Friday, September 23, 2005


I do so love the Fall. As much as I've grown to enjoy the heat of the summer from living in Ottawa, Budapest and Seoul (YongIn really) it is always so very nice when the temperatures come back to 'normal'. As an Edmontonian normal is anything below 24 degrees Celsius. Sure it does get hotter than this in Edmonton but not often and not for very long. Over a span of 20 years living in Edmonton I must have worn sandals for about 10 months -- grand total. Whereas, just this year in Korea I've worn sandals for four continuous months! Today I put on shoes for what seemed like the first time ever because the weather was a very nippy 22 degrees Celsius. Now, it's time to go into Seoul for some good shoes and to pick up those hard-won plane tickets to Manila. I got what seemed to be a reasonable deal, only 420,000 won to Manila return. The only downside being that I have to go into Seoul before 1pm on a Saturday. Which wouldn't seem like a hardship but I've gotten into the habit of sleeping in quite late on Saturdays so I'm going to lose some valuable bed time. On the plus side I get to go into the big city and hopefully find some things I've been doing without for far too long -- shoes for one.
Yes, I'm going to give up on Korean shoes and put my sandals away for the next two seasons. I've decided to give up on my fight for thrift and shell out the bucks for a pair of docs. Doc Martens, which are the only purveyors of shoes that seem to suit me other than the U.S. Army, but army boots just aren't my style anymore, are absolutely the best kind of shoes for looks and practicality, I could walk forever in a pair of docs. I used to be a one pair-of-shoes-a-year kind of guy and most docs have lasted me at least 2 years. Korea could well prove to be my undoing in more ways than one. It must be some sort of cosmic joke on me that I've literally bought 20 pairs of shoes in the last 20 months and I still don't have a decent pair for that trip to the corner supermart (슈퍼마트).
At first I simply found that the synthetic shoes that I brought with me from Edmonton just started to reek in the heat and moisture of this place so I bought some real leather shoes at Emart. This coincided very well with the monsoon season of 2004, in which these very shoes quickly became a pair of sopping wet pieces of crap. That's when I went shopping for my first pair of Aqua-shoes. Wonderful idea, shoes that are designed to be wet and yet maintain their traction and functionality. The one detractor for the water shoes was that they began to reek right from the moment I first put them on, designed to withstand the moisture they correspondingly lack the ability to breath. So I put up with, or should I say my students, roommates and colleagues put up with my, reeking shoes for the rest of the rainy season. When rainy season was over it was time to buy another pair of shoes. Well, this time I didn't want to spend as much money, 50,000 won seems far too much to shell out for a pair of shoes that might last a mere 2 weeks, so I bought a pair for only 10,000 won. They seemed to be comfortable and looked quite nice but I soon discovered that the soles were un-insulated wood which conducted the cold extremely well in the winter months. So it was time to buy a fourth pair of shoes. I cannot go on, there is no way I'm going to talk about the rest of the 16 pairs I've had to buy since I moved to Korea.
Another excellent reason to go to Seoul coincides very well with my most favourite part of the Fall season -- short, short skirts. What is it about the Fall? The weather gets colder and yet for some bizarre reason women start to wear shorter and shorter skirts. Don't they get cold? An old girl-friend of mine explained it to me once. She told me that pantyhose and stockings are extremely warm so in the Fall women just can't wait to squeeze themselves into those stockings and those tight short skirts -- yeah, I really like that explanation.
Well, I'd better get to bed. An early start tomorrow. You never know when the traffic is going to be psychotic in Seoul. One Monday morning I had to go to HannamDong to get a Visa, the bus-ride was 2 and a half hours long, and I was standing the whole way. Normally the same bus ride only takes 45 minutes!
Three resources for getting to Seoul:
  • The Seoul Metropolitan Subway website in English
  • The Buspia website for longer rang Seoul (city) buses (like the 1115-1) sorry Korean ONLY! You'll need to know a little Hanguel ( 한글) to get by on this site or you won't know where the buses are going. But here is the rough schedule for the 5500 in English if you haven't learned to read those funny characters that make up Korean writing yet. When you live outside of Seoul the buses are so very much faster than the subway (unless you pick an unusually high traffic day).
  • Learn Hanguel (the Korean alphabet)! It isn't more than 2 hours of studying, plus about a week of reading signs with the new alphabet in mind. It will definitely pay off big time when you try to figure out which buses will take you home at 2 in the morning.

1 comment:

  1. Sean: A good pair of shoes is worth its weight in gold. The wrong shoes make for unhappy feet and an unhappy pedestrian...


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