Korea in a Nutshell
Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
93Trip End May 08, 2007
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Where I stayed
The name of our hostel in Seoul, if I've never given it, was the Windroad Guesthouse. The colorful characters there included Cheong Ho, Yukari, Matt, Sharon, Andy, Philip, Lee, the Jameses, and later, Jess. Cheong Ho, Yukari, Matt, Sharon, and Andy you've heard about from the Karaoke night. Philip was a German kid who had just finished working in Japan for a year. He's only 19 and would only tell us that his job was not teaching English. He refused to say anything else about himself. Germans... oh well. We only really hung out with him the night at the Western bar. The rest of the time at Windroad we all just kept asking each other if anyone had seen Philip since the bar. Last report was that he was hitting on some high end Russian hookers at a club later that night with Lee, who was another employee at the Hostel
My mind is really hurting here, and I can't recall if I've told you about the Jameses. My internet connection is also horrible, so I don't want to risk losing everything just to look back. Sorry if this is a repeat. Our room at the hostel was the common area for two more expensive rooms. I had top bunk. I didn't know they made beds shorter than a twin, but my head was at the wall on one end and my shins hung off the other end. After checking in and finding my bunk, Cheong Ho came into the room to show two other guys one of the private rooms. Jon and I introduced ourselves and in turn, we met James, a tall British kid from Manchester, and James, a short British kid from Manchester. We then went downstairs to search for food and met James, a British man who may or may not be from Manchester. Someone had requested more about the people I spent time with. That's them. Although, Jon and I were only at the Windroad Guesthouse for five nights. We mostly hung out with Matt and Sharon. Otherwise, it was just the two of us. Jess (the Canuck) spent most of her time with us towards the end. My plan for leaving Korea was to take a ferry from Incheon to Dalian, a city in China. It turned out that Matt and Sharon came to Korea on a ferry from Qingdao (pronounced Ching Dow) and were planning to return the same way. Jon and I figured we'd tag along and learn from those with experience
Before leaving on this trip, I decided to get one last haircut, but I was somewhat rushed to do it. I ended up with hair way too short on the sides and way too long on top. It's... unique. And Koreans seem to love it
Korea really doesn't seem to like Jon. It isn't an active hate (except for a couple times). It's more that it wasn't really set-up to accomodate him. Coffee is insanely expensive and/or crappy depending on where he went. He resigned himself to buying 2oz. cups of instant stuff from a vending machine. Then there's the watch. That thing lasted four, maybe five days. We kept fixing it until it was too far gone. Jon was devastated when he found out that Korean porn shows nothing and always has the girl laying motionless and silent with no music playing. Then there are the instances of active discrimination. When our group was trekking to Dongdaemun market, we passed a store called R. Athletic something something. Their mascot is a bear. Some employee was dressed up in a bear suit and passing out free stuff on the street. He handed Matt, Sharon, Jess, and me little dangly cellphone decorations. Jon walked up to the bear and got flat-out rejected. Then at Dongdaemun, no one would haggle with Jon. When he would mention any other price, they'd shoo him away. He paid full price everywhere. There's been other stuff
I had read online that the ferry to Dalian only left Incheon on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Matt and Sharon's ferry was leaving Tuesday. Our first full day in Incheon was Monday, so Matt and Sharon went to the terminal to buy their tickets. Jon and I decided to kill that bird at the same time only to find that the Qingdao ferry left from terminal 2. The Dalian ferry which we needed left from terminal 1. No problem. Which way to terminal 1? We were given a map with the route highlighted. One street over, then two down. It was simple. Until we started walking. The scale of that map was fucking deceitful. More than two hours later we made it to terminal 1. Once there, I asked the tourist information girl where to buy tickets for the Dalian ferry. She speaks no English. That's fine. I'm in Korea, so I don't expect that people should be conforming to my needs as an English speaker, but why have a giant sign in English saying 'Tourist Information' if the person below it can't help me in that language
We also met a Canadian guy named Ethan. Well, he's kind of Canadian. Like me, that's his passport. Every place I mentioned he'd say "Oh yeah, I lived there a few years". Apparently he was born in Shanghai, grew up in Dalian, then went to school in Canada, did grad school in Palo Alto (Stanford), worked in San Francisco, and now he's based in Hong Kong. This fucker is only 25 years old. He already has his masters and worked in banking for two years. He's been travelling for the past 5 months and plans to keep doing so for at least 2 more years. He's fluent in 3 languages and can get by in 2 more. He's my new hero. I got his number, and he said we should give him a call when we get to Hong Kong. Always good to network. He also let me use his cell phone to get ahold of Katie once we deboarded.
I should mention: that's why we came to China. Way back in the day, meaning elementary school, I had a best friend named Katie Hutton. After 5th grade, she moved to the far-off land of San Luis Obispo and I never saw her again, until they invented MySpace. She messaged me one day out of the blue and invited me to come crash at her place in China. I was going to be in Seoul anyway, so why not. But we'll do that in the next entry. Cheers everyone.