Went to a coworker's house warming party on Friday. The guests were only the people from the office (no one brought their dates or wives). The wife of the coworker who threw the party didn't get to eat at all, and was Ok with it. She just kept preparing food and making sure we had everything we'd want. My coworker also was busy, but not nearly as much as she was and did get to eat with us. I don't think anyone was even introduced to his wife except for just saying hello. Definitely not usual in the American culture, but I guess it is normal in Korea (and possibly more so in Japan, so I've been told).
While she was cleaning up afterwards, the guys sat down for a bit of cards. The game was pretty easy to learn. The deck contained cards containing 4 each of cards valued at 1 through 12. Starts with each player putting money into the pot. Then the players go one at a time - with the dealer placing 2 cards face up in front of him. The player then chooses whether he wants to bet or not, and if so, how much (max is the amount in the pot). If he passes, he loses (and gains) nothing. If he bets, then another card is drawn. If the card falls between the two that were originally drawn, he wins what he bet. If it falls on or outside the original cards, he loses. Once his turn is done, the next player goes and so on around the line. If someone cleans out the pot, then everyone antes up again. I played for a while, got up by about $15 and then went back to 0. Dropped out while I was even.
There are some other rules such as if a 12 is drawn, the player automatically pays 1 (unless two 12s are drawn, where the players wins 3). But it really isn't too hard to learn. The hardest part is that each card just has a picture on it (no characters or numbers). Somehow or other, the guys knew what each card's value was. I did fine so long as someone read out the value to me - but there was no way I was going to figure out the values based on the pictures.
Hit the hills this weekend. Rode my bike down to the hill that contains the Seoul Tower on Saturday. Rode around until I found a way to the top of the hill. Involved a paved path with way too may stairs. Maybe half the stairs would be rideable downhill, but pretty much all carrying the bike uphill (seemed appropriate, given that it is cyclocross season). The path starts at about the point where I took the photo at - as you can see there was lots of climbing. Got to the top, enjoyed the view, and then found a road down the other side. Bummer - I could have ridden all the way to the top. Did get a 40mph blast on the road down the other side.
Hiked to a local mountain from my house on Sunday. Not nearly as large a mountain as the ones I did with the others - I think this one is only about 1000 feet tall (I am only about 100 feet above sea level). Had some good views of the city. Unfortunately, I was told that it is a "military zone", so no photos were allowed. Guess that would explain all the lookouts and soldiers. Another hiker told me about the cameras, so at least I didn't have some sort of unpleasant run in with any men with guns. The trails are almost all paved, and have lots of stairs built into them, so riding would be out of the question. But it is nice to be able to hike to a peak right from my door.
Below is a set of pictures spliced together, taken before I was told about this being a military zone. The hazy sky is normal for much of Asia. I am sure the high number of cars has something to do with it, but much of this is also pollution blowing over from China.
The military does have positions on many of the mountains. And even those that don't have manned bases seem to have foxholes and barbed wire in place in case they need to man the area. And the army has a lot more control/authority over the lands - an example of this is that one of the mountains which had good mountain biking has been bulldozed. I haven't seen it, but the rumor has it that the singletrack trails are completely gone. Makes MROSD look good.
I am trying to learn how to speak Korean, but it is going slow. One interesting reaction I get when I do speak in Korean to someone I know is that they often laugh. They say that my accent is good and that I am doing well, but they still laugh. I guess they are just surprised to hear a white guy talking in their language. When I speak to people who I don't know, they almost always need me to repeat it. They understand me the second go around, but don't seem to be expecting me to say anything in Korean so aren't listening for it. I've done this with Koreans who speak English - I am straining to try to understand their Korean and am not ready for them to speak in English. Then again, maybe all of these people are lying through their teeth and I really do have a strong accent/am speaking funny.
The bagels I reported about last time do exist. I stopped at the Dunkin Donuts and there was a bagel. Wow! Even looked like one (not one of those scrawny things the local department store calls bagels). I haven't tried it yet, because I still have a bunch I brought with me from the States, but I am sure I will try it out as soon as my stores runs out.Previous Post - Back to Menu - Next Post