Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Or Not???

Oslo 'priciest city in the world'
BBC World

After 14 years as the world's most expensive city, Tokyo has been knocked off its top spot - by Oslo.

1st - Oslo, Norway
2nd - Tokyo, Japan
3rd - Reykjavik, Iceland
= 4th - Osaka, Japan
= 4th Paris, France
6th - Copenhagen, Denmark
7th - London, UK
8th - Zurich, Switzerland
9th - Geneva, Switzerland
10th - Helsinki, Finland

I just read on the Korean Times that Seoul was 8th on the list... what happened? Where did they get their stats???
And... I guess it all depends on who is doing the survey, and what they include.

Oslo joins the group of most expensive cities in the world
By Tann vom Hove, Editor

1 February 2006: Deciding on which is the world’s most expensive city is a little bit like choosing between the merits of various world heavy weight boxing champions. Until recently the choice has been between Tokyo and London. But in its latest ‘Worldwide cost of living survey’ the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) says Oslo had overtaken Tokyo as the world’s costliest city. And in June 2006, Mercer Consulting says Moscow was the most expensive city in the world, with Oslo being ranked 10th. Meanwhile, Swiss Bank UBS puts London in first place, followed by Oslo, New York and Tokyo.

London is the most expensive city in the world while Swiss cities are home to highest earners
A report by UBS

London is the most expensive city in the world due to the UK capital’s high cost of renting accommodation. If rents are excluded, Oslo, Copenhagen, Tokyo and Zurich are among the most costly cities in the world. In terms of living costs, Oslo remains the most expensive of the 71 cities surveyed, now followed by Copenhagen, Tokyo, Zurich and London.
1 London
2 Oslo
3 New York
4 Tokyo
5 Copenhagen
6 Hong Kong
7 Zurich
8 Paris
9 Chicago
10 Geneva
27 Seoul

Expensive??? Or Not?

Seoul Ranks World’s 8th Expensive City
By Ryu JinStaff Reporter Korea Times
Seoulites live in the world’s eighth most expensive city, according to a survey released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on Monday.
It is the first time that Seoul has been placed on the top-10 list for the cost of living.
Oslo was in first place, followed by Tokyo, Reykjavik and Paris, in the survey conducted biannually by the EIU. Seoul was in the 16th and 13th place in August 2005 and January 2006, respectively.
I don't think so.
I'm not sure what their criteria are. I suppose things like rent are very expensive, so they live in smaller homes. The fuel prices are also up there. Other things, though, I find to be lower than at home. The cost of food, for instance, is much lower than at home in Edmonton.
As a foreigner here, I find the cost of living to be very cheap. So many foreigners regularly go out for lunch and/or dinner, because it is so cheap. If you add in the time it takes to make a meal, and the cost of the food, it is much easier to just go to a little Korean restaurant for a quick, big, delicious, cheap meal. I also regularly take taxis here, as they are so readily available, and cheap (Korean's don't think so).
I think the standard (usually one room) school provided foreigner home in Korea costs the hagwons around 300,000 Won per month. Mine is a bit more at around 600,000 Won (or so I've been told), but I have a Korean home rather than a one room villa or officetel room.
I suppose it is difficult for many Koreans, as they don't really do mortgages here... you have to have the money up front. It is possible to get a loan, but you have some sort of collateral, or a huge amount of money to begin with.
I guess if you include the cost of all of the after school academies and hagwons that the parents send their kids to, the cost of living goes up quite a bit.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Still raining... and more to come

Heavy Rains to Pelt Korea Till Next Week
[Chosun Ilbo]

The rain front that unleashed torrential downpours across the nation over the last week will continue to influence the weather through the beginning of next week. With the remaining influence of the typhoon and the high chance that cold air from Manchuria will push down south, it appears that the front will not be able to recede northward.

More Rains to Come as Korea Assesses Flood Damage
[Chosun Ilbo]
Localized torrential downpours over the last four days left 19 dead and 31 missing, most in Gangwon Province. Altogether 2,902 people and 1,168 households became victims of floods that damaged 163 homes and flooded 1,506. Some 6,336 hectares of farmland were submerged, and 1,376 hectares swept away or buried. Some 127 roads were closed to traffic due to landslides.
Roads near the Han River are partly submerged after torrential rains in Seoul on Monday morning./Yonhap

Yum... or not

The frogs are but one of the delights that are mentioned.
Dried frogs
Dried frogs are extraordinary. Even Yoon Jung, our South Korean fixer, hated the idea of them. They are steeped in hot water to make a sort of stew or infusion and fed to sick children. There seemed to be some debate about whether they were used as a cure, or a threat.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The River

I just took a little walk to the bridge to see what the river was doing. It is very high. Where I am, the Olympic Expressway, and the one on the other side of the river, are fairly high, so they weren't affected, unlike other stretches of the same roads. It is a good thing that the river is so wide, as it takes A LOT of water to make it rise enough to do real damage. Other areas are not so lucky.

I think the Koreans driving past me thought I was crazy out going for a walk in the rain. I had almost every single taxi honk at me... hoping I wanted or needed a ride. I got my feet quite wet, and my jeans are soaked almost to the knees. Walking along the roads and sidewalks in Korea is, at times, a bit of a chore. Everything here is very uneven. As a result, there are big little puddles everywhere, of varying deepness. At times it is difficult to avoid stepping in these puddles, as they cross the entire sidewalk or road. Some parts of the sidewalks and roads are basically mini streams as the water tries to find somewhere to go.
The Olympic Bridge
A little riverside road/path.
The little road/path goes to the expressway on the right and disappears into the river under the ramp to the left.
I think the only ones enjoying the parks right now are the ducks. They were swimming around the trees quite contently.

Still Raining!!!!!

By Annie I. Bang The Korea Herald
The death toll from heavy rain rose to 20 yesterday after it swept through northern and central parts of the nation, causing massive floods and landslides in the regions. Another 32 are missing.
On Sunday, heavy seasonal rains cracked part of the Anyang Stream enbankment in Yeongdungpo-gu, southwestern Seoul, flooding over 1,900 low-lying houses and apartments.

A resident watches water being pumped out of flooded residential areas in Yeongdeungpo, southwestern Seoul. [The Korea Herald]

By Kim RahnStaff Reporter Korea Times

The disaster authority issued an ``Orange'' crisis alert for the downpour in Seoul, Inchon, Kyonggi and Kangwon provinces in the morning, and a ``Yellow'' warning for other parts of the nation.
The colors indicate the seriousness of a disaster: Blue, Yellow, Orange to Red. Red is the most serious. An Orange warning is designated when a heavy rain alert is issued and extensive damage is expected. It is the first time the government has issued an Orange alert since adopting the warning system in 2004.
Heavy rain alerts in Seoul, Kyonggi and Kangwon provinces were eased to heavy rain warnings last night, but the regions will keep receiving rainfall until Tuesday. With the rain front moving southward alerts were issued for North and South Chungchong and North Kyongsang provinces.
In Kangwon Province, where more than 500 millimeters of rain fell, 32 people are listed dead or missing as of 10. p.m on Sunday. Most roads connecting the western and eastern parts of the province were cut by landslides and flooding. About 10,000 people were evacuated from their houses, and tens of thousands of households had electricity cut. Hundreds of residents were also isolated due to cut roads around their villages.

By Kim RahnStaff Reporter Korea Times
Residents of a village in Inje, after being evacuated from their houses due to rain, walk through broken trees and rubble that drifted from valleys in Kangwon Province, Sunday. [Korea Times]
In the Chosun Ilbo:

The Olympic highway, one of the main roads of Seoul, is underwater after torrential rain in Seoul on Sunday./Reuters

Parking in Korea

There are so many cars in Korea. They have to park somewhere. They end up parking almost everywhere and anywhere.
For those living in the big apartment complexes, there are big parking lots. But, if you don't live there, you can't park there without special permission. They have parking attendants that keep a close watch on who is parking there. If there is a car that is not on their list, they stick a big yellow warning sticker on the window. The stickers are NOT easy to get off and require some chemicals and scraping.
Most of the main roads have no parking signs.
There are no no-parking signs in a lot of the residential areas. It is mostly 2 way streets, but there is barely enough room for one car to go through because in most cases, cars are parked on one or both sides. For the most part, I think those that live here have first dibs on the spots in front of their homes. If they are not there, you can park there. If they return and want you to move, they will phone you.
In Korea, everyone leaves their contact number (cell phone number) in the window. That way, if you are parked in someone's spot, or in someone's way, they can phone you. Some parking spots in the little villa homes around here, are set up so that one car parks behind another. If the inside car wants to get out, they have to phone the owner of the outside car to have them move it. I guess it would be a big problem if they were not around to move it.
In some of the big store parking lots, once they start getting full, the cars are parked behind and perpendicular to the other parked cars and set in neutral. When the other cars need to get out, that car is just pushed forwards or backwards out of the way.
You have to be very good at parallel parking in Korea, as they park almost bumper to bumper. In some cases, you have to phone to have cars moved, if they have parked too closely.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

more rain

out my window...
Last night:

This morning:

There was lightning and thunder for quite a while last night. It has been raining on and off for a week now. Last night I got some broadcast messages on my phone, all in Korean, of course, that said something about 150 to 200 mm of rain. I'm not sure where the warning was for or if it was a general warning for all over the area.
I get advertisements and broadcasting messages sent to my phone all the time. I don't know why.


Pucca is one of my favorite Korean characters.

Pucca []

Garu and Pucca []

Some Pucca Animations

A picture of one of my notebooks: Pucca kissing Garu (a common event).
On the notebook, it says:

Pucca is a sweet daughter of the Chinese restaurant.
She is a mania to a zzazzangmeon.
Her boyfriend is GARU. He always chased by her.
You will going to expect their funny love story.

Check her out at the Pucca Club.
(There is an option for English.)

The option 'Pucca Is' is very cute... you can see personality, likes, dislikes, etc. From there, you also have the option to check out 'Pucca's Friends' and 'Soonga Village' where you can check out the individual locations.
There are flash animations of Pucca under the option 'Amusement' (some of the animations are different from those on AsiaFinest, at the above link).

Saving Private Pig

[found on]

Spain - Running of the Nudes

Check out this event... interesting. All for a good cause.
Kara... looks like you missed out on this one.

Just two days before the first bull run, more than 1,000 activists, most wearing little more than a red scarf and horns, ran through the streets of Pamplona for the annual “Running of the Nudes.” Compassionate and fun-loving people from around the world met in Pamplona for the run to show the city that it doesn’t need to torture animals for tourism.

I'm all for eating meat... it's the torturing of animals that I disagree with.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Public Toilet

I was just looking around on the net and found this.... not sure I'd like it. I like people watching and seeing what is going on around,
but not THAT much.
An art exhibit of a usable toilet enclosed in a cube of one-way glass is seen across the road from London's Tate Britain Museum. The person inside the outhouse can see passersby while remaining invisible to them.
[Jennifer Carlile /]
This one is apparently a public toilet somewhere in Switzerland.
The outside:
The inside:

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I couldn't imagine...

Mom Has Quadruplets 3 Years After Triplets

Raining cats and dogs... and then some!!!

It is the rainy season in Korea... which means a lot of rain. AFN (American Forces Network) often has a warning saying to be careful during the rainy season in Korea, because in Korea, "when it rains, it pours." So true. The rain is wreaking havoc all over the country. Goyang City, where I lived my last time in Korea, seems to be getting the worst of it. Some people are even missing after having been washed away by flash floods. From some of the local English newspapers:

Heavy Rains Hit Central Region
Goyang received 397 millimeters of rain as of 8 p.m., the largest ever in the region since the meteorological observation office opened in 1993.

A subway station in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, is flooded as heavy rains hit central parts of the country yesterday. [The Korea Herald]
That picture isn't even where the subway platform is... that is at the top of the stairs.

Throughout Seoul, streets and bridges were closed, causing huge backups in the already bumper to bumper traffic (rush hour traffic here is TERRIBLE to begin with).

Downpour to Trouble Commuters
Heavy rainfall brought flooding and disruption to Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas Wednesday, bringing the city to a halt in the midst of chaos.
Seoul City closed six major roads for most of Wednesday, including sections of the Nambu Circular Road and Tongbu Expressway, both of which parallel the Han River. ...
[The Korea Times]

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

One of my classes at LCC

Lucas (a trouble maker), Celina, Christy, Joy, Mark, Billy

There seems to be an over-abundance of twins in Korea. I always see twins where ever I go, and I teach several sets at the kindy and one at my hagwon (LCC). And, yes, the twins here are always dressed the same. Doesn't help when trying to figure out which is which.

The view from Wooil's stairwell

My kindy school (Wooil Yu-Chi-Won) is right beside a long park way. There is a walking path on the other side of the way. Along the edge of the parkway, there are little gardens. I am assuming that various families that live in the area rent the little plots. It is usually little grandmothers that I see working in them, though.
My kindy has a little garden area along the back of the building, with many different kinds of plants, including eggplant plants, which are growing HUGE eggplants. I had never actually seen an eggplant plant before. They are quite nice looking. The leaves are a purplish green.
Beyong the park strip, the buildings you see are all apartment buildings. As I mentioned before, Seoul is almost all apartment villages, made up of any number of apartment buildings, all of which are built at the same time.


Bush 'singing' Bloody Sunday (on YouTube)

The Dong Jip...

Dong is Korean for dung, or poo, or what ever else you want to call it. If you haven't heard before, Koreans seem to be obsessed with bodily functions. They have dong stickers and dong cartoon characters. They have dong/dong pot/barrel shaped ash trays/trinket boxes. They even have a Dong Jip. Jip means house. The Dong Jip is a Hof/Soju bar in Seoul (Gangnam area? Samsung area?). They serve soju in kettles, and some kinds of food that Koreans normally eat while drinking. I like how the Korean "Dong" (in the circle... it is actually backwards) is an upside down little man.This picture is from my last year in Korea. I haven't yet been back to the Dong Jip, but if I can find it (and if it is still there), I will go again. For some reason, (well, because of the Korean obsession with dong, I assume) I am often reminded of the place.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

ordering out in Korea

Tonight I finally decided to order food. I'm a bit sick and didn't want to make anything. I wanted Tang-bok-bap. I have the numbers for two 'Chinese' restaurants. Ordering was a bit of a hassle. The first place I phoned, there was a recorded message saying sorry (in Korean, of course) and a bunch of stuff that I didn't understand. The other place hung up on me. My co-worker Kelly phoned me to see if I was okay, and she offered to order for me. She called me back when she was finished. My meal would arrive in about 10 minutes. I guess the first place I tried was closed just for the day.
Anyway, I got my Tang-bok-bap: tangsu-yuk (sweet and sour pork) in one side and (jjajjang)bokum bap (fried rice with fried egg and jjajjang sauce - yummy black bean sauce) in the other. It comes with the standard side dishes of soup (unfortunately it is yucky fishy soup), kimchi (of course), Korean pickles, and raw onions. Korea is great for ordering food. Delivery is free, even if you only order one dish, even if you only spend 3500won. My meal was 6000, and it was enough for two people. Also, the food arrives in dishes. After you eat, you put the dishes outside your door and they come and pick them up later. I guess in a country this small with this size population, you need to find some way to reduce the waste.