Friday, December 5, 2014

Korean Cab Driver

A selfie-obsessed seat neighbor. A no-nonesense Korean cab driver. Two grannies gossiping while taking a break from a hike. Yes, I've met all sorts of colourful characters in Busan, South Korea, and I've only been here for one day so far.

My seat neighbor was one of the two worst kinds of seat neighbors. The two types of seat neighbors I dread are the extremely chatty ones who talk to you from tarmac to tarmac, and the obnoxiously rude ones. Yes, people, there is nice middle ground. My seat neighbor was a Korean girl who looked to me to be about 20. However, she may have been 40 for all I know- Asian women are blessed with wrinkle-free baby skin until they are like, 70. I want those genes... Anyway, I was sitting in the aisle and she had the window seat. Instead of saying "excuse me" in any language or at the very least gesturing to the window seat so that I could get up and provide her access to her seat, she climbed over me and whacked me in the face with her purse and didn't say a word. Real nice. She then proceeded to take the pillow from the spare seat between us, because of course I wouldn't want it, and then she put all of her belongings on the spare seat. Real nice. When the dreaded turbulence of death started, all I could think was that she was the last person I'd want to crash sitting next to. Because yes, I always assume that turbulence equals inevitable crash.

Prior to taking off, she spent about 10 minutes arranging every single strand of hair on her head and practicing a number of pouty faces for a number of selfies she took. What is this world coming to?

Dear God, please make this woman stop

Anyway... eventually I landed, giddy to be in a brand new, shiny country. I immediately loved it, but felt like I was back at square one as far as being completely unable to communicate. It felt like I JUST got to the point where I could understand and converse even the slightest bit in Japanese. Time to start all over. I blew through customs quicker than a determined tumbleweed, and was ready to head to my destination.

That is one determined tumbleweed.

The first thing I came to adore about the lovely city of Busan was the abundance of free WiFi. Seriously, Japan needs to get on that. Even when I do find free WiFi in Japan, it is extremely slow. I know, I know- first world problems.

It's a hard-knock life. Just ask Annie.

So back to my story! I planned to take the metro. I had it all mapped out. But, sometimes, plans change. In this case, someone changed my plans for me. As I exited the airport, a stout little Korean man began yammering to me. I realized he was asking if I needed his taxi services, and I said I was alright, but he didn't understand me and kept insisting, so I asked how much it would be and he kept saying "one zero." I didn't know if he meant 10,000 won, or 10 won, or 100 won or what other mixture of ones and zeros he meant. A little fuzzy on the conversions still, I caved and let the determined little man take my suitcase and place it in the trunk. As I got begn to get in the back seat, he shook his head and wagged his finger at me and pointed at the passenger seat. Okay, sure, I'll sit next to you, sir.

The ride was a hilarious event during which he talked on and on in Korean, and I replied in English, and I had no idea what he was saying whatsoever. At one point, he reached in the glovebox and handed me a piece of gum. I hope he wasn't trying to tell me something about my breath. Anyways, once we arrived I realized that yes, the 30 minute cab ride was only $10. I loved the little man so much that I gave him a little extra because he was so rad.

The next morning I decided to conquer one of Busan's many peaks. I almost diverted from my plan, however, when I stepped outside into the frigid air.

I have been in Colorado, Minnesota and Chicago in the wintertime. I know cold. This cold made all of those colds look like a Miami beach vacation. This was the kind of cold that violently rips through your layers, renders your handwarmers useless and freezes you to the deepest depths of your core, down to your very soul. Okay, that sounds dramatic. But it's not too far off. The frigidness of the air was augmented greatly by the harsh wind, as well.

Finally, I decided it was all about the attitude. I was all like:

Actually, it did, like five minutes ago...

Tune in next time to read about my epic hike!


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