Sunday, April 28, 2013

Car elevator - who knew?

I never knew there was such a thing as a car elevator.  But there is.  And now I can say I've driven into one.

Patricia had only told me "there will be parking" at the foot massage place.  I followed her there only to arrive at what looked like a one-stall garage door.  But, it was a car elevator.  I have to admit I pretty much freaked out!  The two other ladies in the car with me got a kick out of my reaction.

So, the door goes up, you drive in, push the floor you want (in this case B3) then the "close door" option.  The door shuts behind you; there is a bit of a jerking sensation and you're off!  The wall in front of you appears to be moving!  It's a bit claustrophobic.  Well, after a bit, you arrive on the other end, the door opens and you drive out.  Sounds rather innocuous, but I have to say it was so strange a sensation that I made one of the passengers hold my hand while I shrilled and shrieked.

There you have it - a brand new experience in Korea!

Try this link to see a picture and learn more.

Snow Days- A bit belated! (Dates back to winter)

I'm from the Midwest.  We get around 80 inches of snow a winter.  So snow and shoveling and snowblowing, salting the sidewalk, following a snow plow down the road or sliding around a bit are no big deal.  We might wish for a snow day every time the snow falls, but in reality we would have to have 6 or more inches before school would get called off.

This is the backdrop of my experiences coming into this winter in the Seoul area.  It makes for some humorous moments in a culture that rarely sees 2 1/2 inches of snow at once and lacks snow plows, snow blowers, and proper snow tires.

This past week we had school called off early twice.  The first time it snowed a total of 2 1/2 inches (about 7 cm).   The snow was amazingly beautiful out my classroom window where I can see up into the mountain.  It was a wet and sticky snow, but I hadn't even imagined it was enough to call school early.  I thought it was silly!  But then I'd forgotten that people don't really know how to drive in that much snow around here, nor is it easy to drive down a snowy mountainside, now would there be snow plows to plow the roads.

So while the kids certainly enjoyed making snowmen or throwing snowballs, it took the twenty-some school buses a real long time to make it down the hill and onto the main road, because as I understand it, there was a 35-car fender bender at the intersection at the bottom.  As I was going to a Sting concert that night (yes, that's right, STING concert), I decided to walk to the nearest subway area instead of ride the bus.  Smart move.  The walk there is 25 minutes and quite doable even with shoes and a bit of snow.

On the other hand, the rest of my family waited for the school bus to take them home.  Usually the bus ride is about 20 minutes with 3 stops between the school and the apartment complex.  But this time it took forever!  Those who simply rode the bus all the way to the complex endured a nearly 3-hour ride.  My family got out at the first stop, rode the subway to a place near us, got out, walked the 15 minutes home from the subway and was still home an hour before the others!  That's no plows, bad tires, and crazy drivers for you!

Now I happened to be going to Sting with a friend of mine from Australia/China/Korea and her sister who was visiting from China.  On our short walk from a restaurant to the venue we saw a rare sight - someone snowblowing.  But the funny thing was that my friend had never see a snowblower.  I suppose if I'd never seen one before I might also have exclaimed, "Look at that!  They're making snow!"  I love it!

Well, suffice it to say, a few days later snow was in the forecast again.  People in charge of making big decisions panicked.  I get it - a few days earlier we had had a major mess on our hands.  So the Elementary Holiday Party set for after school was called off 24 hours ahead of time.  And when the snow started falling, the school decided to call it a day and send everyone home.  It just so happened that this time there was less than an inch of snow that fell.  To quote my father, "How do you like them apples?"