Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How Not to Get Over Jet Lag (Or, My Last Week at Poly)

In Canada, I was tired. When those little girls went down for their naps, I was ready for one too. Around about 3-5 p.m. I'd start getting drowsy. The worst day was Thursday, the day I shopped like a demon, but stupidly bought shoes in the first hour and was stuck carrying them around all day. Damn, but shoes and clothes are heavy when you shop for a year's worth of stuff in just two days. Come to think of it, Wednesday was pretty hard too - after five hours of going around Canada's Wonderland with three little girls, I was starting to think that I might actually have so little energy that I'd lose the ability to move any part of my body at all.

So, no surprise I was going to be tired once I got back to Korea. It was another 20 hour odyssey of public transportation combined with hanging out in airports, so exhausting and boring. I bought a lot of books on the way back - always a sign that I am not a happy camper in terms of keeping my mind occupied. The last time I bought that many books in just one day would have been back in Scotland while working for the bank - tied with airplanes and much of high school for the absolute most boring thing ever, that bank job was one hell of a boring experience.

I arrived back on Sunday and hauled ass home. I had these vague notions of making it to quiz night in Itaewon - haha. This is why optimism is not my style - it seldom proves true anyway! I was exhausted, though the walk in the late afternoon sun actually made me feel quite cheerful about being back home. Then I crashed out and slept until the next morning.

As per usual, I started out on a responsible note, but it all quickly went downhill. The two new teachers were inquiring about dinner, so we all decided to go to our galbi place. With Orin and Asius off early in the new schedule, it seemed perfect. Sadly our galbi place folks were on holiday. We tried the place next door, which turned out to specialize only in intestines. Now, I've tried that stuff once and I must say that once was enough. Certainly no need to inflict it on newbies. We moved one more restaurant over and the galbi was fine, but certainly not as good as our regular place. There was some soju drinking, which I tried to turn down but was guilted into by Orin's birthday. Arguing that it didn't count if it wasn't on Facebook was ineffective, sadly. There is only one place that galbi and soju drinking can end and that is at norae bang, where we proceeded to sing for about four hours. Somehow that led to a quick trip to the batting cages and then McDonald's at 4 a.m. All on a Monday night.

Which perhaps explains why on Tuesday I crashed before even bothering to make dinner. I was hungry, I was just far, far more tired.

Then came Wednesday. It was one of those nights where I should have seen it coming, and yet I went to meet Sheila in Itaewon thinking everything was going to go to plan - quick dinner, go find my new apartment with my incredibly sketch directions (when part of the directions involve "you'll know it when you see it" and you've been there once, briefly, before seeing about 10 other places in the vicinity, you'd be right to be doubtful), and then go home and get to bed around midnight. I even thought I might be able to take the subway home, rather than having to catch a cab. I should have known better.

We started off by going to Geckos for dinner - this was mistake number one, however, at 9 p.m., there aren't a whole lot of restaurants still serving. So, in we went. The bartender was being very generous with the gin and sparing with the tonic, which may well be mistake number two. Then there was getting hit on by some guy in the army who arrived in Korea just a week ago - mistake number three. By the time the army guys finally buggered off, it was midnight, but Sheila needed to go have just one drink with a friend she hadn't seen in awhile. Our friend John was also there, and between Sheila, John and I we spent the next two hours convincing the friend that Sheila was Hacksaw Jim Duggan's daughter and that Hulk Hogan had been to her tenth birthday party. Completely hysterical. However, definitely mistake number four.

Finally, we get in a cab and we ask them to take us to Haebangchon. Mistake number five was not getting out of the cab at Philies' and finding the place on foot - with sketch directions, it's helpful to have time to contemplate where you might want to go next, rather than barrelling along with a very grumbly Korean cab driver. So, we end up way the fuck up one of the infamous Haebangchon hills, lost. Mistake number six was believing Sheila and John when they told me there was only the one bank on the street, even though I thought we were waaaaaaay too far up the main road. When we backtracked and let me lead from Philies', we did finally find the place, wandered in, used the facilities and then I had to catch a cab back to Hwajung. At this point, it's about 3 a.m.

I fell asleep in the cab, being at this point both tired and more than a little intoxicated. When I woke up, we were almost at the turn off and because I was a bit slow, the cab driver missed it. Now, this is not the end of the world at all. Two more streets down is a turn that really is just as good. But no. Mr. Cab Driver decides he MUST take the next turn and speeds us down a one-way street in very much the wrong direction. Right into a brawl. A brawl with cops breaking it up. Cops who are now very interested in my cab driver. And that is how I came to be escorted home by a Korean police officer in the early hours of Thursday morning - he wanted my address as a witness and I didn't actually know what it was (still don't, in fact, but now I don't live there). So, he walked me across the park to find out from the security guard. Not sure that did my reputation with the security guard any good - after all, they've caught me throwing out garbage in the wrong bags and I had a stalker who I tried to get them to help me to shake once.

Really, these things could only happen to me. I really do have the most bizarre life. Particularly in Korea, but I've noticed that my ability to end up in strange situations is not limited to any one country. These sorts of ridiculous things also happen to me just about everywhere. So, back to the jet lag. By this point in the week, I was starting to get seriously tired, but I also had done absolutely no packing! Hooray for my powers of procrastination! So, I stayed up very late Thursday night packing all my shit into boxes, until I very quickly ran out of boxes. After that, I packed in Emart and Lotte plastic bags. Very classy, I know.

Friday was a long, tiring day. Snafus with immigration, children saying goodbye all day long during breaks, the need to pop into the bank (Unsuccessfully, I might add. Turns out they didn't have my passport on file, dammit.) I felt rushed off my feet and that usual feeling of anticlimaticness that I always get when things end - it sort of felt like a normal day. Orin says I was very blase during my farewell to Mr. Kim - I certainly wasn't doing it on purpose, but by that point I was in a fog of exhaustion and operating on auto-pilot. In spite of that, naturally, there had to be a goodbye dinner, at the galbi place, followed up by some norae bang. I knew I had to be up at about 8 to do a bit of last minute packing before moving at 10, but I wasn't too worried about staying sober or getting in early. In spite of that, I had one of those nights where you drink a fair amount and feel as sober as a judge. I watched a bit of the Olympic opening ceremony - with a drink in my hand, right in front of the norae bang dudes. I guess they are chill with us drinking in their rooms. The guy even came to alert us to when Canada was on the TV. I drove Orin to near insanity by accidentally cancelling Eminem while he was singing it - twice.

Then Saturday. Moving day. Hot, hot, humid day. With a ton of stuff, one small truck, one moving dude and me. Oh, and two flights of stairs in my new place. By the time it was all over I was basically sopping wet and exhausted, but I had to unpack. Had to. I have a strong need in new places to unpack as quickly as possible. Home is where your books are, after all, and they were indeed one of the first things I unpacked. After hours of unpacking, I attended Sheila's surprise leaving dinner down the road, confusing many people with my ETA, as they hadn't the foggiest that I had moved just around the corner.

The thing is, with moving day and unpacking, and no gas (and hence no hot water), I hadn't eaten all day, except for a bit of leftover pasta for breakfast. And we went to a place for dinner that was more of a snackish sort of place, where I had some hummus with two small pitas. Can you see where this is going? I hope so, because I'm afraid I can't recall too many details of the evening. All I know is that I was home in my bed shortly after midnight, drunk as the proverbial skunk.

I spent most of Sunday with Jamar and then with the gang at quiz night, which left little time for sleeping in and doing anything to stop what was becoming some serious exhaustion, combined with sore muscles from moving all my stuff. You'd think I collected rocks or something. And there's no rest for the wicked, because on Monday I had to go to Immigration. In Uijeongbu. Which is really, really far away from just about everything. Once I was there, confusion as to what I needed to do reigned supreme. Lots of calls with old bosses and soon-to-be bosses. Then the KPS man who drove me had the gall to suggest I find my own way home! Since my boss is saving about $1000 or so on not buying me a ticket in return for sorting out my immigration status for me, you can imagine I was none too pleased with that. I demanded the man either drive me back to Hwajung (had to go transfer money at the bank) or give me the $50 or so I figured a cab would cost, because I was NOT going to spend two hours on the subway to save him a 40 minute car ride. I won out, thankfully, and I napped the whole way back. After the bank, I got my dodgy foot X-rayed, which was amusingly inexpensive as always and happily shows my foot well on the way to not being kojungnaseyo (broken - one of my favourite, and I think most useful, Korean words). Then I headed home and was tempted to collapse, but instead went to see the new Batman. I found it a bit boring and stupid, actually, though I was in the minority.

After Batman, we had another of those WGW (White Girl Walking) moments, whereby we did something completely ridiculous. In Korea, as in many places these days I suspect, they make you leave the theater through different doors than the ones you came in through. Which is fine, but perhaps a bit confusing for the directionally challenged. Also, the mall was closed and we had to go a specific way, so we practiced some Zen navigation - find someone who looks like they know what they are doing and just follow them. It failed horribly, as we ended up in the car park. Sheila figured we'd just walk down until we hit the exit - after all, the cars have to come out somewhere. And for sure, they did. However, that somewhere turned out to be a derelict area with train tracks, random dump trucks and other equipment, and a sidewalk that turned into a dirt path, that soon stopped being a path. After a random hike, we came to a street with the normal tall buildings, neon signs, and cheap cabs.

Today, I finally go to sleep in. I had thought I was finally going to have a relaxing, sort of holiday-like day, minus getting the dude to come and do something about the lack of drainage in my bathroom and the rapidly increasing lake in it after each shower I took. Naturally, another piece of fiddly paperwork is missing and I had to run along to work to get a paper which I will be taking to the Consulate tomorrow for some sort of other paper. I must say, it is insane the level of bullshit you go through to get jobs here these days. If anyone seemed to have a clue as to what exactly had to be done, it wouldn't be so ridiculous, but no one, including often Immigration themselves, seems to have much of a grip on it. However, I also discovered that the Internet box in my place is mysteriously working, so that's fun. I wonder how long I can ride the Internet for free?

Tomorrow a jaunt to the Canadians, and over to work to be trained. Then it's all work and uber-quick trips to Japan. And likely a lot of time appreciating my new neighbourhood.

Oh, and I need some toilet paper.

And this is NOT how you should try to get over your jet lag.

1 comment:

Beachcomber said...


If I tried to do even 1/10 of what you describe, I'd be dead. I don't know how you got through all that drinking, singing, late nighting and no sleeping. You amaze me.