Wednesday, 25 May 2005

The Seoul Experience: Currency Culinary Confusion

I just got back from my first real walk around the streets of Seoul (ok, so it was just ONE street), looking for something to eat.

This was when I suddenly realised that I wasn't sure whether I had enough money in my wallet. You see, I only had about 9000 won in my pocket, and I had no idea how much that was in relation with the Ringgit, and how expensive or cheap something was.

I knew 12000 won is RM50, but beyond that, I didn't know, because I'm lousy at maths.

Everywhere I looked, things looked expensive. It's all those zeros behind the prices. The prices were all in the region of thousands of won, and to me, it was freaky, and tended to trick me into thinking something is really expensive when it probably isn't.

I actually sat down at a roadside noodle shop just to check it out, but the prices seemed rather steep - 8000-10000 won for a bowl of mee? I began to wonder whether I was reading the prices wrong.

Not only that, I was wondering what the heck was on the menu, because everything was in Korean, and the stall owner didn't speak English.

Rather than take a chance and risk the embarassment of not having enough money to pay for a bowl of mee (or ordering an extra large bowl of Kimchi instead of noodles), I eventually took a safer option - going to a hot dog stand and buying a hot dog instead.

So much for experiencing Korean culture eh?

Anyway, since the stall had nice big menus with the prices written on them AND English descriptions of the hot dogs (which didn't really help, since a hot dog is usually just a hot dog after all), I could now estimate how much I spent propely.

I settled for a Hot dog set that on the menu said 2900 won. I paid up, ate the hot dog, and came back to count exactly how much I'd spent on that damn hot dog.

I used an online currency converter, and discovered that I'd paid RM12 for that damn hot dog. Wahlau. The event organisers weren't kidding when they said things were expensive here. Time to start eating instant mee then (I hear Korean instant cup noodles are pretty good). At least THOSE cost less than 800 won...

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