Sunday, September 30, 2012

Car buying and the start of a week off

I just realized today that Irish was waiting for me to write about this week's car buying trip before she posted anything, so I am the reason there hasn't been any other posts recently- sorry about that.

We have a car now.  When we got our Alien Resident Certificates a few weeks ago we planned to get cell phones and cars as fast as possible.  Both turned out to be a little more challenging than expected but now we have done it.

On Tuesday I took the train out almost as far west as you can go on the subway to meet a car dealer. It was two stops from the end of the line, near the city of Inchon, a couple of transfers and close to two hours of travel. It wasn't all that bad, travelling without kids is remarkably easy, I just read and played games on my phone.  But I was motivated to buy a car so I wouldn't have to make the return trip.

I met CJ at the train station.  He is Korean but went to school in Hawaii and lived there for 5 years. He picked me up in a really beat up car and then drove me to a huge parking garage.  The facility is shared by multiple used car dealers.  He showed me the government inspection garage and then we walked into a building filled with office spaces.  CJ told me everyone there had something to do with cars, some were used car dealers, others were importers and exporters of cars.

At his office we looked at several cars that were available on his web site that met my criteria- cheap, with enough seats for three kids, and in decent shape.  He was able to show me the paperwork for each one, assuming he was telling the truth about what it said in Korean, there was information about the car's accident history and whether it had ever been in a flood. With a few options picked out he went to get keys.

CJs office- with a big stack of gift boxes of seaweed paper- I assume for the upcoming Chusok holiday.

It turned out we could only test drive the car within the parking garage, which isn't much room to get a feel for things.  And then, after looking at a couple of cars, it was close to 7:00 and CJ let me know that offices for the insurance brokers on site would be closing by 8, so if we were going to buy a car it had to be soon or else I could come back. Again, not wanting to take a long train ride home or drag the process out any longer I made an efficient decision- chose a 12 year old Kia with low miles that had two rows of seats in the back. And then CJ got everything rolling.

CJ processing paperwork

Back in his office he brought in an insurance broker, we got that taken care of- then went to a convenience store where there was an ATM and we transferred money to pay for the car. By 8:30 everything was done and I owned a car.

The car runs on LPG instead of Gasoline, which is good since it costs around $100 to fill up a gasoline car here, LPG costs about half that. I was not sure how to fill a car with LPG, but it turns out I don't have to know because all gas stations are full service- just like in New Jersey. CJ took me to a gas station, and we filled the car up.  He then downloaded a navigation app on my phone- but there was no way to make it work in English.  So we set that up on the dashboard, and he pointed me in the right direction and I was off. It was around a 45 minute drive on a highway with a few notifications from the phone that worried me because I had no idea what they meant. I just kept looking for signs that said Pangyo, the name of a neighborhood near were we live, and eventually I turned the navigation app off.

Now that we have a car we made a trip to Costco and spent a lot of money.  I was hungry, which is a bad way to go grocery shopping, and big blocks of cheddar cheese looked too good to pass up.

Yesterday I drove all three kids to the zoo, in part to see if I could find my way there, and to give Irish some time on her own.

The tram from the parking lot to the zoo entrance- it went fast enough to be fun, and maybe not as safe as it could be.

The kids being good sports about a pretty lame exhibit of insects- this was literally just an aquarium full of crickets.

The picture indicates "don't feed the animals" which makes sense, but the text reads "just a moment please" which doesn't make any sense at all.

Walking back to the tram- the trees are just barely starting to change colors, it is fall here.

And now we are off school for a week.  Tomorrow we are going to an amusement park that includes an "American Adventure" area.  I expect to see cowboys, and maybe some SUVs?   Then Wednesday we are flying to Jeju island for three days.  Good times.

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