Friday, February 24, 2012

Being Visited By A Coffee Girl

            Last Friday night I was hanging out in my apartment, catching up on the Linsanity going on in NYC, when I heard a knock.  I thought that someone was visiting my neighbor and was loudly knocking.  I was shocked when I heard my doorknob turn and when I looked at it I saw my door open! 
            I jumped up and met the stranger as they swung my door fully open.  They turned to look at me and I saw it was a woman.  She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders, and started to take her shoes off.  I told her, “Aniyo!” Confused she looked up at me, asking if I ordered a coffee.  It was when she showed me the coffee that I knew who she was.  I told her “Aniyo coffee-e juseyo” (That’s as close to “I didn’t order coffee” as I know how to say) and pointed to the hallway.  She apologized and quickly left.  After she walked out, I looked out my window and saw her get on a scooter, was yelled at by the driver and then they drove off. 
            You might be wondering why I told her to get out so sternly and it’s all because she had coffee with her.  Here in Korea you can order coffee from a 24 hour service and a cute Korean girl will bring the coffee to you.  She’s there for “companionship” but you can negotiate other “services”.  Yup that’s right she was a prostitute. This is a huge business in Korea.  You’ll see lots of guys driving scooters with a pretty girl sitting sideways and texting on the backseat.  Don’t be surprised by this as infidelity is a huge part of Korean marriages.  With all the sex motels and coffee girls it’s very easy for a guy to cheat on his wife. What’s sad is that most of these girls are orphans and have no family to support them.
            Now the million dollar question is why did the girl come to my door?  I figure it’s because some guy in my apartment building called her and then found out his girlfriend or wife was coming home early.  So he frantically told her a different number. Or maybe she just got the numbers confused. Regardless, it’s certainly something I wasn’t expecting nor do I want to experience that part of Korea again.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lunar New Year-Yonggungsa Temple

            After heading out the previous night we got up, ate our breakfast and set off for Yonggungsa Temple.  It's a Buddhist temple just outside of Busan and it's built right on a cliff overlooking the sea.  It's a beautiful setting and a place that Frank Lloyd Wright would appreciate.

Some statues guarding the temple entrance.

This guy is just cool looking.

Chinese Zodiac statues. For luck you put a coin on the statue. If you throw it and it sticks you'll have a great year.

This lady was collecting all the coins. Not sure if she worked for the temple or not.

I waited but she wasn't moving. Anyways, my zodiac year is the Ox.

Here's what you see after climbing down a flight of stairs past the zodiac statues.
            The video below is showing the temple and how close it is to the sea. It was a gorgeous setting for a temple.  Be sure to notice what the temple means to different people. Most are there to pray, others' are taking pictures but not praying and some are just checking their phones because they're bored.  It goes to show that people are the same the world over.
            Yonggungsa Temple

Another statue to pray at.

A dragon head guarding the temple entrance.

Inside the temple. Look at the exquisite artwork behind the Golden Buddha's.
Here's the massive Buddha statue outside the temple.

Pardon the bad lighting but that's a dragon and you can put Budda dolls underneath him in prayer.

Here's the view of the temple from the sea.

The temple guardian. He's the only cat I've seen in Korea that wasn't afraid of people. I wonder if a sincere Buddhist believes he's a monk.

The white spots on the ocean behind me were waterfowl. They'd dive and catch a fish or crab. It was cool to watch.

Everyone warming up on the rocks.
            I really enjoyed going to the temple as it's one of the few that's on the ocean in Korea.  I also enjoyed watching Korean's either treat it with reverence or as a tourist spot. I even caught some Thai tourists trying to sneak a picture of us on the rocks! So of course I waved and they laughed knowing I caught them.  It was a nice ending to our Lunar New Year trip.  The next week my brother was coming to visit me before heading to China.  More on that later.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lunar New Year

            After the trip to Hwacheon, I was eager to get out of Gwangju again.  Fortunately, Lunar New Year was the following weekend, so I joined the gang and went to Busan.  Busan is on the southeastern coast and is the second largest city in Korea.  It's also the only city that wasn't captured by North Korea during the Korean War. 
            When we got to the city we quickly dropped our bags off and went to Beomeosa Temple at Mt. Geumjeongsan.  It was a beautiful place and the setting reminded me of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We then climbed up the mountain to see the North Gate of Geumjeongsanseong Fortress.  Afterwards, we had some dinner and checked out the local watering holes.

View from the temple.
Place of worship.

Here you can stack your stones for luck and prayer.

The North Gate of Geumjeongsanseong Fortress.

A smaller wall than I was expecting.

Part of the gang hanging out.

Our hostel was fantastic! Phil did a great job booking it.
            The next day we got up, ate Quiznos (mmmmmmmm) and went to the UN Memorial.  We started by watching a video on the memorial and what it was for.  The video did a great job mentioning all of the countries that participated in the Korean War, save one. The United States wasn't mentioned and I can't figure out why.  I assume that it's because we are technically still at war and the US government didn't want to have a memorial for a still active war. Or maybe the main US memorial is in Seoul.  I don't know but it did get under my skin.

The flags represent the countries who participated in the war or have buried soldiers in the cementary.
The cementary covers over 35 acres.
Since there's no formal memorial, this wall lists the US soldiers that died. There were 33,870 US deaths.
Here's the list starting with TN.
To show you the scale of the wall here's a picture of me taking the above picture.

Even though there wasn't a formal US memorial I feel that the best memorial for the them is South Korea itself. It's success is because of their sacrifice.

            Following that we went to the Jagalchi Fish Market.  I was blown away by it's size and diversity of goods.  However, Phil was the only one who bought anything and he just got a bag of peanuts.

They're just hanging out.
These octopus's were massive!
You could get goat, frog, seal, eel, several kinds of fish, squid and dog.
The market is right on the bay.
A tank full of nurse sharks.
The market was filled with shops like this. It felt like I was walking through a collage of seafood.

            Here's a video showing you what the red meat on the bottom left of the above picture is:

The place was huge!  I love the guy's expression too.

We had to be careful where we stepped.
These puffer fish were 18inches long! Also, they're the second most poisonous verterbrate in the world and a delicacy in Asia.

            Next we went to Busan Tower to soak in the sights and watch the sunset.  It was an incredible view and I highly recommend it for anyone that visits Busan.  Before we got there we were on the subway when I noticed that Phil had forgotten his bag of peanuts.  I grabbed them and without thinking said, "Phil you forgot your nuts!"  Everyone started laughing and it brought on all the puns we could think of including, "Phil, what do you do if you lose your nuts when you're on a date?" "Or do you ask her to hold your nuts while you get a condom?" This next one made me cry I laughed so hard, "Phil, what happens if someone eats your nuts by accident?" Good stuff for sure.

Leanne, Phil, Jonathan and I
The sign on the glass says, "Please don't sit."

Just after the sun went behind the mountains.

            Afterwards, we went out again for pool, darts and EPL games.


Don't mess with the Nutcracker at the bar. You better do what he wants Phil!
            The next morning we got up and went to Yonggungsa Temple.  It's a fantastic Buddhist temple that's located just outside of Busan.  I'll show that in my next post since I have so many pictures up already.