1 week down, 51 more to go… not that I’m thinking of it in those terms, of course, but it’s as fine as any a way to make sure I don’t take my time here for granted. You might wonder if I’m wasting an awful lot of time sitting in front of the computer typing. Well, I have 3 responses to this. 1) I type very fast. I’m actually kind of a typing prodigy. Just ask Mr. Dolce at good ole MHS. 2) Part of the reason for this trip was to get back to doing what makes me happy, and to sort of (at the risk of sounding terribly clichéd) find myself again. And writing makes me happy, so I hope reading this blog gives you as much enjoyment as writing it gives me. Oh, and 3) Yeah, kinda. Sue me. It’s very stressful out there! I mean, I can’t even read the signs here. Well, I can, but it takes a whole lot of time and effort and when I’ve done sounded out all the characters, usually twice because I’ve forgotten what the first part was by the time I get to the end, I have no idea what the words actually mean! So I absolutely need some relaxation time. This is better than just sitting here all slack-jawed and drooling on myself, letting the TV watch me, right?!?
This morning (Saturday), I went to the PC Café just to sort of catch up on some news, and to chat with Shan online. I thought, you know, internet café – normally, people checking their email and whatnot, right? Maybe doing some online shopping, reading world news, I don’t know, whatever the hell people do in these places. I walk in, and after the obligatory hello (“annyong haseyo”), and the also-obligatory conversation, comprised entirely of hand gestures and grunts, about what I’m supposed to do now that I’ve walked through the door, I get a little PC card and get shown into a room. And it’s weird. I mean, dozens of machines with huge monitors and all kinds of special keyboards and microphones and joysticks and headphones and god knows what all… and there are sounds of explosions echoing off the walls and cries of “Direct hit! Direct hit!” flying back and forth over my head. And there’s like 30 people in there, all young Korean guys (and 1 chick, but she’s definitely the exception that proves the rule) playing the same game. Perplexed, I walk toward the back of the room where I see a sign advertising the newest version, or expansion pack, or something, of freakin World of Warcraft. I mean, I knew this was a popular game (not with my friends, fortunately, because that would drive me insane) but this whole damn place was devoted to it… and this is a small town. I mean, 30 kids might well be the entire young adult population of Janghowon, for all I know. I doubt it, because it seems like I’ve seen more of them than that outside walking about, but never all in one place at the same time, so who knows?
I think that I’ll go to Icheon (pronounced ee-chun) tomorrow and take a look around. I walked around for about 45 minutes this morning, and I think I may have seen everything of interest here in Janghowon. I’m told Icheon’s not much better, but at least it’s a lot bigger. I can walk for longer than a half-hour and not see the same little Pelican Chicken restaurant (not chain – the same building) 3 times. And no, I know what you’re asking, but I did not try it. I will though, I promise, and I’ll let you know how it is. Other fun things I noticed today:
The driving range here is just awesome. I didn’t go in (but you can bet I most certainly will at some point) but just from the outside, the glory of this place radiates out, warming the whole surrounding block in its joyful glow. There’s a couple different levels to hit golf balls from, which I’ve always loved the idea of but never tried. Also, instead of a big open space like in the States, this “range” is a giant (like, tallest structure in the town, giant) net! It’s only maybe 150 meters long, but high enough that you could really whack a pitching wedge and not hit the top of it. At least, I think so. And I can really whack a pitching wedge too. And I really like saying “whack a pitching wedge.” Go on, say it out loud. It’s nice – fun combination of sounds! Did you do it? Did you smile?!? Yyyyyyeah, you smiled.
There are a lot of stores here devoted to marketing and distributing as their sole commodity available for purchase the wondrous consumer good known as… wait for it … clocks. Like, really, a lot of stores. What, you thought I was going to say opium or panties or something fun, right? Sorry to disappoint, but if I do find one of those (obviously better and more interesting) places, I’ll definitely let you know. On one street, I’d say every 4th or 5th place sells nothing but clocks. This, I do not profess to understand. Koreans in general are very punctual, so I’m told, but I don’t think that really justifies the sheer number of these places. I’ll let you know if I get a more satisfactory explanation.
A lot of the bars here are on the upper floors of what look like (to me, at least) office or apartment buildings. There’s a normal building, maybe some storefront space on the bottom, office-sized and -shaped windows all the way up and then a bar on the 5th floor. I think I might check out one of these (Goodbar, it’s called… maybe they have chocolate too! Ha!) tonight. It’s right next to the hotel, so it should be easy enough. I think the Korean word for beer is “hof.” Like the end of David Hasselhoff. Or at least, that’s how I remember it. Not sure what that says about me, but there ya go.
There are also a lot of churches here, and I think they’re Catholic. That’s weird to me.
Fun restaurants I want to try, in addition to all the little noodle shops and stands, include Dallas (Texas-themed hamburger shop – these are always fun in other countries), the aforementioned Pelican Chicken, Isaac (sandwich place – possibly Jewish, but somehow I doubt it. If you saw it, you’d understand), and Kim Sung Rae’s pizza, which actually looks pretty good. Will eat, will tell you more about these places as information becomes available. =Þ
Today, Sean is a Korean tourist.