Back in Korea and a “restart” to my original position. Arriving in early-December provided a chance to see how a majority non-Christian country (about 40% of Koreans are Christian) celebrated. Much less politically correct than the US- it is either Merry Christmas or Happy Merry Christmas. I was given a budget for “Christmas Presents” for my team, there were Christmas/year end gatherings every night, and stores had “Merry Christmas” advertising. My login screen at work had a “Merry Christmas” graphic.
From the time I got off the plane until I left – never got above freezing. My apartment was about 40 degrees when I got in, so it was like camping the first night. No forced air heating, the floors are heated by hot water and that is it. But it works pretty well. Very different from last winter and rough on me as I haven’t had a real winter in a couple of years. Now I know why so much of Seoul is underground – except for the 100 yards from my apartment to the metro – I can get away with never going outside for many trips. One bad thing is that most of the sidewalks are granite – very nice but with a thin film of ice they are slick.
Had a true chore day – put up pictures, laundry, cleaned apartment, emptied dishwasher – etc. Once every couple of months is doable. I also decided to do some Christmas shopping as it was too cold to do anything outside. I had made my selection – at a first rate department store but couldn’t finish the transaction because of some additional questions in Korean that I couldn’t understand. Same thing happened at another counter – finally figured out they were asking using google translate was did I want to make the purchase tax-free (saves 12%). So – I said yes and when back to complete the purchase. Then took receipts to another department for my refund. There – I needed my passport so back to my apartment and returned. Then waited in line a while –where I was told my more expensive item was not eligible and the refund on the other was only 50% of the tax (so 6%). Then given a form to complete – then they typed in the form into the computer and printed out a voucher that I have to exchange at the airport at the tax office. About 3 hours for a “refund” of $12 and I lost interest in tracking down the tax office at the airport when I left.
For those of you in the Kentlands, hopefully I will see some of you over the Christmas break.”