Sunday, 17 June 2012

Under The City

I saw a penis.

That’s not a sentence that you’d traditionally start a blog with is it? Especially one which your family read. I could just leave it at that. That would be funny. I should probably give it some context though. Let me start at the beginning.

This week at school has been rather tiresome. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday grades 3 through 6 were all away on a field trip to somewhere I can’t pronounce. This left me at my desk with very little to do outside of giving classes to 1st and 2nd grade. Good classes. However, I had lots of free time. I did a lot of writing. I’ve written 10,000 words this week. I’m writing a new film. It’s called ‘Youth’. Trying to get my head around my second novel has been hard. ‘Youth’ has just come out of me, fully formed, which has been good. My attempt to document my Cape Cod experiences alongside a murder mystery in my second attempt at a book has been tough but screenwriting seems to be something that comes very naturally to me. I should have it finished this week. So, I guess not having classes does have its benefits, I get paid to do things that I want to do and as long as I do my job it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem.

So, Friday rolled around as it inevitably does. This weekend I had to go to Seoul to get my Hepatitis B booster vaccination and change over my malaria tablets. Nathanael and I headed to Seoul on Friday night. My appointment was early on Saturday morning and Nathanael and I wanted to explore a tunnel underneath the Wonhyo bridge in the pitch black on Friday night. Very good idea.

Urban exploration is still very much a new thing here in Korea, it’s a place in which Korea is falling steadily behind the rest of the world. I’ve heard that the Japanese and the Chinese have embraced urban exploration and there are communities actively partaking in the past time in those countries. Not here. In Korea urbex seems to be a community that is almost entirely made up of expats. No matter.

The Wonhyo Bridge is one of many bridges that cross the Han River in the middle of Seoul. Its grey, it’s bleak and it’s industrial. The view is pretty good down underneath the bridge. There is a cycle trail, some tennis courts and a park. That’s not why we were there though. We were there because we wanted to explore a tunnel which runs underneath the north face of the Wonhyo bridge all the way down to Sam Gak Ji which is a good 2km away, underground. We slid into the tunnel unnoticed and walked along what might as well have been a path in the pitch black. There were some drains to step over and the further in we got the less path like our path became. If it wasn’t for the flashlight we had just bought the exploration would have been impossible. The further we got into the tunnel the scarier and more daunting it became. You could fit at least three double decker buses in there. That’s how tall it was. It was like a communist Moria. There were big concrete pillars supporting the tunnel. The river was running steadfast underfoot. The tunnel was wide as well. Really wide. There were actually two paths you could walk and we were to the far left. We walked so far in that you couldn’t see the entrance anymore. You could just hear the water gushing and the sound of the street from up above. I thought of my first novel ‘The Cave’ and how this tunnel reminded me of my cave a little bit. It was eerie, it was dank, and it was abandoned. There was nobody around, I was worried we would bump into some homeless types but Nathanael didn’t seem too concerned about this.

Either way, we were in and out and we had the experience of seeing a part of Seoul that not many people get the chance to see, unless they watch the movie ‘The Host’ of course, as parts of that movie were filmed right there in the tunnel under the Wonhyo. I stood on the sand alone (as Nathanael talked to some Koreans) after exiting the tunnel. I looked out across the Han River. I saw the metro trains travelling over a bridge in the distance. There were couples holding hands walking along the cycling track, the moon made the water sparkle. Seoul was alive all around me. I took deep breaths and listened to the river. It was peaceful. I felt empty and full at the same time. Nathanael came back over and we decided it was time to leave.

So, we needed a place to stay right? It was getting late and I had an appointment in the morning. This bit is about the penis by the way. In case you were wondering if I was ever going to get back to that, here we go. We stayed at a jimjibang. That’s code for Korean bath house. I don’t know why us foreigners call it a jimjibang and don’t just call it a bath house. We don’t call a mountain a san (Korean for mountain), do we? Anyway, Korean bath houses are a little like health spas or really cheap hotels. 8000 won was the actual price. I didn’t take a bath. I didn’t want to get naked in front of a bunch of strangers, or in front of Nathanael for that matter. I just wanted to get some sleep. There are penises everywhere though. I guess that’s what you get at a bath house. You walk in, you pay your money, you get given a locker key, you walk round the corner and boom, asian penises everywhere. I walked to my locker offloaded my stuff, used the bathroom (not the BATH room and went upstairs to a small capsule (reminiscent of Japanese capsule hotels) and went to sleep. It was a pleasant sleep on a Korean style bed. A floor with a mat on it. I slept really well. I got up, went to my locker, got my things and proceeded to my doctors appointment. I saw some more penises on the way out.

I got my vaccinations. It didn’t take long. Afterwards we went to Namdaemun market and haggled with some Koreans over some backpacks and I finally bought myself a backpack for my trip. It’s blue and black and it’s 45L. I didn’t want to get a massive bag; I wanted to restrict the amount of things I’d be taking with me around the world. I mean, with the amount of travelling we’ll be doing the last thing you want is to be weighed down. I’ll write a blog before I pack my bag and I’ll take some photo’s of exactly what I’m packing for the big trip. Less than you’d expect is what I’m hoping for. The market was humming with people and once we’d scored a good deal on backpacks we got out of there. We had some Vietnamese food which was delicious and we caught the afternoon bus back to Sachang.

It’s Sunday now. Last night I shot some people. Sean, you really do keep throwing out the most inappropriate sentences. What I mean to say is that I played some video games with Ben that involved shooting things. I got up at 6:30am this morning. I just do that. Once I’m awake I can’t stay in bed. You only get a certain amount of mornings in your life and it’s your job to make sure you don’t waste them. So, I cleaned my bathroom, I made some breakfast, I did some writing and I watched a movie.

I also have to make a gibbon experience decision. Here’s the predicament. The gibbon experience is a program in Laos where you head off into the jungle for 2 days and live in these high rise treehouses that you get to via zip line cables. I’ve been excited about doing it for nearly two years now. Ever since I first heard about it. The problem lies in the time of year that we’ll be in Laos. It’s going to be wet season and the hike to the treehouses can be pretty treacherous from what I’ve read. Part of me likes the idea of the adventure. Part of me doesn’t want to slip up and break a leg. It’s looking more and more likely that we’ll skip out on that experience and find something else to do. I’ll keep you posted.

Things are all falling into place now and the week after next we’ll be applying for our visas. The last stage of the very long planning process. Once that’s’ done we can relax as there will be nothing left to do outside of packing our bags and boarding our plane. Time is going by very fast and I only have two months left in Korea. The sun still shines and the humidity is getting irritating. I go running and listen to the frogs down by the river at night.

This blog has been a little disjointed. I’m making fish and chips again tonight. I’m becoming a master of the meal.

…for there will be fireworks and they will light up your eyes and you will feel more alive than ever before…

1 comment:

  1. Fish and chips..... a little bit of home....never got to a bath house in Korea... you should have taken a bath Sean... just made a pizza for Chip the Romanian and Petar the Serb