Friday, April 25, 2008

Vacation in South Korea ~ Part III


Today was a much easier day than yesterday, thank goodness! After I finished my daily newsletter to all of you last night, Jake's girlfriend Mi Yeon came over. She had just finished working and had an interview for another position in this neighborhood so she stuck around to hang out for a little while. I told her all about my day and how tired I was, and it was fun to talk to someone after having been quiet all day. She taught me how to say a few things in Korean. I learned "I love you" / "thank you" / "dream" / "cute" / "brother" / "sister" / "mother" / "father" / "honey" / and "lol" (laugh out loud, internet slang). It was pretty funny and she said my pronunciation is very good. She laughed and told me how cute I was when I spoke Korean. We laughed so long my cheeks hurt! Jake came home at 10:00 and we all chatted for awhile. Around 10:45, Jake and I took Mi Yeon to her bus stop (which is actually a 15-minute subway ride away) to see her off. Once Jake and I got back to Gangnam, we stopped by a restaurant and got "take out" dumplings. Ten kimchi, ten meat/veggie. They were quite tasty and we enjoyed them while watching Family Guy at Jake's apartment. I fell asleep quite easily after such a long day!!

Today, we woke up around 9:45 and got ready for the day. Around 11:45 we left to go to the bakery and the bank. I bought a croissant for 700 won and enjoyed it later in the day. We went to three banks but the ATMs were not working with my foreign ATM card so instead Jake said I should try either a 7-eleven or at the subway and those should work just fine. And with that, I was on my own again. I went to Gangnam Station and was able to withdraw some cash from the ATM there.

I then ventured to COEX Mall which is only three stops away from Gangnam, but in the opposite direction from the subway trips I'd taken the two days before. When I arrived at COEX Mall, I went to the Hyundai Department Store. Holy moly, 10 stories of brand-name goods. Coach, Armani Exchange, DKNY, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Adidas, Columbia, and so many others. I didn't buy anything but instead just ate my croissant on the top floor at a seating area near a roof-top garden area. I wandered back down to the main level of the department store and walked down some random hallways which led me to "the mall" portion of the facility. It is the most confusing set-up for a mall I've ever experienced. Winding hallways that branch off in all different directions... Then there's an aquarium, a gigantic book store and a "megabox" (17-screen movie theater) in the middle of it all. Not to mention all sorts of other things you'd never expect to see in a mall - like five or six (or more?) food courts. I was hungry and the only thing I could understand at the food court was "Sbarro" pizza. Hungry for a slice of home, I had a piece of cheese pizza and a Coke before actually finding the stores I wanted to shop at. Lots of little jewelry stores and tons of trendy clothing stores too. Plenty of electronics stores, but those didn't interest me. :o) I think I managed to hit every store that looked interesting, so I left around 4:00 and headed back to Gangnam.

Since dinner wouldn't be until 5:00, I decided to have a "snack" upon returning to Gangnam...another scoop of home in the form of Coldstone ice cream. I knew I was about to eat dinner, but I didn't know what else to do, and Coldstone had been staring at me every time I walked by so I figured it was just a "home food" day and I gave in. I played a little Solitaire on my iPod, and at 4:45 I went to Pagoda Tower across the street. Jake met me in the lobby and told me that his students wanted to join us for dinner. Cool! So the two of us and four girls and one guy from his class all went to a little alley restaurant for some veggie/tofu soup, kimchi, pork and rice for 5,000 won. It was good, but now I'm totally full. Jake had all of his students introduce themselves to me, and then I told them a little bit about myself. One thing they all "oohed" and "ahhed" about: my eyes. Everyone here has brown/black eyes, so green eyes are totally cool to them. They all looked at me very closely and Jake told them that sometimes our eyes change color a little bit depending on the mood we're in. They were amazed! :o) As we ate, I also told them that I had learned some Korean words the night before. I practiced a little with them, saying "cute" and "really" (the first word Jake and Mi Yeon taught me), and "thank you". When we finished dinner, I told them I had a nice time with them and wished them well with their English studies. We all parted, Jake returned to school, and I walked back to his apartment.

I've been back for about an hour and I think I'll watch another episode or two of Family Guy before Jake gets home. After work we're going to go out and eat/drink since it's Friday night. It should be pretty fun! Tomorrow, I think Jake and I are going to the Buddhist temple near COEX Mall, and then the James Blunt concert tomorrow night with Mi Yeon. Then early on Sunday morning I am heading to the airport, for it's home sweet home!

This may be the last chance I get to e-mail you all since we'll be out tomorrow night at the time I normally write. So until next time, it's been real, and it's been fun....and most of all, it's been really fun! Take care!


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