3 July 2014
We finally - FINALLY - have our passports in hand, with an additional 48 pages each! Woohoooo! They're so thick, they don't lie flat anymore. Oh well, we have another 4 or 5 years to use them, so hopefully the puffiness will go down.
Of course, this was another Phebe and Richard kind of adventure. Because we just can't manage to do anything normally.
The embassy here is so busy, they don't take phone calls - they deal with everything via the internet. Our application was completed online, then printed. We had to make an appointment online to turn in the application for additional pages. We had to send an email to find out when the passports were ready. And then we had to go online to make another appointment. Okay, fine, all set and good to go. Got the appointment. Since we don't have a printer, we download the file onto a computer as a .pdf. Again, easy. I checked that the appointment confirmation was in the computer. Put it on a jump drive. Did all of this on Friday. Went to print downstairs at the hotel on Monday. And the file shows up BLANK. I run up to the room, figuring I'll just reload from the computer. BLANK. As Richard said, this must be some kind of special FBI or CIA email that self-destructs within 24 hours if you don't print it right away! AGH! Well, we went to the embassy anyway, even though their website says to print the appointment confirmation and bring that to the appt. We were prepared to argue. We had our driver's licenses ready as ID. And lo and behold, the embassy didn't ask for the appointment paper, they looked us up on a list! How normal! (And why didn't they do that first time around?) Anyway, it all worked out, but we did have that initial panic with the disappearing email confirmation.
So, we've been exploring the city some more, and returning to places we've been but didn't get a good look around. Weather has been a bit wet, since summer seems to be rainy season here. Though it's definitely a not-too-hot rainy season, so it's comfortable.
And we're stumbling and bumbling our way around, playing charades or drawing pictures to try to find what we want, or to order food, and whatnot.
Well, sometimes the tables are turned.
We were at a mall with a giant food court, and Richard wanted his burger. So I went elsewhere, and ordered what I thought was bulgogi on rice (bap) - bulgogi being marinated and usually stirfried beef, sometimes with vegs. And of course the various little dishes of kimchee and pickled daikon and such.
I order. I pay. I'm given a buzzer. I'm told all kinds of things in Korean, I nod and smile, I go back to my seat. My number shows up on the video screen and the buzzer goes crazy. I go get a tray of food - bowl of rice with salad and scallions on top, and a bubbling clay pot of something. The lady at the counter says something to a serving lady, who follows me back to my table, and motions that I should take the stuff in the bubbling clay pot, put it on the rice and salad, mix it up, and eat it. So I take the spoon and scoop out the stuff, which is still bubbling, and put it on the rice. I take my chopsticks and stir things up, and begin to eat. I sip on the miso soup, I have a bite of kimchee or daikon, I go back to the rice mix. After a while, Serving Lady comes back and shakes her head as if I'm hopeless. She lectures me in Korean. She takes my spoon, takes the bowl away from me, and proceeds to really mix and mash the whole thing into one big gloppy pile - no separate greens or rice, with the sauce on top. Hands me back the spoon and mimes to eat with that. I hold up the chopsticks - she emphatically shakes her head no, and crosses her arms in a big X - Korean for no no no! So I laugh, put down the chopsticks, pick up the spoon, go back to eating. Serving Lady comes back with a small bowl of plain rice, and directs a young woman to tell me something - turns out I have sulgogi, not bulgogi - I think it was sort of like mung bean chili - and that since it's spicy, I might need more rice. I said thank you, it was good the way it was. Serving Lady then asks in Korean if I want more miso soup, since I had finished that. (If you finish a side dish, more is often brought out for you.) No, thank you, I'm fine. I was just laughing inside - this could have been the Carnegie Deli with some Jewish grandmother telling me I was eating my matzah ball soup all wrong! It was absolutely hilarious!
Oh, as part of the rainy day protocol here, most cafés have this contraption that has a long skinny plastic bag, you put your umbrella in, then slide out the whole umbrella encased in the bag, so you don't drip all over their floor. It looks rather like an umbrella condom, so Richard and I were laughing about it. Just one of those things that's normal to Koreans and very funny to people from elsewhere. (This is my wonderful blue morpho umbrella, that I saw in Costa Rica but couldn't find there, because they're sold online in the US. LOVE my umbrella. Not only does it have the push-button open, it has a push-button close! YAY! No more pinched fingers!)
Okay, so one more toe. Stupid fungus came back, my baby skin freaks out, I went back to the dr who has me on antifungal cream, antifungal pills, anti-inflammatory pills (half a steroid), and what the pharmacist called "anti-stamen pill" - I figured out this was an antihistamine. (Yeah, I know.) Oh, and an antifungal shot every 3 days. Plus the nurse who likes to over-bandage had a chance to do her thing and make my toe look, well, humongous. So now my thumb toe has major attitude. And I'm supposed to not wear sandals for a while, but socks and closed shoes. As if they can fit with this monster Cowgirl-Got-The-Blues thumb toe??????
The weather is supposed to improve, so I may defy orders and go with my sandals as we continue to walk around Seoul, using the metro system we have mostly conquered as our way of going long distances.
And we'll see what other trouble we can get into!