Well, (since you asked), I have been.....
|Someone's dinner (not mine)|
going to the fish market at Noryangjin: This is a time-honored tourist destination in Seoul: a huge open warehouse full of every possible kind of seafood you could imagine, as well as a number of kinds that you
The highlight (using the term loosely) of this trip was the choice on the parts of both of our sons to wear highly-absorbent canvas shoes to muck around the fish market and all of its accompanying effluvia, which they later dropped on the threshold of the apartment without a second thought. It took me several days of frantic cleaning and sleuthing before I was able to locate the source of the odor and dispense justice.
Attending an Oktoberfest in Seoul: This was hosted on the American army base here in Seoul and involved the requisite beer tent, oompah band, lederhosen, and comely maidens in dirndls, as well as lots of sodden rocking side-to-side with beer glasses raised, whilst tunelessly belting out "Ein Prosit der Gemütlicheit." The fact that this was taking place on a horribly hot and humid September evening within sight of Namsan tower in the middle of Seoul, and that the various musicians, food servers, and comely maidens were mostly Korean, added a certain surreal touch to the occasion - although, after a few beers, this was no longer noticeable.
Going to Open House Night at Son #2's School: This involved Mr. Logical and myself driving to school in the evening through Seoul rush hour traffic - an activity which does nothing to enhance marital harmony, by the way - in order to follow Son #2's schedule, meet his teachers, and find out what Son #2 would be doing this year in each of his courses. This was not particularly different from what we would have done in the US, except there was an interesting debate going on among the parents regarding amounts of homework, and opinions seemed to fall along cultural lines. The Western parents all felt the load was
|part of the old wall on Bukhansan|
Hiking up mountains in Seoul: There is a good reason you rarely see fat Seoulites, and that is because the city is built in and around a series of mountains, which means that, if you plan ahead, just going to the grocery store can be the day's cardio workout. In fact, both my friends B and K live at the top of brutal inclines, which is why I tend to meet them for coffee as opposed to just stopping by (this should also go a long way toward explaining why I have not lost any weight since arriving in Seoul.) But have no fear! - if the naturally hilly terrain of the city streets is not enough for you, you can take your choice of any number of hiking trails located on mountains all over Seoul, which provide lovely landscaping and gorgeous scenic vistas, not to mention
|Part of the old wall on Namsan|
Of course, hiking up any of these mountains is a serious cardiovascular enterprise, which means that, once you get to the top, you - or, in this case, I - will be sweaty, disheveled, out of breath, and looking your absolute worst for all of those 'top of the mountain' scenic vista photos you were looking forward to posting on your blog but which, on closer inspection, are clearly out of the question if you are to retain any readership whatsoever. There is actually a cable car that will ferry you up or down the mountain for a fee, but in Mr. Logical's book, taking a mechanized vehicle up a mountain is only acceptable providing you are a member of AARP or you do not have the full use of your limbs, which - at least for a few more years - means the Asia Vu family gets to the top under their own steam, looking like they should have the caption survivors of the death march underneath their photo.
Of course, if you don't want to take the cable car, there are also about a gazillion tour companies which provide bus service to the summit - also on Mr. Logical's 'wuss list' - for a nominal fee. This explains why I observed so many fresh-faced, immaculately coiffed women in miniskirts and 5-inch heels tottering around the summit of Namsan, eating squid-on-a-stick and posing for glamour shots in front of the picturesque gazebo. Meanwhile, I was using the edge of Mr.Logical's t-shirt to wipe the streaming sweat out of my eyes and trying to stretch my hamstrings out of what felt like a permanent squat. Now, in all fairness, plenty of others also did not ride to the top of the mountain in air-conditioned comfort; in fact, we passed quite a number of serious, professional-looking hikers as we made our way up and down the mountain, and the one thing I learned from observing them is that I will never make the 'best-dressed hiker' list in Seoul. Apparently, there is a very specific dress code for serious hikers in Seoul, which is slightly different from the MsCaroline standard. For example, I consider an appropriate hiking costume to be my oldest hiking shoes, a pair of disreputable shorts, and the t-shirt that I wore to paint my great room in the house in Arizona; my logic being that the whole ensemble is just going to get dirty and sweaty anyway. Seoulites, however, think differently: if you are participating in an outdoor event, you must: a) own the proper gear and b) wear all the proper gear you own. This should be immediately observable from your SPF30 gore-tex sun hat/ visor to your jaunty neckerchief to your ultra-wicking polypropylene hiking shirt (with vents), to your expandable aluminium pistol-grip stabilizing poles, to your expedition-weight mountaineering boots. This unwritten dress code is either an excellent reason for me to a) go shopping or b) quit hiking altogether, but I haven't figured out which one. And so, while I'm sorting that one out....what have you been up to?