It’s colder here than I expected. Yesterday, I was thinking about that umbrella I almost but not quite put in my suitcase, and today I’m thinking about that jacket that’s still hanging in the closet at home. The rain is done, but the wind is blowing. A good day for shopping, I’d say.
We had to wait again for Erin, who I’m starting to wonder if she is enjoying being here or not. We finally made it onto the subway around noon, headed for Nampyeong.
We had no sooner stepped out of the glass doors of the subway when straight ahead we saw the lower level of Lotte department store. It’s a huge, upscale store with name brands from all over the world, like Gucci and Columbia. I notice that people here tend to wear whatever they want with not much regard for what the current styles are. Not to say that Koreans are not stylish, but it’s more an attitude of “laissez faire” — whatever you need or want to do, you just do it. I notice that in other ways, too. It’s not really necessary to say excuse me if you bump into someone, you just regroup and continue on your way. If Samchon needs to pull up and drop us off at our apartment, he just does a u-turn in the middle of the street and pulls over, still blocking traffic a bit, and other cars will simply wait till he is done so they can get through. Bikes and motorbikes share the sidewalks. Cars don’t wait for pedestrians unless they would actually hit someone, and pedestrians walk down narrow alleys with cars passing them with not much room to spare. I haven’t noticed any speed limit signs either, or traffic behaving like there are any. The main roads, though, like the main thoroughfare along the beaches in Haeundae, is pretty well controlled, with stoplights and crosswalks that people obey without complaint.
Megan announced that she had called Minji, who was done with her testing and out of school early. Minji was going to join us at the theater on the tenth floor of Lotte, and the girls had decided to see Jurassic World, in English with Korean subtitles. I asked Megan why they didn’t just dub it into Korean, and she said it was a new release and couldn’t be dubbed yet. Apparently Koreans are used to watching American movies with subtitles.
We ate lunch in the food hall at Lotte, at a Japanese sushi bar. Erin didn’t eat anything but the complimentary miso soup, insisting that she would just wait to have nachos at the movie. I had a salad with raw tuna and raw salmon, and I actually enjoyed it with the wasabi and soy sauce that Megan mixed together for us.
Of course the movie was great. Megan had seen it twice already, and Minji once. We took the subway home, and Minji came with us. Megan, Minji and I walked down to the beach where the girls waded into the water and proceeded to splash each other until Minji’s school uniform was a little wet, and she was shrieking and flapping her skirt to see if it would dry. But it wasn’t long before they were splashing each other again.
Megan and Minji could have been twins, in another time and place. This is the first time Minji’s parents have hosted a Rotary student. Megan said that when they heard a girl from the USA needed a host family, they volunteered mostly so Minji could have someone to help her learn English. Like Samchon and Cousin, Minji wants to come to America for college, and her parents are fine with that if she can prove she is ready and can pass her TOEFL test. Cousin did, but she said it was harder than any other college entrance test she had to take.
We found the Haeundae street market and bought some fish cakes, fried squid and kimbap (rice wrapped with seaweed) to bring home for David and starving-to-death Erin, who is missing baked potatoes and sour cream very much. Minji’s uniform was finally dry, so she thought it would be safe to go home. We walked her to the subway. We’ll see her again tomorrow, because Father is home for the weekend and Minji’s family wants to take us on a drive north to Gyeong-Ju, where there are amazing and historical things to see, along with the beautiful Korean mountains.