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Asia » South Korea » Incheon
September 30th 2008
Published: October 10th 2008
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My Bike ans the fire stationMy Bike ans the fire stationMy Bike ans the fire station

Whenin doubt ask a fireman :-)
1 day down 364 days ahead 

On my second day I decided I’d go and open my bank account. With much sign language, an attempted name change (The bank clerk was desperately trying to give me a Korean name, cause he had no idea how to write Julie-Anne Marchington in Korean characters) and I had a bank account an hour and a half later, I still am not quite sure what my name is in my bank book! Its brilliant here in Korea you get a bank book just like when we had building society accounts (Gran you would love it)! Every time you transact you pop your book in the machine and it prints your balance and transaction history in it for you. Pity its all in Korean so best I get learning!

The rest of the 1st week, till Thursday, was pretty chilled. I spent some time observing classes, had to go and get some blood work done for my residence card and Thursday was a public holiday.
Putting myself out there 1st weekend In Korea

I decided I needed to get out and since Friday was a day off I though a night on
My Bike and the fire stationMy Bike and the fire stationMy Bike and the fire station

My new fireman friend
the town was a good idea. I headed to Bupyeon, which is the central transfer line from Incheon to Seoul. It’s a busy spot with the most massive crazy underground subway market ever. I have now been there 4 times and think I have only seen 1/8th of the place. I have to say all this talk of cheep shoes and clothes, man totally not my style. Imagine Bruma market x 10 and you get Bupyeon market. Above ground Bupyeon is pretty cool, very busy with lots of restaurants, clubs and cool trendy shops. The above ground shopping looks great but its expensive!

I was on my way to check out the 3rd westerners hangout (the 1st two were dead) and I came across a whole group of westerners. I sucked up the embarrassment, went over, introduced myself told them I needed friends and next thing I was having a drink with them. The group is a bunch of Canadians and Americans and 4 of them live just near me. They have a pretty tight click but have been pretty nice to me so far and I found some company to try my 1st Soju (AKA watered down Russian
1st trip to Seoul1st trip to Seoul1st trip to Seoul

The packed subway from Incheon to Seoul!
Bear sold in beer bottles drunk neat on the rocks, as a shot or mixed with coke).

Friday was pretty chilled took myself off to see a movie, they have this unreal cinema complex here with theatres as big as the I-max they had at Hyde Park and if you choose to sit in the front row you get a foot stool. Its pretty cool cause the main western feature movies are in English so at least there is something to do if the weather is bad and I’m at a loose end! I have to say though I’m not used to paying $8 for a move and $4 for a popcorn….I think vitality card should look at going global ! Was well worth it though I love Mamma Mia….gonna miss our renditions of take a chance on me at the colony this year Kenna!

Saturday was a brilliant day for me. I spent the morning walking around Incheon and determined to buy a bicycle. 1st point of call the bank….lucky for me, not, my travel wallet card only works at the Korean Exchange bank (of which I think there is only one in close proximity to me).
1st trip to Seoul1st trip to Seoul1st trip to Seoul

A bad picks of the fire works on the bridge...its a pity I could n;t get a good one cause the show was amazing!
Having only been there once by taxi I decided to find a helpful Korean who would direct me, by foot, so that I could locate it on my own in future. The poor optometrist who got bombarded with my gesticulating decided there was no way he could verbally explain and it was too complicated for him to draw me a map and it was too far to walk (Koreans think walking the 10mins to the tube station is far) so he wrote down instructions for me, in Korean and motioned to me to take a taxi outside his store. I approached the 1st car with a man reading, I opened his door and showed him the directions. He rattled something off in Korean and I think I looked so dumb that he told me to go round and get in the other door. Next thing I’m off to the KEB. He delivered me to the door and when I motioned to pay I discovered that he wasn’t a taxi driver after all but some poor citizen who didn’t know how to tell me he wasn’t a taxi driver in the 1st place so decided it was easier just to drive
1st trip to Seoul1st trip to Seoul1st trip to Seoul

The 1st piece of something that is completely Asian aside from the signage in Chinese characters....some temple near Yeouldo where we went to see the fire works.
me. Koreans are so nice, shame I was so embarrassed….he did call someone during the journey and said something about KEB (I thought he was checking directions and there was a definite chuckle thrown in the conversation) after finding out he wasn’t a taxi driver I realized the call was to a mate to have a laugh about the fact that he was driving some random western girl to the KEB cause she thought he was a taxi driver! After my trip to the KEB and establishing that it is about 4 blocks walk from my apartment by foot I missioned to buy my bike! After about 4hrs in the Home-Ever store I came out with a bright green bike and a bunch of other things for my apartment including a $7 iron (huge bargain cause irons here are about $35) needless to say the $7 irons were sold out but I managed to get the assistant to sell me the iron on display. Not really sure I warranted a R280 iron for the amount of ironing I plan on doing so was more than happy to part with the mega R60 and spend the money on my bike rather!
Incheon Streets at 2amIncheon Streets at 2amIncheon Streets at 2am

Not sure you can see quite so well but the streets are pumping in Incheon at 2am specially on the weekends and public holidays.
After the pretty epic shopping ordeal and finding out that there was no bike pump to be had in the store my next mission was to get my tyres pumped up so that I could actually ride the bright green bike. Since I have only seen three garages in the week and a half I’ve been here I was at a bit of a loss as to where to get my tyres pumped up. I’m not 100% sure where Koreans fill their cars, I’m starting to think their cars are batter operated. Lucky instances like these call upon resourcefulness and where else do you turn when you desperately need to pump up the tyres of your nice new bike….the fire station. I found a very nice fireman who was all too happy to help and what do you know me and my bike have been exploring the streets ever since.

I found myself in Seul with the Canadians on Saturday night. We went through to see this brilliant fireworks show ad to do some all night shopping. Getting there was some mien feat I have to say. The transfer from Incheon line to Seoul line number 1 is a complete dog show. There are so many people and everyone jostling to get onto the tube that you have to be careful you don’t get shoved of off the train and once on you need not hold on cause everyone is so tightly packed in that train! I’ve seen pictures of the trains in India and I tell you the Incheon - Seoul train can compete. Things weren’t much better when we got out of the train. The subway in general on the Seoul end was packed and you almost didn’t have to walk cause the crowd just took you along. I’m hoping the streets of Seoul were only that packed cause of the holiday and the fireworks show cause if it’s like that this weekend when I head through I won’t be making a thing of it, its like down town JHB taxi rank at 5pm….packed, no where to move and just manic. On the upside we got to see a stunning fireworks show so it was well worth braving the mania! After the show we headed to Dong-demun. Dong-demun is a renowned all night market. Again sounds like a girls dream but I’m totally not into mounds and mounds of the same rubbish clothing and after the 10th stall selling hoodies and plastic shoes I was quite ready to head home. 2am shopping is awesome in theory but only when you can find something to spend your money on! We did manage to grab a bit to eat between market traipsing, Korea is an eating culture and the whole city is made up of 100’s and 100’s of restaurants (no exaggeration). For the most part the restaurants are exactly like the Ciao Thai at the top of Jan Smuts Ave….flipping cheep, great food and hella shady eating conditions. We paid $13 for 6 of us to eat dinner, it’s unreal and the food is brilliant!

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10th October 2008

Champion work!
Loving your work... been laughing all the way through... makes for a change from the past few days. Better also look for a job for me coz if this blood-bath in the markets doesnt stop soon, i think I might be joining you. (not by choice either!) Keep up the big smiles!

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