Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First Weekend of 2012

Life's been crazy.

We're busy at work and I have a social life outside of work.  Then I've been obsessed with finishing "The Magicians" and "The Magician King" by Lev Grossman.  That's taken up the rest of my free time that wasn't spent with people, at work, or sleeping.  (If you like fantasy then those books are awesome by the way, I highly recommend them.)

I still need to tell you about those two crazy Fridays at work, and I'll get to them, but for now you get to here about the first weekend of 2012 - the weekend where I finally got up to Seoul.

I've toyed with the idea of going up to Seoul during the past three months.  After all, it's the capital of Korealand and is one of the top five largest cities in the world, but I never really felt the urge to go.

About two weeks ago I decided I'd go up there this weekend.  So, at about 0640 I bought my bus ticket for 0710 on Saturday morning and was soon on the bus and on my way up to Seoul.  It was a little over four hours with a fifteen minute stop at one of the awesome Korean rest stops along the way.

I read my book (on my Kindle) and chatted with my sister and Nicole since they're both back in the US of A and were so actually awake at that early hour.

I actually beat MY to the bus terminal so I wandered down to the subway to meet him.  There we put money on the SIM chip on my phone.  Once we did that I could swipe my phone on any bus or subway and get on it - just like I use my Mybi card here in Changwon or over in Busan.  Having a SIM chip like that in my phone and a Mybi card means I never have to worry about coins or tickets or such when using most public transportation systems here in Korealand.

He took me on a subway ride up to Itaewon (the foreign district).  There we visited an all English book store. I didn't buy anything (my Kindle keeps me happy), but it was still nice to look around and talk about different books with him.

Then we went to this tiny little hole in the wall food place.  They served pasta, burgers, and egg filled breakfast things.
MY's brunch - Southwestern omelet, salad with balsamic vinaigrette and whole wheat toast.

MY's hands and my tea.  I was so happy to see that it was Twinning's Earl Grey!

My traditional English breakfast, minus the stewed tomatoes...
The restaurant could sit fourteen people and at one point it was over half full and MY was the only Korean in there besides the people working there.  That was super weird.  Every other table in there was full of people speaking English and there wasn't a chopstick in sight.  I was having trouble believing I was still in Korealand, especially because there was a big church with stained glass windows across the street from the restaurant.

It was such an odd feeling, I really didn't care for it.  I suppose after three months of getting used to seeing almost no foreigners the shock of seeing them everywhere was unsettling.

I got to see the outside of the Army base in Seoul:

The base is over on the right, behind those trees.
Then MY and I walked from Itaewon, up a mountain, and all the way to Namsam Tower.

Namsam Tower - Halfway through the hike.
There's me about halfway up.  I'm a little tired...
We eventually reached the tower and stopped to grab water at a convenience store.  I swear, water has never tasted so good.  It was freezing out too.  There were piles of dirty snow here and there.  Still, it was really beautiful to me.

Maybe I'm strange, but even a leafless forest in the dead of winter is beautiful.  It may all be brown, but there are so many different shades and textures that's it's just a work of art.

The air was rather smoggy, so we couldn't see much of the city, but I didn't mind.  It was still awesome.  Sort of like climbing Stone Mountain back in Atlanta, Georgia.

At the top of Namsam tower there are a few locks.  There's a legend that if you and your significant other put your name on a lock and leave it there you'll be happy forever.  Or something to that effect.

I'd heard about it from a couple of other blogs I've read, but it was cool to see them in person.

Just a few...
Maybe one day I'll leave a lock there, maybe not, who knows.

After looking around we took a bus off the mountain and then wandered around...somewhere...  It was a shopping district.  We just wandered around there and then went to a coffee shop and just sat and talked for a long time.

That crazy green sign says "Starbucks" in Hangul.
No, we did not go to that Starbucks.  Most of the little coffee shops have better coffee than Starbucks does in my opinion.  Plus, they're cheaper and less crowded - typically.  (I really need to do a post on just the coffee and coffee shops here)

Ended up at a DVD-bang for the first time and finally saw Shutter Island.  It was really interesting and I'm glad I finally saw it.

Sunday was even cloudier than Saturday.  Ate traditional Korean food all day, which was nice.  I sometimes miss food from the US of A, but I really am growing to love Korean food.  A day with out rice, gimbap, kimchi, or ramyun (ramen) feels very, very, odd.

Bought my ticket to come back to Changwon and then ended up at a PC-bang playing Starcraft and then Diablo 2 with MY.

Grabbed some more food (Korean Chinese food, noodles with a black sauce) and then I had to catch the bus back to Changwon.

Got the seat in the very front on the bus ride back.  It's so peaceful to listen to music on my ipod and just watch the lights on the interstate.

Read my book on the way back (on the Kindle) and chatted with SK some (he kept wanting me to help him cheat at scrabble, which doesn't work since I suck at scrabble).  Chatted some with Michael B. too.  Sounds like he, Casey, and I are going to go get Mexican food and listen to Jazz music on Friday.  Claire and Jesse might join us, don't know yet.

That is, this will all happen if I survive this week.  It's time for Open Classes, which means parents can come in and watch us teach.

That starts Wednesday.

I have three classes that are going to be open on Wednesday.  Then I have one that will be open on Friday, and another will be open on the following Monday.

Time to bid all of you a good night/day.  Enjoy my final picture from Seoul and enjoy your day!

Hahaha!  A Rose in Korea found a rose in Korealand!!!

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