Thursday, June 16, 2011

Materialism, Consumerism, and Tourism, Oh My!

I met this girl named Jeannie (지니, or maybe Genie) in my class and it turns out she lives near the real Coffee Prince cafe. Too exciting, because that drama is my favorite drama ever and what got me started on this whole Korea craze. We went together and I took some super shitty cell phone pictures of the outside. Sadly, there were no cute window drawings, and the servers looked more like normal people and less like this:

One of those boys is a woman.

We didn't go in because we'd just had lunch and weren't in the mood for coffee, and anyway I find the whole coffee situation in Korea to be highly suspect. Interesting fact #12350594: yes, Starbucks has made it to Korea, but they do not have venti sizes. The biggest I've seen anyone carrying around is in fact a tall.

Afterwards, we hit up Myeongdong (명동) which is a super famous shopping district. Salesladies are super pushy in Asia, we got physically dragged into stores at several points. But the real attraction for me was all the tiny little booths that sold ridiculous things. I bought silly Grumpybear socks for Andrea, a bread-shaped keychain for Carolyn, and a little camera purse with a picture of the Eiffel tower on it for Susan. So all of my three best friends get dumb tourist things! Excellent~ I'm keeping an eye out for stuff that would appeal to my mom and other friends.

I got mistaken for being Chinese all the time; random Chinese people would speak to me in Chinese or hopefully gesture for me to enter their Chinese stores and Korean salesladies directed Chinese salesladies to me.

At one point we were dragged into a makeup store. I can't remember what its name was but it sold these amazing smelling lotions and things in cute little fruit-shaped cups. They also sell this slightly terrifying lotion that boasts Live Snail Essence, which I googled and turns out to mean 80% snail slime. A saleslady took me hostage, told me this was their one day only annual sale, and then smeared it all over my hands. It moisturizes and whitens! Because, as her look very clearly said, I am very very dark for an Asian. Another saleslady took my other hand and applied whitening product to that too.

Yesterday I ended up wandering around my neighborhood a bit and bought a sparkly green nailpolish from the local Daiso. It was super super hot out so I also ducked into an airconditioned salon and asked them to get my hair cut, though "asked" is a bit of a strong verb; I really just kind of mumbled the word "hair" in Korean and gestured at my head and was like, "It's very hot!" The hairdresser smiled and nodded and was like, "Ah, I understand!"

Also, Korea is a country full of hairdressers that understand that no, I do not want volume added to my hair. My hair already has volume. If you add more volume, I will in fact have an Asian 'fro, and in fact did used to sport one and disguised it by putting my hair in a ponytail at all times. This was before I learned what conditioner was and why you should use it. It was beautiful.

Hilariously though, they gave me this haircut:

This is the haircut Bubbles Salon completely failed to give me and that Lee & Feel achieved within fifteen minutes. My hair's a bit curlier than Eun-Jung's but when it's straightened, it looks exactly the same. Unfortunately, I am neither as pale nor as pretty as she is, but it's all right, it still looks good.

My 언니 has a trip planned to Jejudo sometime soon, I don't know when yet. But I'm looking forward to it! Unfortunately the only thing I remember about that trip was that I saw a fountain in the shape of a man peeing. No guesses as to where the water was coming from.

PS: Totally just tried to find a picture of that statue. Completely failed to do so, apparently tourists just aren't into that sort of thing, which is ridiculous btw.

I cannot believe I've actually made it to Korea. It's been hard and rough but I'm having so much fun. I've never been outside of the US before this, aside from one trip to Korea when I was in fourth grade that I can barely remember, and I've been doing almost everything completely on my own. I live with relatives so I don't have to pay rent or anything, but I'm left to fill the hours after class however I want, and sometimes things are just overwhelming - but in a good way, like when you sit down to dinner and realize there are four courses left and every single item is delicious.

I'll need to start carting my camera around and be super tourist-y and take lots of pictures. I'm no photographer, but pictures of food are always super exciting.

Peace <3


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