Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lost in Seoul

Today Irish and I tried venturing out on our own, me in the morning and her in the afternoon.  We had mixed results.

I went into Seoul for the first time.  I was planning on going to mass at the Myeongdong Cathedral. It's a famous church, built in the 1890s.  Surprisingly there are a lot of Korean Catholics, 10% of the population and growing.

So I took an express bus into the city, leaving at 7:30 for a 9:00 mass.  At first it seemed pretty easy, a five minute walk to the bus stop, the M4101 bus showed up soon after I got to the stop, and 20 minutes later I was in the city. Unlike the trains though,  there are no obvious signs saying what stop you are at.  I looked around to see if anyone could help out, but no one seemed very talkative, so I eventually took my best guess and got off when a lot of other people were getting off. Turns out this was a bad way to get around.

 I ended up walking for the better part of an hour in heavy rain.  Twice I asked for directions, and got conflicting answers.  Eventually I came to a street with anti North Korean signs saying things like "Kin Jong Un must go!" And then I came up to a huge number of police on the same street outside a building with high walls topped with barbed wire and I realized I had accidentally found the U.S. Embassy.

I eventually gave up on making it to mass and stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for coffee and a donut. Dunkin Donuts are everywhere here. I found a pay phone and called Irish, the same card we use for buses and trains can also be used for pay phones.  I let her know I was fairly lost, wasn't sure how to find the bus back, but eventually I'd get there. I walked for another half hour.  As I walked an old man asked me if I was from the United States.  I told him I was and he asked me what state.  I told him Colorado and he said he had heard about Colorado on the news, the shooting in Aurora. We agreed it was a terrible thing.

Finally I gave up on finding the bus and went down into the next subway station I saw.  With two connections and a fairly long ride I was able to make it back to Yongin, and then catch a local bus home.

Irish tells me blog posts are better if they are mostly pictures. We are getting the camera situation sorted out.  Without a card reader we had been using my cell phone set to airplane mode-which I worried would go back to regular mode and run up a massive data bill roaming from Korea. I finally just took the network card out, but then yesterday it started acting weird and deleted all the pictures from our trip to Costco.  This morning while I was out Irish found the card reader, and then the camera broke while she was using it. Fortunately the video camera also takes stills, so she used that on her trip out.  Next time I will take pictures.

Irish's turn: VICTORY!
I needed a few more things at Emart and wanted to go by myself. Once Jim got back from Seoul he helped me look up bus directions. It's not easy using google maps because the maps are all in Korean. Somehow he was able to figure it out. I made it to the bus stop, ready to take the 27 to Emart. As soon as I got there, I saw that the 27 didn't stop at that stop. Long story short I ended up wandering around for an hour. Jim had encouraged me to just hail a cab to Emart if I got too frustrated. After an hour of walking, looking for a cab and/or a bus stop for the 27 and finally found a taxi (literally when I was back in front of the apartment). I did my best to hail the taxi and the driver only waved back and smiled as if to say I know, it IS cool that I drive this taxi!

Since I was right in front of our apartment I decided to go back in and regroup. I found the chat from Kevin Jaramillo that said to just take the 17 to Emart. That was it. Just take the 17. Could it be that easy?
I'm so independent, I even took this picture by myself
 I went out, caught the 17 and made it to Emart. I was elated after all that to make it to my destination! The bus dropped me off at a super fancy department store/mall thing that is right across the street from emart.
If you've been following the blog as you should, you already know about Emart.
Not sure what to buy, again. It's like a test of logo-memory...One vaguely looks like oxyclean, one like clorox clean up...

Look at all the stuff I got! This is with most of it on the belt at the check out with the cart right next to it. I definitely can't drag all this back on the 17. I need a taxi! I mentioned this to the woman helping me load the stuff onto the check out and she grabs another employee to call me a cab.
Emart is one of those stores that doesn't have bags. If you want you can assemble your own box from the broken down boxes near the check out.
Look at this guy he's so helpful -he's building me a box while he calls a taxi for me
My Taxi!
After we loaded my stuff into a box, another emart employee helped me out of the store, up an elevator and out to the bus stop/taxi area at the department store/mall.

The taxi ride home cost me $5. Totally worth it. And I've done it! Success! It will be so easy the next time!

It wasn't all cleaning supplies in my cart. Check out some of my finds:
A bamboo mat/rug for our living room

Toys for the children (thanks to cash birthday presents this year) AND check out that play mat. I'm hoping that will cut down on some of the noise (it is a little small though...)

AND!!! A food waste container! Please email me if you want me to mail one to you for your food waste.