It doesn’t matter where you live, you’re bound to experience random (strange) happenings at least once a week, maybe more if you’re lucky. These happenings can turn into great stories to tell as well as a learning tool for next time. When living in a foreign culture you may experience more random happenings than normal, due to the unfamiliarity of what is going on around you.
I have experienced this to a max in South Korea. Call it me being a blondie in a land of black hair or an American in a country of Koreans, but I have strange situations happen to me on a daily basis. I’ve compiled a list of my favorites. It’s more than likely you’ve already read a few of these…but if not, enjoy!
1. The time a drunk guy stole my shoes. You read right. My husband and I were out for our weekly date at a nice BBQ restaurant. In some traditional restaurants you are required to take off your shoes before entering. I’ve gotten used to this strange practice, and didn’t think twice about leaving mine in the shoe shelf along with dozens of others. After finishing dinner I walked out to grab my shoes…and they were gone. How the heck could my shoes just disappear? Koreans are very strange about used items, even going to the extreme with not buying ANYTHING second hand, including cars. Why would someone take my old, worn, used shoes? Derik was furious. He had assumed someone saw we were American and hid my shoes somewhere as a joke. He walked outside to look while I was inside trying to use my charades, small amount of Korean, and English to explain what happened to the manager. She was also clueless, but super helpful and went outside to help Derik look. After about 5 minutes, she came with Derik empty handed. I gave up and decided to walk back to the car barefoot. We were about to leave when all of a sudden a drunken engineer comes stumbling up the stairs to the restaurant with his friend walking in my shoes! I was so shocked I couldn’t even move or talk. I just pointed. The manager realized immediately what was going on and reprimanded the glassy-eyed man for wearing my shoes. Even in his drunken state his face turned beat red and he tried to apologize profusely (while laughing) for what he had done. He then went on to grab his work-boots. My question is…how the heck do my brown girlish shoes look like his black lace up work-boots? I will never know.
2. The time a drunk guy followed Derik and I with a broken glass bottle. Since we’re on the subject of drunks, how about this story:
There was a guy who was completely out of his mind wasted on soju (the cheapest unfiltered alcohol you can find here and it can make people go nut-so) and he came up behind Derik and I while we were walking sipping on beers and enjoying a cool night. He immediately grabbed my arm and put a rubberband on my wrist (um what?). He then took Derik’s beer and drank some, and then poured the rest on the ground. He kept coming up behind me and trying to whisper something in Korean to me. He then said an English word I knew: ‘P*s*y (I don’t want people finding my blog with this word). By this time the guy was making such a scene that two other Korean men grabbed the drunkard and told him to stay away. It didn’t work. He came running after us, smashed that beer bottle on the ground and grabbed the neck. He followed us for a while, but then just randomly disappeared! It’s always a struggle here, because back in the states Derik could have just punched him and it would have been fine. Here? He’d get deported.
3. The time I was given half of some lady’s birthday gift. I’m STILL confused about this one. Derik and I were working on his motorcycle outside (he was working on it, and I was keeping him company), when an unfamiliar neighbor stopped to talk to us. He had a beautifully wrapped gift he had bought from a local cosmetics shop (I recognized the brand), and went on to tell me it was his wife’s birthday that night. After using most of his English words on us, and our Korean words on him, he just stood around awkwardly as Derik went back to fixing his bike. He then decided to open his wife’s present and handed me about half of the stuff that was inside (various cosmetic samples and lotions…probably 16 in all), until I couldn’t hold anymore. I tried to give them back after I realized what he was doing, but he promptly bid us goodnight and walked away. I guess he liked us? Sorry wife. :(
4. The time a lady went through my shopping cart. I completely understand the locals being curious about what ‘foreigners’ like myself have in our shopping carts. I would probably feel the same if I was in their situation. I’m used to the nosey looks and glances down at my cart as I stroll through a store. Thankfully I’m kind of a fruit and veggie junkie that they don’t get to judge too bad. I usually just shrug it off and consider it somewhat of a compliment that they’re so interested. Then the time in Costco happened.
Derik and I visit Costco in Busan (about 45 min drive) every 2-3 months. If you aren’t aware what Costco is…you’re seriously missing out. It’s apparently the seventh largest retailer in the world. I love Costco because I can buy AMERICAN food in bulk! A few must haves in my cart are always: beef, fish, avocados, grapefruits, and beans. By the time we finish shopping our cart is always filled to the brim.
On one particular Costco outing I was shopping with Jared and Amber. I had my own cart and had gone off to do a little speed shopping (I’m not so much for browsing). I finished early and happily waited for them near the checkout. I hadn’t been there even 2 minutes when a lady comes straight up to my cart and starts digging around in it. I stared at her with my mouth agape. She didn’t look at me, didn’t utter a word, and didn’t stick around. After a long 30-40 seconds she wandered off leaving me clueless and confused.
5. The time I woke up with a backhoe digging 5 feet away from my hammock. This unfortunate incident happened this last weekend. Derik and I went up to Boseong to visit the green tea fields (post to come soon) with our friends Jared and Amber. We decided to make the two and a half hour trip Saturday night so that we’d have all day Sunday to walk around. We also decided to take our hammocks with us and sleep in those for a quick camp set up. Once arriving in Boseong it didn’t take us long to locate a perfect little campground. Other tents were in the area, so we figured it would be an ok place. Keep in mind it was pitch black when we set up our tents, but it was right on the beach, and we were excited to see the view in the morning!
We were mistaken. We woke up at five AM to the sound of 20 gigantic dump trucks bringing in sand and unloading it 10 feet away. Five feet from us? Why that would be a backhoe scraping sand around the area. To make matters worse, once we peeped our heads out of the hammocks, we had about fifteen Koreans just standing there watching us. I know that #1. They’ve never seen a campground of four hammocks hanging from trees before. #2. They were curious about Americans. #3. They were wondering what the heck we were going to do in our current situation with the backhoe. I couldn’t stop laughing as I examined our situation. I just lost it. Our campground quickly became a dangerous location fast as sand was flying through the air and the tractor’s bucket was swinging around everywhere. As soon as we packed all of our hammocks up he stopped and decided to take a smoke break. I mean really?!!? I’m 60% convinced he decided to dig right next to us just to see what we would do. I’m still not amused.
6. The time a guy unlocked and walked into our apartment. Last night we were relaxing on the couch and watching a movie. Our front door handle starts to jiggle. Back in the States I might have been scared to the point of peeing, but here the only thing that was going through my mind was a bunch of question marks. I honestly thought it was probably a local shipyard worker drunk on soju and confused as to which apartment was his (all three apartment buildings on our block look exactly the same on the inside and out). But then he inserted a key and opened the door! He wasn’t really responsive as Derik rushed towards him yelling “YAH!” (which is basically like HEY or WHAT THE HECK). Derik had to back him out and shut the door in his face. He didn’t bother us after that…but boy was that weird. Could it be that the same key is used for multiple door handles? Regardless…we will be upgrading our lock to a keyless entry by the end of this week. No more of that nonsense.
There you have it. Have you gotten into any random situations like these lately?
p.s. I just broke 100,000 page views TODAY since my blog switch on April 22!
THANK YOU lovely readers for all the encouragement and love over the last month and a half. I am so amazed at the responses I’ve had since switching over to Bloglovin and WordPress.org. You guys are awesome!