Busan, South Korea

I arrived in Busan last night. It is a large port city in southernmost Korea. So far I haven't seen too much other than the train station, post office and grocery store, where I spotted some unknown fruits and vegetables alongside a whole lot of seafood I won't eat unless I build up a bit more courage first. One of the vegetables (or maybe it was a fruit?) was super cool looking. Perhaps I'll try to figure out what exactly it is.

After nearly a week in Korea, what has surprised me the most is how difficult it can be to find someone who speaks English, and it has been nearly impossible (in my experience) to find someone who is fluent. Not that I've been seeking them out, but I figured I'd find at least one or two simply by chance, especially in Seoul. I love using my Korean phrasebook as much as the next guy (and so far Koreans seem to love when I stumble poorly through, "May I take your photograph?") but when your train leaves in 15 minutes, and there is a long line at the ticket window, and there are three different types of ticket windows, and you need to pick up the non-refundable tickets you booked online, you'd really prefer to speak English. And I'm talking about the main train station in Seoul, which is larger than New York City and has something like 25 million people in its metropolitan area. I'm not at all complaining. It's just that I found it surprising, is all. That having been said, nearly all of the signs are bilingual (English) and often trilingual (Chinese). I'm actually excited by the fact that English is not as accessible as I thought it would be. I enjoy being forced out of the language comfort zone.

Unfortunately, while in Seoul, there was not enough time to see the War Memorial, which would have been especially perfect yesterday because of the picturesque heavy snowfall. Fortunately the winter weather was not wasted: Changdeokgung Palace was beautifully covered in fresh and falling snow, and although most of the palace was destroyed during the Japanese occupation of Korea, it remains massive in size, and it is more than impressive in its detail and craftsmanship.