Before I forget (originally posted 28 January 06)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Everyday things that I'm starting to take for granted:

Water faucets are inconsistent. Some turn on when you pull the handle up (mostly bathroom); others require you to push the handle down (mostly kitchen). This can cause some confusion when you forget which is which. Also, hot water is on the left, most of the time. Not always.

Whole milk is standard. Nonfat and low fat yogurt are pretty rare, too. The plain (slightly sweetened) yogurt here is amazing. Dairy products actually taste like dairy, instead of mass-produced blah nothingness.

White bread is standard. I've seen what I think is a light rye bread and I've seen cinnamon raisin bread, but nothing in the family of wheat bread.

Garbage service works on a pay-as-you-go system. I buy special green bags at E-Mart for W350 (about 35 cents) and can then throw away as much garbage as will fit in the bag. Food garbage goes in a smaller yellow bag, which can be purchased at the 25-Hour Mart by my apartment. (I could buy the bags at other places, too.) Recycling is free. Unfortunately, no one in my apartment building seems to understand the concept of sorting. They just put all their recycleables in one bag and toss it into one of the three recycling containers.

Clothes dryers are virtually nonexistent. I suppose some rich people may have them somewhere, but there aren't any dryer hookups. So instead, everyone line (or rack) dries their clothes. It's common to see laundry on a line behind (or even in front of) a small family-owned business.

Toliet paper is scented. Probably because most Koreans don't flush the paper. Supposedly their pipes can't handle the toliet paper. I flush. (Don't tell anyone!)

Tap water is not considered fit for drinking, despite the fact that it's pretty clean and has fluoride added. I think this is because of the ondol floor heating system, in which hot water is circulated through pipes beneath the floor. As a heating system, it rocks. However, sometimes the water comes out a little rusty because it's been running around under the floor. Every restaurant and business has either bottled water or a filtration system.

Restaurant delivery is free and tipping doesn't exist. Men (always men) on small motorcycles deliver the food, usually on real dishes, and return to pick up the dishes (if necessary) after a certain amount of time.

Children can stare at, point at, and talk about foreigners and it's not considered rude. It's not unusual for a child to audibly gasp when I come around a corner. Children have also stared at me while I was eating in a restaurant on more than one occasion.

Selling appliances, among other things, requires very loud, usually English, music and dancing girls in mini-skirts and vinyl leg-warmer-type apparel, which is supposed to look like go-go boots. I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can think of right now.


One response to “Before I forget (originally posted 28 January 06)”
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Oh this took me back.....I can vouch for you that everything you wrote is true!

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