I have been writing about alot of things in general here in South Korea and Mokpo, what I haven’t touched on is the driving. Firstly let me say they drive on the wrong side of the road with the driver also on the wrong sideJ yes they are like the yanks and drive on the left. So for me it is very dangerous crossing the road as twice now I nearly got cleaned up by a car as I was looking for the car on my right. Also they don’t really obey the road rules too well! They have traffic lights which do work and many do stop on red but the traffic lights often blink orange this means that you can go through but look for oncoming cars! This intersection has the blinking orange lights in both directions so you have to be on your lookout all the time!! The cars themselves are Hyundai’s mainly and the models are different to the ones in Australia. These are all Grandeurs and above then they have Chevrolet models which are really Holden’s under the Chevy badge. They have Cruze models and commodores ranges but named under Chevy badge. Every car that I have seen has been under two years old only and top range models.
It is expensive to live here I would dare to say but still Perth prices are higher. The range of wages here are quite good, the example is the workers at our yard would earn W9000000000 which looks like they are millionaires but to convert it they would be earning around $850000 which is pretty good lifestyle. Bechtel is renting us apartments here it is costing W18000000/mth so it would leave you with a few won to play around with.
Yesterday I went walking and came across this shop which sold different jars of various sizes of ginseng
The Specialist Quality representative that Bechtel Have here is an experienced person living in Mokpo, so he has taught me a few things already, let me tell what they teach the little kids in school here. As they are so small for now and there is alot of fast moving traffic which don’t really follow strictly to the road rules. They are taught that when they cross the street even they have the green man flashing they are to put up their hand till they get across the road. The reason being is so the drivers can see them! How good is that lesson? I really didn’t know whether to believe him or not till I saw a boy of around 9 crossing and he held up his hand all the way. When the kids attend high school they will often stay at school till up to 11 at night averaging 9-10pm every night. This is such the competition to do well at school and enter Uni.
Even though the Australia dollar is very strong not all banks will take Australian money (cash) to exchange. There is also a limited amount of ATM which accepts cirrus or masero and dispenses Korean W. When you do find an ATM they charge you W4000 for transaction charge!
This is a ATM right next to this bar, which so happens that alot of foreigners get to. So not so silly after all! There are banks in Mokpo and also in the industrial area where we work so the infra structure of the banking system is good it’s just that they protect their own first rather than give in to the people who think we should look out for overseas people first. If you want to open a bank account you must first have alien card residence which you apply for if you have a d7 visa. When you do apply you are finger printed and photographed. This allows you to apply for a local phone/ bank account/ rent an apartment. All under the watchful eye of the government, which gets notified every time you do something?
Stayed tuned for tomorrows blog goodnight * 4th June 2012
I tried to get a paper this morning but all they had were Korean print paper. ,never mind thank god for the internet I say. I decided to stay in today and only went out for lunch, this restaurant turned out to be very nice indeed. It was a family restaurant and it had beef ribs European style. This I opted for which also came with salad bar. I went and had a look at the salad bar, turned out very well stocked and had desert with it.
Today the first day of work which i have been looking forward to for last 6 months has finally arrived. With much anticipated feelings of excitement i woke early and went down for breakfast.there I met Ali, who is the QA/QC lead for Bechtel. Amongst the restyaurent were 2 tables of Indian men and a few Europeans scattered around the restaurant. Having had experience in seeing guys like this I knew these guy worked on the some shipyard along the strip. As it turned out they all got on the hyno bus that rolled up outside the hotel. At same time the taxi guy rolled up and they had a quick whinge to each other about how slow their charges were. Ali had gone up to change and we waited for him a couple of min then when joined us we rolled on.
We drove over the bridge and turned a few corners then we drove past some large fabricated structures which Ali pointed out were Han Young yard we were passing. With this news i eagerly crane my neck to see as much as I could. At long last we drive through the gates and the taxi stops and we get out. There I see very large workshops and structures around them, I turn and go into the little alley between the offices. At the end of the ally is a set of stairs, which we ascend and enter through glass doors. I follow Ali in and meander to a door at the rear of th office and see Rudi sitting in a small office. He greets me with a great handshake and leads me to where I am to sit. After a intial meeting discussing the project, we have a long awaited tour of the yard and meet key personal in Han Young. I won’t go into detail of the yard as it gets boring being a usual workshop just on a bigger scale than your usual Australian one. On the tour we meet Mr Cho and Mr Park. I find out that I will deal with these two gentlemen alot. Then we go into Han Young office and get introduced to the PM of the yard Mr Dong You. We have a guy in there also called David who speaks excellent English and acts as our interpreter even though Mr Dong does not need one as his English is quite good. After all this we go back up to our office and I set myself up and print out my flash cards again but with more on it. In our office there are 3 Koreans who work for Bechtel they speak good English and I asked if I could laminate these papers 1 guy came and had a look and started laughing with the noise the other guy cam e and had a look, they were quite amazed I think as to what I had done. I showed them the web site and they said that it was quite accurate but a couple of sayings were wrong only due to translation it was lost. Today being Buddha’s birthday we stopped work at 12 and went back to the hotel, there were not many at work today anyway.
For lunch Ali and I went to his favourite spot which turned out to be the food court of the shopping centre which call Lottemart. We had a quick bite which you looked at a display cabinet of the dishes made out of clay to resemble what the menu was. Then when you picked out what you want you go to the counter and order it. Good system really as there are no queues, and you sit down and wait for the number to be called. The food was fairly cheap and cost 5000won and kept us going for the afternoon.
The evening was quiet for a Sunday so a liesurely stroll offered a good reprieve from the boredom of the room. I had a quick bite at one of the many little Korean restaurents along the way. then wanting a night cap of sorts went to the bar which happened to be the WABar there i sat on my own next to 3 young guys enjoying their drinking and eating. After a couple of Hoegarrden I was feeling the wave of alchol go through me. then to much surprise one of the young guys turned around and asked me in broken english if I wanted to join them drinking!! well it was a refreshing feeling of joy to hear english come out of a korean’s mouth, with that I joined them for a further 3 beers. we became face book friends which I think nowa days means that we are now connected for all cyber space time. after a good time and a few laughs I bade them my farewells as I had work the next day. drinking here in Korea is different as if you need another drink you don’t go up to the bar but ring a bell situtated on the table and it makes an audible sound to which the waitresses then shout in unision and and one comes to you and takes your order. the shouting occurs to alert the closet person to the table to attend. how do they know which table rang? it shows up the nuber of your table on a screen on the wall!!!