Monday, November 24, 2008

An All American Weekend...sort of

This weekend I had a very American mix of things: the movies, a party and the mall. To tell you the truth I rarely go to the movies or the mall in the States. The movies are expensive and the time between the cinema and being able to get it on netflix is so low that it isn't really worth it to see it when it comes out. Unless it's something I can't wait to see, like Harry Potter. However, when you live in a foreign country long enough, seeing an English movie is pure bliss. You get 2 whole hours where your language is the important one and you aren't lost, trying to desperately figure out what's going on. Going to the movies in Korea is a bit different. Granted, I went to a smallish theater but still. Here were some notable differences:

1. When you wait to buy your ticket, you take a number, like at the deli or the dmv.
2. Tickets only cost 3,500won (about $3).
3. You can't get plain popcorn and salt it--it comes prebuttered.
4. There aren't massive boxes of candy for sale at the concession.
5. The seats are assigned, like when you go see a play.
6. The seats are actually really comfy.
7. There was a cockroach on the seat in front of me.

The only thing that really bothered me was the cockroach. Of course it had to happen during an action packed scene where I was already a bit freaked out but ugh *shudders.* Cockroaches and I are not friends. The movie itself was also forgettable. I wanted to see the James Bond movie for three reasons:

1. The first one with Daniel Craig was rather good for a Bond movie.
2. Daniel Craig looks fantastic without a shirt on and being a Bond movie he would most certainly be shirtless in at least a few scenes.
3. I wanted to experience the movies in Korea.

The problem with the movie was it was all action and next to no plot. Action is fine, but it must be interspersed with plot. And honestly, who has a high speed PLANE chase??? Especially one where the manky old plane wins? (sort of wins anways) I think next time I'll try to go to a nicer theater and buy the candy in advance. I wish that the Korean movies had English subtitles since they look interesting in the previews. I'll have to wait until they come out on DVD and try to find them at a DVD Bang (movie rental place where you watch the movies there in small rooms with comfy couches).

So Friday night was the movies and Saturday night I went to a party at Psycho. It wasn't much of a party so much as a bunch of people hanging out and getting a chance to say goodbye to B., who after a year is going back to the States for a bit, getting TOEFL certified in Spain and then off to South America to teach English. Interestingly, you get paid crap in South America but you have to be certified. However, if you don't have any debt, the salary is more than enough to live off of and of course you get to experience South America. On the other hand, I really like not having to worry about malaria for more than the duration of a vacation. There was cake, that I couldn't eat, people playing pool and wii and all in all I was sort of bored. I hate when you feel obligated to go to a party even when all you are in the mood for is go home, curl up and read a good book. Especially when you are in the middle of several books that you'd really like to make more headway into. C'est la vie. Having friends has downfalls as well as the perks.

Sunday I slept in and then went to the mall with my friend, R. Not just any mall, the Coex, which is the largest underground mall in Asia. I have been to some of the biggest malls in the states and they have nothing on this mall. So unless there is a bigger mall somewhere in Europe or South America or something, I think it might be the biggest mall in the world. Who knows. My real reason for wanting to go to the mall is 'Bandi and Luni,' one of the largest English bookstores in Korea (the largest I've ever been to or heard of in any case). I had heard of them through other expats and my guidebook (which though I spent HOURS agonizing over which one to buy, I rarely use) but it wasn't until I saw an ad in the paper last week that I got interested. It said it had foreign language books, not just English so I decided to call their customer service.

Me: Anyang haseyo...err do you speak English?
Woman: Yes, how may I help you?
Me: Do you have any books in French?
Woman: What book?
Me: Any book.
Woman: No, what title.
Me: Really, any book. Do you carry French books?
Woman: Yes, can I look up a title for you?
Me: Nope, that's all I wanted to know. Thank you so much! *is exuberant*
Woman: ...Uh, ok.

I bounded around my classroom for a few minutes and then shared this fabulous news with every other teacher, who probably couldn't care less about finding French books in Korea but were supportive of my glee nonetheless.

Back to Bandi and Luni:
I wouldn't have found the section, because unlike the English and Japanese sections (whose section titles are written in English and Japanese) the French section was labeled in Korean. Don't ask me why. So was the German. Maybe they don't have the right accents or something on the sign printing machine. I was getting really sad about there not actually being French books after having traveled for an hour by subway to get there when R. read the signs in the right area in Korean and was like 'Look "ferenchuh--FRENCH!" I think I might have actually jumped up and down a little and then plopped down in front of the lone French novel book shelf and started investigating each title on it. R. said something along the lines of 'I'll be in the biography section if you need me' and I waved him away absent mindedly and drooled over the books. I got three books: Camus' L'Etrangere (no accents on this computer), a Gide book (I read one of his in English recently and loved it) and ...something else I can't remember the title or author of. I feel like I'm the only one I know who speaks French and hasn't read Camus so I think I'll probably read that one first. They were actually cheaper than French books in the States! I spent 20,000won on 3 books. All of the books have footnotes explaining the vocabulary in Korean but I can ignore that. There wasn't much selection but since they carry French books they might be willing to order French books. My favorite bookstore, What the Book, will only order English books.

After Bandi and Luni I found Mango, a Spanish clothing store I discovered in Paris and love to pieces. I wouldn't have gone into it (after all, I should shop in Asian clothing stores in Asia, right?) but they were having a HUGE 50% off sale. I didn't find anything on the 50% rack but I found 2 great little tops on the 70% off rack. 15,000 won for 2 cute European tops is a great deal. R. was a good sport about the clothing shopping. He simply pulled out his new biography of Kissenger and started reading. Though he was a bit annoyed at the lack of chairs for men getting dragged shopping. I noticed they don't really have that here. On the otherhand, the men tend to carry the women's shopping bags and purse, leaving her with 2 free hands. I think it's great, since you really need 2 hands to browse properly but I couldn't convince R. of this. I did manage to coerce him into carrying the books so it wasn't a total loss. In a random stationary store I got a new journal, a Christmas card that wasn't heinously tacky (hard to find) for a friend and some stickers for class. Vying for first position of 'best find' was the imported French dark chocolate-with NO MILK. I read the ingredients in French and Spanish just to be sure. I also got my favorite gummy peach rings. The only reason the trip back on the subway was ok (standing for an hour crushed against people is not my cup of tea) was because of my sugar high from the peach rings. I'm saving the chocolate for when I get desperate. I may need to hide it from myself. Or give it to a friend to ration it. Except that giving fancy chocolate to someone for safe keeping is just asking the person to eat it. And you can't really do that if you don't want to share...
I shall have to learn will power! Yes big brother, I can hear you snorting 'good luck' from Korea.

Sunday evening I was exhausted and fell into bed after munching on some kim bap around 9pm. Seriously. My parents called my cell phone around 10pm (I was late for our skype phone date) and it went something like this:
Me: enugh?
Them: Hi! Are you ready to talk? Where are you?
Me: ergh. Sleep Alex. Shopping is exhausting. Largest mall in the WORLD. Got 3 books though. And 2 tshirts! Can we talk tomorrow?
Them: But, but you promised!
Dad: ...Wait you went to the largest mall in the world and only came out with 3 books and 2 tshirts?!
Me: uh huh. Sleepy time! Can we talk tomorrow? I promise I'll call tomorrow night! Promise!
Them: *grumbling* alright, talk to you tomorrow.

I did have a lovely conversation with them tonight in which I explained that I really only went to the mall for the books and the shirts were just a bonus. I'm saving money for Indonesia and debt payments! Silly school loans. Thank goodness they are the subsidized government variety though because I shudder to think what my payments would be like on a direct bank loan. Unfortunately, today I overstrained my vocal chords and really wasn't in the mood to talk since talking is rather painful at the moment. So instead of one of our marathon chat sessions it was only 10 minutes long with a promise to call again soon. My vocal chords really do hurt! I'm drinking tea and reviewing the advice I got from my lovely opera singer back in the states but sometimes, talking 6+ hours a day is too much. As much as I hated book work in the States I wish I could give some now occasionally. Too bad that really wouldn't work with 6 year olds anyways. Tomorrow there shall be a coloring activity to cut down on talking time. It's a win win situation. We review the names of whatever they are coloring, they get to color (something every 6 year old loves, though Not as much as stickers), and after spending so much time coloring an item they are much more likely to remember the name. On my half, I get to nurse my vocal chords and drink more coffee which makes me cheery which makes them happy. See, coloring wins! At least once a week.

This has been a marathon entry. With the amount of pain I'm in I reckon another month or so and I'll be climbing again! That will probably mean weekly updates instead of biweekly but posts will be full of pictures of me climbing! I miss climbing more than anything. I can talk to friends and family on skype, I cannot talk to a rock or a climbing gym on skype. I mean I could try but I'd get some really strange looks...

Until later this week!


Nancy K said...

Glad your feet are beginning to feel better.

Chris said...

Interesting movie going experience there. And about Daniel Craig, yeah Olga Kurylenko was a nice sight to have for a bit as well.

I have to rep my brother's opinion here, old planes are awesome, and plane chases are even better.

GOD I hated book work. ever did it...that well. haaa next topic

"...from my lovely opera singer" ... :D

The only "big" mall i've been to is the Mall of America in Minnesota which is...just a mall with a roller coaster in the middle of it. Sounds/looks like this Coex place looks really cool.

not much of a comment :P. Enjoy the chocolate!

Chris! said...

"Sounds/looks like this Coex place looks really cool."

Haaa yeah i just noticed that :P

Josh said...

#1: Glad your feet are starting to feel better! I know how you love to run in circles in your spare time ;-p

#2: *Snorts* Good luck on hording your chocolate....

#3: Your blog always makes me smile



Nancy K said...

I agree with Josh; your posts make me smile, and if I am lucky, laugh out loud. Glad to see that you are getting such positive feedback