Monday, April 29, 2013

And I quote...

“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” 
― Coco Chanel,
The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World's Most Elegant Woman

And I quote...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Daum for Dummies!

Since I first arrived in Korea, I have gone through several different methods of trying to keep track of bus numbers and how to navigate the bus system.

At first, I kept a handy list of all the routes that went to my school and places that I often frequented. I relied on the knowledge of others to help me navigate when travelling outside of these areas. Next, came the collaborative list on the expat page, where several expats (myself included) added to an ever growing list of bus stops and the route numbers that went there. Again, the problem surfaced on what to do when I needed to go somewhere that wasn’t on the list. As bus numbers floated around in my head, never knowing where they were coming from, where they were going, how frequently they ran, and where the stops were… I knew there had to be a better way.

Enter Daum maps.

Here is a comprehensive guide to help navigating the Hangul only online map (and bus system) in Korea – when Google just won’t cut it anymore.  With any internet map experience, or just a little intuition, you too can become a master of Korean public transportation.

To get started, go to the Daum maps website:

It should look something like this.

(click on images to enlarge)
screenshot of Daum maps

If it does not automatically direct you, center your map around the area you want to know about. 
Here are some of the basic commands / buttons in Daum maps.

available views

Information commands / buttons

map scale at the lower left corner

But wait, there is even more!  Once you open/expand the info panel/slider there is even more you can do.  Here is an overview of some of the search and other functions available to you.

Overview of Daum functions/buttons

Now, you can really figure your way around.  There are a couple ways to do this, and the site offers so many little goodies to help (re)orient yourself with the city.

Since many of us don’t drive, I’ll walk you through how to search for bus directions.  

First click on the “Get Directions” button (we’ll click on “bus” after we set our destinations.)  Then we will tell Daum our start and end points, there are 2 ways to do this.

Option 1:  You can drag and drop one of these little flags.  (Note: you do not have to be exact; you can edit/move them later.)  Remember, red is the start point and blue is the end point.

Option 1: Drag & drop flags to destinations.

Option 2: You can right-click on the map, and select the flag you want to place there.

Option 2: Right click and select which flag/point you need.

Once you get your flags placed, the directions you get will default to the driving directions.  Now is when to click on the “bus” (middle) button.

Here is an example; I dropped my start flag/point in the middle of the Masan Dekkori intersection, and my end flag/point in the middle of the intersection between Masan Stadium & Home Plus.   Your screen should now look approximately like this.

Screenshot after dropping flags.

The map will now display the travel route (in red), and will give us some more information and options in the sidebar panel.

options & selections in the sidebar panel

As you can see, there are a few different transportation options.  The default (and probably the best) is “recommended”.  The others include, bus, subway, and bus + subway.  The subway options don’t apply here, but you can use Daum for the larger cities as well. 

Now, a specific bus route needs to be chosen.  You can refine your search, by time, bus type (remember  the blue are general buses, the green are branch or rural buses (but most run normal routes through town), and the orange (and often high numbers) are express.

Details of bus routes as listed in the side panel

Note that the car/bus/walk options all show the overall times (quickest available).  Then each bus route also provides the length of time (in bold) followed by the walking time in parentheses.  Additionally, each route shows the distance it travels.  

I selected the first bus route just to show as an example.

details of an individual bus route

So, from the drop down, you can see that Daum further breaks down the time for each leg of the trip, again with including approximate walk time.  It also shows you how many stops the route will take you & the name of the stop to get off at.  Throw the name into Google translate to get the Romanized name if you need to.  While the number of stops is handy, I don’t recommend counting them to know where to get off, as often the buses won’t stop if no one is waiting at the stop and/or has pushed a button.

Keep in mind that while you are poking around in the side bar, Daum is providing all these details in the map view as well.  

Detail of map view after getting directions

And finally, if you click the bus icon (shown below as "route details" in green), you can get even more information about the route.

Detailed route information

This shows a great example of why the route details can be useful; the frequency on this route is 150-165 minutes between buses.  Eeeks!  So here it might be worth it to pick another route or routes, since even if it takes a little longer to get there, there won’t be a (potential) 2+ hour wait.  Luckily, however, the route mapped out has 7 different bus options. 

And there ya go.  You should be able to navigate yourself to your destination.  Daum maps has many other great features as well, so take some time to go exploring.

Hugs & Kisses,

Monday, April 15, 2013

And I quote...

“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

And I quote...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why I hate everyone right now (seriously you're on my nerves)

Hey, guess what y'all? North Korea be cray-cray. Threats are made, the entire world freaks out…except of course, South Korea.

My Facebook news feed is filled with no less than 20 posts a day about either what crazy new thing has come from our neighbors to the North or, even worse, the expats response to said statement. Yes, you read that right, expats. Most of these messages tell “everyone back at home” not to worry or freak out. As if we’re qualified… hell most of the things that led me (and quite a majority of us) here was making the exact wrong decisions in life.

"Well, that was a mistake." - Me after every decision I've ever made. 
– Jim Gaffigan

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not worried worried. But I’m not going to tell my friends and family to stop being concerned about me. Oh no, how tragic, someone at home loves and cares about me enough to check in. Call me cheesy, but I actually LIKE hearing from people back home.   

I realize that the constant barrage of being asked to “be safe” or “come home” can get annoying (ok, it IS annoying), but I would say that it is no less so, than the pseudo-military-strategists living amongst us in expat form, constantly on and on about what they are just SURE Lil Kim’s next step is. Or, my favorite line since the whole craziness started, “When the South Koreans are worried, then I will be worried.” Really? We are talking about the same South Korea, right? The country that believes in fan death and the cancer curing qualities of kimchi?

Has anyone even seen this?

I mean my school can’t even give me a 5 minute warning that classes are cancelled. In fact, there was once a fire drill, and the entire fucking school was on the lawn, except for me. What? They forgot to tell the foreigner? I am just… shocked.  Conversely, the English department at my school once freaked out that I was going to pull a midnight run once after I was "too quiet" at lunch.  So, if you’ll all just excuse me if I don’t put my safety in their able hands.

But back to the matter at hand… am I worried?

Not really.
I don’t know.

I mean how is anyone supposed to know how to react when the headlines sound like the ramblings of a heroin junkie in rehab.

I mean… what? 

We are being told (I mean ALL of us, everywhere) to worry, to not worry. We are told the U.S. is concerned, then that it isn't and the same goes for just about every other country out there. We all know that Kim Jong Un is spewing rhetoric not unlike that of an ignored two-year-old child.

What we don't know, is how serious any of his threats actually are.  So, what should (I) we do? Honestly, I don’t know (remember what I said above about making poor life decisions), but....

I don’t think you really know either.

I will be carrying on life as normal. Yes, I have put my passport and other important papers aside in case the shit hits the fan. Yes, I've thought carefully about where I will go, what I will do if I must evacuate my city and/or Korea. I have a bit of cash set aside in case of either scenario, both U.S. dollars and Korean won. And, I will be looking to the U.S. Embassy (really all I can do) for their advice/warnings.

I will NOT be jumping on a last minute (over priced) flight out of the country, giving up my job, source of income, my (free) apartment, and all my stuff unless it is deemed necessary. Additionally, I am not going to walk around in constant fear of attack.

In fact, as I sit here and plan my vacations, I honestly just really, really (no, really) want the Korean won to regain some value. Other than that, life is fine... even normal.  

But, if you back at home want to say “hi” or tell me you love me, I’m good with that, in fact, I encourage it. I worry about you too ya know. 

Hugs & Kisses, 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bura na mano! Holi hai!

This past weekend was the Holi Hai festival on Haeundae Beach in Busan. 

Holi is a festival primarily observed in India and Nepal.  It is a Hindu celebration that occurs on the first full moon in the 12th month of the Hindu calendar.  Holi has a rich history in the Hindu religion, first and foremost it is the celebration of the new beginnings of Spring, the season of love, and saying a fond farewell to winter.  Holi also commemorates various events in Hindu mythology.

Holi is undoubtedly a joyful and boisterous occasion.  It is a time where one can celebrate regardless of cultural norms, race, class, gender, or ethnicity – everyone is equal. It is during the festival of colors that this becomes most evident.  Differences are dissolved as everyone becomes adorned with the vibrant colors of Holi.  Even the popular expression, “bura na mano, Holi hai”, heard throughout the festivities, translates to “Don’t get offended, it’s Holi!”  The normal barriers of society are set aside.

This spirit of Holi rang true at the celebration in Busan.  The weather was perfect as foreigners from all over the world (and a few brave Koreans) gathered on Haeundae Beach.  As the colors filled the air, it was impossible not to feel a sense of unadulterated happiness; it was truly a celebration of love, hope, and new beginnings. 

Hugs & Kisses,

She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.” 
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Monday, April 1, 2013

And I quote...

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”
― E.B. White

And I quote...