Tourist Troubles in Korea?

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The Korea Herald published an article called “Tourists Irked by Shopping, Taxis.” Basically, it followed the complaints of Japanese and Chinese tourists, that they feel they are getting ripped off by taxis and have had a few issues with customer service and shopping.  It was interesting to note that “Complaints from Westerners aren’t as numerous.”  I wonder if it’s because of the style of guide books. American guide books tend to offer cultural tips on the differences that people should be prepared to encounter as well as comprehensive instructions on how to use the public transportation.

The Korea Herald published an article called “Tourists Irked by Shopping, Taxis.” Basically, it followed the complaints of Japanese and Chinese tourists, that they feel they are getting ripped off by taxis and have had a few issues with customer service and shopping.  It was interesting to note that “Complaints from Westerners aren’t as numerous.”  I wonder if it’s because of the style of guide books. American guide books tend to offer cultural tips on the differences that people should be prepared to encounter as well as comprehensive instructions on how to use the public transportation.

My personal experience with taxis is that even when they do drive you in a circle or two, they never manage to add more than a thousand won or two to the fare (a bit under 1-2 USD). I have had taxi drivers patiently try to understand my atrocious accent for 5 minutes before starting the meter, look up things on their GPS, struggle to read my handwritten Korean address and be really sweet about it. When I first got to Korea, I attempted the public transit as much as possible, only giving in and getting in a taxi when I got hopelessly lost or had to be somewhere really quickly.  I’ve only had 1 bad experience my entire time in Korea…the rest of the time they are much more likely to ask me where I’m from, how I like Korea, or if there English is really good (or they overestimate my Korean abilities) tell me about their available son who I should meet.

Yes, drivers hit the roads like maniacs and don’t always have working seat belts but for the most part, I love taking cabs here.

Shopping. Shopping in every country is a vastly different and often overwhelming experience. I have been known to get anxiety bouts while over eager shop keepers barrage me with products. It’s all part of the experience. Traveling is suppose to push your comfort zones…when in Rome, do as the Romans do. And in Korea, that means just going with the flow. Don’t expect poor shop clerks to speak 5 languages—if they did they might have a better job. Try to learn a few phrases in the local language, even if it’s just hello, thank you and ‘sorry I don’t speak ____.’



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