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Finding Kindness in Korea


Day Five: Monday, November 29, 2004
The next morning, I took the hydrofoil boat back to Hakata International Sea Port. While boarding the boat, I heard many different English accents. They were a British, Canadian and New Zealander. They all came to Korea to teach English in Daegu city, one hour north of Busan. They were all going to Fukuoka, Japan to obtain the Korean work visas. Since it was their first trip to Japan, I showed them and two more Americans who joined later with us to get around on buses and subways and ordering foods at restaurants in Fukuoka.

Sunrise at Seoguram

I accomplished more than I expected for a lot less money. It was nice  to see modern, clean and safe Korea. There were amazingly few smokers in public places in Korea. All KTX train cars are no smoking unlike Japanese Shinkansen bullet train.  But the most rewarding with this trip was meeting so many friendly, kind and interesting Koreans and foreigners along the way.

Because the costs of food and accommodations are very reasonable and a small transportation expenses due to having the unlimited rail pass, I was able to stretch my stay by 2 extra days. I have been to many different countries on business and private trips. On the contrary to saying by others, I was surprised how clean the Korea was even in the countryside compared with other countries. Of course, there are distortions between affluent, wealthy and westernized shopping areas and old poor street vendors. But I saw only few homeless people.

The Korea Railroad Pass was invaluable. I was able to change my schedules as many times as I wished. The ticketing people were very friendly and helpful. The KTX bullet train was fast and comfortable. You can reach any major tourist places in less than 3 hours from just about anywhere.

At first, it was difficult how to order food at restaurant because, unlike Japan, very few restaurants display pictures or realistic-looking wax dishes on the front window. I could not read one word of Koreans. It was a strange feeling because I have had little problems with any other countries I have been around the world. But as I have done before, by pointing what other people are eating, I was able to get good and inexpensive foods that are not on separate and expensively priced menus just for the foreign tourists. Only once, I copied the Korean writing from the picture sample on the window display.

Whenever I travel, I try to meet and talk to as many people as possible to learn their cultures and their thoughts. Korean people I met are genuinely friendly and helpful. I found Korea to be the country to come back to soon.
I speak Japanese, English and a little bit of Spanish. The Korean language may be next to learn, in addition to Chinese.

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