Sunday, 31 January 2010

Brothels and Family Restaurants - Day 2 (Part 3)

 The last blog entry was cut short rather abruptly because Philip the teacher from upstairs came by to show me around town. I thought we'd probably take a cheap cab but instead walked there, which was surprising as i didn't realise downtown was only a 15 min walk away and a nice one at that. So right outside my apartment is a nice little park with exercise machines. Walk further down the road and there are shops and restaurants, a little further and you reach the stadiums. Just past that is a massive round about, so big that apparently the foreigner football team trains on it once a week at 10pm as it's free and flood lit. Sounds a bit dangerous to me but I trust they know what they're doing. Just got to make sure I don't get carried away with a goal kick! We walked on and came across a massive lake that apparently has really amazing fireworks shows in the summer. Looking forward to seeing that. Also there were some western style bakeries, one called Paris Baguette and the other i forget, but the food in there looked just like that at home. With sliced bread back on the menu, i'm one can of beans and a toaster away from my fav lunch. Speaking of beans, there's a place Phil told me about called Cookie Plaza that has loads of imported food, though it also comes at a high price. I don't intend to eat western the whole time, but might help my transition in the first few weeks. I shall be hunting that down later. One very different thing about Korean cities is how shops can exist several floors up in a building. The best way to describe it would be to imagine if the many businesses that share a 20 storey building were all shops instead and had signs outside the window telling you they were there, that is what it's like. There's a staircase you can use and a lift, but it's very odd at first, seeing a highstreet as both horizontal and vertical as well. It means there's a lot to look at. The upside is that it means you can get more shops in a smaller space, hence the reduced distance to the city centre. We had a look at O'Brien's Bar and the Indian restaurant next door. O'Brien's was closed but looked decent inside. Then we headed over to International Pub. It was about 6pm and we were the only one's there. A nice Korean lady welcomed us and served a couple of beers and some free popcorn, which was refilled regularly (the popcorn that is, not the beer sadly). It had a nice, relaxed feel and a few other foreign teachers walked in and out, mostly Americans and Canadians. After a good evening, we grabbed a cab which was about £2. I originally thought the price was going to be a total of 2200 won (about £1.10) and looking back, i must have looked pretty cheap handing Phil the equivalent of 50p and saying 'you mind getting the other 10p'? All in all, i got to see so much more of this city. It looks really quite stunning at night with all the lights on. It also has a totally different feel when you're with another foreigner, in a way you don't feel quite so much like the sore thumb anymore, but like tourists on holiday. I'm sure that will change over time, but for now i'm excited about this new home.

Oh yeah, before i forget, the blog title. Phil pointed out that 2 barber polls means there is a brothel and we were shocked and surprised to see brothels operating right next to family restaurants and places with kids. It seems to be so ingrained in the culture that it is accepted. I will learn more of this as time goes by (from the outside ofcourse!)

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