The Intrepid Traveler

South Korea's flag
Asia » South Korea » Seoul
October 15th 2008
Published: October 15th 2008
Edit Blog Post

A typical food stall on the pavementA typical food stall on the pavementA typical food stall on the pavement

This is one of the many food stalls I pass on my walk to the station!
What a weekend - Week two in SK (its a long read :-))

Friday night and time to meet some more friends. After an exhausting week I managed to get my game face on and headed to Bupyeong on a clothes and friend finding mission. This time the mission was to scout the regular stores for some decent items of clothing (I’m well over the cheap rubbish in the markets) and hopefully casually bump into some potential friends :-D. After finding only two really cool shops (and luckily not having enough clothes shopping cash on me, otherwise I would have been broke he regular stores are fricking expensive) I called the clothes-shopping mission off and switched to mission B, that of stalking western faces. I sauntered past Woodstock and what would you know the 11:30pm estimated home time got a little extended to 3am after meeting some awesome Irish folk! This job of randomly striking up conversations with anyone and everyone is a real win here. I had a super night, a couple of drinks at Woodstock then a couple more Canadian friends joined us and we headed to some other really awesome joint called Saigon, a Cool Runnings Melville
No parking lot requiredNo parking lot requiredNo parking lot required

A typical site outside the trusty E-Mart!
vibe, and then back to Woodstock. The Irish were fantastic and I think they will be super contacts. The one Canadian girl is also lovely all together the kind of people you can def call when you are in need of some company and a drink on the town. Interestingly I bumped into Hazel tonight while I was yet again trying to complete mission A and we had a drink and a nice chat and we have plans for Friday so all is good on the Eastern social front as it stands!

The taxi drive home had me mildly worried though. Here in SK we have T cards AKA transport cards and they work for every form of transport and even the pay phone, pretty awesome. Well let me quantify any form of transport only every 5th or 6th taxi has the right meter to read the cards so you have to; step one: stand on the side of the road, step two: wave your hand wildly up and down to flag down a speeding taxi who will slam on brakes about 50m from where you were standing, step three: sign to him to test your card to see
Move aside La SenzaMove aside La SenzaMove aside La Senza

How classic, this is one of many street side stalls selling socks and underwear....let me know if you want to place an order ;-)
if it registers. In the 1st four instances you will be forced to repeat step 1 to 3 but with a little patience you will find a winner. On my 5th go my card was swiped, it registered W4800, I have managed to tell the driver where to take me and I was on my way to bed. After about 5mins in the car the taxi driver stopped and pulled over and I had flash backs of my bus experience in France where I was kicked off the bus in the middle of nowhere cause that’s as far as my card would take me. I maintained my composure since it was 3am and Soju has amazing calming properties ;-) and I started to negotiate with the driver (who had not a clue of what I was saying) not to leave me there cause I had zero idea where I was and no phone or money. So he points to an amount on his screen, more than I had on me, he said something in Korean, I show him my very best blank look and next thing we were on our way again, communication is a breeze . I sat back
Move aside La SenzaMove aside La SenzaMove aside La Senza

I like how they have matching bras on the next table! again feel free to email me your order ;-)
enjoying the last part of my ride quite convinced I had managed to con the driver into driving me the rest of the way out of pity, since I believed he had understood that I had no money. We arrive at the trusty E-Mart just near my apartment and he suddenly starts gesticulating and appears to be asking for W5600 and it really seemed he was getting irate with me when I started pleading that I had no money and that I couldn’t understand that it could cost another W5600 over and above the W4800 swiped off my card. I nearly died since I had the sum total of about W2000 on me and ATM’s here close at 11pm (very handy that, not!!!). After I pulled the dregs of my money out and started counting the coins, I discovered that the poor driver was in actual fact not irate at all, Korean people sound as though they are shouting even when they aren’t, he merrily took a W1000 note out of my hand after I wasn’t understanding that I only owed the difference and not the W5600, he handed me back W200 and greeted me. Thank goodness otherwise I may
Move aside La SenzaMove aside La SenzaMove aside La Senza

These are my faves....NOT!!!!
have had to resort to street begging in order to pay my taxi ransom.

After as good a sleep as one can have on my facebrick mattress I got ready for Saturdays arrangements, The South African Braai in Seoul! I went through to Bupyeon where I was meeting Mike and lucky I got there early cause I spent an hour looking for a Korean Exchange bank (funny that). All was not lost in that hour though cause I managed to meet Sunny a lovely Korean lady who spoke very good English who escorted me to the KEB after overhearing me trying to ask one of the shop owners down the road where I could find a KEB bank. I was incidentally headed in the completely wrong direction in the first lace after another helpful Korean man, earlier, had happily directed me to the KB bank instead of the KEB bank!

After a nice long walk and chat to Sunny I had some cash in hand and met up with Mike and his dolly Liz, awesome awesome people. Mike is a mate of Kath from the Ville who I’ve been in touch with. (Villian I have to thank you
A local friendA local friendA local friend

This is the fruit shop just at the entrance to the station, I've made friends with the owner, he is such a sweet old man and they have amazing fruit!
very much for hooking me up with the connection, out of your boots, what a top draw bloke and he has a lovely dolly too , you are a star). We headed off to the braai and it was brilliant. I have to say of all the kind of South Africans I expected to make up the SA expat community here in SK….this is the last I would ever have expected. Its safe to say that if you are from JHB you are 1 of 3 people if you are from Orkney or the like you are the majority, closely followed by some hooligans from Rhodes and UCT. Some guy from klerksdorp (or there and there bouts) is making a killing here importing boerie and making biltong and selling it at an exorbitant price to all the South Africans but it did make us all happy munching boerie rolls just before converging on Iteawon to watch the Lions lose, all that was missing was the All Gold!

After a quick stopover at Liz’s house for a shower via the convenience store for some Soju, we hit Scrooges a local westerners hangout in itaewon and the official “after party of
Friday and the SubwayFriday and the SubwayFriday and the Subway

This is my subway stop on any given night really.....
the SA braai”. Itaewon is the destination for westerners if you are one of those unadventurous western travelers who can’t be less than a 100m radius from another western face. All it is, is another suburb in another city in the world, super cosmopolitan with Italian restaurants and KFC’s on every second corner (a far cry from where I stay). It’s a super place to go out every now and again cause you can meet tones of Western faces but I like the fact that Itaewon will be a novelty for me on my adventure rather than the norm (some serious personal bias going down here). The night was lots of fun I met a bunch of South African girls who are brilliant fun and who I think I will end up doing a lot of things with and Liz (Who’s English) is fab so, so far this weekend was brilliant not only on a fun level but on the friend meeting front too. After a couple of social beverages and chatting Liz and I commandeered the running of the pool table. Its brilliant when you nominate yourself as chief scheduler of the pool table bookings board (they really should
Friday and the SubwayFriday and the SubwayFriday and the Subway

The subway in Bupyeong....a little different hey! (the blur is cause I couldn't stop walking the browd was moving me along!
go back to lining R2 coins on the table at the coin slot cause this writing your name on the board is archaic ;-) Pies you need to post the pics from our Shabeen visit so that we can show them exactly how a well oiled pool table queue works). Needless to say running the pool table schedule had huge benefits, it’s a great talking point. I met Mark (who busted out in Afrikaans and after having a 10min Afrikaans conversation he asked me if I was Afrikaans to which I answered that I was bilinual he promptly told me he was from Parkhurst, ‘n egte sout peel is what he promptly nicknamed himself and English was the language of choice for the rest of our pool table dealings! After many a pool game, having our tequila slammer strawpedos (which we smuggled in) confiscated before we could drink them and a final pool game against some Homeboys from New Orleans Mike and I (Liz had headed home some time before) hit some late night KFC and then back to Liz’s house for some much needed sleep.

Sunday was yet another busy day. I ventured though to the Seoul World
Bupyeong by night!Bupyeong by night!Bupyeong by night!

I love the lights...such a great vivbe and about 90% of these buildings are filled with restaurants madness!!
Cup stadium to meet Lauren to peruse the flea market. Well was that an experience. I managed to pick up a couple of brilliant bargains while strongly deliberating buying the very genuine Louis Vutton steering wheel cover for my folks for their next anniversary tehe ;-). man it was absolute chaos! After about an hour and a half we decided to call it quits and leave the Mayhem of the market to go and find some food. A colleague of Laurens, Brandon, was with us and he was in his car so he spent the rest of the afternoon showing me the sites of Seoul, it was brilliant! You can quite happily site see from the comfort of a typical luxury Korean car cause the traffic is moving so slowly that there is plenty of time to really take in everything around you as one crawls from one slow moving lane of traffic to the next. I know I have said it before but you can’t imagine Seoul and its chaos until you have been here. Sunday 2:30pm traffic is like the NI South PTA to JHB at 7am no exaggeration. We finally made it through the traffic and wound
Bupyeong by night!Bupyeong by night!Bupyeong by night!

More lights!
our way through the quaint narrow streets of Gyeongbokgung. This is the presidential area where the Blue house is. It’s a really lovely area teaming with 100’s of different galleries and museums of all kinds (I can’t wait to go back and visit the museums of chicken art!) Gyeongbokgung has a very Stellenbosche vibe with lots of little small restaurants, it’s a stunning area. We stopped for a yummy Korean lunch and then up the Korean sky way we went. The Korean sky way is a road the winds its way up one of the tallest of Seouls very very many mountains. What a view from the top. I will let the pictures speak for themselves when describing the concrete mass that makes up Seoul proper, sadly it wasn’t a 100% clear day but I think you can get the just of what this city comprises, one high rise after another crammed next to each other and they still find place to build in amongst all that, your guess is as good as mine!

After a breath taking overview of Seoul we headed back to Itaewon for some quick shopping and finally I made it to the station and
Bupyeong by night - SaaigonBupyeong by night - SaaigonBupyeong by night - Saaigon

This is the coolest pub so i had to take some pics of the decore!
onto a train. I’m still getting to know the trains so I hopped on a normal train instead of an express train (so you stop at every station not just the transfer lies) so 1h30mins later and I finally made it to Jakjeon. I clearly wasn’t projecting my full exhaustion and disinterest for anything other than hitting the pillow cause every other non-Korean face decided they wanted to strike up a conversation with exhausted me. I appear to have three new Angolan friends who have invited me to play soccer in their foreigners soccer match next weekend and I had a long conversation about how wonderful our cricket team and particularly Jaques Kallis is with a very sweet Shrilankan guy who apparently also stays in Jakjeon. After dodging any further foreign obstacles I lazily paid my W2100 and caught a tax home I just couldn’t face another 10mins on my feet!

All in all for the third time in this entry I have to say what a cool weekend. Lots of fun and a great time mingling! Week two in SK another success and it looks like this weekend may prove to be the same even if songsang nim
Bupyeong by night - SaaigonBupyeong by night - SaaigonBupyeong by night - Saaigon

I just loved the retro orange phone I need to get me one of these!!
Julie-Anne has to be on show at the patents day the whole of Sunday!

This week has started out ok I’ve come down with some laryngitis so have been watching class and doing prep cause I haven’t had much of a voice to teach and the teachers need me to have full vocal ability for Sundays show and tell of the English songsnag nim (nice word for teacher isn’t it). The Sunday full day ie 9:30am - 6pm family school day comprises of a bunch of role plays so basically we have spent the last week and a half drumming these ridiculously hard role play scripts about airports and immigration and hospitals and restaurants into these 5 and 6 year olds so that they can show their parents how “good” they are at English, its mad. Today was hella funny I was running through the airport script with the kinds and don’t ask me but some how but these kids have heard elephant instead of passport so when I said to them today “May I see your passport please” I got “Here’s my elephant” instead of “Here’s my passport” man it was so funny, they try so hard.
Heading to the station to hit the SA BraaiHeading to the station to hit the SA BraaiHeading to the station to hit the SA Braai

How random, here in Incheon if you build a big building you have to contribut something back to the community so usually the erect a sculpture....this is E-marts contribution

Well this is now turning into a ridiculously long entry and it’s very late so I’m off. Next edition to follow shortly, liking all of yous back home very much ;-)


Additional photos below
Photos: 38, Displayed: 31


Mike and another friendly SA faceMike and another friendly SA face
Mike and another friendly SA face

The boys found a substitute for Klippies....
More SA braaiMore SA braai
More SA braai

Some typical South Africans having a real jol!
More SA BraaiMore SA Braai
More SA Braai

Nothing like some Boerie on Currie cup semi-day!
More SA BraaiMore SA Braai
More SA Braai

It doesn;t matter where in the world you are you can always find a real boer!
More SA BraaiMore SA Braai
More SA Braai

Enjoying our 1st bite of home!
More SA braaiMore SA braai
More SA braai

It might not be South african But Soju rocks! Me and Liz preparing some Sojuice ;-)
More SA braaiMore SA braai
More SA braai

A little footie for the guys and girls!

15th October 2008

Nice work!! sounds like an amazing joll!!! keep it up, the reading is entertaining! xx

Tot: 1.724s; Tpl: 0.023s; cc: 19; qc: 88; dbt: 0.0217s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.6mb