It happened to be the Korean Chuseok holiday when our ferry docked at Donghae and we spent our first few days in country enjoying very quiet streets as most people were spending time with family. But with the arrival of the weekend and after a couple of hours bus ride north to the coastal city of Sokcho, things picked up a bit.
Month: September 2016
We boarded a Korean ferry named Panama and sailed out of Vladivostok under mild skies the evening of the last day our Russian visas were valid. This is of course where we started our Russian tour – flying in just a month earlier. We had taken the train back here and were grateful to get the chance to spend our last three days in Russia in this charming city. It was sad to say “do svidaniya.”
Amber and I set out on this adventure with the hope of blending in everywhere we went and looking as little like a typical tourist as possible. It proved impossible in China for some reason. But that was ok as we learned. As we approached a Chinese vendor or store check out, they could tell from their first look at us that we had no idea what was going on and their expectations of us were, thus, very comfortably low. In Russia however, we genuinely do seem to blend in. So when we step up to the grocery store check out, set down our collection of the most Russian looking items we could find to sample, and deliver our well rehearsed, and flawless sounding, “zdrastvuyte,” their expectations of us are naturally high and the clerk fires back in break-neck speed whatever question she has already asked a thousand times that day of every other customer. What she gets in return, however, is a look I can only guess must resemble a dumbfounded Minion as we try to figure out was that; “bag or no bag,” “card or cash,” “did you find everything you needed,” “will you be using your membership points today?” We have no idea! We have learned to speak loudly in English while waiting in line in an attempt to lower expectations.