Friday, August 27, 2010

Costco, and SMOE

So, last night I made a trip to Costco. It was my first time taking the subway train here in Seoul, and true to form, I got myself lost. Briefly. Eventually I got back on track, and got off at the correct stop. After walking about six blocks in the wrong direction, I got turned around by a helpful worker at a PC room, and eventually found Costco. Upon entering, I was greeted by many familiar sights. The products are very similar, and the packaging had English translations. It was a very welcome sight. The store is laid out somewhat differently, however. On the ground floor, I found electronics, clothing, bedding supplies, cleaners, pharmacy... basically everything but food. Then, once you are done with that section, you push your shopping cart onto a slanted conveyor belt and ride it down into a basement area, where all of the food is available for purchase. The checkout is very similar to western Costcos. Like Costco in Canada, Korean shoppers are limited in their payment options. The only way to pay for groceries in a Korean Costco is either cash or Samsung card. Thankfully, I changed about a thousand Canadian dollars into Korean Won at the airport, and had more than enough to cover my purchases. I bought two large towels, two pillows, and a package of toilet paper (nothing but the essentials!) Unfortunately, they didn't have a power converter or bedsheets in the size I needed. I think I may have to break down and order those on-line.

Today, I had to go to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education to pick up a copy of my contract. Again, I had to navigate the subway system, this time transferring from one line to another. The subway stations are huge! I found my way to the correct station, and after wandering for a bit following signs, I found myself at SMOE. It is very hot here today, and most Koreans carry small fans around with them. I will have to try and get one for myself.

After getting my contract, I left SMOE, and turned left when I probably should have turned right. I'm very glad I did! I walked through a gate and came upon Gyeonghuigung Palace. Seoul is very much a city of contrasts. It is very modern, and very much a vibrant cosmopolitan city. Then, you turn a corner, and you are thrust back in time. The palace is a beautiful series of buildings featuring a huge courtyard, surrounded by beautiful trees right in the middle of a busy city. I took many pictures, and as soon as I am at my own computer, I will upload them.

After touring the area, I found the nearest subway station and made my way back to Nowon station, the closest terminal to my officetel (apartment). However, once I got off the train, the beautiful sunny day had turned into a deluge. After waiting for the rain to abate, I finally decided to make a run for it, and wound up going into what the Koreans call a PC room, which is basically an internet cafe, except more in the style of Fragz, for those of you familiar with that particular business. This is where I find myself now, writing this very blog post. Hopefully the rain will let up soon. Take care!


Phillip said...

I think the best way to overcome the stigma of being an outsider is to speak very loudly and to run towards strangers with an outstretched arm in order to shake their hand. If they act confused or startled, simply reassure them in a booming voice that you're very happy to enjoy their quaint country. Be sure to use the word 'quaint' a lot.

You'll be swimming in friends in no time!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan!
I'm glad you are doing this blog. It's nice to be able to keep up with what you are experiencing. It definitely makes me want to travel. Keep us posted!

knsangra said...

Oh and it would also scare the crap out of me, but that's what makes it fun, right?

Corey said...

Haha Phil. You're so full of good advice!

Thanks for keeping us updated Dan. I'm glad things are going well.

Daniel said...

Sounds like you're having a good start over there, take it all in and keep telling us all about it!