Driving in Korea


When we first arrived in Seoul and had to rely completely on public transportation I would watch the drivers weave in and out of traffic and witness hundreds or near accidents. Needless to say once our car arrived I was a little nervous to get out on the roads. I made Dan drive at first, and then wouldn't drive by myself without him in the car. However he was going on a lot of tours with the band so I had to face the music and get driving in Korea.

So here's the low down. Driving here is crazy. Navigating is nearly impossible. We have a GPS with english directions and maps but often it will say "In 50 meters, keep left", which we finally gathered means DON'T exit, not that there was any sort of drastic road change that you had to keep left for. Then it will say, "in 300 meters, turn right." If you look at the top of the GPS to see which road you are to turn right on, it will either say Chu Ho Gin Ja etc etc etc until it runs off the screen, or (????) will appear. So the part of the GPS that highlights the path is vital to your success. Although that may work well in the states, check out what a Korean intersection looks like.

They often have 5 or 6 points of entry so turning right doesn't necessarily mean anything. So you look at the road sign for such an intersection for some insight and guidance only to find this. This one is on the way home from church. At this particular point we need to make a left turn, but notice how many different types of left turns you can make! So even though the GPS helps, it isn't a miracle worker. The best way to find somewhere is to follow someone.

Since I grew up in Chicago, I am used to traffic and aggressive drivers. In Seoul, a city of over 10 million people, and 24.5 million people in its outskirts, the mentality of the driver is much different. In the states people generally weave in and out of traffic and it's more of a selfish attitude of, I'm going to go faster and get to where i'm going before you. Here (most) people weave in and out of traffic because they need to get over. Almost always someone will let you over and you in turn let them over when they need to. There is kind of a hierarchy of vehicles on the road. Buses are the kings, taxis the queens and us cars are the peasants. The bus drivers are serious about keeping the route moving and will get over into your lane without hesitation. Taxis will run red lights and flip random u-turns and do almost anything if they see someone hailing a taxi. The rest of us just try and survive.

Speaking of people. Pedestrians are everywhere. Check out the typical Korean crosswalk.

Hitting a pedestrian is an automatic 2 year jail sentence, so most crosswalks are traffic light protected. This means not all crosswalks are at intersections. You can be driving down a road and see two sets of traffic lights within like 50 feet of eachother. Obviously if they're red, you have to stop. But I quickly found, by the example of the Koreans, that if there are no pedestrians crossing and you still have a red light, it is okay to run the light. I mean, everyone around me is running the light and the car behind me is honking, so I better go, right? I haven't gotten any tickets yet...

Another favorite of mine is the way the do U-turns. Just like the states there are intersections that you can't do u-turns on. If there's a long stretch of said intersections, you will see a sign like this to show you how to get yourself turned around.

But the best part is the intersections in which you can do u-turns. In the states you have to wait until you actually enter the intersection to turn around. In korea, instead of there being a solid yellow line to your left, there is a long white dotted line. So as long as traffic is clear, or once you get a green light/arrow, you can just turn around right then and there. It makes it easier and faster, just watch for all the other cars turning around with you!

Of course there are lots of other differences, but all in all I find driving here not as frightening as I thought it would be. I may even get myself in trouble back in the states by doing something I shouldn't!

However, oddly enough as I was planning on writing this blog when I got home from dropping Cade off at preschool, I was in my first accident here. I was in the left-turn lane to enter base, making my way towards the red light when a car in the next lane got over right as I passed it. We had always talked about how we might lose our mirrors here (they don't fold in), and thus we lost our mirror and have a few scratches. He was korean and since there was no damage to his car he left the scene (in on of those u-turn lanes i was just telling you about). I was flustered and didn't get his plate nor did I do the proper thing and call the police. I forgot that our SOFA cards have the police number on them. So we get to replace the mirror on our own dime. Sorry Dan!

I < 3

I find that I very rarely < 3 (heart) things. I mean, I love my family and bestest of friends, but most things in life just are. But here in Korea I < 3 this:

This is our hot and cold water dispenser. I < 3 this water because not only do I get fresh, cold water, but I can make hot chocolate in an instant! This is my best friend for the winter :)

Silent Marine Corps

A few weeks ago the U.S. Silent Marine Corps Drill Team came to Yongsan for a free show! Here are a few videos. I have a 3rd one that won't load, I'll try it again later.
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COEX Aquarium

A few weeks ago Cade and I went on a mommy/son date to the COEX aquarium. This aquarium is MUCH better than the one at the 63 building. We both really enjoyed it.

Here's Cade with his map. Man he loves those things!




This aquarium had lots of shiny fish which I just loved

Lion fish

Squirrel!

I thought these Korean characters were cute

They had a whole section of fish tanks made out of everyday things.
Traffic lights

This one was fixed to look like it had been smashed by a baseball

A jazz aquarium!

Check out the seahorse jamming to the saxophone

A washer aquarium

There was a refrigerator, sink, toilet, and even a computer that were turned into fish tanks!

This is a bathtub filled with Dr. Fish. These little guys nibble the dead skin off of your hands and feet and it tickles.

And who can forget a spiderman fish tank!

Another cool sparkly fish

In the kid's area cade got to pull the tongue of the iguana to see how long it was

And go deep sea diving

These fish were so shimmery they almost look translucent.



Here we are at the shark part of the aquarium!




These jellyfish were awesome!


After the aquarium there just happened to be a McDonald's in the COEX mall so we made a stop. Think he likes his ice cream cone?

Seoul Forest

While my sister in-law Kim was visiting her daughter, she spent a couple of days at our abode. That Monday was beautiful, and nor did I want to do a big huge adventure, so we visited Seoul Forest. I had heard and read that it was nice, and it turns out to be really close. I think we'll spend much more time there, especially next summer. It is huge and has lots of different areas to visit. We kept it simple and went to the kid's playground.

The first pictures I took of Seoul Forest were of the Koreans wanting pictures with my kids. You can't see the 3 or 4 other adults that were next to us!




The fall foliage is just gorgeous right now. Here's the path towards the park.


Cade and Alex asked their pictures to be taken on these stone balls.



A lot of the leaves here are HUGE! Cade loves them.



Now the playground. I tell you, Korea has playgrounds like I've never seen. Here's an entrance.




And check out the size of this slide!




I love how the signs here show you exactly what's going to happen. This one is located at the top of the slide.


Cade wandered to an area next to the playground and there's this giant sculpture!



Well, it turns out you can climb around inside of it! You enter at its foot...


Climb up the leg and through the mid-section...


...and out its other leg. Kinda weird but pretty cool!

Kim going over the rainbow!


Surrounding the giant sculpture was a big rock snake, which only part of his body is pictured below.


I can't wait to go back in the summer for the splash area, and to check out the two dozen or so other areas like horse sculptures, insectarium and more!

Videos

I know you already saw the Halloween pictures, but I thought this video was cute :)

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And if you thought that was cute, check out this one Dan took while I was at soccer with Cade :)

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Our family

Our family

Check out me and my sister's craft blog!

What time is it in Korea?

Family and Friends