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13 July 2004
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Korea Life Blog - The View

Here's a few shots of the view outside our window during the daytime. It's been pretty rainy for the past month it seems but today it cleared just a bit in the afternoon before raining again. At least the air is cleaner than usual.

Time to renew the visa so I'm off to Japan. First Busan tomorrow on the slow 5 1/2 hour train, spend the night there, then take a 3 hour ferry to Fukuoka in the morning. Next day I'll return and take the 2 1/2 hour KTX bullet train back to Seoul (on Friday). The ferry trip is really cheap. Including the hotel in Japan it costs 190,000 won ($165). The slow train to Busan is 32,000 won ($27) and the KTX speedy train is 45,000 won ($39). Not a bad deal and I get a couple of days of adventure.

I'm looking forward to the slow train tomorrow, a nice relaxing trip through the Korean countryside. I plan to study Japanese on my MP3 player along the way. I'm up to Unit 20 out of 90 in the Pimsleur Japanese series. Maybe I'll be able to try it out a little in Japan. I can ask for directions and order food and greet people, etc. It's a lot easier for me to pronounce and remember than Korean. I wish somebody would make a great listening CD in Korean the way people really talk and not in the extremely formal form. It's not like I spend a lot of time talking to old people. I can understand the logic of it. They don't want to teach you "ban mal" - the Korean you'd use for talking to your best buddy or someone younger than you. But they seem to skip the next step and go straight for the overly polite, long and complicated sentence structures used when first meeting a person or speaking to an elder. I never hear people talking like that except on TV home shopping channels. I know lots of vocabulary but I need to know how to make sentences better. I'd like to start with the much simpler ban mal, practice it on Julie and then learn the other structures later. I think most Koreans, at least hopefully, would understand if I spoke down to them while I'm learning, especially if I told them why first. I guess I should just have Julie teach me now that we're living together, but I like to study on my headset while I'm on the trains and busses. Also, she gets a little frustrated at times by my inability to repeat what she's saying. With Japanese, I hear it, then most times I can just repeat it. With Korean it's like hearing a guitar solo and trying to mimic it with my voice.

Well, time for some exercises and off to bed. See you when I get back from Japan. I doubt I'll take many pictures again but maybe. I'll at least photograph the ferry trip and some of the Korean country side if it's not too gloomy again.


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