Today, Sunday the 18th, we got up early in the attempts to get a head start on our shopping excursion to the Namdaemun Market, where they say if you can't find it here, it probably doesn't exist!!
Although we feel we have started to get a good understanding of the subway system, we become flawed in our ability to get in and out of it via our card. Jon decided to place his card on the left side (vs the right) which then allowed another lady to get through & he could not. I was already through and walking when I heard the guy in charge start to yell--I turned back and there was Jon looking at this guy who was speaking in Korean trying to tell Jon what he had done wrong. The lady he accidentally let in went back to use her card to let Jon out, but it wouldn't work and the guy in charge continued to speak loudly at Jon and finally waved him over to the area Jon now calls 'the idiot gate' to let him through. We are pretty sure he may have used a few additional Korean words that weren't nice.
The second blunder of our day with these subway cards was myself when we were getting back and for some reason the card didn't register and I thought that the beep I heard was mine, but obviously with what occured next, I was wrong and it wasn't mine that beeped. I begin to walk through and the red light comes on and as I continued to go through and just before I am through, these 2 small elevator like doors close in front of me and wouldn't allow me to go through. So, I begin to back up and the same occurs behind me and as it closes behind me, the front again opens, and as I move forward again, it begins to close. It was like being stuck in the "London Bridges" game or one of those carnival games where you shoot the duck and then it turns to go the other way and then you shoot the duck on the other side and it turns again. Finally, a man came over and i placed my card on his hand held scanner and he reset it or something and then it worked and I was able to exit the subway. I am really not sure why you have to scan to get out, but that's how it works I guess.
Got lost on the way to the market, asking directions was an exercise in futility as the people either shyed away or didn't speak English well enough to understand/give directions. Out of sheer luck we stumbled upon this market which stretched on for literally 6 to 7 city blocks! Once inside, we were surrounded by everything imaginable that you could possibly want to buy: exotic food, clothing, furniture, toys, electronics, and art. It was dizzying as you wandered through this labyrinth of goods with cat calls to purchase and throngs of people shuffling in and out. To give you examples of how purchasing went, I (Jon) was making my way through and as I maneuvered to pass a slow moving group of ladies a man tugged on my sleeve. I turned to see a small shop that had a variety of nice suits that were packed up into the rafters. One man ushered me in from behind while another coaxed me forward with beckoning gestures and broken english: "Best Suit, you buy two." Before I knew it they had measured and produced one of the best suits I'd ever worn. The price started at 590,000 WON (roughly $550). With every attempt I made to leave the shop, it dropped, and before I finally escaped it was down to 180,000WON for 2 suits. This was a pretty typical encounter, and I'd be lying if I told you we were always successful at shrugging off their sales techniques.
So, with all that being said, we continue to strive forward with the challenge of being in someone else's world where we are the minority and very few know our language (or so they say!)
To cap off our evening, we went out to yet another Korean Barbeque (they are all slightly different) with Miles, Shelly, and their 2 children, who are yes, yet another wonderful Aussie family. We probably didn't mention yesterday, but 2 other families came in and guess where both were from? Yes, it would be Australia. So, that would be 5 families from Australia now, in case you are trying to keep track. Following the Barbeque, Jon & I skated/sprinted off to Insa-Dong to pick up a special gift for Isabella.
In the end, after a very tiring and busy day of subways, lots of walking, and a few minor mishaps, we were successful with our mission of purchasing gifts and future Birthday items for Jaelee.