Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Slave to Starbucks: A Holiday Story

Dear Korea  ,
Dear Korean Starbucks,

You have made me a slave to your Christmas blend goodness. Not only did I buy your overpriced 19,000 W bag of  coffee for my french press, for weekend coffee enjoyment, I fell victim to your sly tricks.
Oh Toffee Nut Latte, you mock me everytime I pass my neighborhood Starbucks. I want to stop in for just another sip of your toffee nutty goodness. Not to mention Christmas blend is a holiday blend and before I know it you'll be gone and make me pine for you,yet another year. I'm not impressed that you antagonize me by giving me a holiday coffee point card. With each purchase I receive, a little coffe cup shaped sticker to place on my card. Now I have 10 little cups filled and 7 more to go. Each time I get excited! I am one Toffee Nut latte closer to a 2011 Starbucks planner/journal. So many wonderful things I could plan and do with that Starbucks limited edition holdiay planner/journal. ((sighs)) I almost gave in yesterday and bought it. Alas no brown one. It was not meant to be. When I saw the price... 17,000W. Ugh! It would be so easy to give in and buy it. I mean clearly the planner/journal is not worth 17 cups of 5,100W Toffee Nut Latte. However purchasing it would not give me the same satisfaction as collecting that last coffee cup shaped sticker on my point card and having a junior barista hand me my glorious limited edition 2011 Starbucks Planner/Journal! So I will be dillegent in my coffee drinking because, let's face it good coffee in Korea is hard to come by. So I will continue my servitude to the lady in green, paying homage and Won to Starbucks for it's comfy chairs, great coffee, and delightful Christmas melodies until my holiday point card is complete!
Ps. I do not appreciate your sly trickery of  the point card. I am not Korean I do count the lattes. Which total upwards of  86,000 W which is LUDACRIS! What's even more ridiculous is that I am still buying Toffee Nut Lattes on the regular! Ohhhh the shame. ((sighs)) Korea:4,390,6001 티파니: 3 :(
Until my next Toffee Nut Latte...


Shhhh...Kimchi and Condoms

DISCLAIMER: If you are easily offended by jesus jokes or sexual references this post is NOT for you!                                                       A few weeks ago when our taxi adjeoshi wanted to get us to Yongsan station by avoiding the traffic, he took a short cut through Yongsan's red  ( more like hot pink ) light district. I'd seen depictions of a full on district at the Sex...excuse me "Erotica" park in Jeju, but I'd never seen it, full on. Scantily clad, disproporationate silicone induced Korean women( well some of them) making kissy faces and whining " 이리와 오 파" in 4 inch heels behind a wall of pink glass inviting men to come take a look at their wares. 
Now this was the first full on pink district I'd ever seen other than the erotica museum.
Korea is a very conservative place in many regards.  Or at least  it appears that way. Korea likes to put a conservative window dressing on society but in reality they are just as scandalous and perverted as anyone else. I can't tell you how many time Koreans smirk with hopeful eyes and ask Kate if she is from "러시아"? Russia ( in Korea)= WHORE. Not by my standard but by Koreans. Pretty Caucasin woman in a dress? Better ask if she "working"? Each time this question is posed she is less than impressed.
Moving on, I want to take minute and talk about the (C)overt brothels strewn about the city. I thought "man, there are a lot of barbers here in Korea". Not that many men need haircuts. As I did the research and looked into the "barber poles", read the signs above the doorways  and as I learn more Korean vocabulary I notice that it's not all cardigans and kimchi Jesus! For example there is one situated on the basement floor of my apartment buliding. I see many a man walk down those shady steps in the anticipation of a "haircut" and I shake my head as I make my way up the few flights to my apartment.
In a "conservative" country where DVD bong babies are a natural occurenence and the aboration rate sky rockets each year you'd think they'd put a little less funding into English and more into Sex Ed. It's crazy to me that Koreans think its strange and abhorent that we hand out free condoms. Tsk,tsk! I heard the a couple weeks ago was the annual "health class". This is an "educational time" where students can peruse aisles of a classroom gawking at old biology charts and archaic books. None of that is preparing them for the real world of sex, unplanned pregnancies, and STD's.
Okay, I admit we are more forth-coming with sexual exploitation in Western cultures. We are bombarded with it constantly, so we think nothing of seeing a half naked, hell ...a naked woman.
 It’s a bit more subtle here, but after a while you begin to recognize some telltale signs. But no worries as with all conservative societies, perversion is lurking right beneath the surface.
  One of the first things I noticed when I got here was the outlandish number of barber poles around the cities.  Nearly every building has one, if not several.  It wasn’t long before someone broke it down for me; One pole is suspect.  Two poles is really saying something.  A place with two poles which are spinning between the hours of midnight and 6am may as well just say “Vagina Sale!”.  There are several 노래 방 in my neighborhood which I’m sure are for another kind of duet. At this point every "business" I pass could conceivably be peddling flesh.  "아드레날린" (Adrenaline)  "coffee shop" I pass by frequently is covered in lights,with one door, no windows, and blacked out door panel and only open after 6pm.Coffee? Hmmmm? I never smell an java when I walk past. More like coffee flavored contraceptive and a happy ending!
But alas the sex trade and pseudo-conservatism are alive in well in South Korea.
If you're even tempted to visit one of these establishments for a "haircut" or better yet a "cup of coffee" after a long day on the job. Ask for a "물 티 수" first then inquire if you get the service Kimichi and condoms special!
Until next time...

Confucius say: beware of double barber poles spinning to and fro and hallogen hot pink lights. You may go for a "haircut" and end up spending the night!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Out of sight out of mind?

티파니 who?
As I have finally made a solid group of friends here who are not creepers, douche bags or *LHBs ( Losers Back Home ) thanks TS. I've started to wonder about friends and fam stateside. I know I've heard that saying, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder." but I know for most people it's " Out of sight, Out of Mind".
Now dont get me wrong  I absolutely love my SoKo fam! I'm over-joyed to have such a great group of awesome, genuine people to hang with. It's always nice to have to kindred spirits to kick it with, crack jokes, eat delicious food with, and gripe about life in Korea.
However I wonder about my friends across the pond!  I miss being a part of their daily lives and them being a part of mine. I miss being their shoulders to cry on, or the first person they call when something ridiculous has happened. I am reduced to emails, and SKYPE :( I some times ( Ok a lot of the time)  feel out of the loop. Their lives are changing and I'm not there for it :( (Facebook updates just aren't enough) I guess that's the price you pay living overseas. I try my best to skype and call as much as possible. My new resolution is to write more. Whatever happened to letter writing? We've become so disconnected in the digital age, sending a quick IM or email. We've forgotten how nice it is to get something by snail mail. Going to the mailbox, seeing a hand written letter with your name on it. almost 30 and I still get excited about the mail. What good is Korea with all these damn stationary stores if I dont send a letter? So if you want to be my pen pal ( I know it's real gay) inbox me your addy and I'll send some snail mail your way. Lots of love from Soko to all my friends and loved ones statside. Can't wait to see you all!
Don't forget about me. Unitl next time...

Confucius say:  Emails are crap but letters are forever or can be used for toilet paper in 3rd world countries. It's all about perspective!

Korea, You'll Always be my Baby

Dear Korea,
I know it's been a while. I just haven't been feeling the love between us lately from the pushy opinionated adjumma to the utterly ludacris logic. I know, I've been distant and down right indignant. I didn't even celebrate our year anniversary. I'm taking a cue from Mariah. It's time to " Shake it off". So I promise to work on it. Like in all relationships, the things I once loved about you, irritate the hell out of me, and like any lover you truly know how to push my buttons. I'm not one to hold a grudge so I forgive you. Let's move on from here. No hard feelings. Let's go into out second yr with a clean slate.

With that being said I have so many things I want to share with you, and look forward to our adventures together.

티파니 ♥