Cultural Musings · Girls Night Out · Korea

CMOD – Cars in Korea

One evening after coffee, Steph, Ally and I walked down to Ally’s car at the end of the alley to find that Ally had a ticket on her car. 60,000 Won, roughly $60 USD is what the ticket will cost Ally, as well as a headache and aggravation. Tickets in Korea are sporadic, more often than not you will park somewhere “illegally” hundreds of times before you ever get ticketed. There are no signs posted and you think you can park anywhere you want, that is until the ticket man comes to get ya. Koreans park pretty much anywhere they want, they park other cars in, they park in front of businesses and residences without a care in the world. Parking attendants will, every once in a while, wander the streets with a digital camera and take a photo of the cars with the ticket on the windshield so the car’s owner can’t claim they never received a ticket at all.

Driving is a challenge in Korea. So far the rule has been, the more aggressive you are the better. From what I hear, driving has only become prevalent in the past 30 – 40 years. Now, like in the US, most Koreans have at least one car per family. This quick overload of cars and drivers poses a problem because the Korean transportation system hasn’t kept up with it all. Roads are often times not wide enough to accomodate all the traffic and many are filled with pot holes or patched with big sheets of metal. People park on the side of the road in the driving lane or double and sometimes even triple park other cars in, causing some dangerous dodging at moderate speeds. Red lights are merely suggestions here. While some stoplights have cameras attached and will capture your license plate if you run the red light, many cars will inch into an intersection and if there is nobody coming from the opposite direction they will haul ass down the road. I don’t know what the requirements are for Koreans to get their licenses but many of them tend to be very aggressive drivers, weaving in and out of traffic like in a video game. Another aspect of driving I will never get used to here is the use of horns. In the U.S. we are used to people using their horns as a negative motion, usually telling someone that whatever it is they are doing is not okay. Well in Korea, that is the case sometimes but at other times, Koreans are using their horn as a way to communicate. Maybe they are signalling for you to go first down a narrow street or reminding you that you waited a nanosecond too long when the light turned green. I can safely say, I’ve never used my horn so much and valued my seatbelt more!

This is Old Blue – the newest addition to the Taylor family. We paid 900,000 Won for this puppy, a steep price for a Korean car of this year and make but hey Americans don’t always get the best deals around here. We will, however, enjoy a year’s worth of free maintenance so I’m not complaining about the Korean inflation rate for Americans.

This week’s Thursday Girl’s Night Out was at Thailand Restaurant. Our group keeps getting bigger, which is great and hopefully we’ll have enough places to try somewhere new everytime we venture out.

After dinner we wandered over to Baskin Robbins for a cup of “My Mom’s An Alien.” What, you ask is “My Mom’s An Alien?”

Well, it’s a Korean ice cream flavor, of course. You’ll notice that right under the Rocky Roard sign is a flavor in Korean. This is the only flavor at Baskin Robbins that is not translated so Ally, as always, came in handy with some translation skills. The BR employee told us this was called “My Mom’s an Alien.” We all immediately conjured up visions of little green, antennaed creatures eating loads of ice cream but the girl told Ally that it was actually referring to the immigrant version of alien. We still have not gotten an answer on how this ice cream name came about but we will contiue to ask questions while we enjoy the chocolate ice cream with chocolate covered pretzel balls.

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