Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Backstabbing Bitches

I hate you economy.

No. I really hate you.

The economy hits Korea in very strange little ways that most people would not notice. Even foriegners here are in agreement that riding out the economic collapse in Korea is a might better then riding it out anywhere else. For the most part things have stayed exactly the same. It only really hurts the wallet if you do a lot of overseas banking. Generally it's not so bad.

But no, the economy finally decided to hit home for me.

And where? Where did the economy try to bend me over and make me it's bitch? Was it the fact that I have to send 600,000won out to get my $400 dollar student loan payment covered? Was it the fact that the cost of gas here is 8 dollars a gallon? Is it, perhaps, the matter of finding the regular bar trying to charge a dollar more for booze (when they pay three dollars a bottle for the same booze)?

No, no, you bastard economy you. That is not where you got me. That is not where you really made me notice. No, economy, you had the balls to hit me in the black market. And that, economy, is just a fight waiting to happen.

When you live in South Korea, like I do, you learn to give up a lot of things. For example you have to give up being able to shop for clothes or shoes. You can't go down to the market and get garlic. And forget about little things like say cilantro. I'd kill for cilantro. But you make do. You learn to eat your food seasoned only with red pepper. You make your own clothes. You get buy. One of the things that lets you get buy is the fact that even though it is expensive you can get coffee and cheese.

Now, please, do not insult me by thinking that when I say coffee and cheese I meant a selection. No, no, silly waygook. I mean I can get Folgers and Mild Cheddar. But they are real, dammit, and I like that. The Folgers costs me fourteen dollars for two pounds. For the 200 grams of cheddar cheese (imported from Australia and not too bad) I pay eight bucks. Okay, I can suffer this tiny humiliation as it allows me to have the things I want.

But you bastard economy. To get the coffee for a reasonable price I go to the black market. God Bless the GI's looking to turn a quick buck by selling PX goods to the street hajumas so they can overcharge me for coffee. I could buy coffee in Korea. But I refuse to pay25.00 for a half pound of coffee. I will not do it. So I go to the black market to get my goods. However on my most recent trip to the black market imagine my shock and terror and not being able to find a single jug of Folgers. I went up and down, in and out of the fifty or so shops that make up the illegal street market here, and not one of them had coffee. What the hell?

So I asked on of the ajoshis. "Yay, ajoshi, Ko-pi odi-issyo? Moya?" Sir, what, where is the coffee?

"Ko-pi, opsya." I don't have coffee.
"Onjay?" When will you get some?
"Moyla!" I don't fucking know.

So I kept wandering and kept asking. Finally I found an hajuma who explained it. The exchange rate. With the current rate of exchange GI's are losing money on selling to the marketeers. Which means less goods coming off base. Which means I can't buy coffee. I finally found an hajuma with some cans tucked into the back of her stall.

"Ol-ma?" I ask.

"18,000." She says. Eighteen Thousand Won, and with the current range of exchange that means I'm paying almost twenty two dollars for two pounds of coffee. I bought to cans. I will hoard them. You will not take me alive without my coffee.

Fine, fine, I have to pay forty bucks for a three months supply of coffee, okay. At least I can still get cheese.


But, oho, imagine my surprise when I went to the grocery where I buy my cheese and discover the only real cheese in the place now cost 15,000 (17 dollars for 200 grams).

That, I said...Fuck That!

I bought the cheege and left. I was said. I will miss cheese.

But you bitch economy you at least I have coffee while I wait you out.

3 comments:

GeologyJoe said...

I could mail you some coffee.

matteh said...

sara,
You can get 1kg of cheese (mild cheddar, Moz and old cheddar) at the Deagu Costco and they have coffee too. I grind my starbucks coffee and enjoy fresh brew when it suits me. How long have you been here? Sometimes you just need to know where to look for what you need.

Saradevil said...

Yeah, metteh, but than I would have to go to Costco and I'd rather kill myself than endure the pain of that.

GJ,

Thanks so much for the offer but honestly with the cost of shipping it's hardly worth it.