Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Weak ends

My weekends generally aren't slam-bang thrill-a-minute affairs. Sometimes something or other happens, sometimes not; about the only thing I can generally count on is Sunday morning coffee or brunch with Lauren.

This past Friday, I went to Gangnam (ritzy shopping/dining neighborhood not too far away) with Chris and Zach for burritos and Corona at Dos Tacos, a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place, followed by a refreshing beverage at Castle Praha, the hofbrauhaus where we had spent New Year's Eve. Saturday, I think I bought some soy milk and maybe bananas; I forget the details in the excitement. Sunday, Lauren and I had coffee and went to Yangjae (nearer, less ritzy area than Gangnam) to the dollar store, which is great: on my last two trips, I've bought two plates, a serrated knife, a belt, a tie, two oven mitts, two glasses, a wastebasket, and some fridge magnets; total cost: fifteen bucks. And that was my thrilling weekend.

The weekend before was a long one, Monday being Seollal (Lunar New Year), the country's biggest holiday. Sunday was hectic; I chased halfway across the metro area to a Veggie Club lunch, then walked around for a half hour trying to find the place with inadequate directions and the typical Korean jumble of competing signs:
(The swastikas are Buddhist; the Nazis stole the symbol. I admit they are somewhat unsettling to me nonetheless.)

Just as I was giving up, I finally bumped into somebody else looking for the restaurant and she phoned the host, who came out to get us. (The place was down an alley.) Not a great lunch, though, just bibimbap, which I eat three times a week anyway.

Then I took the subway to Dongdaemun Market, Korea's oldest conglomeration of shops, which is hard alongside Dongdaemun ("Great East Gate"), which once upon a time, guarded the edge of the city from invaders and, I guess, middle-aged, moustached  English teachers...
The "market" itself claims 30,000 shops, and is for me both imposing and, for me, pointless. There are massive department stores, ten-story buildings full of shops and kiosks, hundreds and hundreds of storefronts stretching for many blocks (both above and below ground), street vendors, and alleyways full of stalls selling an incredible array of... well, everything: clothing of all kinds, food, shoes, electronics, purses, furniture, all cheap, mostly knockoffs, all piled up like Satan's attic had exploded, none of it anything I wanted and little of which would fit me anyway.

I had gone with the hope of finding Waegook ("Foreigner") Books, which an online site had said was at "Stall 27". This is rather like looking for Tree 3021 in the Black Forest. If the place even exists, it's probably stocked with books like Great Hobbit Linebackers and Sarah Palin, Renaissance Woman.

So I ended up spending seven hours and having a disappointing lunch and buying nothing, but it's okay; I'm pretty good at not having expectations and, as the Carpenters sang, "It's one more round for experience and I'm on the road again."

Usually my weekends are less tiring. Sometimes I get a bit down, sitting in my apartment on the Far Side of the Earth and watching the cat sleep. Generally I'm fine. Like 'most everything in my life, weekends will get better when baseball season starts; with two teams sharing Jamsil Stadium, the Bears (huzzah!) and the Twins (meh), there is a home game almost every day but Mondays, the tickets are cheap, and they have beer there.

Meanwhile, all's weak that ends weak. Or something.

No comments: