As the weekend finally rolls around I have very little remaining energy. It has been a challenging week, as Shawn and Ashley, our senior teachers have departed for their backpacking trip around Asia. Their contract is over, and before heading back to BC they wanted to get one last slice of this side of the world. Two new teachers, Chris and Randi start the same week, and they’re likely more exhausted than I am. They flew from Oklahoma to Seoul, and the next day have to start working. It’s a harder week for everyone, and I do everything I can to make their transition a little bit easier. We took them for lunch, fired off a few key Korean phrases they should know and gave them directions to a few necessities, like Emart, Costco and a cheap Korean restaurant we like.
The school day ends, and we head out to Itaewon. By now, you should know that Itaewon is the an area of the city where all the foreigners like to go to have a good time. Most of the signs are in English and most of the people can speak something that at least remotely sounds like it. I finally have a phone that I bought second hand, and I get a pay-as-you-go plan activated at a small shop that also sells watches, belts, and fake LAPD police badges. I know. Shady, but legitimate.
We meet with Sandi as we have agreed to meet up for a birthday party for one of her coworkers. The night doesn’t quite pan out the way it was expected and twenty people show up to a restaurant that hasn’t been notified for a reservation and it’s Friday night in the English speaking capital of Seoul. Almost three hours later the three of us bail on the event and grab a cab to Mokdong to spend the night at Sandi’s apartment. The Turkish kebabs in our bellies aren’t sitting quite right.
Another sleep-in. A week ago I swore to myself that this wouldn’t happen again, and yet it does. Seems that old habits stick to you even on the other side of the world. It reminds me of an absurd but strangely profound saying I picked up somewhere: Everywhere I go, there I am.
I’m not feeling great this week, and Saturday is the worst of it. We head into the city regardless for a shopping trip at the COEX mall. Despite my bad health, I fight through it, and have an interesting day perusing shops and slugging back iced coffee. For lunch, we opt for the rarity that is New York Fries. Yes, it’s here, and we decide to take advantage of the situation by ordering a poutine. Surprisingly, its the closest thing to real Canadian poutine we’ve had since we left Canada.
The most impressive part of the trip turns out to be the Hyundai Department Store, proving that the Korean automaker isn’t entirely a one trick pony. Like most Korean corporations, Hyundai owns a variety of businesses, including skyscraper apartment buildings, and in their case, a department store that would rival any North American shopping centre. The store spans eight floors and has every major imaginable brand including Calvin Klein, United Colors of Benetton, and Diesel stores.
Krystle is with us, and it’s decided that the rest of the night should be an easy one, owing to our exhaustion and the fact that I’m coughing and sniffling like I’m on a Nyquil commercial. Which leads me to another question regarding my next coping mechanism when the Nyquil runs out. I make a note to myself to have a care package shipped from home containing two things I can’t live without: Nyquil and Gravol.
We kick back and watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The night ends with Katie and Krystle polishing off a bottle and a half of Yellow Tail wine, which is sold, surprisingly, at the 7-11 beside our apartment building. I shake my head and wonder why Yellow Tail is available and yet Nyquil is not. It is a strange place, Korea.
A second trip to Insadong seems like a good idea as the last time we went we were uncomfortably broke. Unfortunately, we emerge from the subway station to find that during the 40 minute train ride the skies have decided to tear open with rain. After about half an hour it stops, but we keep our umbrellas nervously in our hands for any sudden relapses. We peruse some shops and I am able to pick up a few things that catch our eye.
After lounging in at a local Coffee Bean for a bit, we head back home to catch up on sleep. Somehow after seeing so little we are pooped. It would seem that sometimes the most quiet weekends are the most exhausting.