The Asian Gazebo

The Big Dig in Seoul

We took the slower, cheaper, battered hulk of the Mugunghwa Train out of Busan, which was not quite so drenched in monsoon rain as it is now—the darkening clouds were threatening us with raised fists but there was still a chance that the uppity hubristic Taiwanese would draw the eventual strike south—and while on this lengthy rickety train ride through the entirety of the country and the entirety of the night were were essentially prey to the antics of our fellow Americans, who photographed me as I attempted to sleep while wearing a pink kitty mask over my eyes with my mouth fallen open and my dry tongue lolling in my throat, and a pair of smalltown chatterbox ajosshis, who apparently hovered over us and then discussed our thinness at great length, actually for several hours, while I struggled to sleep—totally in vain.

The traveler arriving to Seoul by train will be greeted by two sights: the vast glass and metal honeycomb of Seoul Station, designed with a titan’s jackstones in mind, and, outside, a landscape of steps descending to an artery of buses and cars, over which a gigantic, burning television flashes images that I think few people have actually looked at, since the screen is so bright it induces headaches almost immediately. Even remembering it makes one’s eyes hurt. Koreans also habitually rush everywhere they go—it would be amusing to a hold a race to the subway in which the slowest person is the winner—and particularly enjoy doing so while wearing enormously high, loud, wobbly, unwieldy, stilettos, therefore it is doubtful any of them have had the time to learn about the armsleeves being peddled on that massive blinding portal.

We alternately searched for spas or love motels in which to sleep for a few hours before meeting up with some fellow Shakespeareans in the park, but we were turned away several times because the workers at the respective institutions feared, quite naturally, that we would instigate a massive orgy if we were allowed to enter into a room with beds while unmarried and in a state of open sin. Therefore we were compelled to briefly join the ranks of the homeless and work our spines into the hard lincoln logs of a gazebo in Yoiedo Park, where our company included a large, apparently free-roaming rabbit, pigeons, a turtle lurking in the pond, frogs, ogling passersby (Korea’s ubiquitous set piece), and an upright citizen who apparently believed we were missing people and wished us to turn ourselves in at the local police station. All of the nonhuman components at this park would surely be devoured by ravening ajummas if a similar experiment were to be attempted in Busan.

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One thought on “The Asian Gazebo

  1. Jennifer says:

    Came here in search of more photos. But this was very entertaining too. 🙂

    Seung-One told us on the train home that numerous old Korean people were taking our photos until he rejoined us on the gazebo (I keep forgetting its Korean name). I wonder what they’ll do with those pictures…

    You were wise to leave, I supposed, cause we ended up staying out until 3:00 a.m. at a salsa club with Brittany. Everyone danced at one point or another, but none of us could match Brittany. There were only a few white people in the club (mostly us) and a handful of Koreans, one of whom danced with Brian for quite some time.

    Still, it was pretty epic. Oh yeah – and What the Book was AWESOME! I ended up getting an obscure book of essays by Italo Calvino, the one Shakespeare play I’ve been looking for to no avail in Busan (“Measure for Measure”) and a cheesy woman’s magazine at 2/3 the Busan price. They had a lot of used stuff and the new stuff was quality. They even had two shelves of good graphic novels.

    I honestly would have picked something up for you had I any idea what you haven’t already read/owned etc. because I felt bad that you missed out on it.

    Anyway, good times were had by all. If you have any more pictures can I see them? None of us took any… 😦

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