Saturday, February 03, 2007


I am back from my trip to Taiwan. I've been silent for some time on the blog, but am planning a flurry of updates over the next few days. I will simultaneously be telling of my trip while offering tips to future travelers.

I finished my teacher's seminars and English camps on the 25th and had a week off before starting school again on February 5th. It was great to leave Korea behind for a bit, enjoy the great weather that Taiwan had to offer, and to experience a different culture for a bit.

While away from Korea, there were some things that I missed about Korea:

The Won: The S. Korean won is roughly 1,000 South Korean Won to $1 USD. This makes it easy to convert a Korean sticker price into something my brain understands. In Taiwan, the exchange was roughly 30 New Taiwanese Dollars per $1 USD. So, I had to divide everything by 30 to get a comprehendable price. This made my brain tired.

Kimchi: I have tried some crazy foods while here in Korea: dog meat, whale meat, things that were still moving when I ate them. However, nothing could prepare me for some of the smells coming from the street vendors in Taiwan. Lets just say that I missed Korean food greatly.

PC Bangs: PC Bangs (pronounced "bahng") are internet/gaming computer rooms that can be found in just about every block. Makes it very easy to check e-mail or whatever. While in Taiwan, I had to visit three 7-11s to find directions to an internet cafe. These internet cafes just aren't as widespread as they are in Korea.

Some things I did NOT miss about Korea:

Konglish: Frankly, it can be exauhsting listening to broken English all day, and to try to constantly decipher Konglish phrases into meaningful English. I made a couple observations about English in Taiwan.

First, it is not just used for the sake of using English. In Korea, every business and brand likes to have some English along side the Korea. At best, this English is quirky--"Well-being Food"--and at its worst, it's down right nonsense--"Fresh Bank, Fresh Fish." In Taiwan, English was relatively proper in grammar and used only for effective communication--not some attempt at "glam appeal."

Second, I found that English speakers were MUCH better than those I've encountered in Korea. Enough said. Despite, nearly ten years of English education, I have a hard time communicating with most Korean high school graduates. In Taiwan, I found that when I walked into a 7-11, if one clerk didn't know English, the other did.

The Korean Winter: when I left Korea, the high was about 25 F, while in Taiwan, it was 70 F. The temperature was that perfect temperature where it isn't hot at all, and isn't chilly. Absolutely perfect.

The Ugly High-Rise Apartments: Korea's solution to its high population density is to build en mass huge ugly high-rise apartments. These buildings can be found from Seoul down to the smallest farming/fishing village and lack any architectural aesthetics. The apartments in Taiwan seemed to have been designed by someone who actually appreciates the way buildings look.

The Pushy People: Whether its on the Seoul metro or walking down the streets on Geoje, Koreans run into each other and me. All the time. When I go to get off an elevator or a metro train when in Seoul, they crowd the opening making it necessary to push your way through the crowd. I went for days with no one running into me while in Taipei. When exiting the metro, people waited to the side for those exiting to leave before getting on the train. The two times I remember getting shoved aside were waiting in line at Taipei 101 and then at the airport to leave. Both times, it was Koreans doing the shoving.

Despite all the "negatives" about Korea, it is my home for now, and I missed it. I definitely am glad that I am living here and not in Taiwan.

I'll be updating the blog daily for at least the next week about my Taiwan trip. Hope you enjoy and let the comments come!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I never try to interpreate and define Korea and Taiwan like this bottom-up way.
    Well done !


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