Archive for September 3rd, 2009

Lost in translation

Yongin, South Korea

bathroom tour

Yesterday’s adventure went so well with lunch (yea right), I figured I would try my luck at getting a haircut. So down the street I walked in search of a place that hopefully cut hair. I noted some old fashioned barber poles along the street as I sat on the bus and figured they may actually represent a barber shop so I peered in the door of a few and they most certainly do not. (post edit: well turns out some actually do, but impossible to tell which ones).

After I passed the butcher shop complete with an entire Cow hanging from the open stall rafters, I finally saw two glass doors with the door handles shaped like scissors, and posters in the window of people who looked like they just loved their new hair style or bleached teeth; hard to say which. When I walked in I discovered it was indeed a hair salon, so I grabbed my hair with one hand and used my other hands fingers to act like scissors to indicate that I indeed was not lost, but rather in need of a hair cut. A women came over, sat me down, brought me a cup of green tea, and pointed to the clock; I simply nodded. Several other people came in and they all proceeded to get their hair cut while I sat patiently. I am thinking maybe they had appointments, but regardless the tea was good. Then I was ushered into a chair and a women with the real scissors and I tried to communicate about how I would like my hair cut; we got nowhere. So she just started cutting and I kept nodding until it was about the length I wanted and then I gave her a thumbs up. When I thought I was done, I got up and went to pay the bill as the cut looked pretty darn good to me and she had all ready spent about 40 minutes on it. But a few “no’ head shakes and pointing indicated that I was supposed the follow the truly beautiful women to the other room. Now there is just something nice about someone else washing your hair and giving you a head massage. Then back to the chair for a blow dry. Wow, it looked really great now so up I got again only to be lead back to yet another chair where my original cutter came back over and proceeded to give me another full hair cut. Having learned my lesson twice I stayed put this time and after brushing every individual hairs off my face, I was finally complete and ready to be a hair model. This is the best haircut of my entire life; period. So I go to pay and think, lets see: a tea, a haircut, a shampoo, massage, blow dry, style, another haircut, another style and a personal grooming way beyond my own standards…gota be over my budget. Handed the credit card to the shampoo women and signed while nodding politely. Outside, did the quick math…about $8.50, and given that tipping is considered rude here – that is all it cost.

Sara and I see this bus and decide that we simply should not miss a heritage tour of a beautiful bathroom. It was actually the bus to the Korean folk village which turned out to be a great afternoon hanging out with mostly elderly Koreans who were exploring their heritage.

On the bus I showed Sara the photo I took and we laughed about the other funny and even disturbing English translations (actually, we think someone is having a laugh or simply making up random words) we have seen. I saw a guy in a T-shirt that said “Disco Rocks”….really?, and another one that said “official Milk football league”. Sara told me about the super model type women (they’re everywhere is Seoul) she saw who had on a brown shirt that said “brown oily substance”, and she related another super model story with the text “Abortion staff” printed across the chest; this is in a Country where planned parent hood is strictly banned, sex education is just entering the school curriculum, but abortions are quite common in underground….sound familiar?

No wonder I often to not understand the translated directions from products that have been imported from Korea. And to be entirely fair, I can not understand any Korean. Seriously, I have been trying to lean to say “thank you for 5 days, and based on the looks I get, I could just as easily be asking for a pizza with raw squid…or maybe worse.


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