Sunday, June 19, 2011

Second South Korea Update

This will be my last Korea update, next week I'll be back in the USA with a post continuing my Lending Club series.  I'm a little disappointed because I won't be able to make it to the Korean Demilitarized Zone during this trip.  Turns out you have to apply for this far ahead and instead of demilitarized zone it should be called really, really, really militarized zone.  I'll get to it on my next trip.  For now, though, a few more things that I've noticed in Korea.

4.  There are no tips anywhere!  Not in cabs, restaurants, hotels, or anywhere.  Koreans don't even know what to do when you give them a tip.

For example, I went to the royal palace at Gyeongbokgung and had a tour guide named John.  John was a twelve-year-old student who took the job to practice his English skills with foreigners.  He did a great job and when the tour was over I gave him a small tip.  He just looked at the money confused.  My girlfriend had to explain that it was an American custom to provide tips for good service.

I have to say, without tips life is a lot easier.  You pay the cab fare and you're on your way.  No haggling and no hurt feelings, just a quick and easy transaction.  Nice.

5.  I don't care for traditional Korean bathrooms.  They don't have bathtubs or shower curtains, just a small drain in the floor.  Koreans take showers in the bathroom and water gets everywhere, on the toilet, on the floor, etc.  They have sandals that you wear in the bathroom because the floor is always wet, but just put in a damn bathtub with a shower curtain and make life easy.  This makes very little sense to me.

6.  I really like all the different cuisine I've had a chance to sample here.  Green tea ice cream, Korean barbecue, the dozens of different types of kimchi, even live Octopus a la Oldboy.  I love the spiciness of a lot of the dishes.  I could probably have a full post just on Korean cuisine, but I'll leave it at this.

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