You'd think that having been here over 50 days, I would already have explored everything there is to explore, but there is always more to discover here.
So on Tuesday evening, I met up with classmates of mine and together we walked to Hongdae (two districts down) because another classmate of ours is working part-time at a Japanese restaurant there. I have wanted to go for a long time now so it was awesome to finally be able to go. I think I shall have to drag my roommate here too because it was really good.
It was really cool to see our classmate at work and she gave us "service", which is an English word imported into Koran and given a different meaning. Service in Korea means that we got something for free. She gave us side dishes of dumplings for free.
It was so delicious and I couldn't finish it all and was full even when I woke up during the night I still felt full.
You may remember me talking about the pollution here before. Well it's still pretty bad, and while we were out on the street and walking towards the restaurant, suddenly all phones around us beeped loudly with an emergency alert.
And I mean all of the phones. My phone. My classmates' phones. Phones of strangers. Everyone! Loud beeps resonating through the city. Everyone reached into their pockets, and took out their phones to look at the emergency message from the government, shrugged at the message (the same one as yesterday), and stuffed their phones back into their pockets. Myself included.
It was the most bizarre thing. The previous day I had also received the loud beep and the emergency message, but that had been different. I had been in my room when I received it. Here I was out on the street with hundreds of people who all got the message at the exact same time. I felt like something out a film.
I am handling the pollution a lot better at this point than the first few times. Maybe my body is already starting to build a response to it, but I still feel it when I have been out. My throat gets dry, my face starts hurting a little, especially around the eyes. But no crying or the like as last time.
Maybe it's because the pollution this time is different. It's smaller. They call it micro dust.
Anyways, wrapped in this bad pollution we walked around the Hongdae area at night on a weekday. This is the clubbing district on a weekend, but even on a weekday there are quite a lot of people. There are always a lot of people at Hongdae.
The following day, with the capital city still wrapped in pollution, I met up with a friend of mine from Ireland. We met up for lunch right after my classes, and then we headed to the ever popular shopping district in Seoul called Myungdong. Neither of us had been there yet. Well, I had, but six years ago, not this time around.
Out of all the places I have been back to here and vividly remember from six years ago, Myungdong has changed the least. The only real change is that my two favourite stores there are now gone.
I used to go to Myungdong very often, because six years ago, Global ATMs that actually were global ATMs and allowed you to get money with a foreign Visa card were few and far in between. The most reliable of these was the one in Myungdong. So every other week I would need to go to Myungdong to retrieve cash.
These days Global ATMs are easy to find and everywhere. There is even one in the dormitory building. So this is no longer a challenge for me and I haven't needed to go to Myungdong. I already knew that my two favourite stores were gone, so I had no other reason to go there.
It was as expected. Crowded with people, mostly asian foreigners, and highly overpriced. To the point that my eyes hurt just from thinking about it.
Lots of foreigners come here to take photos with big life-sized cut outs of idol singers and actors in front of the stores that they advertise.... Or with the pope.
We walked around and my friend tried a few foods that were new to her, and then we headed to a different area to go to a coffee shop and just sit and talk.
The area is called 익선동 (Ikseondong) and it's old style houses and alleyways with a lot of charm. It's a very popular area these days, and after being there I can see why.
I have always loved crooked alleyways and old houses and Ikseondong offers exactly this. Old Korean charm that makes it feel like you've fallen into a story book.
As for what I've been up to today... I ate lunch with a classmate and friend and then I've been hanging out with my roommate doing our usual crazy roommate stuff.
We've been watching Netflix together as we eat in the evenings, and these days I got my roommate hooked on Doctor Who, so we are planning our life around how we can watch certain episodes together, even though we will hardly get to see each other this weekend. It's a fun challenge.
As to what we actually do when we're together... Well this last photo is an example. I transform into a photographer for my roommate taking photos like this, or we just joke around. We're usually laughing non-stop. Oh she's going to miss me when I'm gone.
(And I shall miss her too)