Some things are so normal now that I forget that I have not written about them yet.
We have picked up some Korean. Not nearly enough. I am thankful for google translate on my phone.
Often if we ask a question, instead of just saying “no” the person also crosses his arms to look like an x.
I am thankful that the subways, bus routes, and major signs are in English as well as Hangul. It makes it much easier to get around. Other random things are translated too. Sometimes the translation is funny.
Clarissa loves to ride the bus. This is a good thing because we take the bus several days per week. Bus stops are very nice. There is a covered bench at each stop. There is also an LCD display that tells you how far away each bus is from the stop.
When your bus approaches, you should be standing on the edge of the curb. At busy stops several busses may arrive at once. If your bus is second or third in line, you have to walk to the bus to get on. It is not going to stop again in thirty feet just because you are sitting at the actual stop. If it is not your bus, you should look away as the bus approaches.
When you get on the bus, you pay one of two ways. You can put your money in the bin or you have some kind of transportation card. Once on the bus, there is a pole with a card reader. You hold your card up to the reader. It says “kamsahamnida” (thank you) and displays how much money is left on your card.
There are several seats on the bus. The middle aisle is very wide so that people can also stand. It is expected to give up your seat for an elder. Several young men have given up their seats for me while I am holding Clarissa. The only time that didn’t happen, an older woman let Clarissa sit in her lap while I stood next to her. Another time, Tim had several packages and someone who was seated held his packages for him while he stood.
To get off the bus, you need to pay attention to the stops directly before your stop. There is an LCD display at the front of the bus. It scrolls through the current stop and the next one in Hangul as well as English. On most busses there is audio for this as well. Immediately after you pass the stop before your stop, press the red “stop” button. Then you need to get up and walk to the exit of the bus. If both of these things do not happen, your driver will not stop unless someone needs to get on the bus. Ask me how I know this…
When we first arrived in Korea, several people wore masks. Apparently during cold and flu season this is normal to prevent the spread of germs. I have seen masks again lately. I think it must be the pollen because the yellow dust has not come yet (polluted sand in the air from China).
I mentioned in a previous post that it is rude to tip at a restaurant. You can order a drink in many restaurants. Some just have a place for cups and water is self serve from a filter. Other restaurants have a quart sized (though Korea uses the metric system so it is probably a liter) water bottle at the table. Either way, you drink from a small metal cup.
The only time I have seen a fork at a restaurant was when I ordered a salad at Outback. In general, you eat with chopsticks or a spoon. Knives are rare as well. Once, my meal came with scissors. When I asked about it, the waitress said, “eggi” (baby). The scissors were to cut my meat to share with Clarissa.