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The trip home went smoothly and was largely uneventful (save for cutting my first flight a little close). It did give me a chance to jot down a few last minute notes and remember a few I'd forgotten.

Ajumma is a term for a stooped older woman (also any older woman as well as a waitress or hotel proprieter) and you are taught to both respect and fear them. Because they are old and hold much respect they really don't care what they do to you if you get in your way, beware their canes. While I was in the fish market I finally discovered exactly WHY they're so stooped. It isn't from malnutrition or excessively heavy labor, it's from a generally obsessive compulsive desire to keep their shops clean and the fact that korean brooms are about a foot and a half tall. I see a younger woman bent over sweeping with one of these and just know that in 20 years she won't be able to right herself again. At least she'll be able to whack foreigners in the shins with her cane though.

"Koreans have no concept of the 'blind curve'" states one of my entries. This was from the taxi ride up to Beomeosa Temple. In retrospect I relized it was actually a two lane one way road up the mountain rather than a small windy two way road. Regardless the cabbie drove as Pat put it "like he was living in gran tourismo". Swinging wide just before a turn then cutting sharp across both lanes and onto the inside shoulder before arcing back out into his original lane. Passing cars on sharp turns, both inside and outside. It was more than a little exciting.

Also taxi related was trying to find a ride to the airport in the morning. Signalling high wouldn't get cars to stop, signalling low would get them to wave at you and carry on their merry way even if they were unoccupied, eventually one stopped and thankfully it didn't have an Angel of Death on the roof. The Angel of Death is actually an illuminated seagul which doesn't seem to correspond to any particular cab company or any particular style of cab. Pat's theory (and it seems sound to me) is that the bird represents the Angel of Death and that that cab has either recently mowed down a pedestrian or two - and is thus safe to be near - or has not hit anyone in a while and should be avoided at all cost. Regardless we don't go near many Angel of Death cabs. A standard cab takes me to the airport.

Every bag that is to be sent as checked baggage is searched in this airport. There are a total of 4 gates so this doesn't involve a lot of overhead. The baggage screeners are also extremely friendly and will happily let you assist them in the search. I point them to my area of dirty clothes and my stack of books, I even offer up the collection of no doubt illegitimate DVDs all the while steering them away from my foodstuffs (if Piciori sweat can be considered food) and other less than exportable items. Things go smoothly and we're off.

Korea has what ammounts to a "leaving korea" tax. They don't tell you this when you enter the country, nor when you you check in for your flight. You just get to the first security point and they say "where's your card?". "What card?" you ask and they sigh and point in the vague direction of about a dozen little booths. After a few attempts I find that there is a visitor tax, payable on exit of the country only, which must be paid at a currency exchange counter (the logical place). You pay your 15,000 won and get a little green hunk of plastic. You walk back to the security check point and they take the little green hunk of plastic away from you. All perfectly logical.

Once in Tokyo there are a whole lot more americans around - I guess it makes sense since I'm sitting in a boarding area for a state bound flight - but it's odd to be able to understand conversations around me. They begin boarding and everyone dutifully lines up in a queue stretching back beyond the duty free shop. As I slowly shuffle forward and past the counter I glance down and see a giant box of Pocky - technically a giant box of Giant Pocky. One more impulse buy can't hurt. 10,000 yen later and I'm on my way. I spend 8.5 of the 9 hour flight asleep.

Addie missed me and is wagging her tail furiously, I have a stack of interesting mail (not a bill among them), and the air is blissfully dry. I enjoyed Korea but it's good to be home.


You know, it's pretty funny. As I instructed the taxi driver to your destination on Friday morning and waved goodbye, I couldn't help but notice that the car slid into the left turn lane: the opposite direction from the airport. I guess you made it, though.

Yeah I got a little concerned myself - he pulled a U turn, headed north and crossed the river a little farther up. Maybe just to run the meter up.

10,000 yen Pocky? Roughly 80 dollars for Giant Pocky?

Yeah, typo, it was only 1000 yen. I should go back and clean it up, but there's that whole lazy thing working against me :)


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