Saturday, 30 May 2009
I could write heaps about the way Koreans live their lives, and about their culture. There are a few things that annoy me. Taking one's shoes off all the time is an irritation. Some places I go I know I have to take my shoes off and wear little slip-ons (which are provided), so as I go up in the lift I undo my sneakers. Some small stores it is the same - put your shoes on the line of other shoes and go inside in just your socks. (No holes please!)
In any traditional Korean restaurants they have an area for people who prefer to sit at the table with shoes on, but mostly Koreans will take their shoes off, climb onto a platform and sit on a flat cushion with their legs under the small table to eat. I've done it. I don't enjoy it. For a start I have a knee that doesn't like being bent very much. It is happy for me to walk long distances, climb stairs way to the top of a mountain, but fold it up and it is not happy. It pains me.
My long legs struggle to find a comfy place under the table. My bum does not like sitting on the floor even with the little useless cushion.
If my friends take me to a restaurant where one has to take shoes off and sit on the floor, I choose to complain. I want a seat.
One issue for me is that I think that leaving my shoes at the door is asking for trouble. What a great souvenir they would be! Fortunately Koreans are very honest and stealing is not common, so there is an even chance my big shoes will be still there in the racks, but knowing I can't buy shoes for big feet here in Korea, I'm pretty protective about my footwear.
Along the river near the Hanok village is a restaurant and they have a long platform with a shelter, and everyone dining there, must take their shoes off, and sit on the platform. A great view of the river to be sure, though inches from passing traffic on the other side does not impress, but still, as popular as it is, it will not be on my "Must Eat There" list.
One thing that does fascinate me is the bowing. Age = wisdom, respect here. So the younger people bow to me quite a bit. Not the children I note. I don't know if this is something in their culture that is being bypassed by the younger generation, but I note that it is more common with adults.
But I like it. I like it that every time, yes every time you enter a store of any size, there is someone there to meet and greet you with a phrase of welcome and a respectful bow. Even in the little street shops, the bakery. Everywhere. Nice touch.