day one : rescued by youngjoo
15.09.2010 0 °F
I woke up yesterday morning and avoided going or ever looking outside for like three hours (woke up at 6 ugggh jetlag). Promise of breakfast made by hostel is.....apparently not reflection of actual events. Mom saves me with the leftover cheerios from airplane snack bag!! (I LOVE YOU OH MAN THERE ARE NO CHEERIOS HERE)
dude next to me BOLTS upright on the couch (we are packed in like SARDINES here, there are two bunkbeds in each closet (one is where I stay) plus one in the tiny living room next to a couch ppl keep sleeping on) and goes WHAT TIME IS IT so I told him it was nine....yep his flight left at 8.30 ! Exciting times. this can be traced tothe fact many ppl enjoy participating in korea's other national pastime, namely, blacking out on our couch.
Anyway I left him calling the airline in fractured mandarin, got dressed, and busted open our door to the outside world and - literally just starting laaaaaaaughing semi-hysterically. I had sprinted a little around it at night, but now in full-color glory was HONGDAE, SEOUL, the most colorful jam-packed streets I have ever ever seen ever. In Seattle, when there is a tall building it might have a store on the bottom floor and then business offices or apartments above...not here! There are just another eight floors of giant colorful signs connoting MORE stores. There are more stores here than there are people in Seattle; it's insane, and I kept wondering How do they all stay in business?? We walked around one district with I kid you not nine nearly identical lotion/makeup stores in a row. All full. ???
Adventures of the 15th Included:
- Korea. um. KOREA. I have been crazy lucky to have traveled quite a bit, and let me say NOTHING has ever prepared me for this. I know Korea on the page, the screen, and the Ave, but korea on korea's terms is ... I don't know, mind-boggling. I told Kate this already haha but I honestly felt like I was on the moon. Or at least some historical explorer stumbling on, like, the Aztecs for the first time.
- 'OH NO ITS THE MOON HAHAAAA WHAT HAVE I DONE WHERE AM I WHY DID I DO THIS AAAAH' as I wandered a bit around my neighborhood being passed by a hundred thousand Hongik U students all dressed to the nines , including the guys of course; let me tell you we have gone many steps past metrosexual here into a whole nother realm of manbags heeled shoes skinny jeans and dyed perms (not to mention the straight man hand-holding, which I knew about but was still strange). THEN! My first familiar face here : Giant poster of JAY PARK. I laughed some more at that one, but I was glad to see him no joke.
Youngjoo asked later if I had seen him and when I told her she was like 'Ah! A friendly face! 'Hello, neighbor' for you!' hahaha.
- 'Meet me at Hyehwa station Line 4 exit 1 at 10.45!' says Youngjoo. 'Okay cool' says I, beyoooond naively. haha yeah. Subway system. FINDING the subway station ... I had to ask someone because there was one sign at the university and then, like, Find it yourself Haha, so I went in this eyeglasses store (there are also a MULTITUDE of these) and three young guys in powder blue polos all descended on me bowing and talking moon-talk. They were very sweet when I tried to explain I did not in fact need more glasses but rather wanted to find Hongik Station, which then was a whole other fiasco of EIGHT ZILLION KOREANS MOVING FAST BUY A TICKET WHERE ARE YOU GOING LETS GO AWAY WE GOOOO yeah I definitely bought a ticket for EWHA station instead of HYEWHA and then had to transfer, and you can't tell which way the train is going, and the English present is actually a hindrance because everyone romanizes differently (internet: 'Get off at Dahngdemun' Info station: 'Get off at Dongdemoon' OH RIGHT THEY'RE THE SAME PLACE OKAY THEN). bleh. Anyway then I had the wrong ticket and the gate wouldn't let me out so I just busted through while the guard was distracted with these other girls and ran out to find youngjoo ...
- WHO IS A SAINT YOUNGJOO I LOVE YOU. We went alllllll over Seoul for like six or seven hours; she missed class (although it was English I told her to count me as practice lol) and brought me a water bottle and iced latte. She basically rescued my trip, because I was not bold/inured enough to even go to starbucks (or open my mouth anywhere ever, basically). Also I felt, like, condoned by the Koreans while I was with her, haha.
- Path: Her U has an ancient shrine! With tiny children IN HANBOKS !! -- Coffee = 'Copi-lattay' -- Hiked around old traditional-style houses (DREAM HOUSE OMG) -- SO HOT SO HOT DYING -- Took bus winding around mountain -- Insadong is shopping land! -- Lunch of cold noodles (pretty good) and mashed potatoes with mayo (ummmm) -- you have to take off your shoes EVERYWHERE and my shoes have buckles. on, off, on, off, tired -- There are a couple other foreigners! HELlO OTHER BLONDE PEOPLE HELLO -- King sejong and Yi sunshin have a museum, is groovy (and out of the sun) -- Starbucks here is SO EXPENSIVE, like, six bucks for a tall. YEAH WHAT -- Drank a drink that was fanta with jello in it. good?
Anyway now I have to figure out how on earth to make the Korail website work for me so I can travel around. Trapped in Seoul forever would be okay but Thanksgiving is REALLY complicating things and the korail website HATES me for some reason. Oh technology, come on.
<3 <3 xx