Breaking Bank / Fast and Furious: Namsan Climb

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Despite having only one class on Friday somehow I have managed to become busy at work. So I am updating on a Sunday.  It’s rainy and I’m tired so today will be the first time in about a month I’ve stayed in the apartment-so cleaning day!

So last time we left off I had just returned from Busan.  The train ride was actually pretty nice even though it was a 4 hour train ride.  But the seats reclined well and I had my Beats headphones so really I was happy.

The rest of the week went by fast, nothing major happened. Usually the weekdays keep me pretty busy so I don’t have too much time to be lonely.  I’ve even become a regular at my local Yoger Presso-they know my drink order.

But the previous two weeks I had something to do-Seoul and Busan.  So I had been a little worried that I would be stuck in my apartment all alone with nothing to do.

But hey, i’m in Korea, and the weather is becoming nicer so… I took my first solo trip into Seoul!  I planned the entire thing myself with some help from co workers.  Despite being told a subway map is old fashioned, it sure helped me the most!  I could see where certain stations lines went and how to transfer and connect…in short it was a life saver.

I knew i wanted to spend the entire day there so I woke up early on Saturday and took the train in.  Instead of the subway like last time, which took almost 2 hours standing, I took the “regional” rail.  It was only an hour and even though I bought standing, I was able to sit down in the stair well for most of the trip.

It wasn’t too expensive either-like 5 dollars?

When I was in Seoul for Vixx I really only got to see South of the river and a little bit of NW of the city.  But this time I took the train into Seoul Station.

I was able to get to the subway line at the Seoul Station-Line 4 to get to Namdaemun Market, Namsan/Myeongdong.

I had made plans to go to Namdaemun Market.  It was INSANE! There were so many people!  In Korea, personal space doesn’t exist and neither do the words “Excuse me.”  I still have yet to become accustomed to being bumped harshly without an apology.  Some lady even  had been so on top of me that her sweater caught on my bag.  She got mad that it had pulled the fabric-sorry lady no apology from me.  If you’re that close to my bag that you’re going to get your sweater caught than that’s your problem.

Afterwards, needing air! I went to Myeongdong.  Basically it’s like a shoppers paradise.  There are so many stores you can get yourself lost.  The amount of skin care stores in insane.  I must have passed at least 3 different nature republics, 4 atriums, 3 etude houses….it’s like starbucks in NYC-one on every corner…and then some.  That day there also was some kind of event going on with a kdrama star promoting a store.

After I tried to find the cable car.  Sadly I was only able to find the trail and  I wasn’t really dressed for hiking up the mountain.  I walked for about 20 min before turning back.  I still had other places I wanted to hit.

I headed over to Hongdae, hoping that the Eastern Social Welfare Society would be open.  It wasn’t open officially but the reception lady upon hearing that I was adopted from the agency 25 years ago allowed me to go and see the babies.  It was a jarring experience and sad.  Yes these babies were well looked after, and they even had volunteers helping, but there were so many of them.

After spending about an hour, I chose to explore more of Hongdae.  I found an American Breakfast diner where I ate real pancakes, listened to country music, and even watched american ESPN.  It was nice.  Who knew I would be that happy to see the red sox play the yankees and hear twangy songs about whiskey and heartbreak?

I still had an hour or so to kill so I attempted to find the main drag.  I managed to find it!  Right before the night crowd hit so it was crowded but manageable.  There were tons of shops and things to eat. The kids here were more unique looking than what I have seen so far in Korea.  Typically, I’ve seen designer labels, where everyone looks the same.  In Hongdae, it was all about being different.  It was a nice change.

What also was nice, really really nice, was despite the large volume of people, shoving and bumping rudely wasn’t as prominent. Maybe because there weren’t elders around.

Due to time I had to rush back to the train station and didn’t get to stay as long as I liked. I managed to get home by around 830 and promptly felt as if my ankles and legs were about to fall off my body.  I had no plans but staying in the next day.

However, I decided to head into Suwon.  It is an easy subway ride from my area, about 30 min on the main blue line, Line 1. There is a grocery store in the bottom of the station-with a whole section of American food-I found popcorn, goldfish, BUTTER, campbell soup! It was almost too good to be true.

It was an exhausting weekend but it kept my mind occupied.  It also left me limping for the following two days.

Last Wednesday I had Parents Open class.  Basically it was  when parents would be able to visit and observe the class.  Everyone was super nervous about it.  I was less worried, more stressed that for one single lesson I needed to prep for three  different lesson plans.  The class itself went relatively smoothly.

The school week is going by faster and faster each week.  Last month, March, went by so slowly for me.  April is going by much faster.  My hope is that each month will continue to increase in time.

I had planned on staying in this weekend but decided….why the hell not go back to Seoul and climb Namsan to get to the top.  I didn’t stress as much this weekend because I knew where I was going .  I woke up a little bit later and dressed properly for the hike up the mountain.

I took the train in and headed right for Namsan.  It was a beautiful day and I was prepared to tackle this mountain.  If only I had know.

I looked up online that there were a few ways to make it to the top: 1. Cable car 2. Bus, 3. Hike (there are like 3 different kind of paths for this).  I wanted to hike up using the circular path which takes about 3 hours.  Sadly I wound up finding the dreaded stair path.

It’s about a mile of stairs.

Straight up.

Hell.

The first 10 minutes or so I thought I was not going to make it.  The sun was glaring down on me. I was sweating.  It sucked.

But then….I saw children, elders, pregnant women….women in full business suits and HEELS! So I knew then that I had to climb to the top no matter what.

And after about 35 min or so I made it!

The views were a reward in and of itself.  The natural beauty of the mountains surrounding the urbanization of  city was incredible to see.

I did the tourist thing-bought my lock, went to the observatory, and even took in the “culture” show.  I spent a long time up there but due to the fact that I climbed STAIRS (which everyone knows I hate) to the top I intended on taking my time before coming back down.

Now as bad as the climb up was, the climb down was perilous.  The stairs were uneven at times, and were sloped down-so you constantly felt like you were about to face plant off the mountain.  I would recommend taking the cable car down if you’re unsure of your footing.

By the time i reached the bottom, my legs were spasming so badly that all the thoughts of going to the World Cup stadium and  gwangjang market were gone.  I wound up sending the rest of the day shopping in Myeongdong.  I bought the new Laneige product Superberry extract, a new pair of glasses and lenses (which took about 40 min and 180$) and even found a puppy cafe!

The puppy cafe was the highlight of the day.  It had been so long since I had been able to pet a dog.  I have never gone that long without petting a dog before so needless to say it was overwhelming.  They had pugs, mutts, long haired doxies, and even….a border collie!  I had assumed they would have smaller dogs due to the fact that most Koreans seems be afraid of animals over 10 lbs.  But they had a great pyrenees and an afghan  hound.  I made friends with a little white maltese mix who loved belly rubs.  But I was really interested in the border collie.  Like my own Logan, he was a little aloof but he seemed to enjoy me giving him ear scratches and belly rubs and butt scratches.  It made me happy and sad at the same time.  It made me miss my Logan more than I have in all the time i’ve been here.

It also helped solidify the fact that I want to move to Seoul next contract.  The Anglican church, the subway accessibility, dog cafe, shopping…everything about the city I love.

As for today, my hip flexors are shot from the climb yesterday.  It’s also raining.  I had planned on doing laundry but so far, I’ve made oatmeal for breakfast, and currently watching Transformers 4.  I think today I might actually sit back and do nothing.  But i’m already looking towards next weekend-World Cup Stadium I think so!

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Candle

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My candle is lit

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real american condiments

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American breakfast joint

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Myeongdong

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myeongdong

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altar

Next time on the real black and white dog archives: hopefully I will be a little more witty and less blank-I realize this post probably sounded really boring and had no personality to it-but honestly I’m still wiped from yesterday. SORRY! 🙂

namsan park

namsan park

shrine

shrine

namsan park

namsan park

coming out of seoul station

coming out of seoul station

flower cotton candy

flower cotton candy

Hongdae

Hongdae

climbing the stairs to the top

climbing the stairs to the top

mountains

mountains

the extremes-mountains and city

the extremes-mountains and city

popular pagoda

popular pagoda

culture show-music and weapons

culture show-music and weapons

my lock

my lock

observatory

observatory

new product from Laneige -superberry extract

new product from Laneige -superberry extract

dog cafe!

dog cafe!

view from the top of the observatory

view from the top of the observatory

Seoul Catholic Cathedral

Seoul Catholic Cathedral

Market that became crazy busy

Market that became crazy busy

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