Surviving Seoul Summers

Surviving Seoul Summers

HOY2: D231

Thorough Thursday

How-To: Survive the Summer Heat in Seoul

I don’t believe that it’s a secret that the temperatures in Seoul, South Korea, are somewhat uncomfortable for the average human being. That being said, I am less-average in the sense that I’ve always lived in the mountains, which means, frigid winters and mild summers (of course, these days, that does not seem to be the case up in the mountain region from whence I came). Thus, I have never enjoyed hot climates, and so, I find summertime in Seoul less than desirable; actually I find the general climate of Seoul to be less than desirable all the time, but this is not about that. With that said, I have recently discovered a way to enjoy the heat, just in time, no doubt. Even though the temperature hasn’t hit blistering levels quite yet, I have tested out my new strategy a few times already, and I imagine that my plan will work swimmingly even as the temperature climbs.

None of what I’m about to say will be ground-breaking insight nor will it be anything but obvious.

Nevertheless, I do feel like sharing this little tidbit because, well, I’m finished with my fiction writing quota for the day, and now I’m bored. So, here it is! Well, I suppose the plan is two-fold and includes tips and tricks (a tip, no tricks) for getting to know Seoul as a whole along with my cooling method. For starters, you must know that I have lived in Seoul for three years now, and honestly, the city has become a bit … redundant. The lifemate and I have slowly been discovering that pretty much every nook and cranny of the city has much of the same things going on … shopping …eating … hiking … a level of consumer drivel that’s out of this world. Despite this general lack of diversity (in every sense and form), each neighborhood does usually have one major attraction or eatery that will be new and distinct. And so, my first (only) tip and trick.

When deciding where to explore within Seoul, the best thing to do is find the nearest subway station to your current location. Once you know where you’re located within the city, use this MAP to determine a location that’s about thirty to forty minutes away by subway. I think that most people under the age of forty will have no problem using the map, since it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you are having a hard time figuring it out, just start clicking on the little dots on the screen next to each subway station name, and everything should become clearer to you. If you’re still having problems, leave a comment, and hopefully, someone will help you out.

Okay, so now that you know which subway station is your closest station, choose, at random, a subway station that’s approximately thirty to forty minutes away. Here’s the tip, it takes, on average, about two minutes to travel between stops, i.e. traveling from Dongdaemun to Seoul Station is five stops apart and takes nine minutes. Once you choose a stop, search the station name through whichever web-search engine you prefer (Google it). The web-search engine of your choosing ought to provide enough information about the one interesting thing to see or do in that particular neighborhood. Sometimes the thing will be a traditional-type palace or a traditional-type goods alley or a traditional-type foods market or a Buddhist temple or a contemporary department store or modern-day attraction or, you get it. If the main attraction near the subway station you chose on the map sounds good to you, then go there. If not, pick another station and repeat the process until something really hits ya between the balls with excitement, etc.

What the lifemate and I typically do is we search for whatever thing we’re looking for, a market or a restaurant or a movie theater, search the subway station associated with wherever whatever we’re looking for is located, and then, we search the surrounding area … all virtually, of course. Then, when a place sounds like it has at least two different things going for it, we also make note of all of the immediate subway stops. We usually go straight to our desired destination and scope out whatever it is that we’ve traveled all that way to see. Then, we walk to one of the surrounding stations. It’s a great way to get a glimpse into the actual lives of Koreans.

I would provide more information about the neighborhoods we like to hang out in, but then I risk running into more foreigners, and I’m not really interested in such social meetings. Also, we don’t really go to tourist hot spots ’cause, do I really need to explain myself? Plus, our “it” neighborhood is changing all the time because that’s how Seoul is –it’s changing all the time. Again, this is why this strategy works well for those of you who have or are planning on living here for more than a year. Seoul’s rate of business turnover is … fucking ridiculous. You cannot count on anything being there the next time you visit, and so, we’ve learned the hard way to just soak up each new neighborhood the first time we visit, and then we push it from our minds and never hope to return there for whatever specific thing we loved in the hood the first time we visited. Sure, we’ll repeatedly return to some areas of the city, but we know full well that whatever it is that we’re traveling there for will most likely no longer be available. Thus, the “Pick and Pop” (TM [… jk, who’d be so pretentious]) method through the subway map was born. Sure, these days we have to travel upwards of ninety minutes sometimes to get to a neighborhood we’ve never been to, but since we travel less frequently, generally speaking, it’s not such a burden. During everyday-type weekend outings, we stick to a neighborhood that requires only thirty to forty minutes of travel.

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Make of it what you will.

Now, how to stay cool during these searing hot months? Well, that’s the fun part. There’s nothing better than an ice-cold bevey to satisfy a sweaty profile. And there’s nothing better than a little booze to lubricate a day on the town. Therefore, there’s definitely nothing better than an icy-boozy bevey to keep you cool and emotionally lubricated. What do I mean by lubrication? Well, Seoul is a fucking crowded city, and yea, it’s fun and exciting at first, but then I found that it has become droll and daunting. There are thousands of people everywhere you go, all the time. If you think about a city the size of Seoul with a population of about 10,000,000, that means that there are more than 15,000 people on average packed within one square kilometer. It’s like I said, crowded. Yes, it can be extremely exciting, but if you’re like me, it becomes very draining. And so, I like to get a little (more than a little) tipsy while out on the town. It helps me care less about the pushing and shoving and rudeness and ajumma entitlement and the general sense of,

“Oh my ephing god, these handrails/bathrooms/chairs/benches/door handles must be so disgusting! Think about how many people use them every single minute of every single hour of every single day! And I’m like four stories underground right now in a small tube with thousands of people who listen to authority to such an extent that they will end up dying rather than simply getting off the train!”

I digress. Anyway … So yea, I use alcohol as a coping mechanism for all of my idiosyncratic phobias and general psychosis. Obviously, I’d prefer the all-natural, more-fun beez from our days of yore, but alas, such goodness, perhaps, works well as a carrot. Again, I digress.

And now, the 10 steps to staying hydrated and lubricated during the scorching Seoul summer! (These measurements are for two people hanging out together.) This process works best when undertaken the night before an outing:

  • Step 1: Buy one to three (depending on your desired level of inebriation) bottles of cheap (cheap cheap, you’ll see why below) white wine
  • Step 2: Buy one small bottle of a lemon-lime soda of your choosing
  • Step 3: (If you have an empty 2L bottle of water, skip to Step 4) Acquire or save an empty 2L bottle of water
  • Step 4: Fill 2L water bottle with white wine until it’s about 3/4 full (use your own discretion or fill two 2L bottles, whatever, it’s all up to you!), leave room for the lemon-lime soda and add half the bottle of lemon-lime soda, leave the bottle nearly full, leaving room for expansion
  • Step 5: Place the nearly full bottle of wine and soda mixture into the freezer the night before an outing.
  • Step 6: The next morning, the contents of the bottle ought to be frozen. Wine freezes quite well, but it remains slightly slushy, hence the lemon-lime soda. The soda helps it to freeze to a more solidified state. Remove the frozen bottle of wine from the freezer and wrap the thing up in a hand towel. Any sort of carrying device will work. Whatever suits you and your desires works best. The lifemate and I like to carry the thing around in a small panda-shaped backpack.
  • Step 7: Now, as you’re leaving to your desired destination for your outing, pick up some sort of cold (or hot if you desire, but that seems beside the point) bevey from your favorite (or cheapest) bevey-distribution shop, you know, something of the cup-and-lid-and-straw variety, and drink the bevey on the way to the subway station.
  • Step 8: Once inside the station, your purchased bevey ought to be finished, so now, this is the important part, KEEP THE BEVEY CUP! If the cup is a hot-bevey cup, then you might want to rinse the thing out at a subway station water fountain. Most stations have them. If you have a cold-bevey cup, then just swish the remains out with the last of the melting ice.
  • Step 9: Now comes the fun part! Fill your decoy cup with the frozen wine. Sometimes the wine will still be a bit too frozen, so at this time, you might want to just massage the bottle with your hands to warm it up while you ride the train to your destination. The point is to take it slow, so there’s no rush to get the juice into the decoy cup before arriving at your desired location, especially since the trains are air conditioned quite well. If it’s really hot out, the wine should be a nice slushy mixture by the time you get to wherever you’re going.
  • Step 10: Once at your destination for your day’s outing, you should be happily sipping a delicious wine slushy from your decoy cup. As the cup empties, simply fill it with the contents of the water bottle. Since the thing was frozen, it does a surprisingly good job of staying cold and refreshing throughout the entirety of the afternoon heat. Enjoy the day refreshed and tipsy! (See Exhibit A)
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Exhibit A

The crazy thing is that alcohol is readily available throughout the city, and old grannies and grandpees drink openly in public. The lifemate and I, however, still feel it’s a bit strange and would rather avoid the odd looks, especially since we already have to deal with so many odd looks given the fact that we’re a mixed-raced couple, and Koreans, in general, are surprisingly, quite racist. So, we like this strategy cause it looks like we’re just sipping some frozen concoction from whatever local bevey joint our cup’s label advertises. Also, we’ve tried stronger versions with hard liquor and the like, but vodka, etc., gets us a bit too drunk and being drunk makes me feel even hotter. The wine, I’ve found, takes the edge off without giving me the liquor sweats. Obviously, if you’re a hard drinker, you may want to swap out the wine for something stronger, but the point for us is not to be so drunk that we block out the city completely. The point is just to lubricate my senses so that I can enjoy it without all the … compulsive obsessions.

So, there you have it! My take on how to stay cool and chill while out in the blistering heat that is Seoul in summer. I hope you try it! If you do, let me know! If you have even better tips and tricks, definitely let me know! Lates.

 


 

Week-Long Ultra-Feast

Week-Long Ultra-Feast

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY ONE HUNDRED FIFTEEN

2017 February 13 [Monday]

Monday, Monday, Monday, Monday!, couldn’t come soon enough! The week started with a light cold that left me feeling a bit dull and snot-ridden for about three days, but the whole sitch came and went quick enough. I went for a light jog on Wednesday to get some new blood pumping through my system and felt pretty good the rest of the week. Today, I feel fine. The cold, however, brought about the beginning of a week-long ultra-feast, meaning the lifemate and I indulged ourselves in all of the unapproved foods we normally never eat.

We ate bags of chips, bags of [Snyder’s-style] pretzels, half a dozen fudge-filled brownies, half a dozen super-fancy Krispy Kreme donuts, hash browns, potato hash, Taco Bell, honey biscuit sandwiches, BLTs, bacon, cheese-filled corn dogs, cream cheese-filled and ice cream-filled Belgian waffles, vodka and pricier beers. Basically, we stuffed ourselves so that we would not want to eat anything so heavy and carb-loaded ever again!, and it worked.

I felt so bad by Saturday night that I was sure I would not be able to eat anything on Sunday, but a deal’s a deal. We had to gorge ourselves [and not workout] through Sunday so as to be sure we’d land somewhere truly disgusted with ourselves. It was not awesome. Luckily, today is now today and so, I woke up and immediately hit a hard circuit workout, ate a bowl full of veggies, and soon, I’ll be meeting with the lifemate to eat a chicken stick and grocery shop for ginormous salad stuffs. I’m so excited! From here on out it’ll be back to business as usual until our vacation in May!

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As far as other happenings from the past week are concerned, there’s not much to tell these days since most my days revolve around writing the fiction. I had a fiction word quota of 7500 words due yesterday, and I pretty much kicked the thing in the ass. All-in-all the fiction writing is going really well. I easily write anywhere between 1500 and 1800 words per sitting. Lately, I’ve been doing one writing sesh per day on five of the ten days in each metric week. It’s a pretty good system, honestly. I have the freedom to relax my mind and come up with ideas, but I can only take one or two days off at a time and have to write on back-to-back days. The challenge of consistently having to output fiction is truly wonderful, while the consistent time off helps the ideas flow constantly. I’m finding a rhythm, and I gotta say, it feels great.

02-17-yakultuploadMy other weekly responsibility of teaching English to my student, SJ, on Thursdays and Fridays has been great as well. Her mother bought her some new social studies textbooks, and SJ really seems to enjoy the content. During class, her mother always provides me with some delicious drink and sometimes a treat, and last week, her mother gave me the coolest little yogurt drink. It was one of those Yakult probiotic drinks, but the packaging was not only twice as big as usual, but also, it was upside down! So amazing. That little treat made my day. It was so fun. We, SJ and I, then discussed whether or not she thought her mother was cool. I think that her mother is really cool cause she seems to know what’s “now,” but SJ disagrees. SJ thinks that her mother has such “old style.” That may be true as far as what her mother herself likes to eat and wear, but the things her mother buys SJ is always pretty hip and on trend. AND the food and drinks her mother provides for me are always pretty cool, I think. Haha.

*sigh*

Anyhow, I suppose that’s all. There’s not much to talk about since I just don’t feel all that connected to these Mundane Monday posts anymore. They’re totally pointless from a writing standpoint, but maybe they’re nice to have when considering where I might be living in the future and how nice it might be to look back on these posts from our time in Seoul. No matter, I will continue to write them. If I figure out some other topic about which to write instead, perhaps I will rethink these diary-type entries then. For now, I still enjoy how easy these entries are to write, and I probably need to have some writing output that requires less brainpower. *sigh* Back to the fiction.

Until next time …

a blogged vlog?

a blogged vlog?

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY EIGHTY-SEVEN

2017 January 16 [Monday]

Mundane Monday

The legs are still on fire after our [the lifemate and my] stairs workout on Saturday that we opted for due to the chillingly cold weather that prohibited us from working out outside. We were supposed to also complete an arms-focused circuit workout yesterday, but we were both so sore that we skipped it. Boo. That means that that’s what I’ll be doing later today. Ugh.

Anyhow, last week was quite exciting!, and yet, the week was also quite monotonous. First, the excitement: The lifemate bought me a congrats-on-publishing-your-first-book present in the form of a new writing utensil!

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I’ve officially had the thing for one whole week, and I gotta tell ya, I absolutely love it. Being the Year of No Frills that it is, I’ve opted for a Chromebook laptop, which essentially does nothing except access Google Chrome. I never did much more than that on my old, full-specs computer, so really, it feels just like working on a traditional laptop but without the guilt of spending so much money on a computer that only [reductive, I know] accesses the internet. I’ve yet to take it anywhere because I want to make a case for it, but I can already tell that it’ll be supremely easy to transport.

As far as the monotony is concerned, I had two items of writing due [by my own volition] last week. The first was my weekly Friday Feature, and the second was my 5,000-word fiction goal. Every Friday I publish a 1,500-word nonfiction essay, and every metric week [ten days] I have a certain amount of fiction [this week, 5,000] words due. Last week both items of writing were due on the same day. Luckily, with a little planning, I knew that this would happen, thus, I was diligent about getting all of my daily word counts completed so as not to be burdened with too much writing the night before. Procrastinator tamed! I feel very proud of myself for the daily work that I put in last week in order to successfully complete all of that ephing writing. What transpired, however, was a week of sheer monotony, which I suppose I ought to get used to.

Fortunately, because I accomplished the week’s goals, the lifemate and I went about our typical weekend guilt-free. It was too cold on Saturday to really do much, so we ran up and down the stairs in our building for the duration of a typical run. Every time I reached the top, I did a set of push-ups [13 the first set, 12 the second, 11, and so on]. My ass got sorely kicked.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was of the typical outing variety, which looks something like this:

First, we travel by subway to some decided location:

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Then, we lube up.

Then, we walk to some other location and eat some street food.

Then, we walk to some other location to eat at a restaurant.

Then, we lube up for the subway ride/walk home

All of this is usually planned out ahead of time, before we leave the house cause we don’t have cell service. I do have a smartphone, however, that’s wi-fi capable [obviously], and so, yesterday, for the first time ever, I brought it along to capture some Instagram Stories. I’m finding the whole “Story” feature of Instagram to be quite fun. Amazing I know! I’m using social media! It’s crazy! Don’t expect to see anymore of these types of videos again anytime soon, though. The whole making of them, prepping them, and posting them all sort of interfered with the flow of our day, which I can honestly say, I didn’t enjoy so much. It’s all so distracting, and then, I found myself spending so much time staring at my phone. It was sort of horrible, but I’m glad I did it, at least once. The lifemate, surprisingly enough, was a trooper as I repeatedly subjected him to the lens and forced him to subject me to the lens. *sigh.

And now, here I am, at the beginning of another week that must be filled each day with continued reading/research for my Friday Feature, fiction writing, a workout, and the constant reminder that this is it … this is life … day after day … you just gotta get up and do something, anything.