105% humidity

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It's raining again, not that it has ever really stopped, however it was helpful for keeping the tourists down at Beomeosa, the largest buddhist temple here in Busan. After an early morning time killing bout of Chocobo Hot & Cold we left for the subway ride got to the temple around 9:30, a whole lot earlier than Pat had originally planned for sunday but ultimately a much better experience. As mentioned before, few tourists because of the rain, but even more spectacular was that all of the monks were busy with morning prayer. Of the dozen or so individual shrines I got to see only one wasn't occupied with at least one monk and a handful of devoted followers. We went into the unnocupied shrine to get a better look at the buddha statues and various paintings, the scent of incense was both overpowering and relaxing at the same time. I was chastised for leaving my shoes on the front stoop instead of all the way on the ground. After the shrine we wander around for a little while passing some of the lesser restored buildings - Pat says the Japanese would regularly invade Korea and destroy most of the temples for no obvious reason beyond habit. Eventually we pass a small sign with mostly black words and two red ones that neither of us can read, a short time later it becomes pretty apparent the red words mean "do not enter"; we've just entered the monks living area. It's not without a touch of amusment that we spot a stack of toothpast tubes on the edge of a 1200 year old stone watering bowl. After finding a different way out we hit the only shop and make our way down the path to try and find a taxi.

Along the way we pass a few pillars like the ones I saw people praying at in Seoul. These are a lot less worn down and I can finally make out what they are; A turtle with a column of words about 3 meters tall on its back and what appears to be a writhing pile of dragons on top. Some of the turtles are nice looking while others have fangs and strange mustaches. I get a picture with my arm around an evil turtle and fight the urge to get one of me riding it like a bull. We head to Seomyeon.

Part of today's goals was to find a place for me to exchange money since the ATMs in korea seemed to like to take my card and PIN number and spit out either "error 401" or "error 403" depending on the machine. Because of this we didn't head straight for the shopping warren and instead wandered around above ground. Before finding a bank with an exchange counter we came across the motor parts district, the giant bolt district and the tiny dog breeding district. Pat explains to me that koreans haven't yet done away with the concept of districts for various needs but that each one has become so specialized that if you need a new piston for an engine, the only people out of Busan's 3.8 million residence capable of selling you that piston have congregated in two tiny city blocks and it's up to you to find them.

After finally finding a bank and replenishing my wallet we set about finding more screamingly cheap korean stuff for my random stuff collection. Three random stores, a book shop and another trip to Home Plus later my haul includes:

  • two plastic pigs - I think they're meant to be piggy banks. They probably won't make the trip home.
  • A wooden Katana - one of a pair actually - largely the reason the pigs won't survive until the trip home. A note I've jotted down reads, "the tall white man is far less amusing when wielding two swords" - the children who like to laugh and point hello at me seem to shy away as I carry this home.
  • The Fifth Element in korean on DVD. I already own it on tape and DVD, but this was $7 and has "funny writing" on it - I'm a sucker.
  • A Gameboy game of questionable authenticity. It contains 88 games, none in english, and came out of a baggie of loose cartridges. It also only cost about $20.
The end of the excursion was punctuated with another reminder of America's ever present cultural creep. I've traveled 6000 miles to be bombarded by Starbucks, McDonalds and Columbia sportswear ads. Of course there are also ads for misculaneous white liquid in a carton being far superiour to misculaneous white liquid in a can so it's not completely homogenized yet.

One other note I wanted to touch on but have not better seguae than this sentance was that of monopolies. In the states, Microsoft is a monopoly, an evil empire that dominates the software industry. Bad. Here there are basically 8 companies total. Picking one at random - LG - you could be talking about the LG electronics that are for sale in most of the stores (also owned by LG). Or you could mean the LG grocery chains, both large and small, conveniently located next to the LG appartment buildings built, no doubt, with financing from the LG securities exchange. No real conclusions to draw from that, just sort of interesting.


That's segue, not seguae. Not exactly intuitive phonetics on that one, eh? Now that I've seen a few of these posts of yours, I'm struck by the notion that maybe ALL your spelling is intuitive and not rule based. E.g. you spell "it" correctly not because you know "it" is spelled i-t, but because it just *sounds* like it is spelled i-t. That would explain mistakes like seguae and pention. If that's the case, then you're remarkable for getting as many words spelled right as you do!

wow, how vaguely insulting. However if you think my spelling and grammer are poor, you should see my handwriting.


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