Thursday, November 15, 2018

Korea7 | Day 11

Today's adventures consisted of shopping and relaxing after yesterday's fun!

Except for looking around for cute clothes for myself, my mission today was also to find a special kind of face mask for her.

First stop was Myeongdong (명동), the shopping area, where I looked around for clothes..
Forever21 is a store I visit every time I go to Korea! I've been into their clothes since I lived in America but we don't have any physical stores here in Denmark.
After looking around for a while, I decided it was time to go to another area. When I got down into the subway station, I spotted an American guy talking to a Korean girl. As I got closer, it became clear that he was trying to ask for directions but that the Korean girl didn't speak English, so I offered my help instead.

The American was actually a soldier stationed here in Korea. He'd been hurt by a roadside bomb during an earlier deployment somewhere in the Middle East and was suffering lasting damages to his ears, which brings us to why he was in Myeongdong this day. He was going to an ear doctor.

Hold on. Let me rant for a moment because even though I'm writing this post almost 9 months after it happened, I'm STILL angry at whoever was his superior... or at least whoever decided that the system should work like this. Whoever you are, YOU SUCK.

The poor guy didn't speak a word of Korean and all he'd been given was a ROMANIZED address of a place he'd never been to. WHY. There's a big risk that even Koreans wouldn't be able to help him because it was romanized. This also meant I was unable to plop it into a map even when I tried to write it in Hangeul (Korean letters).
Also, this was his third try at finding an ear doctor audiologist after having missed his first two appointment because he couldn't find the other two places he was meant to go to previously.
Oh and let's not forget that this guy was staying outside of Seoul. He was staying at Camp Humphreys.
For the unaware, this is the American military base, which is located outside Seoul ALMOST 2 HOURS FROM WHERE I MET HIM. WHY WOULD THEY SEND HIM HERE?! ALONE?!?!

When I remarked how they should have hired translators for things like these, he told me that there WERE translators on base but that they didn't deal with this kind of stuff. (??!)


My Korean is not great when it comes to directions but I somehow managed to ask a subway worker, who was miraculously there, for help.
Meanwhile, American soldier is beside me like:
The worker, a middle aged man, told us to go back to the 'main road' and walk straight. Okay! Up and out of the subway we went and then some brisk walking because there were only about 20 minutes left before his appointment and we were unsure just how far away it was.
Once we got to a big intersection, I asked some of the city guides clad in red for directions once again since it felt wrong to continue walking straight. If you ever find yourself lost or in need or directions, DO use these people. They are easy to spot and they speak several languages!
And what do you know, the audiologist was right around the corner!

Before going in for his appointment, the American offered to buy me food but I declined, saying I just wanted to help and that he should instead pass on the good deed (super cliché, I know). 

In the evening I went to Apgujeong Rodeo station (압구정로데오역), which is in the Gangnam (강남) area, to find the very specific store selling the face mask Emilie wanted to try.
The Korean address system is .. still not something I understand completely. It took me a little to find the store and when I finally did, it had apparently closed down.
This is a problem in Korea - you can never really trust google when it comes to finding places here. They are simply not up to date. Korean shops and cafés pop up and disappear in the blink of an eye and google is simply not up to date. I really should start using Naver (Korean search engine) instead.
Well, now I'd already come all the way here so I wanted to stay in the area for a little.
Gangnam is one of those places that I really want to explore more. It is, however, also a really fancy area that seems to attract super good-looking types and so so many stylish couples. When I'm placed in that context, I feel pretty awkward, alone, and out of place so I never end up staying long.
If I get a boyfriend again, I'll definitely drag him along so I can finally get my Gangnam fix without standing out too much.

To me, Gangnam is just something else. Knowing how expensive the price of land is in Seoul, I always stop in amazement when I pass stores/cafés like the one in the picture where most of their spaces is used for arts and aesthetics.
Let's also stop for a moment and consider that this place is a sUBWAY STATION.
It looks like part of a hotel! I don't belong here aaaaaa.
I suddenly spotted YG KPlus (와이지케이플러스) across the street. It was such a surrealistic feeling.
YG KPlus is currently owned by YG Plus, a subsidiary of YG Entertainment.
Since I'm not in Gangnam often, I also don't really know where I am when I'm there. I just walk. As I was walked through some dimply lit smaller streets, I stopped to admire the lights when I suddenly spotted a red Ferrari outside a café. Surreal.

After surviving almost 2 hours in Gangnam on my own, I started heading home. Even the subway was full of super good-looking guys. It made me want to hide but also stare at them at the same time.

Back in Hongdae, I went out for some late dinner. I didn't feel like going to a restaurant but decided to just drop by some of the street food stands near exit 9.

I ordered some eomuk (어묵), also called odeng (오뎅) - fishcake on a stick, served with a cup of hot fishcake soup on the side - and moved to the corner of the stand. The old ladies working in the stand were making small-talk with a man, who had also studied at Yonsei like myself.
I'm not sure how it started but I eventually found myself talking to one of the old ladies as well after ordering more food. She was the absolute sweetest. Between asking about my travels and telling me about her sons, she beckoned to her colleagues to hand her a little plate with a pair of fried shrimp and some fried 'hotdogs' with sugar and ketchup on top (I'll make a post on Korean street food combinations some day).
And then she handed it to me. I'm not a huge fan of shrimp but when a sweet elder food lady gives you free food, you have no choice to accept. ˚‧º·(˚ ˃̣̣̥᷄ᴗ˂̣̣̥᷅ )‧º·˚
I stayed for a little longer, now eating slower because I was starting to feel full. Meanwhile, the nice lady was gathering A WHOLE BAG of food to give me before sending me on my way. I felt so taken care of!! ㅠ^ㅠ
People showing compassion like that really touches me. Just like my guesthouse mate, who did my dishes the other day.

I tried eating some of the food but there was too much so instead I came up with a plan. My non-suspecting victims, a group of skaters maybe around my siblings' age, reluctantly accepted my bag with treats, probably wondering to themselves what this strange foreigner why giving them food.
When I got back to the hostel, I found a Danish coin I'd brought with me and ran back to the food lady to give it to her since she had seemed really interested in my country. It wasn't much but I hope she felt how thankful I was.

← Return to Day 10                                                                                                        Continue to Day 12 

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