The milk lady. I saw her outside of my building this morning. Apparently I can get cafeteria sized milk delivered in the am
Well, I made it to Busan South Korea! The owner of the school, her 7 year old daughter, and two other Korean teachers met me at the airport and drove me to my new apartment. Ahh The Apartment... Its basically a dorm room. There are some nice accoutrements (hardwood floors, full marble tiles in the bathroom, etc.) but you could walk through the front door and trip out the back (if there was a backdoor). I was pretty freaked out when I first saw it. All the people who picked me up from the airport, plus the owner of the building and his wife, and a guy I think was a real estate agent all (7 people in all) shuffled into the 10x12ft room and all waited for my reaction as I walked in. I just looked around and opened cupboards and tried to hide the sinking dissapointment while not making eye contact with anyone (i was afraid I would cry).
I didnt want to seem ungrateful but it looked pretty shockingly small and crappy. That was last night and today without 7 other people in the room, it seems okay. The bathroom is classic. The shower is above the sink which is next to the toilet and there is a big drain in the middle of the floor. There were a pair of very used size 8 yellow shower slippers at the door. I pointed this out to the owner thinking he accidentally forgot to get rid of the old tenants slippers, but he smiled excitedly and pointed at my feet and demonstrated how I put them on. I think he was proud of providing the newcomer with a housewarming gift.
I went grocery and houseware shopping with them after we left the apartment and got my first look at a Korean supermarket.
market, key word super. Its called home plus and its 6 floors, with pretty much everything in the world (except an american plug adaptor, they have round prongs here instead of the american flat prongs but we'll get into that later). It was hard to focus after 13 hours of traveling and I felt self conscious shopping with these people but i managed to pick up the bare necessities including a coffee maker (glad I did). I am very surprised at all the things I thought Korea wouldnt have but does. They pretty much have everything including a lot of stuff you definitely dont want, see photos.
This morning, I realized as my laptop was running low on batteries that I didnt have an adaptor and would need to find one or be cut off completely with the rest of the world.
After searching all over my immediate neighborhood with absolutely no luck and some very ackward hand motions trying to explain what I needed (you can imagine that gesturing with two fingers that I need a plug adaptor that goes into a socket may be construed as profane) I took the subway (very easy to figure out) to the more commercial Seomyeon neighborhood and went into every store that I even remotely thought I could find one and after about an hour and a half and about 30 stores, finally a little old lady nodded at my gestures, reached into her desk and pulled an adaptor out of her drawer. It was 1,000 won or $1.00! My whole attitude about Korea changed. The streets looked friendly, the people busy but courteous, and the future bright.
I had found a completely obscure electronic part in a city swarming with 6 million people and as many confusing intersections. This was a decisive triumph for me. American Teacher:1 South Korea:0
While trying to find the adaptor, I wandered into a crowded maze of street vendors with food, clothes, and fake designer sunglasses and bags. The smells wafting from the competing stalls was the most horrendous and nauseating harmony of stink that I have ever witnessed. Raw fish, cooked fish, pickled vegetables, cow organs, pig organs, and weird bubbling soups all in a row and on either side with stinky steam rising everywhere. The worst part is I kept going farther hoping that I would pass it and end up on the other side but the smell just grew thicker until I was afraid I would get lost so I had to turn around go back across it! I didnt breathe through my nose, but i could taste it, i swear. I literally almost threw up. I may stick to the grocery store for the rest of the year.
Im off to buy a fan as the room is hot and not showing any signs of cooling. Signing off from South Korea...