Seoul day 2

Last night I fell asleep at around 3:20 Korean time and due to being super sleep deprived in the first place, I only got up at around 1 pm. My mid-afternoon “breakfast” consisted of white chocolate cheese cake and a capuccino – breakfast of a champion.

By 4 I met one of my Italki tutors, who insisted I get a Korean simcard so I wouldn’t be forced to rely on finding wifi in case I get lost somewhere. She had therefore found a place where the sim cards would be compatible with my phone, and now I’m a Korean phone number richer. After that we rushed to see the play 옥탑방고양이. The play was entirely in Korean, and was both cute and funny. We were two minutes late, so we didn’t get the seats riiiiight in front, but those who got our seats were included in the performance by the actors sometimes, so I was actually a little relieved that we got a bit “safer” seats.

That, however, didn’t mean that the entire hall didn’t notice I was there. One of the actors literally stopped in the middle of a sentence and exclaimed excitedly “there is a foreigner today! do you speak Korean well??” I replied with the universal gesture for so-so which made the whole room laugh. He then switched to English to ask for my nationality, and my reply caused a resounding “OOOOOOOH!” from the whole audience. Yep, definitely blending in…

Afterwards I and my tutor had our pictures taken with the actors (everybody was offered, it wasn’t a special thing for us), and they will be uploaded on Naver. We waited to be the last ones to draw the least amount of attention, but not everyone had left the hall, and apparently we were such a sight, that others also had to have pictures of us as well on their phones… I have no other way to explain the coinciding flashes from their cell phones…

After the play we went for a Korean dinner at a nearby restaurant and a quite decent amount of 막걸리.
Here are some pictures of all of the food, including fish cake soup, Korean pancake with squid and veggies, a dried kind of fish normally used as a side dish for alcohol, it had a “friend” with some other dried stuff, and the big bowl of veggies.

The size of that bowl of 막걸리 was a bit shocking at first…


That being said, we were of course more than willing to take on a challenge…

In spite of barely drinking in my day to day life, I wasn’t affected by the alcohol – except for being uncharacteristically calm when telling the taxi 아저씨 that he could let me off at a corner because he couldn’t spot the hotel, which was hidden because of the angle from which we were approaching, and I (finally) recognised the surroundings. He replied in Korean if it would really be okay, and we fixed the payment – in Korean.

I’m used to making my way round alone, and I never really gave it much thought before, but here I’m actually nervous about getting lost. I don’t have the same happy-go-lucky attitude about geography that I had when I moved to Stockholm or Milan to study, or when I as a teen once called my brother at work in London after having taken a wrong turn on the way home from the supermarket and ALL the houses just looked the SAME!!! (I’m standing in front of XYZ embassy and I’m pretty sure I didn’t pass it on my way there… any tips?”.

This city is BIG. According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, there were over 10 million registered Korean residents in Seoul by April 1st 2016. To that you need to add more than quarter of a million registered foreigners. In comparison, my entire home country population counts 5.6 million people… All of a sudden it’s not just a feeling of having many more opportunities to do something, but also a feeling of “how far away is that really?”. And “is my Korean good enough if I get lost?”. “How much time should I keep as a buffer to ensure I will be able to find my friend at XYZ metro stop before he thinks I ditched him?”. “Maybe I should have gotten a card from the hotel with their address before I left…”. I guess the good thing about standing out the way I apparently do is that it should be possible to find someone willing to offer help and directions if I ask, but it also feels a bit weird.

Even my Korean friends rely on maps to get around. Maybe it’s just too much to expect that I would be able to move around as freely as I have other places.


2 thoughts on “Seoul day 2

  1. Nick W.

    Oh my, look at the size of the bowl of white booze aka makgeolli (막걸리)!

    Seems like you are having a blast in Korea and I am not at all jealous! Hope you take every opportunity you have to enjoy the food Korea has to offer. I expect pictures of Fruity fried chicken! ㅎㅎ

    1. Mai Post author

      Of course there will be!!! 😉 One of my friends has promised me that there will be fried chicken and beer by 한간 when I return to Seoul after my trips to other cities 🙂


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