Korea opened me to another world in the Far East and I can’t understand why the United States of America has not adopted some of the more useful and expeditious activities here.
Like having a lane just for buses. Yeah, the far right lane is just for buses on certain highways. Don’t ask me which ones. I believe it may be a version of our turnpikes. We passed through a toll booth-type of a contraption and then “Voilà!” We were off the races as you watched from your seat perched above the cars stuck in traffic on both your right and your left. We had just crawled through the city of Seoul during rush hour traffic and it was the same going into the city. I heard that one-third of the Korean people live in and the city of Seoul. I guess that is where the jobs are and I can readily understand that.
Motorists in cars on the left of the bus must have viewed us with envy as we sailed by them That is, until a Korean police officer in full uniform and one of those white mask covering his mouth pulled over the bus. I never did find out what happened. But I couldn’t believe the tone of the voice that our driver used with the highway cop. He raised his voice. Not once or twice, but seemingly all through the conversation.
The driver must have pulled into a lane without signaling or something minor. We were stationary for about five minutes as I took a picture of the cop car. It had writing in Korean and in English with a bold “Police” signature across both sides of the vehicle. (I think the police car was a Ford, but I could be mistaken.)
Korean and English words appear on mostly all buildings in downtown Seoul. They have medium skyscrapers here. And everything looks new. I believe the building boom must have started some 50 to 60 years ago. That’s about when the Republic got back onto its feet after the Korean War. It took a generation to lick its wounds but when it did, you couldn’t hold back this hearty group of people.
They heat their rooms beneath the floor. I’m not kidding. I don’t know how it is done, but the floors in the WON building I stayed overnight was warm as hell. (Oops, sorry about that slip of the keyboard. This is a spiritual trip I’m on and I gotta clean up my act!)
Yeah, it was so hot, we had to open the windows all the way in our bedroom to cool things as we slept. It was the same in one of the main halls where I meditated lying on the floor, enjoying the warmth as it spread from my back body parts all through me. I’d like to shake the hand of the man or woman who invented this heating device. You cut out all space heaters and radiators this way.
The fast food joints were fast and provided a basic mix of Korean food with lots of soups, noodles and a hot type of cabbage-like substance called “kim-chi.” It’s as hot as the floors were but directed toward the taste buds in your mouth. I loaded up with some and had to give up on it after only two bites.
I ate meat. So far I mixed it up with rice. It was different preparations of pork. I was having a GERD reaction when taken to dinner within an hour of having just eaten breakfast on the airplane. Acid reflux problems prevented me from taken part in a gigantic bowl of clams and an a baby octopus or squid. We sat on the carpeted floor before a long coffee-table like piece of furniture with heating devices built right into the center of the table. You cook the fo0d right at the table and it never gets cold.
It took me a while to get used to the sitting. My sciatic nerve kept acting up and I had to prop myself up to prevent the pain from shooting through my back and my right leg. But it was fun taking part in such an intimate dining arrangements.
Unfortunately, the WON Buddhists are practicing vegetarians. I say unfortunately because I am a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I’ve stocked up on a lot of noodles and sipped a good share of soup so far. But, I miss my sausage and beef. I guess I’ll have to say goodbye to them until I get back to the states and dine someplace other than McDonald’s or Burger King.
See you then!