Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lotte Mart and the Adventure to Nowhere

We got done with work early today, so we decided to try our hands at the Jecheon bus system.  Turns out that it's pretty easy to get around the city on the 406 bus because it just goes in a loop.  However, Ian and I did not get on a 406 bus.  Luckily, when the bus we were on hit it's last stop and we were ask to leave, we were relatively close to where we needed to be.  We checked out both of Ian's campuses (Jang Rak and Go Am).  The people there seem a little friendlier and less shy than the girls at Sinback (one of my campuses), so I'm hoping to find the same to be true at Ha So (my other campus).
In between looking at Ian's campuses, we took some time to check out Lotte Mart, another supermarket in town.  While we were in the market, I got a few calls from the principle because she was worried about us and she wanted to make sure we didn't get lost.  The principles have been very paternal so far.  Julia worries that we don't eat enough and we are asked pretty consistently if we are tired or how we are adjusting.  So, while they may not be social with us, they are, at least, kind.
Back to the market.  Lotte Mart is our new best friend.  The prices are a little better than HomeMart and they carry both Diet Coke and Coke Zero, two products that we haven't found anywhere else.  Generally, it's just a bit larger than HomeMart, so it carries more, and therefore more random things that we recognize.
Oh joy!
We miss you, Seattle.
Oreo cereal!
We decided to buy oatmeal (we had seen it at HomeMart) and we asked an employee using our Korean dictionary.  What followed was twenty minutes of him asking several other employees and trying to figure out if it was a type of flour.  This included having a woman bring us a bag of bulk flour as an example and us watching him try to figure out if he could use our Korean/ English dictionary. We eventually bought a grain mix that vaguely resembles oats (here's hoping) and thanked him mightily for all his effort.
On our way out of the market and to the Go Am campus, we got a little lost, so we decided to ask a gas station attendant for help.  We handed him our bus schedule that Julia printed for us.  She had drawn a rough map of the school's area on it.  We had intended for him to just see the map and Go Am spelled out so that he would understand us.  However, he read the whole schedule and after going through each part (in Korean with a few English words thrown in), which included the location of the campus we had just visited, he told us to go back up the road the way we came.  We had made a wrong turn out of the mart.  Like in the previous example the man stuck with us until he was confident he had actually helped us in some way.  Moral of the story:  Koreans will go out of their way to be kind and to help you.  For obvious reasons, this is very helpful.  On the other hand, if you're going to ask for help in Korea, make sure you have time.  They are not satisfied with telling you that they don't know or that you are off base.  Instead, they will work through the problem themselves and they don't stop until they feel you have what you needed or that you've figured out a way to solve the problem yourself.
After visiting Go Am, we decided that we would walk home (a lengthy walk, but an easy one).  We walked through downtown and then passed the market area and then through some parts we had only been driven through.  We found a "stationary store" which is where we were told we could buy bus passes.  We walked in and used the dictionary to ask about them, but the lady behind the counter just giggled and shook her head no.  Silly Americans, who told them they could buy bus passes at an office supply store?
Then we started seeing car dealerships.  At that point, we realized that we were not headed the right direction.  But, we weren't sure where we were in relation to Sinback-Dong (our neighborhood).  When we realized that there was nothing but farmland to our right side (it was dark, so we had to infer that from the lack of lights and the vague livestock smell), we decided it was time to take a cab.  We hailed one, but the driver gave up on us when he couldn't get over and drove away.  So, we walked to the gas station where several were parked (including the one that had ditched us a minute prior) and asked one if he would take us to Sinback-Dong, Rosewell Apt (pronounced apatay).  About five minutes and $2.50 US later, we were back.  It seems we had went straight when we should have curved to the right (East, I think).  It was a little nerve wracking to be lost for the first time.  It's funny how every neighborhood can seem sketchy when you don't speak the language and you barely understand the culture.
I took  a few photos while we were walking to try to show you haw different things look at night.  During the day Jecheon looks like a small town, but because everything (EVERYTHING) lights up, at night it looks much larger.  The photos don't do it justice, my camera just isn't that talented.
A common sight on any street in Jecheon.
A bus for our school.  Apparently, taking it is not an option for us.

Pizza Delivery #'s here are full of 5s and 8s, too!

Office Depot?  What would you buy there?

Masses of brightly colored plastic piggy banks, of course! 

In many areas with high foot traffic the "side walk" is made out of a rubber-like material similar to what you'd find on a track.

It's not a good picture at all; but, there are many, many lights.
A cell phone advertisement. Kind of looks like my phone.

Ian with a plastic palm tree at a gas station.
What is it?  We thought we'd take a poll.  We passed an appliance graveyard.

When we reached the apt. building we played a little claw game outside of our corner store.  I didn't manage to grab anything, but the little pusher thing gave us four!  The game said that they were Tootsie Pops, but they are a candy bar made of carmelized sugar and maybe raisins?  They are sort of gooey and very good.  The candy reminds me a little of Mexican candy without any bitterness and no spice.

 Oh, Korean Dictionary, what would we do without you?!

Tomorrow is our first day in front of the kids.  We are excited and nervous.  Wish us luck!  We'll be on Skype in the morning (PST afternoon) if you want to say hi.


  1. It is so comforting to find things that remind you of home when you are in a strange far off land. Chicago isn't nearly as far, but every time we pop into a Starbucks (the midwest is much more about Dunkin' Donuts) I get a really warm feeling, and not just from drinking the hot tea.
    Also, what is on that sheet? Are they sausages? Peppers? I've heard other friends who have traveled in that part of the world refer to street meat, is that it?

  2. Lotte Mart rocks. I think that I would spend hours in there. Oh wait, you did too! I was cracking up that they brought out bags of oats for you to inspect. Good thing you did'nt ask about the Zero, they would of had to call thier Coke rep to drive over to answer your questions. This blog is exactly what I was hoping it would be. We are all going along with you on this amazing journey. Everyday is something crazy. Can't wait to hear how your first day went.

  3. Plastic palm tree on the curb? Whatever for? That's odd you can't take the school's bus. Lovin' the updates.
    Judy Mom