Sunday, March 16, 2008

Day Trip

This is the last weekend in Seoul before going to USA for a long business trip. I decided to take a short day trip today to the sea. When I arrived at the sightseeing place, it turns out maybe 100 or more motorcyclists were having a day trip also:

After touring around the fort and seaside awhile, I found the nearby restaurant street. This "street" was really a gravel road alongside the fishing docks, and each store's name was that of the corresponding fishing ship!

I chose one at random, and proceeded to negotiate with the store owner. You see, Koreans like to eat this fresh fish raw. While I can eat raw fish, I really wanted to have it grilled. I finally negotiated with her to grill my fish, but then I had to pick WHICH fish to grill. They were swimming around in the tanks. I chose one - I have no idea how, but later when they explained the name in Korean (숭어), I looked it up in my dictionary and found I was eating a "Gray Mullet".

Here is the guy scaling and cutting the fish for the grill:

And here is the result (I had already attacked some of the tail before I remembered to take this photo):

It really was quite good. As I hiked back to the tourist area, I kept looking for a taxi driver to take me to the bus terminal. The taxi driver assured me there would be plenty of taxis, however none were to be found after 10 or 15 minutes waiting. Finally I went to the nice man at the information booth and asked him to call a taxi for me. He proceeded to dig out bus timetables, and assured me that a bus would be along in 20 minutes. Well, after 30 minutes, I asked him to call the taxi again, but instead he called the bus driver! He assured me once more that the bus was just running a little late, and to keep waiting. After 30 more minutes of waiting, I went back and insisted that we give up on the bus and would he please call me a taxi.

At this point, there were some guests that had arrived and were meeting inside his little information booth - an elderly man and two elderly ladies. The old man asked me where I was going, and when I explained it, he told me to come inside and wait a moment, and he would take me! I sat for about 5 or 10 more minutes, wondering how I was going to politely get out of this situation. Suddenly, they finished up and took me to their car. As we drove off, I realized that two of these people were wearing some unusual clothing. It reminded me a little bit of a Hanbok (Korean traditional outfits), but very very simple. Finally, after taking in all the various decorations in their car, and listening to some of their conversation (which was quite difficult, being in Korean), I figured out these were Buddhist Priests! Here is the man driving me.

Initially they were going to drop me off at the closest subway station, but instead they took me 95% of the way to my destination. And it was way too far out of the way for them. He was just too kind.

I wrapped up the evening by meeting JI at a new Mexican restaurant where we ate some tacos and nachos for dinner.

Friday, March 14, 2008

That's A Drill

Saw this huge drill outside the office this week. I know this construction effort involves an underground passageway from our building complex to the subway station, but I can't quite figure out why they're drilling such deep holes. Anyway, it is a cool machine to watch in action. And MUCH quieter than the pile driver I once had outside my condo window in Hawaii.

It wasn't actually running in this photo, but I've seen it in operation earlier. It was interesting to see the dirt riding up the drill bit and falling out to the ground. In the photo below, there's a closeup showing where the dirt falls down a chute.

This is just like a hand drill, but on a much larger scale. And for whatever reason they're drilling, they're making several holes. They are moving this drill around the site and preparing lots of holes. I'll just have to wait and see what develops.

Taxi Theory

I wish to put forth my new Taxi Theory I've been developing (maybe it is a hypothesis?)...

"As The Stumbler approaches the street to take a taxi, one (usually more) empty taxis will cruise by. When The Stumbler arrives at the street, there won't be another taxi for 5 or 10 minutes".

Since I am only one person, I cannot say if this applies to other people or not. Certainly not to anyone walking 100 meters in front of The Stumbler...

[photo shamelessly stolen from Yonhap News website]

Speaking of Taxis, I noticed a problem in the last few weeks. I can't say if it is something all across Seoul, or only because I've moved to a new area. There seems to be a general lack of taxis. Furthermore, I seem to encounter a large number of taxis that (a) won't stop to pick me up, or (b) stop, but refuse to take me to my destination. Before, I've rarely encountered these situations. But these days it is happening with alarming frequency. What's up???

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sandwich and Food

I've frequently heard that Koreans don't think a sandwich makes a meal. This restaurant opened up in our office building, which reinforces that belief. The name of the restaurant is "Sand and Food". They sell sandwiches AND food both!

The Team

Here are some photos of our production "team" from last week. They're big on "teams" here in Korea, and I had to chuckle softly to myself when the ladies referred to our small group as "the team".

The giant man on the right in the next photo is The Stumbler. I admit I'm bigger than the average Korean, but I don't normally look so out of proportion. Our "team" members must be shorter than average.

By the way, I caused quite a stir one night with the factory management. Being tired of the dinner time food, I proposed to call out for a Pizza dinner for our "team". The manager nixed the idea, saying that the other factory ladies would be jealous and it would cause all sorts of problems and gossip. Of course, he didn't tell us this until AFTER I told our team we would be having pizza, so I had to do some back-pedaling on that one.

Fish Shoes Anyone?

Working at the factory has a few dietary challenges. For lunch, everyone eats in the cafeteria. Precisely at the lunch bell, all the factory ladies proceed with haste to eat lunch. And they are fast - even though they have 1 hour for lunch, most of them wolf it down in less that 20 minutes. The menu was very plain Korean foods, and not so great. After 7 or 8 days eating it, I was more than ready for a change. Dinner was even worse. They came through the factory handing out Gimbab. We passed on the gimbab, and went down to the convenience store to eat dinner. After a week of eating sandwiches or ramen, I'll be happy to never eat a meal at the convenience store again in this year. While eating at the counter (provided for this purpose), I happened to look up and see a fish tied to the wall!

CH explained that this is for good luck. Maybe similar to hanging a horse shoe over the door in the states.

Hello Yellow

Just finished a whirlwind week of 12 hour days at the factory. No time for blogging or much of anything else for that matter. I was coughing some this week, and one morning at the factory I went to the store to get some throat lozenges. Came back with this package, which upon opening, was not a lozenge at all. It was a powder. Reminds me of a candy we used to eat when I was a kid - it was sweet flavored powder sold in a paper straw. This stuff was lemon, and quite sour. I tried one package, it couldn't eat any more. It certainly didn't help my cough any...