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Super model styling, penny-wise lifestyle

Super model styling, penny-wise lifestyle.jpg


Mis-leading signposts, ends in artificial limbs

One thing that could be said about the walk that Ben I had just done was that it was boring. Sorry, but that is the pick of it. It all started at the station. On walking out, we came upon a corner of the station that was taped off. As in, work under construction taped off. Upon examination we struggled to see why it was in the state it was. Maybe something was taken away later. In retrospect, this was a foretelling of what was to come, that is, absolutely nothing.

We had randomly chosen a metro station, close to central Seoul. The local area had signposted, sites of significance. Park, Chung-hee‘s former house. 500 metres later there was no indication or sign of it. Later on another signpost directing us to “500m Seoul folk flea market”.

Anticipating a whole lot less, the sign did this time, did not disappoint. As we saw later, the market was built up around a road, later closed off. The only thing left of the road was a judder bar. Looking around the market place, there were no surprises. Food stalls selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to cooked food and the like. For some inextricable reason, throughout the hike there were a high proportion of men touting beards and mustaches. Had we stumbled into the suburb that shavers and razors had been either banned or forgotten about?

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Exiting the marketplace we read another sign directing us to a fortress trail. This time we found it. After the passage of time had been done, there wasn’t much left of the fortress but a well preserved siding of the wall and the actual gate or door.

Finally we hit Seoul station. This station was built by the Japanese colonial administration and as far as I know is in original condition. The other factoid about Seoul station is the population of bums. Entering the concourse leading to the station we passed two women playing instruments. Not sure if they were busking and it’s not something that’s done in Korea. Opposite them was a man sketching them in a folio book. I’m not sure if they were all together. Passing by Seoul station we did see the bums that Seoul station is known for. I observed two of them sharing food together. Every meal a banquet, every windfall a fortune.

A little way down from the station we came across a line of men, bums without thinking into it too much. They were lined up for something, perhaps a meal, provided by some NGO perhaps. Lastly we passed a number of shops where you could be fitted out with an artificial limb or limbs if you so preferred. Finally something of interest and a look at how somethings work in Korea.

Geek Mecca, old and dusty

Yongsan electronics market can safely claim the title as the center for geeks and tech-heads all over Korea. Encompassing several buildings in differing states of cleanliness, I tend to think the hub of the whole place is in the Seon-in plaza building. It’s older than the other buildings. Inside, it’s crowded and hot but, it has a pulse. It buzzes of activity and people. Appealing to the male dominated buyers are singers hawking goods of the the electronic variety.

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Now what does SNDS have anything to do with Intel chipsets? In fact on most laptops showing some sort of movie, you can see K-pop bands strutting their stuff. Oh, and they sing too. Seon-in plaza is not only where new tech can be bought but is also where old tech goes to die too. Corridors full of gutted computer cases while the innards await for harvesting for parts. Eventually when no-one wants it, it’s bagged up and sent else where for recycling.

Looking past all the gloss of  the adverts, Yongsan has it’s selection of bums. On a triangular piece of land (next to the railway tracks no less) is what could be called ‘bum city’. Fenced off, it has an assortment of trees and tapoline for tents.  Seen for a long time, a man sold only novelty silicone pigs. The odd thing is that the stuff that he’s selling is obviously crap. The last time I was up in Yongsan, he’d gone, obviously seeing the error in his marketing plan.

I get blood drawn, the bum needs a ciggie

I went to hospital recently and the phlebotomist (blood person) had great difficulty in drawing blood from my vein. I hate needles and this one was stuck in me for at least 2 minutes. The staff were very helpful, leading me this way and that. Normally my listening to Korean is pretty good, but today it seemed the battery on my universal translator was flat.

They even had a bum waiting outside radiology just to round things out. (Actually, he wasn’t a bum, he was just badly dressed). He was very uncultured, rude (for a Korean) and kept on asking me if I had a lighter. I didn’t, so I just kept on ignoring him.

Random walk, ends in a laugh riot

Ben and I had come up with a way to make our regular hikes in Seoul a little more exciting. Each station has a number allocated to them, so what we did was used those numbers to decide where to go. For the generation of our numbers we used a 12 sided dice. The results so far, have been based around the Han river. Something that we’d specifically been trying to get away from.

Jamwon wasn’t exactly close to the Han (nothing really is) but we did end up walking along it and along untrodden ground, and filling in the grey areas that of ground seen, but not covered per se.

I guess the more times I do this sort of thing, the more blasé I get about the whole process of taking photographs. I mean, nothing pegs out my weird-freak-o-meter any more. Walking through Jamwon we discovered it well established, with all the ammenities at hand.

I would have to say that crossing the two-tiered bridge (반포대교) was the most interesting part of the journey. It was colourfull, curved and unusual.

After crossing that bridge, we saw some cops trying to catch traffic violators on camera. So I caught them on my camera. I didn’t think they minded.

Onwards to Yongsan, and by my veto, we walked through some of the more delapidated areas. Ben told me that there had been some riots over surrendering real estate to developers. To which the government, sided with the developers resulting in a rather notable ruckus.

After reaching Yongsan we settled in for some beer sipping and snack munching, all the while fending off bums. This particular one had a shaved head, and perhaps was a monk. I say this because in all the time he worked the area where we sat he didn’t utter a word. To Ben and I, this situation wasn’t new, so we decided to play a game of statues. Ben cast his eyes down, while I naïvely gazed ahead. I had this silly smirk on my face, and the bum though not talking, used gestures amounting to motioning an outstretch palm about the place. The giggles became laughter, and soon the belly laughter was unstoppable. We were lucky that bum/ monk had since gone while Ben and I continued our lapse into insanity for about 5 minutes. Looking at us, Koreans must have perceived foreigners as a little bit stranger that day.