Saturday, June 21, 2008

KR Travelogue Day6d: Turn-Around

Walk, walk, and walk. We’ve been walking for about 30 mins now but it seems to me that I’ve walked a lifetime. I couldn’t understand why we were already instructed in the Information Center and already have maps in our hand and yet we still can’t find that bloody money exchange!! Well at least for me, it is understandable because whether it’s a techie GPS or just a plain paper map, it wouldn’t matter coz I’m really poor when it comes to directions!! As for the two, I don’t know. It seems that Esther is also depending on Samuel. The people around weren’t helpful either – language barrier. In the end we just relied on our own instincts. It would’ve been fine getting lost and all if we subsist through meaningful conversations between you know - me and him. But there’s none – absolutely zip! =(

Upon strolling, we stumbled upon this Tapgol Park and Samuel suggested we duck our heads into it. There’s payment into the entrance and a quick look inside reminded me of our very own Rizal park. There are a lot of old men inside – some are having their early jogging and group exercises. How very Luneta-like!! But I didn’t see any old women there and suddenly I became afraid especially when there’s an old man who was sizing me up from head down to toe. Even with my sunnies on – yep, I can see there’s nothing so subtle about the way he’s checking me out – until finally he gave me this thumbs up. Either I impressed him with my dressing up or whatever I dunno. I gave him a weak smile in return and hobbled towards my two companions. Phew!! In the center of this park is a 10-story stone pagoda where some men offer their prayers and worship. One was bowing his head as though following a ritual, one was strumming his guitar and another one was singing. And I thought that pagodas are only for the Chinese eh?? That was it for our 1,000 KRW ticket.

(a) my 1st sight of a Starbucks chain in Seoul (b-e) pagodas, the center is the 10-ft one

We exited from the other side and that’s when I saw the ugly side of Seoul – the poor old men sleeping on the outskirts of the park (amidst this cold!!!), a smelly backyard of a restaurant, shabby residences. It was also campaign period and there were vehicles posted with streamers and with speakerphones blaring the name of the electorates and their promises I suppose. But in all fairness, the place is still clean. It made me wonder, will the Phils be a cleaner place if it's this cold?? Hmm...

When we spotted a police station, both of my Spanish-speaking companions approached it to inquire while I looked for some place to rest my freezing butt. Aaah, to be able to bend at the waist and sit. My legs hurt from all this treading and I started to massaged the strain. Then I realized, I am in no flats at all. It’s a 2-inch ankle-length boots. Varicose veins!! Yay!! I bit my nails in the thought. There’s this book that I specially bought for this trip wherein the heroine went for more than an hour walk back to her hotel in her stilettos – she’s in love!! But am I?? The uncertainty gnawed at me.

Even the policemen were of no help, we continued our journey until finally at long last we found this money exchange. While Esther was making her transactions, I talked to Samuel about how the rate here is better than the one we exchanged with last night. He was somehow convinced to exchange more than he intends to. This guy sure looked like one frugal spender. Tsk, tsk!! Conflict of interest, hahaha!!

I was waiting for Esther to suggest we get a taxi but Samuel was already looking at the map planning our next destinations. Hmm, this whole take-charge confidence thing was incredibly sexy!! He was already leading the way on where we should tread on to and at this point I was already hesitating if I should still go with them. You see, today is my shopping day!! But something in my head was telling me to stop. Stop it KC!! All you ever think about is shopping!! How about immersing yourself in some wonderful culture?? And you get to do it with Samuel!! My legs then started to move forward on their own. Left-right, left-right and it stopped only when Esther called after Samuel to enter this souvenir shop.

This woman sure beat me when it comes to shopping. Early this morning, she already told me about the stuffs she bought last night that’s why she ran out of Wons and now she wants to extend her gift-giving to her nieces. Not only is she buying items, she’s also having them gift-wrapped. Samuel and I went on our own exploring the other items in the shop – most of which I already saw in the shop at Everland and in Dong Dae Mun. I felt quite triumphant that the figurines I bought are still cheaper from where I bought. :)

‘Twas past 11 when Esther finished her shopping. I feel so thirsty I could die for a nice glass of an iced tea. I started questioning myself if this is really all worth it. I mean, here I am sacrificing a day of fun-filled shopping just to be with this guy!!! When something caught the corner of my left eye, I turned to the shop and found this very nice dress Ms Sunmi was wearing during the last day of the training. I called after the two and asked them to wait for me as I made my way inside.

I really, really want to buy a dress that will serve as a remembrance of my visit here. Not just any top or a jacket – a dress!! I could wear this in church or in the office. I don’t care if Ms Sunmi already wore it, I. WANT. THIS. DRESS!!

A quick look at the tag made me yelp. It’s priced at a whopping 70,000 KRW. WHOA!! That’s just so expensive. Buying this could mean an all or nothing splurge. And here are my options:

a) Giving in. It would mean I’m totally submitting myself to this guy because simply for the fact that I wouldn’t say goodbye to them and join them wherever they want to go just for the hell of being cultured and everything. No more shopping in Dong Dae Mun – BUT I get to be with Samuel for some speck of a drama.

b) The exact opposite of above. I will leave right now and find an exact substitute of this in Dong Dae Mun (probably a lot cheaper – the lesson of figurines). Goodbye Samuel. =(

Aaargh!! It was so hard to decide. I’m torn between the guy and a dress combo or a no guy but many dresses. God, please give me a sign. I was already staying long and the two might already get impatient outside. When the saleslady shimmered out of nowhere, without quite meaning to, I asked for a size. I suddenly decided to take Option 1 – it seemed to me as a win-win situation. I’ll have only one dress and spend time with the guy.

The saleslady was about to get a smaller size when I realized the hassle of fitting the dress – removing layers and layers of clothing. It was very inconvenient and will take me very long. Heck even peeing can be prevented because of these clothes. I also remembered that this isn’t my plan, I only asked to join the two and it was rude making them wait. I stopped the saleslady and scampered off from the store. *boo hoo*

Okay, I can’t take it anymore. The culture learning can just sod off. I’m going to leave. NOW!! But then again I was hit with one fact. My things are in Esther’s room. It only means that I could not break away from them if I want to shop alone and expect Esther to be back in the hotel just before I leave for my flight. She’s kind I know and I can ask her that favor but modesty got the better of me. So technically, I submitted myself to her – a slave. Waaah! =,(

When we were already infront of the Jongmyo Eternal Shrine, I came to the conclusion. Oh my god. I, (my real name)______, am 24 years old, currently here in Korea and I’m leaving home tonight empty-handed. *sniff sniff*


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