Monday, October 20, 2008

Parking Madness

Parking in Korea can be quite an event. First of all, there's parking on the street. Finding a free parking spot in town can be interesting. Cars park along both sides of narrow streets full of shops. This makes is difficult to drive down said streets, which often have about one lane's worth of space available for actual driving. It's often necessary to pull off to the side of the road to let someone else pass. As you drive around looking for a spot, you have to be aware of the lines on the side of the road (you can park on white lines, but not yellow, although this rule is often ignored). Many times, a potential spot appears, but as you approach, you see that it's taken by a scooter. Or businesses will sometimes put plastic gas cans out in front of their shops to make sure that people don't park directly in front of the doors. Since there's no sidewalk, it is possible to park literally right in front of a shop door, and of course shopkeepers don't like that. So even if there aren't gas cans out, you have to be conscious of this and avoid being yelled at by proprietors. Finally, a tiny spot turns up, and then you have the challenge of squeezing into it. This situation is one of the major reasons that I love my tiny Matiz.

We are fortunate that we can park easily at our apartment building. Buildings that were constructed in the past often have fewer spots than the residents have cars. In this case, there are some unspoken parking rules that help everyone have a place to park. First of all, it's common to have your cell phone number posted in the dashboard of your car. This can be written on a card, etched into a fancy plastic doo-hickey, or cross-stitched in a cutesy design. This way, if you're forced to park somewhere that blocks another person in, that person can call you and ask you to move. Another solution, which we encountered in an apartment building parking garage in Jinju, is to leave your car in neutral with the parking brake off. This way, you can double park, and the person you're blocking can just push your car out of the way when necessary. Watching our host in Jinju push cars around so that we could go out for an evening spin just struck me as so odd! But it's an effective solution. And another good reason to have a car that's, like mine, barely bigger than a golf cart.

5 comments:

Mom said...

That is one of the cool things in living in, or even just visiting, a foreign country. You find out that our way is not the only way, or not even necessarily the best way to do things. Although, I don't think I would want to either post my cell phone number for the whole town to see, or leave my car in neutral with the parking brake off. I assume this is only done on a level street :)

chrissy said...

Wow! I hope that your parking lot is even. How close are you to the water again? I think that you should practice moving cars for the exercise...no more gym membership needed! =) We're lucky that we have plenty of spaces...if not, Ryan would just park on last in/first out part of our spot.

P.S. the pictues you've recently posted are AWESOME!!!!!

Marissa Jimenez said...

Hi Ellen...it's Marissa! Just wanted to say hello. Saw some of your pics...looks like you're having a great time. Anyway, we all miss you...and hope you're doing well.

:) Say hi to Keegan...and his new 'stache. :)

KIM! said...

if your car is so lightweight i would be inclined to pul a prank that we often did in college - which was pick up peoples cars and move them (we used a group of people) so that when the one person came it woul be impossible for them to move it back by themselves (we put a kids car into a fenced off area - and turned his car sidways between two other cars).

Ellen said...

Fortunately, we don't have to use any of these odd measures at our house. Although this afternoon I did leave my lights on and ran the battery down. Keegan gave me a jump this evening, but only after we pushed my car pretty much the length of the parking lot so it was next to his. Easy as pie with my tiny car. Glad Kim and her friends are not here to play pranks with it!