Muschamp Rd

Internet Cafes

November 30th, 2005
Internet Cafe sign

I’ve spent too much time in internet cafes in Asia. I’ve spent too much time on the internet period. I have a love/hate relationship with it. When I find something amusing or cool or useful it’s all good. When one mail goes astray and it almost costs me my MBA degree…

If I had to bet what happened I would wager it was a Muskie vs Andrew based confusion or something to do with using more than one email address on occasion. Another possibility is spam filters and of course I just plain could have forgotten to hand it it. I can possibly see me doing this for the PPT but I know I mailed the paper as soon as it was finished and had a celebratory beer.

Hopefully this latest problem is behind me. The same can not be said for other problems I’ve encountered while an MBA student. Which brings me back to internet cafes something I’ve learned a lot about over the last few years. Currently I’m in my second one of the day. I’m using a Windows machine with Korean windows but I am having no trouble entering text as I changed the keyboard to an American one. Although it isn’t on my resume I know a lot about keyboard differences, input methods, and just enough Japanese/Chinese/Korean/German/French to understand some of the error messages that inadvertently crop up while using Windows.

The internet cafe I was in earlier today was a fair walk from Wu Dao Kou. It was also underground. It had a triple boot setup which was nice and allowed me to actually use an operating system in English for a change. Most of the computers you encounter are in Chinese or Korean. I can’t speak or read any Korean in theory, but I know “bang” and the character associated with it. It is usually preceded by the English letters P and C. You can see this in Vancouver, you can see this in Seoul, and you can see this in Beijing.

One of my beefs about Chinese/Korean Internet cafes is you can play numerous games, chat using all kinds of protocols, and are bombarded with ads even on your desktop, but heaven forbid you want to view a PDF attached to an email. Who bothers to install Adobe Acrobat reader? Of course Mac OS X can deal with PDFs natively… This computer I’m using now can’t even open an RDF, something is wrong with MS Office. It can’t seem to install correctly. Why it isn’t installed already… I think it might be a missing font or language or something. You know how you have to add an extra DLL sometimes… Anyway as a result I can not view any of the files that would be useful to be able to view and work on in this Internet Cafe at least on this computer. This is another reason to use open file formats.

One of my usual complaints about Internet cafes, besides being forced to use windows in a foreign language, is the keyboards. I’m happy to report after I left the dungeon Internet cafe I first went to, and showing a willingness to actually pay to surf the internet, rather than try to use one of the two or three computers you can find in some Korean bakeries/cafes around Wu Dao Kou, I haven’t had any grief from the keyboards. I once famously lost a lot of data due to a dodgy shift key in Cambodia.

The last three cafes I’ve gone to have all had nice big bright monitors. The last two even had comfy chairs. The Koreans are serious about their Internet surfing. So if given a choice between a Chinese Internet cafe or Wang Ba or a Korean Internet cafe or PC Bang opt for the latter. Even if it is not run by Koreans, if it has Korean writing and Korean operating systems especially if it smart enough to set Windows in a dual or triple boot mode it is likely fairly well run. Of course you may pay more…

There are WiFi hotspots galore in Wu Dao Kou, so that is what I was relying on until I got ADSL or whatever at my apartment. Now with my Mac out of commission completely I’ve gone to just about every Internet cafe within walking distance of Wu Dao Kou train station. I’ve taken some pictures and maybe some of this information will end up in my exchange term report but that document is already too long.

Another reason to go to Korean Internet cafes besides nicer computers, comfy chairs, and a big selection of games is Korean girls. Korean girls at least according to my classmates at Tsinghua Andy and Sunny, who are both visibly Asian, if not actually born there, Korean girls/women are universally agreed to be the best looking in Asia. I had never heard this before, not while I was in Japan, or Vancouver or even Korea. In addition to being famously good looking, Korean women are famous for having plastic surgery, even to reduce the size of their calf muscles.

All this talk of Korean women reminds me I should send an SMS to Hyemi.

So given that I went to two Internet cafes targeting Koreans today, which one is better? Well the one that is further away (iUtopia) and underground had nicer computers with bigger monitors. It also had expensive Korean soft drinks in little tiny cans. There were some Korean girls there, most everyone was playing games. However the internet cafe on the second floor above KFC has more women and more attractive women, at least right now.

Not all Korean women are friendly. Chinese women might be friendlier on average. It helps if you attempt to speak Chinese. It also helps if you have a Tsinghua MBA business card. This seems to always impress the locals as well as the Koreans. In addition to not having my Mac, and despite ordering more weeks ago, I have no more business cards. Just having your name written in Chinese is huge. Even though I pronounce my Chinese name well, it still confuses people because I have such an unusual name.

I’m not advocating you go to Korean internet cafes to pick up chicks. I’m actually here for vitally important reasons right now. However if you like a little eye candy while you blog, the second one seems to be the better choice. If you are all about the monitor and comfy chair, walk to the one closer to the Language University. If you want Windows in English the one nearer the Language University has this option as well.

I never intended for this post to be so long. I still haven’t written one of the posts I had intended to write today…

A couple more Korean girl/women tidbits. One good thing about them, ignoring the controversial statements about their beauty and calf size, is I’ve found them to be very intelligent. At least the ones you meet studying abroad. Not only will they likely speak excellent English their Chinese will also be way better than yours too. If you are the kind of guy who tries to impress women with how clever you are, you better be really frickin’ clever if you plan to pull that shit on a Korean girl. I mean you might be able to get away with it on a Chinese girl and you definitely can get away with it on the average Japanese girl… but Korean girls have to work a lot harder than Japanese girls to go abroad.

A gaggle of Korean Girls

The other things I wanted to mention, was while I was anxiously trying to get my Korean windows computer to work well enough to send my files to the TA, a gaggle of Korean girls descended on one machine behind me. There were at least a half dozen of them. Using my legendarily magic powers I knew right away they were Korean. And knowing my readers (Hi Darlene) I whipped out my camera and asked if I could take their photo. One girl was too cool for that and wouldn’t face the camera but the majority thought it was funny when I said I wanted it for my website.

In addition to not being able to spell check my posts I haven’t added any photos since my Mac died. I will be doing this sometime later retroactively, including the photo of the gaggle of Korean girls. Plus I got to use “gaggle” which is always good.

More women keep arriving, some are wearing tight pants, some are wearing loose fitting pants, but some are bravely still wearing skirts. Some have leggings or tights on underneath, but some are still opting for fashion over comfort. Despite what you may have heard, I like to think I’m not creepy guy. I don’t often ;-) take photos of random women without their permission…

Maybe somethings I did were misunderstood or not well thought out, or said while upset. Humor doesn’t always come across, but some people still think I’m a nice guy…

The gaggle appears to be leaving, none of them had obnoxiously large calves, but one girl who recently arrived wearing a very short skirt had some muscular thighs if that is your thing. I only saw her out of the corner of my eye so I would like to reserve judgment on whether she was Korean or not. I don’t know if I can work up the courage to ask another random girl if I can take her picture. The nicer Korean girls in the gaggle said “zaijian” to me as they left proving they were on-board with being in my blog.

I wrote my name, email address, and the URL down on a single torn piece of paper. It is so much less impressive than a Tsinghua MBA business card.

That reminds me I got my unofficial conversation partner Vivian to teach me how to ask for permission to take a photo in Chinese. Unfortunately I have not memorized it. I really need to practice my Chinese more. That is something I plan to devote more time to in December. There are a lot of Chinese people in China who don’t speak English so unlike Japan where I was an English teacher, I can use my Chinese on strangers and am going to have start using it on classmates too. My room mate was complaining I never speak Chinese to her, she may regret that.

The girl in the short skirt left. She wasn’t all that. I still have to learn more Chinese and to make more use of the Chinese I do know.

This post is ridiculously long and rambling. I have more to say on other more relevant topics than Korean Internet cafes and the Koreans who frequent them. However I am leaving, I need to eat and my study plans got derailed the moment I checked my email today.


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