I had lunch at Burger King in Somyon yesterday, which is a rare treat for me. McDonalds has left it's huge footprints all over this country, but the King has not been so successful. People tell me it's because B.K. is too expensive, which leads me to believe that they can't tell the difference between a decent hamburger and a Big Mac. The menus at both places are pretty much the same as in America. You get the odd dessert thing with a combination of beans and ice cream (true!) or burgers with "Korean style" sauce.
But that's all beside the point. The point is that at the table next to me were four boys. (The rest of the restaurant had like two other tables with people, but they sat next to me. Welcome to Korea.) They were pretty well behaved, and they didn't point at me, make goofy comments in English (e.g. too many "OK!"s, "You are stone head!", etc.) or hit each other too much.
What they were doing was messing with their cell phones. I don't spend a lot of time around many kids, so I really had no idea how old these boys were, so I thought I'd ask. First I asked if they spoke English, and they all said yes. Good start. I might have been able to ask what I wanted in Korean, but I would have sounded like some kind of foreigner or something. They were very polite to me, and spoke English surprisingly well. This is what I found out:
They were all 13 years old. (I assume Korean age, so 11 or 12 by Western reckoning.)
The time they had had cell phones varied from four months to five years. Yeah, since he was like seven years old!
One of them didn't have his cell phone because his mother had taken it away. I'm afraid I didn't ask why.
One of their mothers had driven them to Somyon. They get to do something like this once a month or so.
They didn't all go to the same school, they just live in the same neighborhood.
One of them spent a year in Canada, though he spoke less than the other boys.
When I got home, I talked with Horyon about when Maxine will get her first cell phone. We're guessing even earlier than those boys. I think she's going to start asking pretty soon, because she's already fascinated by cell phones.
In biking news, today I got 2k up Kumryung Mountain. I decided that I am not masochistic enough to do this thing without stopping at all, so I took three or four breaks to drink water and pant like a dog. When I got up to 2k, I found the retreat center where our church had its outdoor service a couple of years ago. There was plenty of parking lot for me to ride around in without straining myself, but no alternate way down.
I've also decided that I don't like the Kumryung Mountain road. It is very steep and curvy, as well as being poorly surfaced for biking. Lots of washboard concrete, and a few patches of red stuff they put on the road to remind cars to slow down. all it does for bikes is make us feel like we have no traction. Going up is bad enough, but down is almost worse. I had to stop halfway down to take a rest and get the cramps out of my hands.
And so I'm limiting myself to one Kumryung Mountain attempt per week. Even after relaxing in the bath house, I still feel beat up. I'm too old to be doing this kind of thing every day.