Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Day Out in Seoul

Yesterday I went to Seoul with the help of my sweet bf in order to renew my passport. Now, the things that stress me out most are form-filling, paperwork, bureaucratic, governmental, official type business transactions such as this one. I don't know why, but forms make me feel panic-y.

The day started off well as we got to the train station in time to change our tickets to an earlier train. This would prove to be extremely fortunate in the near future. It was very cold so early on a January morning so I was thankful to have brought a hot pack thingy that you shake to create instant heat and comfort. I don't remember seeing these in Canada but here they're everywhere.

When we arrived in Seoul the temperature dropped down several more degrees, my sinuses felt frozen. Luckily, we didn't have to go far to reach the downtown area where the Canadian Consulate lives. Office buildings in Canada seem pretty boring and dark to me, closed off from the outside world and ready to trap you inside (and make you fill out forms forever and ever until you forget your real identity and lose your mind). The Canadian Consulate is on the ground floor of a lovely building and the wall is basically all glass, so while you're sitting in a comfortable chair, waiting for your number to be called, sunshine pours into the room and makes you forget that this is a government office and not a lovely, bright room in which it's okay to talk above a whisper and even laugh occasionally.

Anywho, I soon realized that I had forgotten to bring my passport photos. This is like my worst nightmare, I'm sure I've dreamt of this exact situation sometime in the past. Thankfully my bf is not a bundle of nerves as I sometimes often am. Right away he found out where the nearest photo studio was and we marched out into the cold and walked around until we found it. He even asked for directions. He never asks for directions but I guess the situation was dire enough. Thank goodness we'd taken the earlier train. So we walked into the studio and my face was red from the cold and I also had hat hair - perfect for a passport photo! While we were waiting for the photo to be photoshopped developed, I filled out another form.

We got back to the consulate with plenty of time to spare, I filled out more information (because what you bring is never enough...never!). The ladies working there were actually very kind and their interrogation was gentle, sometimes even accompanied by a smile. Finally, my forms were adequate enough to be accepted, I paid my money, said thank you many times (and told the lady how stressed this process had been for me. Why? Sigh, I'm still a child.) and ran out of there, feeling free and able to breathe again.

We walked around the neighbourhood for a while - the weather had warmed up and the area is actually very beautiful and peaceful. We walked into an art gallery and looked at some modern abstract art (the free part of the gallery). I still prefer the old stuff. Give me Impressionism any day. Dots and splashes of paint will never cease to perplex me and make me wonder about the definition of art.

The photo is my lunch at Le Pul Sandwich Bar. BF ate a panini with ham and cheese. I think my shrimp salad was better and far more colourful. A good meal must feature some colour.

The best part of the day was going to a big(ish) English bookstore in the Itaewon neighbourhood. I haven't seen more than a couple of book cases of English books in one place for almost a year now. When we walked into a store selling exclusively English books (and mostly literature) I started to shake (with excitement rather than panic this time) and got happy float-y euphoric feelings. My bf sat down while I toured the store and inhaled all the books, smiling and feeling nourished and peaceful again. I bought four books and had to tear myself away. Once again, I thought how wonderful it would be to live in a bookstore. Bf laughed, thinking I was being humorous, but really...

We took a limousine bus home (so comfy! why don't we have these in Canada?) and I started reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. It's so good!!! We also ate walnut cakes - sooo delicious! I continue to be amazed by the street food here (along with all other food also). Some of the most delicious things I've eaten are dirt cheap and taken for granted (it's just ordinary street food) but to me they are like little bites of heaven. Anywho, I had to stop reading when it got dark (so sad!) and watched TV instead (limousine buses always have a big TV hanging at the front). The programming was about traditional food and showed three ladies visiting various countryside locations and eating the special local dishes there. It made me hungry. I also think that would be an awesome job to have.

But why am I still writing? This is getting super long and it's time to get back to the The House of Mirth, I'm already addicted to this book. All I want to do is drink tea (or hot chocolate), maybe treat myself to a biscuit, and READ!

And I do hope my passport makes it back to me someday soon.