Life here is starting to resemble something of a routine, things are feeling a little more grounded, solid, and dare I say it….normal? Living in a place where people don’t speak my language, where most of the time, when I order food in a restaurant I really have no clue what it is I’m about to be served, where skyscrapers encased with flashing lights, neon signs and various symbols and phrases are commonplace, where there is a Dunkin Doughnuts and Baskin Robins on every street (and I mean EVERY street). Where they sell booze right next to the chocolate bars in convenience stores, and stuffed animals on the street corners, right along side deep fried potatoes, skewers of meat, seaweed soup and kimchi. All this. Normal☺.
My weekend began much the same as the one before (hence the routine I was mentioning…..) with a Friday night jaunt to Pavox, the local watering hole for the teachers at YES Youngdo. As a precursor to the evening, let me just say that my desire for a few bevies was so strong, we decided to brave the buckets of rain that were bring unceremoniously chucked out of the sky that night. The path through the park was more rushing river then babbling brook as it usually is when it decides to rain here, and in the 5 minute walk to the bar, my legs were drenched up to my knees. Throwing out umbrellas into the pile of others by the door, one drink turned into two, two turned into four…drinks have a habit of turning into rabbits it would seem. The staff at Pavox are great. They know us by sight, which I suppose isn’t really all that hard considering…but we, the teachers, are treated like old friends as opposed to customers, and there is a somewhat heavy hand involved when our drinks are being mixed☺.
Sidebar- I have recently discovered I’m not half bad at darts, especially when I’m half-cut…or fully cut for that matter. I’m no pro by any stretch of the imagination but considering the fact that my hand eye coordination is consistent with that of a mildly autistic two year old, I was pleasantly surprised to discover I don’t completely suck at the game.
By the time I was ready to leave, it was around 3am. Dave had long since turned in for the night, and luckily the downpour had lessened to a soft shower, so my walk home was cool, quiet and peaceful. Saturday afternoon saw us heading into the heart of Seoul with our friends Amy and Roger in tow this time. We hit up Coex Mall, a shopping mall the size of West Ed….only it’s completely underground. I’ll be honest, I thought I would enjoy it way more then I actually did, by the time we emerged back into the sunlight I was feeling rather claustrophobic and was relieved to join the Saturday afternoon crowds that were filling the streets of a district called Gagnam. We stopped for dinner and formed a loose plan for the evening of hitting up Meyong-dong again (Amy and Roger had never been) and then finding our way to Namsun Tower for a nighttime viewing of Seoul.
It’s amazing how quickly one who is rather finicky about what they eat can adapt if the occasion calls for it. Since arriving in Korea, the apprehension that at first filled me whenever I ordered something in a restaurant has morphed into a mild curiosity. I’ve gone from it taking an hour for me to order a sandwich, to pointing to an item and, after ensuring it’s seafood freeness, shrugging and hoping for the best. I’m usually fine with whatever they bring me, if all else fails, just walk in any direction for 5 minutes or less. You’ll find a Dunkin Dounuts I guarantee it.
Meyoung-dong is fabulous. I effing love it there. The sheer volume of it all reminds me somewhat of New York, it’s eye candy to me, all of it.
I was reluctant to leave when we reached the end of one of the side streets that would lead us to the cable car that would take us up to the tower, but leave we did and after hiking friggin forever and a day, we paid for our round trip tix and took the car up,up,up.
Sad to say that pictures do not do justice to the sight we were rewarded with for our efforts. The city sprawled endlessly it seemed and leaning against the guardrail, with a cool night breeze and the hum of the city below and the people surrounding me, my body buzzed with an energy that felt ethereal. It took me a minute to feel real again, y’know?
And then….. We have to mark these online essays that the kids do at school, but the website they write them on is only compatible with Internet Explorer. My Macbook does not accept that browser, which is both ironic and irritating beyond belief as it means I need to go into an internet café on my day off to sit in a smoke filled dimly lit room. The sounds of 16 year olds electronically being massacred by wizard warriors or whatever the fuck they’re playing at in these stupid computer games, is deafening. I’m sitting there minding my own business, marking and getting cancer from the second hand smoke that’s surrounding me, when the guy next t me decides to take 45 seconds to clear the mucus passages in his face, turns to me…..and spits it all over the floor between us. He pauses to take a sip of coffee, a drag of his smoke, and turns back to his screen.
Back to reality.