Sunday, January 7, 2007

No Offense, But Y'all Need to Travel More

Okay, now I know I've been overseas for awhile. As I've posted before, I don't think I'm even close to traveling to all the places I want to see.

However, when I say "I live in Seoul" people seem to think that I'm stuck in some third world nightmare. South Korea ( the Republic of Korea (ROK) or 대한민국 "Daehan Minguk") is not North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) or 조선민주주의인민공화국 "Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk".) BTW, I'd love to go to Pyongyang just to see it even if it means I'm stuck with a guide. That would be so interesting, but alas, my American citizenship will probably hinder that travel desire.

I've had phone conversations while driving to Costco only to have the person I'm talking to back home say "oh wow! They have Costco there?!!!" (BTW, I got rid of the car when I realized I was moving to Seoul.) I had someone else ask me what Christmas is like here. Well, in a country that actually prides itself on having such devout Christians, I gotta say it's not THAT much different. All the commerical trappings are here. The Santas are a bit more lean, but they're here. I've had conversations with people while sitting in the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (again, international, on my celly) and it's just shock when they realize I can get the same cafe au lait here as I can back home.

I live a pretty similar life here than I would back home. I mean that in the sense of consumer goods like shopping and products. I have access to Aveda and M.A.C. at the department stores down the road. The Body Shop is here as well as L'Occitane. In addition to the international brands, there are some great Korean brands too, like Missha. I had one friend swear up and down that I couldn't get an Eagle Creek travel backpack here. However, I knew that will all the new money in Seoul that the major department stores would have Eagle Creek products. Guess who was right?

Maybe it's because I'm from L.A. I know that where there is money, businesses follow to gobble that money up. So in terms of shopping, over-priced coffee, books, CDs, etc. I'm set. The choices have increased since I arrived, but I'm not complaining. Also, South Korea economy has ranked quite high and has undergone tremendous development. With that comes a rise in consumption.

What inspired this blog was an email today from a restaurant my classmates and I go to every once in awhile. Also, what inspired it was just having always deal with the "wow, you can get blue cheese there?!!!" It gets a bit annoying after awhile, but I try not to get annoyed because I realize most people haven't traveled far and wide. Hell, I haven't traveled far and wide...yet. Most certainly haven't traveled or lived here.

Anyway, it's an Italian restaurant, Spaghettia, and the email was just a menu listing their new dishes. I'm going to post it because, while I tend to prefer Korean food to over-priced foreign eats, sometimes it's just what the doctor ordered. Plus, I think it will be interesting for all of you overseas that think I'm living in a wasteland to get a clue (I mean that in the nicest way possible.) The quality does vary depending on the restaurant and I still haven't figured out why they serve sweet pickles on the side with pizza here. However, there are many places that do a damn good job.

Here is the menu:

So, um, folks, travel more. You'll realize that, good or bad, globalization is very real.

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  1. You are absolutely right. You can only see what you did see. travel is a good teacher. It must be really hard for you to live in far from home. I hope you enjoy living in Korea.

  2. Argh...more cloak and dagger and it's migrated to my comments!

    Anyway, thanks!

    Re being homesick, it depends.

    Most of the time, I do enjoy it here. Clearly, it fits my sensibilities pretty well. Mostly the negative ones, like my tendency to withdraw which is easy to do in a place that is devoid of family and close friends.

    Of course, I get homesick too, which is what is driving the desire to move back after all this time.

    However, interesting blog you have and a very interesting reading list too ;-)

  3. I totally know what you mean. I grew up in Vietnam, which, at the time, was pretty third world, but the reactions I get from people here are absurd (did you live in the jungle? Was it dangerous?).

  4. Thanks for your comment preya.

    I have to say I feel your pain. I laughed out loud when I read your comment.

    I've yet to make it to Vietnam, but what's really big here in Korea now are the Vietnamese pho restaurants. I want to go to Vietnam now just to taste the food!

    I mean there are many places in the world that are still developing. South Korea still definitely still developing. However, the rate at which South Korea has collected wealth is amazing. Hell, people call it a "miracle" for good reason. Very few countries have managed such success.

    It's just that it seems that a lot of people have images of the masses here pushing carts to the market. Now there ARE people who push carts to the market, but that's more rare than the status quo now.

    That's development and whether you're for it (the Koreans certainly are) or against it (usually Westerners who've made a choice to reject material trappings), the fact is when I get silly questions it's only another example of how much Americans just don't know.

    I'm still learning too. I took a Korean Economy class last term and that really opened my eyes to how they've achieved their success. It's truly an example other countries and communities should study.

  5. Yes, it's difficult not to complain about the evils of globalizations, but I sometimes gets annoyed with foriegners who want to "preserve" cultures; I wrote a post about this called "The Exit Sign":


    Love your blog!

  6. Well, I'm of the same opinion with environmentalists and the continent of Africa. I mean I completely understand and agree with the need to not pollute and to use resources with an eye on not ruining our planet. It's just that a lot seem to have a very black vs. white assessment of how to go about it. Either go vegan, eschew anything that might be unnatural or else you're ruining the planet.

    I've heard stories about people going there and simply misinforming locals to sway them from development. The one things that a lot of nations and communities in Africa need IS development.

    The well-meaning environmentalist is usually white people who can go back to their developed world.

    Granted there are other problems in Africa which impede development, but being misinformed by people with environmental agendas is one of them. When people talk about China going there for resources, I don't know that's all bad. The US and European colonialists have ignorned the continent for so long, and it was wide open.

    Nice post and I have to say I agree with it. Foreigners here don't say it as much but, then again, I avoid a lot of foreigners here ;-) I have heard rumbles of frustration when they pass a Starbucks. I prefer the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf ;-)


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.