Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Over Exposed

Korea, is for the most part, a fairly modern sort of place. While you have a the rather bizarre mix of ancient, historically craptacular, extremely shabby, randomly poor, and ridiculously expensive all blended together here, it is for the most part a fairly modern country. I keep in mind certain things when I say this as I know there are more then a few people who would argue with me about how behind the times Korea is. But lets cut Korea a little slack here, for a country that was torn apart and blown to smithereens fifty years ago, Korea is doing pretty stinking well. And with this in mind all I can think is, what the hell with all the public urination yesterday?

Im not exactly sure what was going on, but apparently it was Kids Pee on the Street Day which did not get a nice banner like the one outside of city hall proclaiming CONDOM DAY 6/9. I am going to city hall on condom day, but I suspect that at best I will just see a guy dressed in a condom suit and some health official talking about how Daegu has the condom problem covered. While I know that condom day is forthcoming, I was not aware about public urination day which was apparently scheduled to coincide with my day off for Memorial Day this year.

It started with lox and bagels. I really wanted lox and bagels. I woke up on Wednesday and thought over breakfast about lox and bagels. As lunch time drew nearer I knew I wanted lox and bagels. I knew nothing else would satisfy but lox and bagels. But I live in South Korea and its not like I can just walk out my door head down to the Jewish bakery on the corner and order up some lox and bagels. Nothing is that easy in South K. So, knowing that nothing else would suffice I got dressed, on my day off, at the ridiculously early hour of 11:30 am to go out and find lox and bagel fixing. Grab a cab, destination: Home Plus. I get there and pay the friendly cab man, say a prayer to the bald Jewish guy who runs that dinner on Wabash just under the el that makes a fantastic bagel, and head across the street for the store. As Im about to enter I see before me a six year old girl squatted down. I thought she was playing with a bug as her grandmother was there watching. Until she stood up, pulling her dress up, and by this I mean all the way up and over her head as grandmother cackles at the public flashing of the neighborhood waygook and a dirty yellow puddle runs down the sidewalk.

I was a little confused, or a lot confused. There is a public restroom about seven feet from where I am standing (and I know this as Ive used that restroom) and it seems that walking in the store and hitting that restroom would make a lot more sense. Apparently not to grandma or little girl for reasons that remain unclear. You must understand, those of you who have not lived in South Korea and who might be reading, that the public restroom experience in Korea is fantastic. Really, its wonderful. Many places even have heated seats and bidets. Unlike America, where I had the horror of desperately needing a bathroom during my recent trip home that required a trip to a public restroom, the seats are clean. Woman here appreciate being able to use an honest to god toilet and dont hover over it spraying everything with urine. Because there are still many public restrooms here that have nothing but squatters (a porcelain hole in the ground) which makes us appreciate not having to squat to pee. Im confused by urinating child, but I do not let it distract me from my cause. Lox and bagels I think as I head into the store grab a huge wad of cash and go on the hunt. And was mostly successful. I found everything I needed, onion, tomato, cream cheese, lox (honest to god smoked Salmon from Alaska lox) and lots of bread. But no bagels. I wept for my lack of bagels. Bald Jewish guy you are so cruel to keep me from the bagels. I had a backup plan. I took my goods, got into another cab and went downtown to the bakery district.

There are about ten bakeries all back to back on the street in bakery district which only makes sense in Korea but there it is. I get out and head into bakery number one where I see bagels. Im so excited. I read the sign. Sweet potato bagels. Mmmmmmmm I think that will taste fantastic with my lox. Bald Jewish guy laughs evilly from across the ocean and smacks his lips at me. I move on to the next bakery. I do manage to find some nice onion bagels and so I buy these head home and have lunch. A feast of fish and cheese and chewy breads that made me feel almost like I was home. It was heavenly. Having feasted so well on my day off there was only one thing left to do. I took a nap for two hours.

When I woke up I decided to go out to the market and go shopping. I packed myself up and headed out to get some fabric and enjoy the day. I got to the market no problem and found the fabric mart, and was enjoying myself. As I walked through the crowded streets on the food row I walked past a mostly naked seven year old who was standing in front of, right in front of, the grill while his mother held his penis and direct the flowing stream into a bottle. On food street, and there was a public restroom like seven feet away from where they were sitting. And eating. Eating with like fifteen other Koreans while the seven year old relieved himself in a bottle. I almost lost my lox.

Korea confuses me sometimes. For a place that is oftentimes so withit and ahead of the curve you occasionally get days like these where just nothing makes sense. Or at least the sudden need to expose young children publicly and have them pee doesnt make sense.

Maybe it was me. Maybe it was the bagels.

Happy Condom Day 6/9 dont forget to give a glove to someone you love.


Ipsofacto said...

"There is a public restroom about seven feet from where I am standing (and I know this as I’ve used that restroom) and it seems that walking in the store and hitting that restroom would make a lot more sense."

SaraDevil - If you gotta go, you gotta go !

But in all seriousness - when my friends ask me to describe Korea I generally answer :Technologically forwards. Culturally backwards."

John C said...

Well, Daegu shouldn't worry about having the condom problem covered. It should worry about the condom keeping things covered.

I'll agree though...Korea is one of the more interesting 'mixes' of time in one place.

This comment has been removed by the author.

The Koreans are like small children who shamelessly do things without thought or concern for others. I am almost certain that my mother never handled my genitalia when I was a child.
Koreans are the highest educated retards on the planet. Oh, and Condom Day 69 is a classic. I am sure they are so dense they don't know what that means.

Ipsofacto said...

Although NB is rather strong in his views about Korea/Koreans - worryingly I seem to have eased up on bashing Korea - he does raise a point about the date of Condom Day (I failed to notice).

Waiting for the next post (no pressure).

Saradevil said...

Yes, good ole condom day 6/9.

As it where, NB while I appreciate where you are coming from, and know a lot of people here who would only concur, I'm just not that down on Korea or Koreans. I do think some of the uniqueness of Korea is darned funny at times, but on the whole I like the country I've fitted myself into, and even the inexplicable people. The abnormality here is the spice of life.


Let me guess.....18 months? 2 years in country? Just wait a while.

Saradevil said...

Six years and counting.

Jon Allen said...

Where are these bakeries?

It took me six months to find a decent bakery and it's just one near Hongik University, and they don't do bagels.

Saradevil said...

Well, I'm not sure about Seoul, but I know in Daegu you can get bagels at Tous Le Jour, Paris Baguette, Shilla Bakery (train stations only it seems)and Crown Bakery.

I also know that you can get onion or plain bagels at Dunkin' Donut chains especially if you are up early. They even have cream cheese, though it is a laughably small amount. Other then that if you don't mind paying through the nose for what always ends up being a stale bagel they are stocked in most Starbucks in Korea now as well, and if you have a Seattle's Best near you they do sometimes have them there.

However, if it is a Seoul phenomena that the bagel does not exist the next time I come to Seoul I can bring you a few to tide you over. I can even get you locks to go with them!

Saradevil said...

and "lox". Though if you really can't get bagels in Seoul having locks might not be a bad thing.

Damn brain and the hitting of the little keys on the board thing that puts text in my glowing thought box....

Jon Allen said...

Ah, I'd forgotten you're not in Seoul.

The ones at the chain bakeries are just not that great. I need a real baker!