Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 06 2012

Korea, part six

Sleep did not come until late last night due to an insufficient supply of hot water at the hotel, which I am less and less able to recommend due to all the problems, such as a cockroach and the poor positioning of this computer for actual typing. I suspect it’s deliberate, in order to keep people from blogging here.

Gray, cold weather greeted us this morning after a breakfast of toast and cereal at the hotel. We took the subway to yet another market, the vast Jindong Market, far larger than anything in Taiwan, actually. There, as we waited for the light at an intersection, a couple of bags fell off a man’s scooter, stopping traffic. He crept back into the intersection on foot and bowed at the car behind his bags. The car then proceeded, in a most deliberate fashion, to run over the bags, leaving the man to clean up the mess of his former belongings.

We proceeded down the main road, which was lined with vendors. I was low on socks, so I decided to pick up a pair from a stall. A single pair was 2,000 won, so I picked one up and gave the money to the middle-aged woman vendor. She then grabbed another pair, put them in the bag with the first, and gave me 1,000 in change from the 5,000 I’d given her. She said something rather dismissive, and though I had no idea what, I could guess. I took the second pair out, put it back on the pile, and held my hand out. She looked offended and yelled at me. Chenbl put the first pair back on the stack and held out his hand, saying, “Forget it, then, give us our money back!” The woman yelled again, but grudgingly put the first pair back in the bag and gave me my 3,000 in change. What a bitch.

We continued to walk down the road, turning in to the market, which seemed to sell just about everything under the sun. We saw a locker full of what was obviously dog meat, and later on rounded a corner to find several well-groomed dogs in a crude cage. Some of them looked sick; all of them looked stolen. A man in black walked up and began talking to us. I figured he was trying to sell us something from his tone. I considered taking a shot of the dogs, but from a photographic standpoint it just wasn’t that interesting a scene, and I was also thinking there was something really wrong here. Daphne, however, raised her camera to take a shot, and the man raised his hand and gave her a violent shove.

Linda cried out, and Chenbl shouted, and the man didn’t continue to attack as we converged on him. Chenbl said, “I’m calling the police,” and pulled out his phone as if to make a call, and suddenly a man who had been sitting nearby was at our sides, speaking in Mandarin: “You really want to leave right away,” he said in a serious tone, and I figured that the man in black had “dealt” with such nosey tourists before. It felt wrong, and I wanted to deliberately take a shot just to see if he would attack me, but then again I didn’t know 1) what he was hiding in the way of weaponry and 2) how many friends he had within whistling distance. I followed the others back up the street, glaring at the man as I did so.

The series of incidents really put me off, well, everything for a bit after that. We took the subway back to the vicinity of our hotel and had a hotpot-esque lunch at Nouboo, where the waitress spoke Mandarin to us. She was from Jilin, in northeastern China, and therefore spoke both languages. The food was good but spicy. The weather had cleared up by this point, bright blue skies, but the cold wind remained. We walked through the trendy alleys, followed as always by a group of students seeminly on a field trip, to a nearby church, where the clicks of our shutters no doubt disturbed a few prayers; an M9 would have come in handy right about then.

I was still in a bad mood, so I suggested we try out Seoul’s Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The offerings are a bit different from the ones in Tokyo that I’ve sampled, harder, less sweet frosting, no chocolate- or kreme-filled doughnuts, and no free doughnuts fresh off the assembly line, but they were still far better than the atrocities committed by Mister Donut.

We took to the subway again, this time out to another part of town, the train traveling above the ground, allowing for nice views of this huge city, to meet another Korean friend of Chenbl’s. Linda and Daphne weren’t allowed out of the station due to insufficient funds on their cards, and Chenbl had vanished as he hates being late to anything (this is possibly my most unfortunate influence on him so far), so I took their cards over the turnstyle, went and added money, and then returned them so they could get out.

Mr. Hong was waiting for us in front of his apartment building; he took us upstairs through a series of gates, to his deluxe apartment in the sky. It was really very cool, big and spacious, with a separate fridge just for the family’s year-long supply of kimchi. We sat and talked about the various languages; his wife teaches Japanese, and his daughter’s English is excellent. Later he took us out for dinner that was also rather hotpot-esque, this time featuring pork spines (I think). Also delicious, and also a little spicy.

Tomorrow we have to get up terribly early and take the high-speed train back to Pusan, where we hope to (finally) see some cherry blossoms.

posted by Poagao at 10:04 pm  

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