Day one of my three days of “working from home” was…well, let me break it down.
I decided that 31 degrees F sounded spring-y, and that I’d rather wear a jacket than feel bogged down by a coat in my cavorting around Seoul. And that I didn’t need gloves. And that I didn’t need my camera, which I later wished I had. So with those genius ideas to start things off, I waltzed out my door and began my day in Seoul.
My first stop was my LASEK consultation. I talked to the doctor about the best time to get my surgery, and he wants me in at the end of January!! WOOHOO! So I’m sporting my glasses for the next 3 1/2 weeks, and then…I’ll be able to see when I wake up in the morning! My version of a miracle.
A couple friends have gone vintage shopping at a massive warehouse-sized store near a subway stop I can’t really pronounce. So I went to the stop and wandered around in search of said shop. Then called Sophia for directions and wandered around some more. Eventually I found the food market she mentioned–pretty much all dried fish and the like–and wandered around for a bit more, called Sophia again, still no luck finding “the small door and the shady staircase,” and eventually gave up. It was fun weaving through the maze of alleys and side streets of vendors and such, though.
On my way out, I ducked down a back alley to escape the craziness. I was starving by this point, as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. And dried fish didn’t appeal to me.
As I neared the end of the alley, I passed some paneled doors and glimpsed some tables and people eating as they were slid shut. I slid the door open, asked for some bibimbap–a go-to safey meal you can find anywhere–and sat down at one of three tables. Small place, very homey!
There was an older man and two older women also in there, and we had a broken-Korean conversation. I’ll just lay the whole thing out for you in English.
“What are you doing around here? Shopping?”
“Yes. I live in Incheon.”
“Ohhh, Incheon! Do you have a boyfriend?” (the favorite question around these here parts–coupledom is pretty much the end-all be-all)
“Nope!” (The word you use to say “I don’t have” is the same as “there isn’t,” or “it doesn’t exist.” It’s really fun to say too–Ohpso!)
“Do you have a Korean boyfriend?”
“Nope!” (Ohpso! He doesn’t exist!)
“Do you study at a university in Korea?”
“No, I’m a teacher.”
“Oh, English teacher.”
“Yeah, I came to Korea in August.”
Then they made some comments about the Korean language…didn’t catch anymore than that.
Then the man spoke in English the words “Baby, 30. My baby, 30.” And then I think he asked for my phone number. I’m not sure if he was angling for a blind date for his 30-year-old son (blind dates are also a really big deal), or if I grossly misunderstood the situation. Either way, I shrugged, smiled, and pasted the “I have no idea what’s going on” look on my face. And went back to eating.
I got up to leave, and the restaurant-owner-ladies asked me if the food was good. They were so delighted when I replied, that yes, it was good, and asked how much it cost. They almost giggled–which was either delight at my words or ridicule of my accent–then asked if I was cold in only my jacket, and I replied with an emphatic, “Really!” I like this language!
Then I wandered over to What the Book, the token English bookstore in the token Westerner neighborhood in Seoul. I lazed away a few hours there–I love spending time in the middle of bookshelves, even small ones such as these. I picked up four books, thinking of future lazy afternoons on the beaches of Thailand…
Still in search of pants–my favorite ones are on their last leg, no pun intended–I headed over to Hongdae for a last-ditch shopping effort. Wandered about, no luck with pants, but on my way out…
I passed a shop that had some shelves of pants plainly visible, and looked like they might have a dressing room. (Side note: some doors that say “pull” mean you can push or pull, some mean you can only pull. This one you could only pull. I got it wrong. I got laughed at.)
I walked in, noticed that A) the pants were ugly, B) the pants were expensive, and C) they were really, really small. I’m talkin’ could pass for doll-size if they were short enough.
While I contemplated how to walk out without insulting the salesperson about 10 inches in front of my face and very eager to help, she solved the problem for me.
“I was actually wondering about your size.”
“Oh yes, I think these are too small for me.” (as in, would they fit over my thighs? Not so sure.)
“Yes, I think so,” she agreed.
And then I left. And got the door right on the way out!
A lovely dinner with some fusion food and probably the best conversation I’ve had in months with Betsy & James, followed by a Twix and a Candy Cane–both almost black-market commodities around here.
And I made it home before the subways shut down.
All in all, I think a successful day.
Except I still need pants.