficult about reading and abiding by the seat number allocated to you on the ticket? I think it’s a bit more than laziness in action. The old man sat in seat 20 (my seat!) realised with some surprise that he was sat in the wrong seat. I’d sat down next to him (cricket practise was exhausting but productive) when he realised he was in the wrong seat. It was actually seat 3. I pointed forward, to the front of the bus. The old boy, looked left and right in apparent confusion. Two ajummas were sat in the row that had seat 3. Evidently 2 ajummas trumps one old boy. He sat down, perhaps with some relief.

From just stupid to just plain smelly. My new seating companion had a certain odour about him. Maybe he’d been rolling around in newly ploughed fields someplace because this guy had the passing smell of manure. Or maybe he’s just had a wet-one escape from the stable doors. So many people returning to the countryside.

Driven egos, UNparallel parking

Seen this time, in my town, in the void. I admit, with a bit of style this time, but still the arogance and self-mindeness of a driver who thinks he’s alone. Someone must have parked, I mean just driven into a space and in the ensuing hours everyone else must have followed suit.

No-one else on the street (the main street actually) had parallel parked, but this bunch of twerps. Driven, but lacking in skill. Or perhaps just lazy.

Cough and wheeze, advisory never heeded

Koreans just do not get public notices. Walking up subway stairs, and now ‘cover your cough’. This was seen in Hallym hospital in Pyeongcheon, in the chest clinic area.

Surrounded by old people on all sides, a chorus of coughs rang out like no tomorrow as I sat in the waiting lounge at the clinic. Self-absorbed b*stards. Hospitals bring out the worst in Korean society. Sick people, need caring, not only from the medicos but from their fellow patients. An elderly woman stood reading off the symbols and letters on the eye chart across the room, while people wandered to and fro in front of her. Have some respect is what I muttered, not under my breath. I was disgusted by the behaviour of supposedly mature adults. It was a sad day.

But Koreans will stand up for themselves, even if it’s against their own good. Jiang and I had gone to Yeouido park, next to the Han river. There was some sort of protest rally on, replet with the police in attendance. This was a protest against the raising of student fees that they pay per semester. This is sizable, and in up to 3-4 million won per half year. Ouch. But I say that is what parents are for. There in goes the (long) caption to go with the picture. I can rightly say that all of the attendees at the protest rally, ignored the senior policeman waving the people to stop for the lights. It was the guy behind him urging the rest of the folk on. In every Korean lies a revolutionary.

Village of the dead, only the bus could save me

Not so much dead, more of a warm body. Perhaps walking into the local Pharmacy wasn’t such a bright idea.  The pharmacy stank, reeked of traditional medicine being brewed by sets of pressure cookers.  An old woman with a voice, like a rusty gate being opened, asked for, and got her bottle of tonic. In front of me, stood an old woman, waiting for he prescription to be filled. Beside her sat an even older woman, seated. I guess her bones felt a bit tired.

The old and the elderly sat in chairs not unlike sitting at a bar waiting to be served their medicinal liquor. While the pharmacy assistant (possibly the pharmacist’s wife) hurried about making up off the shelf prescriptions. Another woman, not as old (and obviously not as sick, was standing while she took her meds) drank her three bottles of off the shelf medicine, then put them into the correct recycling bin.

After having gotten her daily fix, she then turned to me and just stared. I was onto her and didn’t return her stare. She snuffled in way only Koreans can, and walked out, through the exit; Spurned by my non-repsonsiveness. Yo Mama, zom-bina! I’ve been here too long to fall for that gag.

Escaping the fume-filled pharmacy, after being served my over priced anti-histamines, I walked to the bus terminal and the waiting room. Got my bus ticket, and waited. Not one person in the waiting room was under 50.  So many people waiting to die, but more immediately, waiting for the bus to arrive.

I went outside to get some air, a little disturbed at seeing all those elder people. Maybe the bus terminal doubled as a day-care centre, but more likely the younger demographic were at work, or at school.

9-1-6, three drinks to sobriety

We walked along side mostly roads and roads under construction. Ben and I sought out the Han gang (river). At one point we found a car headlight, fittings and mouldings only. No bulbs. Perhaps it had come from the Hyundae car factory not too far across the road. We thought for a second of carrying it along our hike. It would’ve been the perfect accompanyment for the walk along side the road. You drive your car, we prefer to carry ours!

Finding (if not sniffing out) the Han, we proceeded to our ultimate distination, Yongsan and Yongsan electronics mart.

Sadly no beers were raised in having completed the short 1 1/2 hour hike; (The bus ride in to Seoul took longer), I was recovering from a sever skin complaint. Alcohol would only stir things up again. No beer for me. Or Hoegaardens for that matter. I sat in the bar that night, first nursing a Doctor Pepper, a Virgin Pina colada, and finally a Gold medalist, while I complained at the state of my soberness to my friend. Sadly the, gold medalist was not Kim, yu-na in her skating costume, but a strawberry and banana smoothie. This was too much. I went to the toilet to empty my bladder.

I get blood drawn, the bum needs a ciggie

I went to hospital recently and the phlebotomist (blood person) had great difficulty in drawing blood from my vein. I hate needles and this one was stuck in me for at least 2 minutes. The staff were very helpful, leading me this way and that. Normally my listening to Korean is pretty good, but today it seemed the battery on my universal translator was flat.

They even had a bum waiting outside radiology just to round things out. (Actually, he wasn’t a bum, he was just badly dressed). He was very uncultured, rude (for a Korean) and kept on asking me if I had a lighter. I didn’t, so I just kept on ignoring him.

Only a belt sander can smooth over the roughness, subtlety not being their strong point

It’s probably the worst sort of Korean I could come across. I’ve always thought that the Koreans were a bit ‘culturally slow’. Yesterdays encounter proved it. It always tends to be the older generation, who insist on ignoring me since I’ve never been introduced.
It-is-so-f**king-annoying. A prime example being an older male teacher at the school, who obviously thought he is king of the roost. Clearly I was standing next to him, clearly I was talking to my contact teacher there. link. He had to know who I was, but insisted on talking to my contact teacher.

Some of my feelings at the time can be surmised by the following quotes:

It’s a Samoan, young guy, dick thing – Falani, Outrageous fortune, S5 E16
Clearly I’d have to modify the quote to fit, but the intent is clear.
You’re a dick – Wolverine, X-men
Nah, he’s not going to get it.

On their part it’s insecurity, passive-aggressiveness, xenophobia, even ignorance or all of the above. It’s the rougher side of the culture, something I hope that they’ll smooth over with time.

Their worst nightmare is just an inspection away


I had an inspection team come through my ‘Tuesday school’ that I teach at, an elementary school. My contact teacher there in my opinion, is competent and able. She also knew what she wanted (out of me). But she also appeared nervouson at the expectation of the inspection. Koreans don’t really like criticism (or inspections). I say the quickest way to make a KET sully their underwear is to tell them they have an open-class. For me, it was just another class.

Mr Yu of the inspection team (there was also another member) made some recommendations. Not all that unkind, but also logical. The end message: use your NET more, get your students more involved.

In my opinion, my co-teacher was doing the right thing. For me, the class was just another formality, but it always gives me cause to smile when I see my co-teachers’ response.