A Weekend Underground

This weekend has been full of shopping and generally being underground (literally).

Earlier in the week I met with Kerr for a few holes of golf in Bupyeong. I played appallingly, but I’m still counting it as a win because I started hitting the ball with the right technique. After golf we ended up in Woodstock, not a great idea on a school night but I managed to get home by 3am and the next morning was relatively  painless.

Friday came around pretty quick, it was also the first day that I didn’t have a morning meeting with the Director. Not sure if this will continue or if that was just a one-off, but I have my fingers crossed that they’re coming to an end. It’s getting annoying coming in to work two and a half hours before my classes start every day even though my prep takes less than an hour. Joe and Kerr didn’t want a big night out so Joe and I decided pizza, beer and a movie would be the next best thing. I suggested Star Wars as Joe hadn’t seen it before. Don’t think he was converted to the Force, but I reckon even if you don’t like the Star Wars films you should probably still watch them.

This decision also meant that Saturday morning I woke up bright, early (ish) and hangover free. The last time I got up that early on a Saturday was when I went to go diving. Coincidently, I had diving related plans for that day too. Russ at Deep Blue Quest, the diving school I’m doing my PADI course with, had told me that this weekend there was a sports and leisure industry show, called SPOEX, at the COEX Mall in Gangnam and that he had a few free passes if I wanted to come down. I did, so I jumped on a train and made the two hour journey to Gangnam, which is on the wrong side of Seoul from where I was coming from. Luckily I had my Kindle and so I spent the journey engrossed in The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared. A very funny book with a fitting title. When I got to Gangnam I entered the COEX Mall directly from the station (first time underground).

The COEX Mall is the biggest underground shopping centre in Asia. Wikipedia (always a trusty source) says that ‘Along with hundreds of shops, the mall houses two food courts, a 16-screen multi-cinema complex, the COEX Aquarium, a large bookstore, and the Kimchi Field Museum’. I don’t think I saw even a tenth of what there is to see, and I unfortunately didn’t find out about the aquarium until I’d got home. What I did see a lot of was sports stuff. The SPOEX event was on two huge levels, with stalls and large displays by companies like GoPro, Petzel, and of course PADI represented. The pull of the GoPro booth was particularly strong, even though, as I successfully convinced myself at the time, I don’t yet have any need for one of their excellent little extreme sports cameras. One day maybe, but not this day. The guys and girl from PADI that I met on my Confined Water Course were there, along with a whole bunch of others from their headquarters, I even met the PADI President. I stayed at the show for a few hours, flitting between the huge PADI area and the rest of the show. It turns out diving gear is pretty expensive, just like almost everything else sports related, but I managed to get myself a nice mask and snorkel set for a very nice price. The rest will have to wait. Other cool things at the show were a climbing wall hosting a climbing competition, a Zumba demonstration and a half pipe with a huge (huge) crash pad air mat thing next to it. I didn’t try that, my history with skateboards isn’t good.

Saturday night Joe, Kerr and I met in Bucheon, an area between Incheon and Seoul. A nice Korean guy we had met a few weeks ago on a night out in Gangnam, Alejandro, suggested we come along and see his friends band play. The bar was very, very western and also underground (that’s two). When we first arrived there was a large group of Americans watching a slideshow of someone’s time in Korea. It was a little weird. The bands were OK, if a bit loud, and the beers were flowing. Around 1am we went to Kerr’s to watch the rugby, or to be more accurate, Joe and Kerr watched the rugby while I battled drooping eyelids. Rugby in general isn’t really my thing, and at 2am my brain was not prepared to deal with it. I think I beat them overall, but once or twice I may have faltered for a few seconds. After the rugby (England won) we got a taxi home and I fell happily into bed.

Today is Sunday. After last night’s excitement I slept late. Finally rising with the realisation that I had things to do. Top of that list was to buy a new pair of jeans as the only pair I have are currently sporting a large hole in the crotch, and have been for some time. Second was a new belt, as the one I borrowed indefinitely from my dad about 8 months ago had finally given up. It did well, thanks Dad. I also needed new contact lenses and something to eat so I decided to head to Bupyeong, and the second underground market of the weekend (that’s three). I didn’t have much trouble finding some very nice new jeans that I hopefully paid a fair price for, and food was easy to find in the huge food court. That left contacts and a belt. I got my contacts from a very beautiful girl who spoke about as much English as I speak Korean, which is none, or close to it. Language barriers can often be a problem but they can also be pretty funny. Finally I had to find a belt. That was tricky, I had actually given up finding an decent one for a decent price and walked out of the shopping centre, where I found even more stalls, including one selling belts. Nice.

A quick train ride home, finishing The One Hundred Year Old Man on the way, and that’s my weekend. Next week I’ll only be teaching for three days, the fourth is monthly test day and Friday is Korean Independence day, so we’ve got the day off. Very nice. I’ve also decided that it’s about time I put some effort into learning Korean. So that’s my next mission, after marking homework of course.

James Vs World

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