21 June 2014
We're changing hotels tomorrow, partly because we've found this is the best way to get to know different areas of a city. It gives us a chance to live in a different neighbourhood, walk different streets, and eat at different nearby cafés and restaurants. So when we stay in a city for a while, we often move around to different hotels.
we've also found that we seem to be staying in what is euphemistically
called a "love hotel" in this part of the world. As in, yes, they rent
rooms by the hour. We aren't sure if the call girls work out of the
hotel, or just rent the rooms. But, well, it makes for a bit of a
we're moving to a more touristy part of the city. Gangnam-gu. (Which
of course we tend to call Gangman, but that's the New York in us.)
we've had a quiet couple of days, dealing with the usual kinds of
things - talking to FedEx about what we need to do to import our
medications. Looking at places to travel to when we leave Seoul, The
business side of travelling.
weather has been such that we are never sure if we want to go to one of
the large parks in the city, or stay inside - this is the few weeks
before rainy season begins in earnest, so it often looks as if it will
begin raining shortly. Hasn't yet, just looks like it. The days tend
to be warm, even when overcast like today - probably about 80 F (25 C)
or so, which is very pleasant, especially since there's almost always a
breeze here. Evenings get a little chilly, needing a light jacket or
sweater - at night it might drop to 60-ish (15 C) - so in general the
weather is very mild and comfortable.
Today, we headed off to a park, but by the time we finished lunch, it looked like it would rain soon. We opted for a walk around our neighbourhood, in a new direction, and found a lovely city park, which was also a school yard and community garden. Really - kids (and maybe a dad) were practicing for their chance at the World Cup; a few kids were off to the side practicing baseball; an older man was kicking a soccer ball around by himself and practicing goals; and a few people were sitting on park benches watching and chatting.
The entire place was set up like a large square, with the school building covering two sides of the square, and the soccer field in the center. The garden was on the outer edge of the soccer field, and had both flowers and vegetables - I saw zucchini, lettuce, beans, peas, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots - might have been some potatoes or eddoes (tania), I'm not sure.
There was an older man working in the garden - he pointed out the lilac bush to me, I'm not sure how he knew that's my favourite! Most of the garden plots had a photo and motto, apparently each being assigned to a class at the school.
There were even containers around the brick patio area, utilizing as much space for the garden as possible.
And some class had created a small rice paddy using plastic to keep water in their little area.
I know when I was a student we grew things in the classroom as part of our science lessons, so I expect that's part of what this garden project was all about. But I know there's also a movement in the USA to help students get more interested in eating fruits and vegs, so that might be part of it as well.
It just was really interesting to see how the school/community garden was handled here.
Of course, there was also the usual playground equipment for the younger students, like ladders and gyms and slides - no swings though.
And the far end of the grounds, opposite the main part of the school, had park benches where we sat for a bit. There were various rocks set up with signs - maybe another science project, or just something for information? (It would help if we could read Korean.) And how cool is it to have these great statues at the school?!?!
We aren't exactly sure what these bins were all about, they were scattered around a residential neighbourhood. We thought they most likely are for donating used clothing, but, well, one never knows for sure. Seems like the most likely explanation.
Anyway, so we walked a while more, and found a tiny pocket park in another part of the neighbourhood. Just a little part, surrounded by buildings and taking up a fraction of a city block.
This park had all kinds of exercise spots set up - but they were fairly mild exercise equipment, very low impact, and maybe better suited for rehabilitation or maybe for easy exercise for older adults. There was the side to side hip sway thing, the step thing that's almost like an elliptical machine because your legs just swing back and forth, and then the giant steering wheel, which, well, I'm not too sure what you do with it. I tried all of them, and I guess I'm either not old enough or in pretty okay shape - they all were way too easy to qualify as exercise for me. But I liked the colour!
There was an older man walking circles around the park, who would periodically get on one of the machines and do whatever exercise. He and I did the step glider thing side by side for a bit, with me giggling and him ignoring me.
Well, another old man, nicely dressed in a suit and tie, tried to chat me up. In Korean. Since I don't speak Korean, I just smiled, nodded, and eventually walked away. The man went over and tried talking to Richard, who shook his hand, smiled, nodded. The man sat down on the bench next to him and kept talking. Richard decided he was rather drunk, and went back to reading. Finally, the man pulled out a 5000 won note (about $5 US) and offered it to Richard, pointing at me - uh, yeah, no thanks! Richard got a bit huffy and said NO NO NO! several times - good thing I wasn't nearby and missed this whole thing, I'd have smacked the schmuck upside the head and caused an international incident or something! Really, the nerve of some men! (I've been propositioned in a variety of countries, you'd think it would stop by the time I'm nearly 60!)
Anyway, the old man was gone by the time I wandered back over to Richard, who told me the story. So I didn't have the chance to smack him.
Oh, I should add that there were quite a few older people wandering around in this park (besides the old perv) - and one man in pajamas. We occasionally see people walking around in pajamas, usually white with blue designs - we aren't sure if there's possibly a hospital nearby, and people are allowed some time exercising outside, or what. We've even seen people in pajamas on the subway, and today saw a woman with her husband and adult son in a coffee shop - the woman in the pajamas. We really wonder about this, but, well, it isn't as if we can go up and say "So are you on break from a hospital or what?" It is curious though.
Anyway, we'll continue enjoying Seoul, and will also continue to avoid strange old men in parks, LOL!