We moved this past weekend into another apartment across town. This place is quite smaller than our previous apartment – only two bedrooms and only one bathroom. It’s not near as nice as our previous home, either. We had wood floors there and only cheap vinyl here, thin aluminum doors and windows and (feels like) zero insulation. We also have no parking here, which means we have to jostle with neighbors, most of whom are businesses, for a space. We’re on the 2nd floor of a two story building and there are many like it along the street. The first floor of all of them, however, is businesses – restaurants, hair shops, cram schools, and hof houses – the traditional Korean beer house. Our neighborhood is relatively filthy. I forgot how nasty Koreans can be outside their homes as our last neighborhood was very clean and tidy. Here trash is strewn about the playground and cleaned up only once a week while piles of trash get heaped up in corners and the narrow spaces between buildings and is never cleaned up. When we lived on the far west side of town the neighborhood was just as filthy, but two years in a decent area was enough to make me forget and this week I’m disgusted all over again by Koreans’ lack of respect for their community and environment.
This is an older neighborhood. Some of the housing predates the use TV, and certainly all of it predates the use of internet. Cables: TV, internet and phone, are strung haphazardly everywhere and anywhere. It’s a testament to the work ethic of “hurry get it done” that pervades the culture here. Koreans call it “bally bally” culture, bally being the Korean word for hurry. And while that’s a nice thing quite often, as they’ll apologize profusely if fixing you car takes longer than it should but when aesthetics is at stake it takes not just a back seat but rather walks behind the car and doesn’t even get to ride. God help the people who have a fire but can’t get out the windows and onto a fire department ladder because of the plethora of cables blocking them.
the monstrosity of cables attached to a pole outside our building.
Slung every which way, over, under and around – whatever it takes to bally bally get it done.
The little green car in the photo above is parked at a Chinese restaurant – the only one with any parking allocated out front. The rest of the street is store front like the van is parked at in the lower right. Rules forbid parking in front of store entrances while the shop is open, however, there are no rules forbidding parking in front of home entrances as I usually have to nearly climb over cars to get out to walk the dogs. Parking is ever a problem in this land as there are no requirements for a business to provide parking when they build. It’s not uncommon to see a large office building or even a factory that employs 1000s of workers have space for just the smallest fraction of their staff allocated for parking. Even a public building such as a post office on a busy street will have no parking. Consequently, Koreans park whereever they can get away with it, regardless of what traffic they screw up. Typically, the road we live on could accommodate parking on both sides with room for traffic to in the middle – except when assholes like this SUV driver decide he’s going to park however he likes.
No regard for traffic – just park it, Get it done. Bally bally.
One nice thing about the apartment is the roof. Living in the high rise the last two years, we couldn’t use a grill to cook with. With only a covered veranda, we had to have picnic lunches at the park to have a home cooked steak or burger . I won’t be here long enough to enjoy the roof grilling, but that doesn’t mean the dogs won’t have a place to play in nice weather. In the picture below, they waited impatiently upstairs on the roof while furniture was moved in on moving day.
The dogs, Sparky (L) and SaTang, wonder why they are banished to the rooftop
I’ve got just over two weeks here in this place, and that’s just about all I can stand. I was spoiled living in the high rise with plenty of parking and clean streets and sidewalks. Any longer here and I’ll probably get into some serious parking and/or trash arguments with the buttheads who live around here.
Anyway, It’s January 28 and in just over 2 weeks I’m headed home. I’ve got my high speed rail ticket to Seoul, my plane ticket to LAX, my rental car reservation to Phoenix, most of my stuff shipped home (some of which has already arrived), a big wad o’ cash transferred to my bank in Texas and my Korean pension money set to be transferred as well. The only thing left to do is get a health certificate for SaTang who will accompany me home. Sparky gets to (has to?) stay here with MyeongHee. I’ve probably got one more box to ship home, but that’s just the things that won’t fit in the suitcase like extra shoes, bike helmet and accessories and things like that. That will be shipped express and will get home just after I do.
I’ve got a big going-away party scheduled for February 8th, but am already booked several nights with dinners and drinks with my closest friends. The big party will be for the wide circle of friends I’ve met through business, work and running a popular website for the foreigners here. I’ll miss the friends I’ve made here.
Nothing to do now but wait for the 13th.