Thursday, November 28, 2013

One cold and lonely night in Jeju-si.

It certainly was an interesting last night and day, my most recent day off.  Started out well enough working the usual four shows. My boss brought me my newly cleaned costume from the cleaners, I made exciting plans and enjoyed a tasty lunch of teokpeoki,  one of my favorite Korean dishes.

Then after work I changed into normal and warm clothes, removed the crazy stage makeup and headed to the bus.

Plans were to meet a friend,  see the second Hunger Games, grab some drinks and chat the rest of the night away.  Turned out that friend was thrown a curve ball and was unable to join me or let me couch surf that night. No big deal I thought. I have three other friends here who have either offered or already let me couch surf.  So I messaged one. I didn't have to wait long before he replied that he too had had an unfortunate problem arise that day and he could join me for one drink but that was it. So I messaged another friend. Never received an answer. Eventually messaged my last friend who was in a similar situation as the second and any other night I'd be welcome to crash but not this night. Zero for four.

I was out of friends. Jeju friends that is.

During all of this friend searching I purposefully got off the bus two stops later and walked back just to keep active until the one friend who could grab one drink got off work. I still had extra time to kill so I walked all the little assured l streets in the city hall area until I received a text saying where to meet. 

Along the way I saw some amusing and fun signs.

Hmm, one of these things doesn't belong here...

I'm scared to venture a guess as to what this sign is indicating...

Guess I am back in Kansas again.

I wonder how those shoes work....

We chose a western bar named Wabar with a good beer selection and sat down for a quick chat. After one beer my friend left but seeing as how I still had no place to go I simply relocated to sit at the bar. I ordered myself another beer and chatted with the friendly bar staff who were all eager to practice their English. I asked if any of them knew a place I could crash but of course I was told no.

Thankfully there was a phone charger at the bar and I was able to search for places as well as reply to friends without my phone dying.  I stayed at the bar until 2 when I was so tired I'd given up hope of finding a free couch and headed out in search of the cheapest hostel I found online located a solid half hour walk toward the ocean.

Being so near the water it's very windy and being winter it's very cold. I was dressed in corduroy pants with 3 shirts plus my heavy winter coat, hat, gloves, and scarf. I was still freezing. I found the hostel easily enough but only to find out the office closed at 10 that night and there was no answer when I called the number painted on the door.

After sitting on the stoop for 10 minutes deciding what to do next I decided to try another hostel another half hour back the way I had come. I actually considered finding a secluded and sheltered place to sleep on the ground but I've noticed there are absolutely no homeless people on the streets here which makes me wonder if it's illegal. Not that I don't invite adventure, but the last thing I need is to be arrested and jailed in Korea for sleeping on the street.

Short interlude; you may wonder why I didn't just go to the closest hostel in the first place. I thought about this myself for a while today. I tell people how to always see the bright side of things and to look forward into the future to the possibilities that the negative circumstances you're currently living will someday work toward good. Why couldn't I pull myself together last night and just enjoy the trip? I'm not sure what it is that my brain links to spending money unnecessarily but it makes me so frustrated and angry. Even though I could have a had a much more pleasant night I chose to stress and be miserable trying to find the cheapest and/or free places to stay. I know that if I had gone to book a room and then hit up the movie and then maybe even grabbed a beer before heading to bed I could have had a much better night, but I know that I would not have inside because spending the money on the hotel would have covered the fun in a wet blanket. I don't know if it stems from having no money as a child or from still having no money as an adult. But this is something I truly noticed for the first time today. I don't want to chain myself to the ground of misery when spending the money is inevitable. I must learn that I did what I could to plan and things were done to my plans that were out of my control. Spending the money didn't cause me to not eat, not sleep. It just caused me to be unhappy. This I must change.

Thanks for listening to my personal rant and I welcome any and all constructive criticisms and suggestions.

Ok, back to my story. 

I continued on to the next hostel to find it also closed but with no number on the website and no number on the door to call so I started wandering the neighborhood (city hall) and found a foreigner hostel. I also was closed but had a number posted on the door. I called it (thankfully I have a smart phone with Skype credit to call foreign numbers and Korea has unsecured wifi everywhere) and a lady answered and I said I was standing outside the door. A man came down a few minutes later and let me in (it is now 4:00 a.m.). I was so cold I  couldn't feel my skin many places and was so tired (I got up at 7 that morning and worked all day and had just been walking for the past hour with no dinner to boot unless you count two beers) that I was not very successfully holding back tears as the owner told me all the dormitories were full and I'd have to pay for a single room. The cost was actually cheaper than a taxi home and approximately the cost of the dirtiest scumbag motel rooms in the middle of nowhere in America, but still, I didn't want to pay it. The man was very kind and discounted $3 off the price (I'm guessing because it was late and I was obviously miserable and men hate seeing women cry) and showed me to my room. He turned on a heater and gave me a key and said, "It's ok. Please don't cry." as he walked out the door for the night. I was so tired when I awoke the next morning I didn't remember where I was and when I walked out of the room I had no idea what floor I was on and which way to go to get down, nor what room I was sleeping in. 

This turned out to be the place and there was a washing machine here too. Nifty.

I found my way to the kitchen quickly and read the sign to help yourself, but wash your dishes. This I could do. The fridge was fully stocked with eggs, jam, yogurt, milk and there was bread and pancake mix and a stove and all the cooking necessities. I just opted for some toast and jam, yogurt and hot tea. I wasn't very hungry despite the previous night. I enjoyed a nice long breakfast checking email and listening to American jazz on the stereo. It's a nice place really. I would recommend a foreigner to stay there. They also had an ipad next to the bed in my room. Very cool! There is also apparently a bar although it wasn't open while I was there.




Then I got ready and headed to the movie theater.

This was my first time in a Korean movie theater. It was interesting. It was in a sky scraper style building and the first two floors were all shops. 


The 2nd through 6th floor was the theater. You got your tickets and food and drinks, played your arcade games and drank coffee with friends on the 2nd floor and the 3rd through 6th floors housed the actual movie screens. 

When you buy your tickets you actually have to pick your seat too! It's not open seating like America. I was seeing the Hunger Games which was on the 6th floor. I've never taken elevators in a movie theater before. It was unique! When I got to the 6th floor a man checked my receipt. I was 20 minutes early so I figured I would go sit down and wait 5 minutes for the stupid advertisements to start. Nope. Not in Korea. There was another movie just finishing. They don't need much time to clean apparently. Anyway, I waited in the lobby area for 10 minutes and then filed inside with another half dozen people. It was a very small theater by American standards, but it was comfy, cozy and had nice stadium seating. It was also clean from what I saw. There were some advertisements and one preview for about ten minutes and then the movie started....wait...only 2 minutes late! What?! Crazy on time by the standards or lack thereof that I'm used to in America. I enjoyed the movie and was the only one who ever laughed out loud. I wonder what all the Koreans thought....

After the movie I headed outside where the wind had picked up considerably and the sky had turned an even darker shade of gray. I pulled my scarf around my face tighter and headed to Emart (the Walmart of sorts here). The wallk was only 40 minutes but it was very cold and it hailed on my for a good 10 minutes of it so I was wet and shivering by the time I arrived. I wanted groceries that I can't buy in the village where I live. Things like almond milk, muesli, different canned vegetables were on my shopping list. I stuffed my backpack and one extra bag with food and headed to a cafe I'd seen across the street. I had some time to kill and wanted some hot chocolate and a sandwich. I also wanted to charge my phone. I sat in the warm cafe for an hour watched the wind terrorize the plants outside the window and wishing I didn't have to go back outside again. But my bus was leaving at 7 to go back to my home so at 6 I walked out the door and headed west for a 45 minute walk. By the time I got to the bus the sun was gone completely and the wind was whistling in my ears. I stopped at the restroom before getting on the bus and was so cold that I didn't even feel the visible goosebumps covering my bright red legs. Apparently corduroy pants are not warm enough. Even with a tank top, tshirt, long sleeve shirt, flannel shirt, sweater, winter coat, fleece scarf and fleece hat with ear flaps I was cold beyond feeling. Winter is definitely not for me. I never need to live through one again. Cruise ships please!

I was so thankful the bus I returned home in was heated. The public buses aren't and I can't get warm because I am sitting still. I fell asleep for the ride and awoke when we reached our destination. After another 30 minute walk home in the freezing rain I'm happily lounging in a slowly heating room on a cozy bed. 

It was quite the day off for sure. I'm sure I'll repeat the trip with hopefully different results. I'm always optimistic :)