Friday, June 13, 2014

Adventures in Subway Riding

13 June 2014

 Don't you love the entrance to this ladies' room?  This was in the metro, no less!

We decided it was time to conquer the Seoul subway system, which is labyrinthine, to say the least.

There are 18 lines - some are the subway lines, and they are numbered as well as colour-coded.  Other lines have names, and they have identifying colours as well.

On our map, the writing is close to needing a
magnifying glass to be legible.  Plus the names of the stations are in Korean and English, which makes it even more difficult to find the station or location we're trying to isolate.

The red dots are transfer stations; the other dots are normal stations.

And, of course, the rate changes depending on where you get on and off the system.  So each station has ticket machines, and there are various ways to identify your point of disembarkation - alphabetically or by line.  Except the names are difficult to remember - we tried going to Apgujueng Rodeo, which is listed as Apgujue ngrodeo, on two lines - and of course, there's also Apgujueng without the rodeo.  Okay, we spend more time than necessary trying to buy a subway ticket.  But once on, it isn't too terribly difficult, since the trains have displays showing the name of the upcoming station in Korean and English, so we know when to get off.  And the named train lines (KoRail) and subway lines all work on the same ticket - as I said, not too terribly difficult once you get the hang of it.

So we went first to Yeongdeungpo-gu Market, which was on our #5 purple line, figuring this would be easy, no transfers needed - the market turned out to be an indoor discount clothing and household stuff market, underground.  (We thought it would be a big open-air food market!)  Interesting, but not what we were hoping to find.  However, the market attached to the Time Square building, which was more of a big mall that was more upscale, and had a fabulous food court.  We had much more fun with that area.

Of course, we tried following the signs to head back to our hotel, but there are several Yeongdeungpo stations - and we were at the wrong one.  So we had to get on the wrong line, go one or two stops, get off, and transfer.  Once accomplished, we had a straight shot back to our area, so not a problem.

The following day, we were feeling REALLY brave - we'd go somewhere that required a transfer and two lines, plus a walk - our plan was to go to the Opera Gallery.  Now, at the time we didn't quite realize this was a commercial gallery, with branches in various cities around the world.  We became used to "gallery" meaning "art museum" as it did all over Australia.  Turned out to be the commercial gallery, but with a very interesting exhibit called "Starcatchers," featuring paintings by Lita Cabellut.  

She's an artist born in 
Barcelona, but trained in Amsterdam.  She paints monumental paintings - huge paintings, way larger than life.  You can see in these images (lifted from the internet, because I don't take photos in art galleries, the paintings don't photograph well) how huge the paintings are.  Some are about 5 ft square (1.66 meters or so) - others are huge, maybe 8 x 12 feet (2.6 x 4 meters).  HUGE!  And the images are all of stars, famous people from the past and present: Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel.  Lots of Coco.  And, like all artists, the personages are recognizable but idealized at the same time.

There are several unique aspects to Ms. Cabellut's paintings - the size, for one.  Then the underlying texture - the artist worked with chemists to develop her system of creating a texture under the layers of paint.  The texture vaguely mimics the crackle of old oil paintings, but if you look closely you can see that the canvases are painted with some kind of ground (that often creates bubbles as well as the crackle) and then is rolled, gathered, or bunched up, then flattened and left to dry.  (Sorry, as an artist these things cry out for understanding the process in my brain.)

Another unique aspect is how detailed and realistic the faces are painted.  Again, Ms. Cabellut worked with labs and chemists to develop (and patent) her process of layering glazes (thinned paint) and detailed brushwork to truly emulate soft, living, vibrant skin and bone structure.  The faces are painted in loving detail, and are designed to show the inner emotion of the subjects - laughter, thoughtfulness, introspection, sadness, whimsy.  (This painting of Charlie Chaplin is one of my favourites, look at his hair - can't you just feel how funny and quirky he was?)

But around the face, the hair and clothes sort of explode into an abstract chaos that vaguely represents hair and clothing from a distance, but up close is just a random gathering of colour and shape,  converging to barely resemble anything relating to humans.  Really, just a random explosion of colour!

I loved it!  All of it!  I found her work to be just fascinating!  You can read more about Lita Cabellut here and here, if you are interested.

The neighbourhood was a bit, well, whimsical or quirky as well - not too sure what King Kong is doing in Seoul, other than climbing a building with a napsack on his back.  (Not singing or yodelling.)

And I found equally whimsical and quirky socks - I love the kitties, which are on the toes as well as the heels of the socks.  The rather sad koala (he's feeling blue). And the last pair, which I thought were penguins but turned out to be monkeys (they have ears around the corner of the sock).  Oh well, I'm okay with monkeys, I've met some nice monkeys in Asia.

My foot infection and fungus is trying to make a comeback - this truly is the fungus that wouldn't die.  (Maybe King Kong is here to fight that?)  We finally found a doctor today, sent by a pharmacist - the pharmacist didn't speak English, but she pointed out the building diagonally across the street and we headed over.

The doctor was thrilled to meet people with whom to practice his English - he went to college at Northwestern in Chicago, and then Harvard med school.  He was quite funny and chatty, joking with the two of us.  So I'm getting antibiotic shots, more antibiotic pills, and steroid pills to reduce the infection/inflammation.  I'm seeing the medical systems of Asia from the inside!  

Anyway - for the consultation, injection, and getting the toe cleaned and a new bandage put on, I paid a whopping $14 or so!  The pharmacy downstairs had all the meds I needed, and they put them into these little plastic pockets - sorted so that I just open one packet, three times a day (and three packets per day) - no more fumbling with one from this bottle and one from that bottle.  And about $8 for the meds.  How amazing is that?  (And why don't we all have access to affordable medical care like this????)

So, no swimming right now, no more jacuzzi for me for a bit, and another injection tomorrow.  But hey, if I can finally get this stupid thing cleared up and gone, it is SO worth it!

Tomorrow, more adventures on the subway!