Thursday, March 26, 2009

Episode 22: In Which DFM Gets On The Wrong Bus And Tries To Sing Karaoke In Korean

Today the plan was to go to O2 World Climbing Gym.  O2 World Climbing Gym is the biggest climbing gym in Seoul, and probably all of Korea.  Without a doubt it has the biggest indoor ice climbing gym in Korea, if not Asia.

You can see from the side of the building that it's kind of hard to miss, except for that it's nowhere near anything else in Seoul and this makes it hard to find.

I had directions but for some reason I decided not to review them before I left.  Instead I combined information from three different sources and got all of it wrong.  Long story short I got on the wrong bus, rode it all the way around, switched buses and then got on the right bus but going to wrong direction, then finally realized I was going the wrong direction and finally got on the right bus.  All together the subway trip plus bus rides took over two hours.  It was an absolute nightmare.  Not to mention my bus driver the first time was a maniac and actually hit another bus that was picking up passengers.

Speaking of maniacs... scooter couriers.  I've talked about them before but the other day I saw a female scooter courier.  She must have been out of her mind though, because was driving on the road, in her proper lane, going the speed limit.  She'll never last.

To make matters worse this day, the gym was quite a bit of a disappointment.  It's definitely the tallest indoor gym in Seoul that I've seen so far, but it still pales in comparison to the average Canadian climbing gym.  Furthermore, there were very few people climbing today.   I also tried to look at the ice climbing wall, but the observatory deck was closed today.

I had limited time after the transportation debacle, but luckily there was this steep overhung bouldering wall that enabled me to tire myself out in about an hour-and-a-half.  There were only two other climbers there, and they spoke no English, but they would point out hard routes for me and then cheer wildly if I could do them.

Afterwards I was invited out by Hyeun A for dinner.  I was under the impression that we were meeting in Itaewon, but apparently that was too far away, so I was supposed to go there.  I took the subway, which took half an hour, but later found out I was a fifteen minute walk away (I went the long way round on the subway, with two transfers).

Lee Young San and Hyeun A's supervisor, Aeri (don't ask because I couldn't figure it out either, in the white coat), came along too.  We had some spicy beef dish and a spicy tuna/kimchi soup.  As usual I couldn't stop stuffing myself full.

After dinner (Aeri was the boss, so in keeping with Korean tradition she had to pay, woo hoo!) we all went out for karaoke.  Lee did not understand how I knew what karaoke was until I told him that in Canada we imported it over from Japan.

Lee also gave me many more tips for getting along in Korea.  His number one tip was "never pay for a Korean girl, because then she'll always expect you to pay.  Always go dutch."  I asked how this fit into Korean culture.  Lee explained that in the past men were considered more powerful than women, but modern women don't want to get hit by men anymore, so they have to pay.  Makes sense to me.

Tomorrow I plan to check out the World Cup Stadium and visit Mr. Chang back at Summit Climbing Center.

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