Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The bus gods are not smiling upon me today....

You know some days are just not your day? Yesterday was like that for me, but only in terms of transportation. School was fine. Tutoring was fine. Dinner was great. But buses, man they were out for me.

I finish school at 1:15 and have to be to tutoring at 3 in Bundang, which by subway, is an hour and a half away. I wanted to get there a little early to maybe pick up lunch or study for a few quick minutes, so I decided to take the bus. I hopped on the 110A to Hannam with no problems. As we pull in I see the red bus (red buses go further than blue and green buses) I need to Bundang right behind us. "Wow," Im thinking, "this is my lucky day." I run and get onto the 5500 bus. Immediately I notice this bus is pretty shady, and not as clean or nice as the usual bus I take home from Bundang. Whatever, I turn on my Kindle (another story on this later. I can't bring myself to write about it yet) and start to read. 20 or so minutes later and the scenery becomes a bit unfamiliar. I've only take this bus in the daylight once before, so I kind of dismiss it as bad memory. We make a few stops and we're still not at mine. Hmm. Then I see a sign for Suwon. This is bad news. Suwon is SW of Seoul, Bundand is SE of Seoul. I get nervous and ask the bus driver, "Jeonja? Jeonja?" which is the stop in Bundang I need. He shakes his head. I may have lived in Korea for a year and a half, but my Korean is still very minimal. I can't even articulate to this man that I need to be in Jeonja and need him to tell me how to get there. So I get off at the next stop.

I'm literally standing on the side of the highway in god-knows-where Korea. I have no idea which direction I need to go in or how I'm going to get there. I guess some ajuma overheard my convo (pleading) with the busdriver and comes up to me and says, "Jeongja," and points to the other side of the road. It's a start. I go to the busstop on the other side of the highway and look at the bus signs. I can read Korean just fine, and I know there is not one bus on that sign that goes to Jeonja. Out of desperation I ask the ajuma next to me, of whom I am sure speaks no English, how to get to Jeonja. She holds up one finger and says "hanna, hanna, hanna" (one, one, one). So I guess I need the 1 bus. Just then the 17 bus rolls by and she gestures I need THAT bus. She starts making running motions at me. So I start to run after the bus that may or may not be able to take me closer to Jeonja. She yells at me to stop and starts to walk with me. I guess she just wanted to walk me wherever.

I walk, more like inch, with this old lady down the icy sidewalk. She keeps talking at me in Korean and saying one, just one. Ok Lady, sure, one! I say to her, "Seoul, Itaewon." Then point around me and make a confused sad face. She laughs at me. Then she goes on about something. I point to my backpack and say, "Teacha, sunsangnim." Ahhh, ahh. The next 10 minutes of crawling are silent. We finally make it into town and the gets me to the subway and says one. At this point I know I am one subway stop away. Why didn't she just say that to begin with!? I kept petting her and saying "comsahamnida. You save me!" She smiled and walked off into the sun. Luckily after all of this hullabaloo there was a waffle vendor outside the subway. I bought 6 for a chunner (<$1) and made my way to tutoring. I tried to avoid an hour and 30 minute trip. This took me an hour 40. Asa.

As previously mentioned, tutoring was fine, although they didn't feed me. It's always hit or miss with these people. Well they did give me some Hershey kisses, and I shared my waffles, so not a total loss. Anyway, I figured out the problem with the bus was that it was the 5500 bus, not the 5500-1 bus. Seriously, you're going to have buses with the same number going different places!? WTF Korea!? In what kind of utopia must I live to find that buses going different places have different numbers!? It just makes too much sense. Oh and you know what else, there's a 5500-2 bus. Where do you think that goes? Because I have NO idea.

I leave tutoring to take the bus home. The bus is 30 minutes. The subway is 1 hour 30 minutes. It's a no brainer to try this out again. A bus pulls up, says Hannam-dong (in Korean) so I figure I'm good to go. We get to Gangam and the bus driver kicks me off. "Hannam-dong" I argue with him, but he just points to the blue bus ahead of us. False advertising buddy. Why does it say Hannam if it only goes to Gangnam!!!?? Regardless, I made it to Hannam, walked the 20 minutes to Itaewon and got a beer at Sam Ryan's to study with. Transportation finishey.

On a similar nothing-is-as-advertised note, I met Paul for dinner an hour later. I had seen in one of the foreigner magazines an ad for free drinks for ladies and discounted apps on Wednesday nights at The Crow's Nest. We had never been, heard of anyone who had, but knew they boasted the largest pizza in Korea. Pizza is Korea is interesting. It's super cheap or super expensive. Cheap quick pizzas run you about 5,000 won and usually have sweet potato and corn on them. Expensive pizzas are at "Italain" restaurants and are kind of like tortillas with cheese and no sauce. There has been a recent push for real pizza, although nothing even compares to pizza from home. So we go in, reluctantly, to this new jaunt. When I ask about their happy hour the waiter says, "Hold on. Its still under consideration." The group of foreign girls at the table next to us ask the same question and get the same response. The dude clearly had no idea about this happy hour, but the girl showed him the clipping from the magazing. He goes and sees what he can do. He comes back a few minutes later and says, "One free round. That's it." Whatever we'll take it.

Paul and I order the spinach and ricotta pizza. There's ricotta cheese in Korea!!!?? That alone scores huge points in my books. We know the pizza's big, so we get a medium for 17,000 won. The bartender comes over with our service drinks. They're flourecent green. Paul and I keep sipping them trying to figure out what it is, but still couldn't figure it out. Then the waiter brings the standard bowl of pickles and jalapenoes (who decided pickles, sweet pickles, go with pizza?) and our pizza. The pizza was maybe a little smaller than a normal pizza in the states, but that's huge by Korean standards. Pizzas usually serve one here. It was delicious!!! I can not even describe how good it was. Kind of like real pizza!!! Real mozz. Sauce with flavor. Spinach. Ricotta!!! and they even had balsamic and oil on the table to dip it in!! This place kicks every other pizza place in Korea's ass!! We will for sure be going back. Although they need to work on their whole "happy hour" scheme.

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