Surprise, surprise, surprise! Yesterday, we went to the mall to buy a birthday present, and when we got there, we were surprised! I wasn’t planning on blogging about it, but I what we saw seemed so pertenent that it deserves a blog. If you think about the Korean culture, it really made sense. From ancient times, Koreans have never liked to stay home. From watching Korean historical dramas and going to the cultural village at Suwon, I know what they always did in the past. They gathered at the center of town for entertainment. There were men on tight ropes. There were clowns, etc. Now a days, they still run around through town much more than Americans do on a regular basis. My Korean son in law would spend his life site seeing, at the movies, at the singing room, at restaurants, and at coffee shops if he could, and many Koreans are like him. There aren’t many home bodies in Korea. They even have public baths where they sleep on the hard wood floors at night rather than go home. It doesn’t bother Koreans to live in little bitty apartments because they don’t stay home.
This time of year, especially, they don’t want to stay home. The weather is just too hot, and electricity to cool their homes off is just too expensive. If the electric company deems that you are using too much electricity, they double your bill. The only air conditioners they have here are electric units that hang on the wall or stand free in the room, but Koreans hesitate to use them because they know what the electric company will do to their bills. If they don’t want to use their air conditioner, and it is too hot to go out site seeing or walking around town, how are they staying cool? It only makes sense. They go to big department stores and malls. When we went grocery shopping to E-Mart the other day, I was amazed at how many people were there. The place was packed. We tried to eat at Burger King at the food court, but there were no places to sit, and we ended up sharing a table with other people. Yesterday was the same. We went to the mall to buy a birthday present, and it was so crowded, it was unbelievable.
There were all kinds of special things for kids to do at the entrance.
It began before we ever entered the mall. It was the first time I had ever had to wait in line in my car to get into the parking garage at the mall. I should have known something was up then. When we got into the parking garage, we drove around and around looking for a parking place, and just when I thought we weren’t going to find one, we finally did. After that, we went in the elevator up to a side entrance. When we got there, I knew it was time for a blog. They were having a blast! They had kids on trampolines hooked up to harnesses going up and down. They had kids going round and round in little cars and kids in little boats.
When we went on in the mall, the amount of people was overwhelming! It was like the Japanese say about what happens at times in Tokyo, “swimming through people.” It was so crowded that if we hadn’t come with a purpose, I might have left. People weren’t all shopping, but they were just hanging out trying to get cool and have a good time. You could feel the air conditioner blowing and trying to cool the place off, but it wasn’t doing a very good job because there were just too many people in the mall. Many bodies cause body heat. They were all trying to stay cool, but they weren’t as cool as if they had just stayed home and turned their air conditioners on.
A player piano playing music and Taro Card reading
A three dimensional imaging booth where you can make a three dimensional image of yourself.
There was lots of entertainment. There was a player piano playing music you could hardly hear above the loud voices of the people. There were Taro Card readers. There was a place where you could make three D copies of yourself and a place where you could have a simulated airplane ride. There was a playground for the kids. Besides the shops, they were providing all kinds of entertainment just as if it were the ancient times in Korea when everyone went to the center of town for entertainment.
There were lots of interesting things in the Japanese shop: stuffed pink panthers, Winnie the Pooh, three dimensional puzzles, hand held motorized fans, and the new VR games.
Sleeping masks, products to take care of your face, Mickey Mouse products, Coca Cola products, interesting looking life vests, and hand towels shaped like dresses
We headed for the shop where we thought we might find a good birthday present, a Japanese shop. Japanese shops are always full of all kinds of fascinating gadgets here because Japanese are extremely inventive. When I was studying Cross Cultural Communications in Japan in school, the author of one of my text books called the Japanese “the greatest copy cats in the world.” They take something that already exists and make it better. Think about Nintendo. Most young people today don’t realize there were video games before Nintendo. The Atari came first. The Americans invented Atari, but the Japanese took it, looked at it, then copied it and made it better. The Chinese invented paper, but when that paper got to Japan, the Japanese had great ideas of what to do with it. They invented the Japanese art of paper fold, origami. I have seen on Facebook all the hype about a new kind of pink chocolate, but they didn’t bother to mention the Japanese green chocolate. It is made with green tea, and it is good. The people in the Orient eat a kind of fermented beans. The Japanese call it nato. The Koreans eat it too, but I don’t remember what they call it. I can’t stand nato because I can’t even get past the smell to try it, but my Japanese son in law tells me the Japanese have changed nato and taken the bad smell out of it. This is just how Japanese are. We head for a Japanese store because my daughter thinks what we want can be found there.
After that, we decide to check out the other Japanese store at the mall. Both stores are full of fascinating things. We took pictures for you.
Chop sticks, tea sets, a sticky roller that you carry around inside of a tube to take lint and hair off your clothes, and little bitty rolls that if you put water on them, they become a wash cloth
After we went to the Japanese stores, we decided to do what many of the Koreans were doing to stay cool. We went to a cold desert shop where they were selling pat bean soo. If you haven’t read my other blogs, pat bean soo is a shaved ice dish the Orientals eat, not just the Koreans. It has less sugar than ice cream and since it is actual ice you are eating, it is colder than ice cream. It may include a small scoop of ice cream, but ours didn’t have any ice cream in it. Often pat bean soo has fruit, nuts, and things like that in it. The traditional type always inlcudes sweet red beans. When I was in Japan, I asked the Japanese about these sweet red beans. They told me they were naturally sweet and they didn’t grow in the west, only in the east. However, my daughter has made the sweet red beans, and she says they have a miniscule amount of sugar in them. If they were very fattening, many Koreans wouldn’t eat them. My son in law seems to be an exception because he eats candy like it is going out of style, eats big meals, and is still super skinny. However, many Koreans worry saying they are Oriental, so must be small, and they think it is their obligation to try to stay small even though they are bigger than other Orientals. They run around town and walk everywhere even if they could afford a car, and that keeps their metabolisms lower than Americans. If they eat ice cream, there is not going to be a struggle of one big dip or two. In Korea, there is one small dip, and they give you no more. Often pat bean soo has small pieces of rice cake in it, but rice cake doesn’t have sugar in it either. In Korea, rice cake is called dock. Often there is fruit in pat bean soo too. When they eat it, there will be one dish for the whole family or for the group of friends to share. Yes, they all eat out of the same dish which was really hard for me to get used to.
We went by a very crowded sushi bar.
After we eat pat bean soo and are headed out of the mall, we walk past another place you would find interesting. These are traditional Korean treats, and they are delicious. They are made like waffles, in an iron. They are like pancakes or waffles on the outside and they are filled with sweet bean paste. They usually make them in the shape of fish, but there are some here too in the shape of pigs. Pigs are not looked upon in Korea as they are in America. Here, pigs are a symbol of wealth, not of a slovenly person who eats too much. These little cakes are delicious, and they are one of the many things that people are enjoying at the mall. Everyone is trying to stay cool and have a good time.