This weekend one of our students, Brady took us around the nearby big city. It was a day full of excitement and overwhelming joy. Wyll got up early made coffee and tried to get me out of bed. At 9:45, I rose, dressed and casually walked out the door. Once at the bottom of our apartment building I joked about not bringing the umbrellas-
“looks like rain- maybe I should have brought the umbrellas…”
I then went back to the apartment to get said umbrellas. Wyll bought breakfast from the mini mart in the parking lot. We hustled to the bus terminal. Upon arrival we realized- we only had cards. Our lovely student spotted us the ten dollars. It was a good move- once we got on the bus there were only two seats left. Many people stood in the aisle for the 70 minute journey. We both got car sick.
Once at the bus terminal in Gwangju I realized I had been there before. Our first night in Korea this was where we met Sam and Grace. Oh Hello Kitty store, how I have missed you! First stop Korean only ATM. Thanks to Brady for helping me break in! He then took us to KFC and went to run an errand. Salty, salty, salty hot wings. During the 20 minutes it took for our fast food to arrive Brady was back. He ordered and the food seemed to all come at once. Some how KFC knew that we should all eat together. The fries were not greasy or salty. They were almost dry, very weird.
After food we went and looked at the IMax theater, Twilight was the only English speaking movie playing. We decided to go on a hunt for the most elusive store ever, Club Alice. One of the few Magic card dealers in Korea. By far the closest one to us. It was downtown so we all jumped into taxi. There was a big debate over where the store itself was. Brady’s phone didn’t show it properly so Wyll handed his phone over. The taxi driver spoke Korean. He made noises. Brady pushed buttons on the GPS. I held the door handle for dear life as we tried to hit stray dogs, mopeds, cars- parked and moving, people, houses…
We were dropped off in the downtown pedestrian walkway shopping mecca. Anything you want is probably here. We started off by stopping for coffee at- no laughing- Angel-in-us Coffee. So many places to go with that name… We had ourselves a good laugh and headed out to find Club Alice. First we asked the baristas (we meaning Brady), ‘don’t know what you are talking about’. So we looked around, but this place is huge and the whole block or however much space it is all the same street. Everything is everywhere. So we try using the phone GPS. Is it in this direction? Walk a few feet. IDK. Let’s keep walking. We did this for two or three blocks at a very s l o w pace. Brady decides it might be a good time to call. Maybe ask someone who is there, how do I get to where you are? No answer. They are probably too busy playing MTG to bother with the phone. We scrutinize the alley ways. Maybe…. no.
Finally Wyll throws in the towel. We look down a street no Club Alice. He sighs, time to start looking for shoes. I think OH YEAH, let the wild rumpus start!
“There it is!”
“Where!?!” Wyll and I are both excited and happy.
“There! The pink- all in KOREAN!”
Alright! Finally we can show Brady what MTG is. So it can let go of the childish Yu-Gi-Oh image that it has merged with. I mean grown-ups play Magic. I mean I play Magic and I’m a grown up. So it can’t be that silly…
We breathe, walking half way down the block to climb to the forth floor. MTG posters in ENGLISH! I bet they have things I can read! At the top of the stairs there is a GIANT Planeswalker poster glaring down at us. His eyes are white with greed. As if he knows that we have been talking about this moment since before we arrived. Since we know how big computer games are in Korea but still aloof to MTG. Remember how I said they didn’t answer the phone. Well they were closed. MTG is a growing thing. Maybe. We got the Korean website. Hopefully we can order some cards online. They are having a big event in January but that is a ways off.
The whole trip was far from a let down. It felt like every moment something different and wonderful was happening. We went into some large department stores, I found some really nice Sorels. So we’ll be going back. After I went into most of the shops Brady’s friend met up with us. We went to a few more shops and then took another taxi ride to see the university. Brady and his friend took us on a tour of the campus. Passionately Brady told us which buildings he studied in. Chemical Engineering. Lots of Math, Science, Biology. The campus was very pretty with sculpted evergreen trees. The ginko leaves are yellow and falling off the trees. Fall is such a lovely season.
We saw a pond with dying water lilies. Brady said we had to come see it in May when it’s pack green with pink and white flowers. While we were discussing the next thing to do Brady was pointing out nearby points of interest. We all noted “Skin Dive” would not be happening. So we started in the direction of the theater. I spied some very funny looking street vendors. And OMG could there be more shopping to do! We headed down chicken and soju lane. Brady said there were places to play table tennis. We headed back to the main road and I spied Artbox, which Grace explained to me was targeted to teens. My thought was; who wouldn’t want a Hello Kitty blow dryer? I told her it was the most amazing place ever. She said yeah, and all the boyfriends are lined up by the door checking their watches. Lucky for me I had Wyll, Brady and Brady’s friend. They walked around and Wyll finally drug me out as I clawed at the ground. Do what you want! But leave me here!!!!!!!!
You can’t really blame them. They had low blood sugar, they were hungry, they don’t know good, cheap fun when they see it. So we headed outside, walked around in a circle and went to lunch (second lunch) a few doors from Artbox. It was awesome, being able to talk over the menu! What a luxury! The boys all got different kinds of ramen (lomyoun), spicy,spicy,spicy. The kimchi, pepper and red paste are all to cool down the soup. Who knew? I had mandu. YUM. My new favorite Korean food. (I actually had it tonight too!) It’s basically a stemmed pork pot sticker. LOVE! We all ate very well. The boys got extra rounds for kimchi, peppers, red paste. There was also a …pizza? but more like a savory rice pancake. Everything was really good and sooo cheap. All four of us ate for like $12.
Full we headed out. I got some Aveeno chap stick for 75 cents and we got some stuff for motion sickness for the bus ride back. On the taxi ride back to the terminal, Brady broke the news that we were flying solo. He was staying the night in Gwangju. They took us to buy tickets and showed us where we had to go. Then they were off for a night havoc and frivolity. We had over an hour to kill, but as Grace has told me many times some people get to Gwangju and never leave the bus terminal. Now I understand.
We first headed to the book store. Brady said they have English magazines. $20 dollars for Cosmo are you kidding me!?! No wedding magazines? Do they actually sell anything here?
What is that section?
Why is it so bright over there?
What are all those teenage girls looking at?
What is this?
ARTBOX! My new favorite store in the bookstore! So that’s what this bookstore sells, stationary, hair clips, Hello Kitty! YAY!
Wyll is tired.
“Lindsy, when did we go to Hello Kittyland? Where does it end? Lindsy what are we doing here? We MUST leave!”
“Don’t worry Wyll. Let’s go to COLD STONE!” Up we go.
“Like it size, please. Coffee ice cream. Roasted almonds. Caramel.”
This is the life.
So the pictures of the gate and kiwis are from Gochang. The picture of me has Wyll, Brady, and Brady’s friend in the background. They were discussing the merits of sushi.