I took a little trip to Korea earlier this week, which gave me an opportunity to piggy-back on my last post, about the dual-language signs back home. (I'd been planning that post for a few weeks, but just got around to it at the same time my latest adventures brought new meaning to it.)
After getting settled into the hotel, I fired up my laptop to see if the wi-fi works, send Wifey-san an email, and check some of my favorite blogs. Did you know that a lot of sites, like YouTube (no big deal) and Blogger (kind of a problem) auto-detect your location and set language defaults accordingly? Here's what the top part of my Blogger dashboard looked like:
And the menus? Yeah, they were filled with nonsensical chicken scratchings too. I managed to find the place where you can select your language and got it switched back to English, so I can work my blog again. While surfing around, I come across lots of sites with no letters, just squiggly little characters all over the place.
My friend who's been here a while gave me a cell phone so I can keep in touch.
(In other words, I can call for help when I get hopelessly lost.) I decided to try it out, and guess what? It's a Korean phone. The dialing buttons have regular numbers and letters, plus the little squiggles, but the menu buttons and most of what appears on the screen are all Korean. How do they even read this stuff? I started experimenting, just pushing lots of buttons to see if I could make it do what I want. That didn't work. So my friend showed me what's what on it, and I remembered for about 5 minutes. That was Thursday. I'll probably never make a call with this thing.
We went out for dinner the other night, and it's a good thing I was with people who know how to order at the restaurant, find their way around the city, etc. When you travel to a foreign country, it's helpful to know a few phrases in the local language. Still difficult, but helpful. My Korean is limited to, let's see... exactly zero words. I can't even say, "I'm an American. Please don't hurt me. I'll give you all my money if you show me back to my hotel and leave my kidneys where they are." I sure hope I never get separated from the group.