December 18, 2011

trip to Korea

Went for a winter vacation at Korea for a week with my wife and kid. Was it good? It was alright overall. Not world class but, it was ok for the price we paid. 

One funny thing happened before I went there though. A couple days before I flew there, I called up the bank to activate my card for my ‘vacation in Korea’. I didn’t bother mentioning which of the 2 Koreas, but the attendant had to ask if it was ‘North or South Korea?’.. like that. I was totally dumbfucked – does that mean that people actually go to North Korea for vacation? Or was the attendant just being retarded? I don’t know. Anyway, it was South Korea that I went to, if one has to ask. It was an 8-day vacation and at times, it felt like forever. Why? A few down points made me felt that way:

1) Food
There’s one thing very prominent about Korean people – they suck at making food. We’ve been introduced to heaps of ‘famous’ Korean delicacies and in my own observation, they’re basically comprised of only 3 types of food – barbecue, steamboat and kimchi. You just dump in different types of meat into the barbecue grill, or a pot with soup, and slap it with a fancy name – chances is high that it is a type of Korean food. Any vegetable or fruit can also be made into kimchi. So, it’s just maths from thereon, you just combine your meat vs vegetables vs fruits vs the either barbecue/steamboat/kimchi – you get a whole culture of Korean food. They’re more or less the same. It’s fucking depressing really (for Penang people, especially).

2) Language
I was told that English is a compulsory subject in Korean education. But to my opinion, that is a complete bullshit (well, either that or, everyone failed their English). Unless you speak Korean, you’ll never get your shit together there. Road signs, maps, amenities, they’re all in Korean hieroglyphics. Communication is a big major cockblock there, so, backpacking is totally out of the question (unless you speak Korean or good at figuring out alien languages at warp speed). I was thinking, why do we humans even bother beaming binary messages to outer space in search for extra terrestrial intelligent beings out there in the universe, when we can’t even fucking get around understanding the Korean people in planet Korea. 

3) Weather
I am a cold person. I like cold weather. But that’s about it. Having to weather the dry and sub zero temperature is not my idea of having a relaxing vacation, as I have to laboriously lug along thick winter clothing in and out of the chill and in between heated environments. It wouldn’t had been that bad if everywhere’s cold, because I could just keep my clothing on. But it had to be cold outside, and extremely warm indoor. So it’s either freezing to the bone, or hot to the core. That’s the part I hate most, adding and removing the layers as you go to places. It sucks and makes me appreciative of not having to worry about carrying extra clothing everywhere I go… here in Malaysia. 

4) Old people
Young Koreans are beautiful (plastic fucking surgery), but the old ones are on the exact opposite end of the distribution curve. They’re rude and ignorant. In the span of 8 days, I’ve been shoved and elbowed by old Korean hags (with oddly familiar cauliflower hairstyles) for not less than a dozen times. They would walk into my line of sight every time I wanted to take a photo and they do not bother to give any fuck. If you ask me, this seems to point to a disturbing trend – old people, they’re fucked up no matter which culture they’re from. But Korean’s worse because of the remnants of silicon and overly ebony wig, which give them the appearance of a stop-motion special effects creature from the past. 

And that’s about all I hated about Korea. Otherwise, it would be an epic vacation. The landscapes there are no doubt beautiful – I particularly enjoyed the view at a place called Seongsan Ilchulbong, at Jeju island – it’s basically a dead volcano by the ocean, and is a UNESCO listed site or something. Then there’s this place where we took a cable car up a mountain range at Seoraksan National Park, with a view to die for. Also, went to a fake island with a bunch of trees and stuff where a purportedly famous Korean love drama was made – it was just alright but nevertheless, better than something like our Cameron Highlands. Then there’s the ski thing we did, it was alright. We were also brought to a theme park owned by Samsung called ‘Everland’, which records one of the happiest episode of my daughter’s life. 

Also, I would like to mention this – I’ve never encountered a dirty public toilet at Korea during the entire trip. This is a feat that is hard to achieve in my humble opinion. Maybe I’ve been to only the good places but, they seem to be on the better scale than most people (I’ve seen bad toilets even in the U.S.). They have the respective janitor’s picture with contact numbers posted in each of the restroom, which I think could be the trick. They make the janitor own the fucking toilet like it’s his joint. The guy’s a phone call away from cleaning your shit and he can’t go very far – I think we needed that in our country because our state of public toilet is downright abysmal. It’s little thing like this that makes a whole lot of difference, don’t you think?

After we came back home, my wife and I agreed on one thing, the visit to Korea actually made us appreciate our home country more. We whooped some Hokkien Mee the first chance we had back home and 2 back-to-back meals of chicken rice for Regine. It’s one thing about saying ‘there’s no place like home’, feeling it is an entirely different thing. We needed this vacation and we had it alright.

michaelooi  | places  | 

6 Comments to “trip to Korea”

  1. Feizal says:

    Welcome back! I went to Korea earlier this year too..For 2 weeks! Ur post is on the dot

  2. Tan Yee Hou says:

    Went there once, didn’t like it as much as some people claim to love it (but those are the Korean fangirls).

    Language and food was fucked up, company and place was nice. Don’t remember seeing rude people though, but then that was back in 2002, way before Korea was cool.

    Hipster.

  3. ahsiang says:

    North Korea hosts vacation for visitors, however for a few time a year only. Not sure how the policy change since Kim Jong Il is dead.

  4. michaelooi says:

    Speaking of which, no, it wasn’t me who did Mr. Kim. It’s just a coincidence.

  5. sweewon says:

    Been living there for 2 years, and I TOTALLY agree with you! Glad you had a great time there :)

  6. Cedric Ang says:

    I have actually missed this blog. I wonder why it doesn’t show up on my Google Reader. Michael, you suck.

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