Thursday, January 09, 2003

Man, is it cold here. The weather has really taken a turn to the colder in Ulsan. It's a bitter, biting cold, but is somehow tolerable only because there is still blue skies and sun everyday. Most of the rest of Korea has been blanketed with snow, but so far, here on the east coast of the pennisula we've escaped the white stuff. It's so cold that there were pictures in the news today of the Han river in Seoul frozen completely - our school's water pipes have frozen solid, so maybe that counts...

Last weekend, we ventured out of Ulsan on the bus up to Daegu, a large city about an hour and a half away. Our goal was to visit the Costco and stock up on some cheese, which is one thing you cannot find come hell or high water in Korea. Well, they have processed slices, but it's hardly a substitute. Anyway, we are now proud owners of Korean Costco cards. The store is a similar concept to North America, except that in Korea, most large department stores are quite the opposite layout to what we'd be used to. For some reason, the parking is all above ground and the actually shopping is in the basement. Until we figured this out, there were a few times we took the elevator up only to find ourselves wandering around in some random carparks. The most refreshing thing was the silence... solitude in shopping.

Most of the stores in Korea insist on blaring music at full volume and having people scream into microphones trying to sell you all kinds of crap you don't want. Costco was quiet... and we bought lots of cheese.

In other news, Amy and I have started Hapkido classes. Hapkido is a Korean martial art that focuses on pressure holds and flips. It has the reputation of being the "street fighting" martial art as we will learn to defend ourselves from knife attacks and muggings. Real Steven Seagal kind of stuff. I'm actually contemplating growing a ponytail. Our instructor is a black belt champion in Hapkido who speaks no English. There are several other foreigners who are in our class, and a few little Korean kids who will no doubt kick our asses.

This weekend we're off to Pusan, which is Korea's second largest city and promises some good shopping and interesting sightseeing. I'll have a full report next week!


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