Monday, 26 December 2011

Further Cultural Reflections From South Korea

I've decided to list some of the amazingly good ideas that have come out of South Korea. They are mostly small and simple things that I think some Western countries could get away with implementing to improve on their culture. There are also plenty of negative things that I could list here but for now we'll stick to some of the more positive things that are prevalent in this culture.

Fast food and restaurant delivery services are a huge deal here and they are very professional. You can call up pretty much any fast food chain or restaurant (not just fast food restaurants, any restaurant) and order anything you like. They will deliver it to your door (or wherever it is you may be) for no extra charge. They will deliver the food with all the cutlery and utensils you will need to eat it and then they will come back an hour or so later and take away all of the dirty plates and mess. This is brilliant. This is also how we've been eating lunch at school since school broke up for winter. Great!

There is a service whereby if you are drunk and you have taken your car with you to the bar, you can pay somebody to drive your car home for you followed by a colleague on a motorbike who will give the driver a ride back to the office once you are home and safe. How very convenient and a great way to deter drink driving accidents.

Whilst the buses may not always be efficient and are often crowded they can take you anywhere in Korea. You can visit a very small rural town and not have to worry about how you will get home.

Free stuff! You get free stuff with everything. I once bought some lip balm and got some free hand cream. I bought a can of Guinness and got a free Guinness glass. There are free things attached to boxes on nearly everything you buy, sometimes the product you're given for free will be more expensive than the product you’re buying. It's nice.

Banking has never been easier (if you can get to a bank during opening hours) you can pretty much do everything you need to do via a cash point. You can withdraw money, pay your bills, and transfer money very easily and efficiently. Paying bills this way is fantastic, and if you are late to pay a bill you will not be cut off, they will simply transfer the money over to your next month's bill. Free of worry and hassle.

There are buttons on tables in restaurants. If you press the button, a waiter or waitress is with you in seconds. Easy.

There are lockers everywhere. There are lockers in subway stations and at supermarkets so if you have a lot to carry and need to stop off somewhere for 100 – 500 won (25p) you can leave your luggage or shopping bags in a safe place and come to get them later.

Internet. Oh the internet. I downloaded a 4GB file yesterday. It took 15 minutes. The internet is fast, super fast, the fastest in the world. It is also up there with the cheapest in the world. I pay about 15 to 20 pounds a month for my internet, which is so fast that I never have to wait long for anything.

How do you cut your meat? With a knife? Why? Use scissors. Just sayin'.

If you have a T-Card you can use it on the tube, on the train, on the bus and in a taxi and it will be nearly a third of the price. Anyone can buy a T-card and you can top it up at any subway station. Taxi’s and public transport are both stupidly cheap. To get from one end of Seoul to the other it will cost about 1 pound and 50 pence. A bus journey to Seoul is about 5 pounds from where I live. That’s two hours on a very comfortable coach with luggage storage.

Universal phone chargers. You can buy a phone charger. No matter what phone you have. It will charge it. There are also phone chargers in most major public transport hubs so if you’re running late and your phone has died, you can plug it in and make a call, for free.

Over the counter birth control for about 4 pounds. Not that I've ever needed it myself, but you don't need a prescription here. Safety first, right?

Try and pick my lock. I dare you. Oh wait, I have a secret 6 digit code. So if I lose my key? It doesn’t matter. There is no key to lose. The key is in my head. Not that anyone is going to break in here as South Korea has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. There are reasons for this and to be fair I would rather have the higher crime rate than trade in my individual freedoms, but it works here in Korea.

Posting things anywhere costs next to nothing. I sent a letter back to the UK and it cost me about 75p.

So that’s just a few little advantages of living here in Korea, they are many disadvantages and I’ll talk about them another time. Merry Christmas by the way. Nathanael and I cooked Christmas dinner yesterday and it went down a treat. Camps have started now and work is not stressful at all, my classes are simple and fun and I get to come to work at a later time. Badda bing, badda boom. Goodbye.

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