Wednesday, September 27, 2006

28 Interesting days

I am loving Seoul. Our day-to-day in this glorious end-of-summer weather is darn near perfect. Leaving the house early each morning, Child 2 and I make our way through the crisp morning air to the road where we catch the blue 110 bus to her pre-school. If I use the smart money card to pay my fare there and catch the bus back within 30 minutes of dropping her off, they don't even charge me for the return part of my journey, such is the efficiency of the public transport system here. You can hop on and off all day long if you want without paying a new fare each and every time.

Last week I went to get my driving license. Husband's secreatry accompanied me to help me through the Korean forms I needed to fill in. I reckon I could have managed without her since people are so helpful and I only needed to write my address a few times and do an eye test (learning the Korean alphabet was useful for the eye test part which was picture symbols and Korean letters). But I doubt I would have been able to go through the whole process in 27 minutes which is what we managed to do together. I havent actually driven yet (rather afraid to prang husband's new exec mobile given my shocking record of minor traffic incidents), but will soon take to the roads.

Korean driving skills are in stark contrast to their naturally homogenous and nationalistic outlook. Once in their cars, every Korean is his or her own man (or woman). Lanes are drifted across at speed, vehicles are cut up with gay abandon. People park all over the place, taxis wait on pedestrian crossings, and motorcycles zoom down the pavements. In a way this is liberating and highlights the individual character of the people which can sometimes become subsumed by a reluctance to critisize anything or anyone Korean, either because of national pride or a desire to be respectful. In other ways, it represents a severe threat of an accident in the early days of driving before one is fully accustomed to driving on the right hand side of the road.

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