Expat Dribble

Andrea Avery Jackley: An expat with lots of dribble to write about.

6.1.09

This weekend I headed back to Seoul with my pal Michael for some “productive” sightseeing and exploring. While our trips to the nation’s expansive capital are becoming quite regular, we felt our activities were becoming too bound to little Itaewon – the foreigner’s district near one of the main U.S. Army base locations. The allure of diversified faces, country bars, Salsa dancing and Mexican food is hard to escape when living in a homogenous country!

So upon our arrival, we almost immediately set out in search of our first goal: North Seoul Tower. It didn’t take long to find our way to the landmark. It was a fun experience and produced some worthwhile photos; after leaving the observatory and making our way toward the cable cars that brought eager tourists back down the mountain, I paused to take a picture of the large, oriental-style gazebo next to the ticket booth. Seconds after snapping the shot, I caught my toe on the last wooden board beneath my feet before stepping onto the pavement… I flew face first onto the ground, ripping my shoe open, scuffing my jeans, sending my camera and water bottle flying about twenty feet in front of me, and seriously injuring my pride for about five minutes. I’ve become accustomed to my clumsiness.

That evening, I accompanied my friend out for Salsa dancing. We met with some acquaintances, who had further acquaintances. These new folks were Russian – which was greatly appealing to me. One of them was a man in his early twenties who was to be, I was told by his friend with what seemed a combination of horror and amusement, accompanied by his mother visiting from the North. There was one major problem:  this young man is homosexual, a fact his mother is apparently blithely unaware of.   

Let me set the stage just a bit more. This young man (I keep referring to him this way because I don’t remember his name), who was very amiable I might add, is dressed in a multi-color striped tank top and pressed jeans with his stereotypical and racially-appropriate blonde hair slicked toward the sky in a kind of mini-mohawk… a hairdo I think I will now refer to as a “homo-hawk.”

But Mom doesn’t know. That’s what I’m told.

Mom is a thick woman with a pale, stern face. She too has short, blonde hair; unintentionally spiked with gel I assume. She is wearing a pink coat with large buttons and shades. I like her immediately – she wreaks of character. But she speaks not even a word of English, nor attempts to; and seems to have an immediate distrust of me. I was really determined now.

By the end of the night, I had Mom dancing with and taking pictures of me with the rest of the Russians. I think the ice breaker was when I insisted that, as much as I wanted to visit Russia, I didn’t want to die and was convinced they all hated Americans by birth right.

After vehemently denying this over several glasses of mysterious clear liquid, the Russians became as warm as a Hello Kitty cartoon. “No!” they said, “We don’t hate Americans!” (I think I spotted a few “wink-winks” after each one restated this supposed fact.) Chemically induced  or not, I was happy to meet my new Russian friends.

The rest of the weekend was spent “productively” visiting the largest electronics market in the world – Yongsan, Seoul for all of you travelers – and watching “Star Trek” at the IMAX theater. I was in Geek Heaven. The movie is fabulous by the way~ Live long and prosper, readers.

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