Thursday, August 03, 2006

2 weeks in Seoul

The pace of last week has simmered slightly and a few restful days have been obtained. Seoul is still way bigger than I can comprehend, but things are slowly making sense and familiarities are starting to emerge. I moved out of Kylie's place today and into a koshiwon I found called Max Livingtel, near Yonsei University.

These places give you a tiny room which is good for sleeping in. You can touch all four walls if you stand in the middle. There are lots of rooms here, all with shared bathrooms, free laundry, internet access, instant noodles and a kitchen. Students often live at these places when they're studying for a big exam, so that they can focus without distractions. The place is really clean, air conditioned and super cheap, only 10,000 won per night for as long as you like. My plan is to move to Busan, a coastal city on the south of the peninsula in a couple of weeks and get a job. This type of accommodation is a good option until then. But I reckon if I stayed here for a couple of months I'd start exhibiting strange, paranoid, hermit-like behaviour.

On Sunday we signed up for a soccer tournament at Suwon. The tournament had teams of expats from all sorts of countries like the Ivory Coast and Portugal. Some of the players were semi-professional and had proper equipment and coaches. We had matching shirts.

Our team was composed of Korean adoptees and we'd never played together before. We weren't allowed to register as a Korean team because there were already two in the tournament.

Thus, Team Mongolia was born. We figured that no one would expect much from the Mongolians, so with the weight of expectation gone, we were free to kick the ball around and have some fun. I hadn't played in 12 years and was a bit out of shape to say the least.

In the morning, only ten of us showed up so we were a player short. For the first game, we had to borrow a goalkeeper from another team. On the second game, I was the goalkeeper. I didn't have any goalie gloves so we went and bought some ajoshi gloves from the convenience store. I accidentally let 3 goals in during the first 12 minutes of play, but no one got mad.

At the end of the day we were exhausted and had difficulty walking back to the bus stop. We didn't score any goals during the 4 matches we played, but it was really fun. Here we are posing with a curious statue that stands just outside the soccer field.

McDonald's in Korea is having an Australian promotion. For only 3600 won you can get an Australian burger, which is probably somehow related to Australia. The staff are wearing Australian insignia on their hats and bandanas. Now I'm proud to be Australian when I stand in McDonald's. But then again I look Korean, so no one can really tell.

This is us playing Korean pool. We thought it was a western style pool place when we walked in. Then the guy only gave us four balls and we realised there weren't any holes on the table. One of the workers explained to us how to play. You need to get a white or yellow ball to hit two red balls in one shot. Then you get a point. It's actually a pretty interesting game when you get used to it. Thomas is the current undefeated Koroot champion.

This is Sinchon at night. When the sun goes down, younger people emerge from the alleys and reclaim the streets from the daytime crowd. The shop signs illuminate the area with neon light and the atmosphere becomes more vibrant. I still find myself staring at the signs like a rabbit mesmerized by the headlights of a four-wheel drive.

In the restaurants you can choose from all sorts of delicacies, like these worm things in a tank. I don't know what they're called in English, but Maria has tried them and she says they taste like salt water.

And here's a poor little mudskipper stuck in the flounder tank. I'll try eating all these things one day, but currently I prefer not to see my food slain before my eyes. I know it happens to all the meat I eat, but I'm still a fragile bourgeoise Australian. Before long I'll be more Koreanified and then I won't mind eating live octopus whole.

Octopi apparently turn white when they're stressed or frightened. I guess these ones have just given up trying to camouflage themselves.

This is a chilli sausage hotpot. Hotpot shacks always give you more food than you can eat for good prices.

Well I need to log off now and find some food. The good thing about Korea is that it's never hard to find food wherever you are. Seeya.

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