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Archive for May 2011

May/11

4

Andong, Korea

Let’s skip over a bunch of stuff and into next week. Somewhere in there I went to Seoul and a couple of other places. Maybe some other day.

Andong is an inland city in Gyeonsangbukdo (안동,경상붘도, the romanization is not great, don’t try to pronounce it), roughly in the middle of South Korea ( map ). Andong University exchanges students with the University of Tasmania – one of my friends in Hobart is from Andong, also several students living there recently visited the Esperanto Society in Hobart and so I’ve been sent forth to return the favor. Please don’t make me explain again. Please? -_-

So I got here, managed to stuff up my Korean sufficiently to book two rooms instead of two nights at the motel, eventually explained and fixed it after a bit of back and forth and working out I couldn’t count to two (일, 이, what’s the difference!).

That night we had a thunderstorm which lasted all night and well into the next day. Because I’m stupid, I chose to go walking that day. Several kilometers, to the other side of town. Luckily I had my hat.

I’m fairly sure I’ve now walked the length of the main part of Andong twice. I managed to not find what I was looking for both times. Tomorrow will be the third time, so hopefully it counts.

I have to guiltily admit that I complain incessantly about the overwhelming amount of sweet bread that Japan and Korea have (sometimes it feels like treachery, that isn’t supposed to be sweet! Also, if you can see the sugar, you’re probably right that it will reach out and kill you), but I actually like it when they apply the same formula to coffee. One of the shops here does a very nice strawberry latte. Also green tea latte is generally very good, despite the disturbing colour.

I went to Hahoe on a suggestion from my Korean friend in Hobart, it’s a pretty little village close to Andong made up of old style houses on a river bend.

Anyway, I got in contact with some of the students here and was introduced to the Mate club, which is a university society studying English by talking about a set topic for an hour every day. Pretty good idea, and they take it fairly seriously and seem to be learning a lot from it!

Sadly my Korean is still bad, ie 안촣하요 or even 바부 level. Working on it.

Oh, and today I glued my hands together while trying to fix my shoe. The glue bottle followed the traditional tomato sauce bottle design, or maybe I was supposed to read the Korean on the back or something.

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It’s nice when things go to plan.

My friend and I had a great plan, since we couldn’t fly to Japan without a stopover we were going to visit his brother in Melbourne and then leave the next morning. Of course, there was the problem of the tsunami and the ongoing nuclear issues, but for the most part I think they were not relevant to tourists except in their potential to effect the normal running of things.

Anyway, a few days before it was time to go I got a phone call telling me the flight had been cancelled. We didn’t get the full story until getting to Melbourne, apparently we’d be flying to Sydney (the day before our original flight -_-), overnighting, and then going to Japan on Qantas via Hong Kong. Jetstar was still accepting bookings for the original flight just before we left.

So okay. That was a long and annoying mess, but it turned out that was the extent of the annoyance caused by the tsunami. Once we got to Japan, everything was incredibly smooth and efficient, probably more so because there were very few tourists. I got a bit lost looking for the hotel, but this was entirely my fault since I’d been there before (got lost last time too!). We saw very little direct evidence of problems other than a few lights which were switched off to save power and a couple of minor aftershocks.

Ok. Tokyo. Problems, nashi. What do you do in Tokyo in mid April?

I wanted to go see sakura (桜, cherry blossoms). However, it was night and we were in Ikebukuro, which is not particularly famous for it’s flowering cherries. So I asked one of the owners of the restaurant we went to where to find them (in unpracticed Japanese), and she very nicely drew us a map and guided us several blocks towards a small, hidden park where there were, in fact, sakura, see exhibit A. It’s awesome when locals are friendly!

Over the next few days we visited several of the famous sakura spots in Tokyo, including Ueno park and Yoyogi park. Japanese people hold parties supposedly for Hanami (flower viewing), but actually to get drunk. I think pictures tell the story better! We also spent a lot of time shopping, catching trains, being guided around shrines, drinking weird coffee, and trying to decide what to do next. I’m very grateful to my friend for dragging me to Japanese restaurants, because I would just be lazy and not bother if he didn’t :P.

That’s not the end, but Tokyo is a big place.

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May/11

4

Random Blogging

Last month and this month I’m traveling in Asia, mostly Japan and Korea. Since I’ve neglected my blog for about a year (since I last did something interesting, clearly) I’m going to post more random things about my travels in an effort to pretend I never stopped.

At some point I might also start typing randomly in Korean because the button is right there, and well, it’s just so easy to press it. If I fail to change back it’s because I glued my fingers together today and need to avoid unnecessary stress caused by fixing mistakes. If you can’t understand my Korean it’s probably because it’s wrong.

I’ll start out with some old stuff and some recent stuff, there’s some stories in between which I want to save up and write properly.

So, …!

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