11 July 2005


So yesterday, me, Jim and Angie (the Korean Travel Team) tried to make reservations at hotels in Korea. It started out sort of shaky, but after Jim made one reservation in Japanese, I thought, I can do this, give me the phone. The following conversation ensued:

Korean Woman: (Korean)
Stephen: Hello? I'm sorry, do you speak English?
Korean Woman: (Korean)
Stephen: English okay?
Korean Woman: (Korean)
Stephen: (In Japanese) How about Japanese. Do you speak Japanese?
Korean woman: (very earnest Korean)
Stephen: (in Japanese) You can't speak Japanese or English?
Korean woman: (Korean)
Jim: (showing Stephen the Korean phrasebook) Just say August. Here. (points to Korean word for August)
Stephen: Parwol?
Korean woman: (Korean)
Stephen: Uh-shit-

Then I hung up.

We decided to just ask our Korean friend Lee to help us out. After we showed him our plan, he basically said that we had picked the worst, dirtiest parts of Korea to visit and that if we just left it up to him, he'd plan a much better vacation and spend some of the time with us. Anyway, it felt like when I first came to Japan and nothing made sense. Now, at least I can say, I'm sorry, but could you explain the meaning of word X... in Japanese, if I need to. The Koreans also get a great deal of my love and appreciation for using a phonetic writing system. Phonetic. Imagine that. You can actually read what is written. I can't wait for Parwol.