When I entered the subway I was amazed. It feels like I’m inside a Korean movie! So cool! I rarely see subways on dramas, but I often see subways on movies, so I was reminded with movies. The seats were all comfy too.
I enjoyed looking outside because the sights feels too City Hall-ish – Kim Sun Ah’s 2009 drama that was actually filmed mostly in Incheon.
The travel time was quite long and I often fell asleep once in a while.
When I reached the Hongik University Station, the real challenge started. Dragging my uber heavy luggage is something that is not easy! Especially when you have to transfer stations. It doesn’t help that I didn’t get enough sleep and rest.
But somehow I managed to get myself to line 2.
I didn’t know that the most difficult part is just about to come. The exit I need to take from line 2 is very far and there are no more elevators! I’m dragging a trolley and a duffel bag that’s about 20 kilos, plus a paper bag, a back pack, and my Sam Sooki.
Also during the exit, since I can’t fit myself and my bags on the swivel doors, I used the ‘help’ one, but my T-money beeped and somehow this time my Korean didn’t work with the station officer. I can’t understand him and I actually barely spoke because I don’t know what was happening. He just let me go.
One the way out of line 2, an ahjumma approached me and helped me in carrying my luggage. I was so touched with the gesture and was really thankful. I also feel a bit shy because my luggage was really heavy. BUT I think the ahjumma made it more difficult for me. She walks fast. Too fast for my pace, so I practically have to catch up with her speed while carrying a heavy duffel bag on my shoulders. And even if I want to stop, I can’t because my other bag is with her.
In Korea # 004: In Korea, ahjummas are the strongest and most powerful person!
I also feel amazed at her power and speed. And I feel quite embarrassed that I my age, I was panting and I almost lost my breath when we reached the exit.
I followed zemoneko’s guide into getting a prepaid phone for foreigners near Dongdaemun History and Culture Park station.
But somehow it seems like I left my sense of direction in the Philippines! I used to be very good in directions, but it just doesn’t work in Korea anymore. Maybe because everything’s new.
Anyway, I kept walking and when I can’t continue anymore, I decided to stop by a convenience store and buy a banana milk to give me energy.
In Korea # 005: In Korea, stores don’t give out receipts all the time and they don’t put the things you brought in plastic bags. – actually it’s more practical that way, however I’m just used to how it was in the Philippines. You buy a gum for less than 50 cents (USD) and they will give you a receipt for it and put it in a tiny plastic bag. Come on people! It now looks ridiculous to me after living here in Korea for 9 days without having to put my purchases on plastic bags.
I kept walking. I know it’s near Paris Baguette and I just saw one earlier. But the thing is I saw another one. I don’t remember that there’s another Paris Baguette nearby. Also I reached a crossroad and it’s quite complicated and I don’t know whether to go straight or make a turn.
So I decided to ask a delivery ahjussi on his way to his motorbike. I don’t know the name of the place, so I just opened my laptop and showed the map to him. When he can’t figure the location either, he went to his bike and guess what he did. He pulled out his smart phone. Tap tap tap. And he showed me the way.
In Korea # 006: In Korea, almost everyone has smart phones! – actually our Korean professor told us that according to survey 1 out of 2 Koreans uses smart phones these days. I beg to disagree – if your sampling are subway commuters, 9 out of 10 people uses smart phones here!
Apparently I walked too much and the place I’m looking for is quite near the exit. I walked straight ahead when I was supposed to turn.
Anyway I went inside the store after locating it. I took my time choosing a phone and was lucky to find a cute pink LG ice cream – for free! I just paid 10,000 won for the phone and it was activated and I have 10,000 won worth of credits on the phone. So basically the phone was free. Cool! It’s a damn LG ice cream! How much is that model in the Philippines now? The phone, just like most of the available in the store, was second hand. But who cares. There’s actually a better one, an any call phone that looks so neat and new, but I opted for the LG since it’s pink (and luckily when I get home and after cleaning it it looked brand new and no one believes me when I said I got the phone for free. I guess I was just so lucky that day! Not everyone can get a second hand phone as pretty as mine).
It took many minutes to activate the phone. I should’ve walked around the area instead while waiting but 1.) I was too tired and 2.) I don’t know if they will need me, say for my passport or payment or what not. So I decide to stay.
After getting the phone I went out, dragging my luggage still. I sat on a small post on the sidewalk near a cart vendor. I was supposed to buy one toast but the ahjumma disappeared. I was too tired and I decided it’s time to ask my friend to rescue me! After sending a message to my friend from SNU, I headed back to the subway station. Slowly.
But my friend was actually somewhere nearby so she was able to go to Dongdaemun Park station quickly – even a few minutes earlier than me.
We met halfway and we were just so excited to see each other. We are really close in school and we both love chatting and walking. And we kept in touch via Facebook even after she went here in Korea early this year.
Upon entering the station my T-money beeped again. The station officer talked to us but my brain has totally shot down by that time due to lack of sleep and painful back and shoulders (from the bags I was dragging along) and painful feet (from my uncomfortable footwear). He then called someone (yes on his smart phone) who can speak English and he talked to me. I actually can’t understand him much but somehow it seems like my card wasn’t charged on one of my transfers or something so they need to charge it. I said no problem. I might have tapped it incorrectly or something.
Me and my friend took the subway, then we get off 낙선대 station to take a bus going to her dormitory in SNU. Another ahjumma came and helped us with my luggage. She also talked to us in Korean and when she talked in English she was really good!
Riding the bus for the first time is so cool! If subways makes me feel I’m inside a Korean movie, buses makes me feel I’m in a Korean drama!
On the bus, a certain ahjussi had small talk with my friend. And I was really glad to see my friend talking in straight Korean now. We were classmates in some Korean classes way back home and I know she’s good. But it’s always difficult for her to talk, especially to our Korean teacher. Like she is always thinking what to say. But today, I was surprised and was very happy to see her conversing in Korean freely and confidently!
In Korea # 007: In Korea, dragging heavy luggage could start a conversation from the locals. – we think that it was because of the luggage that we were carrying that made people talk to us.
So we finally arrived at my friend’s dormitory. I told her I am planning to go to Kangnam that day to visit Kim Sun Ah’s management agency’s office. Then we can have dinner and probably go some other places in Seoul. I just want to put my bags down. I said I’ll also rest a bit. But the moment my back touches the bed, I fell into a deep sleep. When I woke up it’s already early morning.