Friday, August 25, 2006

oh my god, we gotta get outta here!

I've been in Gongju for a week now. In that time, I have narrowly escaped at least 10 automotive accidents. Traffic laws do not seem to hold any particular importance to at least 80% of the people on the road. While driving the two of us to a school dinner tonight, my coteacher cheerfully ran every red light we came across--regardless of the amount of traffic we were headed into. After particularly narrow misses, she would briefly flash her hazards and wave semi-apologetically at whatever vehicle she had nearly sideswiped. My favorite car experience occurred not with my coteacher, however, but with the random friend of my homestay family who almost always (along with his wife and son) accompanies my host fam and me on our adventures. While driving us to Magoksa, a famous Buddhist temple, he missed the exit we were supposed to take. When this unfortunate fact was realized, he proceeded to DRIVE BACKWARDS ON THE HIGHWAY until we re-arrived at our exit. There were cars whizzing at us at highway speeds as we backed up madly...and not just for a little bit either, a substantial distance was covered. Keep in mind that the 4 people crammed into the backseat of the car were completely seatbeltless, as was little Kiyeong (he was perched on the family-friend-lady's lap in the front seat). Another awesome thing about driving here is that drunk driving doesn't seem to be all that stigmatized. I have definitely been driven home by random-family-friend-man when he's been drinking more than is wise. I can't really think of any way to get out of getting in the car with him--I would both mortally offend him and effectively strand myself. Any advice?

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