This is the first week that I have been here and settled in – nice to be in one spot for a week. Next two weeks are pretty low key too, so I’ll be able to get into a routine. The update this week is focused on translation and transportation. And I received a nice gift box of Spam for new years from my boss…16 cans.
Our translators are great – translate via a microphone, wireless connection, and headset in real time. But sometime either things are not translated right or it just isn’t expressible in Korean.
1 – When opening a weekly meeting – “it is good that we have made it a week safely – one week closer to death”.
2 – After I made a statement, a response from a team member in Korean translated “Mr. Jarrett is a little stupid, but he is new and recoverable”
3 – When stating our goals for 2014 “Good finances, safety, and reduce sexual harassment”.
Bike – I was walking through the neighborhood to try and find a bike store that I saw on google – never found it but when I got to the Olympic Park (site of 1988 Olympics) there was a really local bike store, basically a temporary stall in an alley. I was looking at several bikes, and he said $210 – I said which bike, he said $150 and I said how much is a lock and he said $140 with the lock. Sold. (side note – I generally don’t try to get the best deal – that last couple of dollars means a lot to some). Some pictures attached as the day I bought the bike a cold front blew through and the pollution blew out. The pollution is from China –a combination of industrial pollution and sand storms. I also have pictures from my apartment on a clear day. On my bike ride I was able to spend 90% plus on bike trails and in parks – really great. Similar to Washington DC, a river trail/park with options off each way to ride…probably over 100 miles total. But then I came up on a hybrid BMX/mtb track and I immediately when to the top of the ramp – minor problem, it was paved. Concrete jumps, banked turns, and bumps. With no helmet or suspension I was conflicted, so I decided to go for it slowly, but braking hard on the drop and it worked out OK with no permanent damage. If it was dirt, it would be awesome. Then I found a bike trail all the way to work through parks – about 8 miles. Good day.
Car – Had to go to the DMV. At least 10,000 people there – but with my expat liaison, moved through the stations quickly – without the help it would have been very difficult. Didn’t have to take any tests – eye test was done in group of 5 (not sure how they knew who couldn’t see). In the end, I had to give up my Maryland license, but was told that each time I go to the US that I can return to the DMV and exchange my Korean license back for my Maryland license and when I come back to Korea do the same in reverse. I don’t see that happening. As far as driving – no issues, people stay between the lines and stop at stop lights and not a lot of bikes or scooters with which to deal. The car is a bit of a disappointment – style wise nice but engine is similar to a lawnmower. Double disappointment when I connected by phone to listen to XM or Pandora…but both are blocked in South Korea – one English station that plays Top 40.