Thursday, December 15, 2005

Seoul pt 1: Tuesday

Well, I've got to write about this in my diary, anyway, so rather than writing it twice, you, the lucky reader, are just going to be priveledged enough to read the complete version.

Sera and I went back to Seoul for two days. We'd discussed it on and off for the last few weeks, and decided at 10pm Monday night to just go.

I went to bed at 1:30 am Tues morning, after getting things organised, doing my washing (realising at 10pm that the warm clothes I'd planned on wearing were all dirty), and then drying them in the dryer that didn't spin.

I got up at 3:40am, got dressed (it takes time to put on 6 layers of clothing and 3 pairs of socks) and finished packing as quietly as I could (I'm not inconsiderate like my roommates are), and left the dorms at 4:05. RAN back to my room and plugged my computer back in, after realising that I'd forgotten to copy down the details of the DMZ tour we were going to do.

We caught a taxi to Busan Station, and bought tickets for the cheap-ass train. We left at 5:30, and I pretty much dozed off right away. I awoke sometime after 7am, with the sun only just beginning to lighten the skies. Dozed off again, and re-awoke somwhere in the middle of Korea, where there was snow on the ground.

The further north we went, the more snow there was. It was really beautiful. It was the first time I've seen snow like that, just laying innocently in patches on the ground and in the trees. The last time I'd been in snow was when our family went to snow fields when I was a kid. After a while, though, the closer to Seoul we got, the less snow there was. We still saw a little of it around the city, though, and of course, we had to have photos with it.

Anyway, we arrived in Seoul a little after 10am (looking on the web when we got back to Busan, I found out the temp was -12, but 'felt like' -17. It certainly did). We went to have brunch at KFC, then took a taxi to Insadong shopping street.
We spent a few hours walking the length of it (stopping for coffee at Starbucks, and to put on another pair of socks and another jacket. I was now wearing:

sports bra, tank top, three long-sleaved tops, a jacket, my hoodie
leggings, jeans
knee-length nylons, two pairs of knee-length socks, ankle socks, sneakers).


I finished all the shopping I needed to do for Christmas, weddings, birthdays, and myself (very satisfied. Unable to feel my toes).


We then walked along Cheonggyecheon Stream (really beautiful. Half frozen.) and then went to the art gallery, but it cost too much to go in.

We took a taxi to the hotel we had to meet at the next morning for the DMZ tour. We figured we'd find a jjimjilbang (a 24-hour sauna/bath house which have sleeping rooms) close by to stay at for the night.
We had dinner at the Outback Steakhouse (expensive, and with hilarious try-hard American-stereotypical-impression-of-Australia decore). Half-flirted with GI's in the next booth, then walked along Itawon Street (I bought socks from a street stall).

Now, to look for a jjimjilbang. I knew what sign to look for, but signs in Korea can be confusing. Things are not always advertised in the clearest way. So, freezing cold, we walked around trying to find a jjimjilbang. We eventually went into a Starbucks and asked the girls behind the counter if there was one close.
Answer: no.
Riiight. Now what? It was literally freezing. We were incredibly tired. We couldn't afford to stay in the hotel (the meeting place of the tour).

We found a motel. Not one you brag about staying at, but I'll write about it, anyway (mostly for my own prosperity).
We took a deep breath, shook off the shiver of disgust and lay down on the double bed, fully dressed, using a jacket for a pillow. We talked for ages, then tried to go to sleep. Did not sleep well.
It was cold (we slept close). People in the hallway were making a lot of noise all night. People were coming and going all night. At one stage, someone used a key to try to come into our room. Luckily I'd put the extra lock on. We were paranoid about sleeping in and missing the DMZ tour. I had my watch above our heads, and we checked it whenever we woke from dozing. I think I checked it at least once every hour.

In the end, I woke up at 6, and couldn't stand it any longer.
We got up, took off our outer layer of socks, put the jackets we had used as pillows back on, checked to make sure we hadn't left anything there, and snuck out (Sera had used the loo, and it had blocked, so we didn't want to get pinged for it. Besides which, it was the type of place where you just didn't want to run into anyone on your way out).

We walked down the street, and went into the lobby of the Hamilton Hotel. Sat around (still half-asleep) for a while, then went across the road to the only place that was open - Metro Mart (a really tiny 24-hour store).

We bought snacks and a drink, and went back to the hotel lobby, where we hung around till 8, when our tour guide came and foud us. I put on the pair of thick, fluffy bed socks I'd bought the night before.


...to be continued.

Captain Chopsticks. This is her diary of what has happened so that she doesn't forget it. If you don't like it and think it is too long, too bad. Go look at the Calvin cartoons and come back in a few days. There'll be another post on a different topic

1 comment:

Queen of the Squirrels said...

Sounds like you've been having fun...