Monday, 1 February 2010

Out and About - Day 3

Today was a more mixed day. I started out by making some videos for youtube. You can check them all out at - there's one about the journey, my apartment and some pictures from this evening's walk around town. After editing and talking, I went for my first run in the community. The advantage here being that by the time people notice me coming, i'm already gone and my vision can't detect their reactions very well when moving fast. Plus it makes you feel better when anxious. So i went for about half an hour as it's been a while since i did any exercise. Viva la Vida by Coldplay has for a long time been an album that i'd listen to when thinking about making an escape from the UK and always wanted to listen to 'Lovers in Japan' somewhere in Asia. It was a fun run but dangerous too as there are few pavements (sidewalks) in my neighbourhood and with headphones, sometimes you don't know a car is coming until it's beeped at you or worse still, attempted to squeeze past. There seems to be a lot of members in the Korean chapter of Hell's Angels so one has to be wary of them at all times. I was a little disappointed that the kids on my journey were less inclined to high five or wave at me than either stare menacingly or in a bemused way, but when running white man becomes a regular part of their lives, perhaps the sight of me will be more of a joyous occasion.

I got back and before long, headed off to town to take some pictures for folks at home and maybe try to find the Cookie Plaza i had been told about. It was a lovely walk with many great sights. Theres a mist all around the town that makes the mountains fade into the background, you could almost miss them in many pictures, but they will always be there, a reminded that even in this industrious city full of wealth and extravagance, we're still dwarfed by nature. That said, i've not yet seen a single animal of any shape or size in the landscape. Not so much as a bug, a moth, a mosquito, an ant, a squirrel, a rat or mouse, no lizards, i'm not even sure i've seen birds flying around. It's really quite bizarre. Either they were all exterminated when the site was first built, or else the wild fauna here is of a variety i've never seen or heard of before which seems the less likely of the two. There is also an absence of homeless people, disabled people and ofcourse people of any ethnic origin besides Korean. My theory is they take the homeless and disabled off the street and put them in an LG or Samsung factory and find them an assembly line job. It's just a guess.

So the walk was actually quite nerve racking. Most of the time i felt like a lumbering bear that stumbled upon a bee hive. It didn;t make matters any better when, after a few moments of summoning the confidence to go into a shop and speak to someone, i would drop things or generally have my hands full and look even more lumbering than usual. I'm sure it will ease after a while when this place feels more like home. The good thing is i'd imagine every customer service assistant i come across will remember my face and my humorous antics and a rappor may be established eventually. I ordered a pizza to go and had to wait a while on my own at a table by the staff and it felt very odd with no one else waiting. Like one of those guys who goes to the cinema on his own, except if all the seats at the cinema faced each other and the lights were on and the one guy looked totally different to everyone else. Still i got a free coke out of it. Pity coke? You're giving me pity coke?! They were very friendly.

I also had a look at some TV's, hoping to find one at a good price. Considering LG and Samsung Tvs are made not 5 mins from the shops, I would have thought theyd be at a good price. No sir, they were not. One guy, after following me around everywhere i went for 10 mins as i inspected TVs, he got the manager and he made me an offer of 300 quid for a 32in hd flat screen tv. its a real beauty, but i dont have that kind of money just yet. Apparently the deal was 'today only' but now theyve let it beknown you can haggle, as a wise old man in the Simpsons once said, 'Advantage Burns!' Im gonna try to get them down to 550 before the week is up.

Oh and one more story. I went into a department store to buy some things and after seeing some Koreans go in, i was shocked and saddened when the security guard gripped me and sent me on my way back out the door. Determined not to let their brand of 1930's Alabamma racism stop me from buying a much needed towel, i headed back in there and the same happened, only this time the guard hgad the courtesy to let me know the backpack was the problem, and that there were lockers right by the door! So now that's been made clear, i can join the party that is Korean shopping! Their equivalent of Tesco or Walmart is just so manic, with staff on every isle and counter selling things and ready to help you. If they turned down the lights, sold beer and put some music on, i'd be sure i was in a night club. I even saw a 40-50 year old korean lady in some kind of tight cheer leader outfit. I dont know what she or they were thinking!

So that;s been my day. Oh finally I took Phil's advice (against my boss's advice) and popped into the school at around 8pm. Sadly i should have listened to my boss, as he didnt seem too pleased to see me. he asked why i came and i said just to say hi, so he said hi and didnt seem to want to exchange any more chit chat, so i hot tailed it out of there post haste! First day of watching people teach starts tomorrow. Good night.

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