Thursday, October 2, 2008

Breathing a little more slowly..

I have now found a Net cafe which doesn't charge by the wounded bull .. but still can't spend as much time as I'd like, cos we only gots one key to the hotel room and M needs to sleep soon.

Seoul? Well... hard to say. I've never been in a huge Asian city as clean as this one, which is a good and very impressive thing, given that this city is home to about 10 million people, and purrhaps could be furgiven a bit of grot. The smog is fairly light, even thought the traffic is heavy. But the downside is that people still have the habit of spitting, something I find really disgusting. It makes me feel icky enough to be unable to eat, if there's too much of it. As for the charming practice of blowing one's nose without use of a hanky or tissue ... irrggG.

We've been very slow to do much here, as our jetlag from Finland is still striking at unhelpful hours - one can't do day tours when one's internal clock says day is 2am - midday. Neither is room service quite possible, when it's not available 24 hours a day. I woke at 3am this morning, all fired up and ready to knock off a palace or two, and I couldn't even dial up a cuppa tea. Our hotel is not the most salubrious, even tho we're in the centre of the city. For a start, I think it's probably more focussed on Korean guests, as the possibility of English anything is fairly low. And our room has a wet spot... and the only truly edible thing on the room service menu (although this shows their excellent priorities!) is the coffee, which is served with cream unless you really DEMAND milk instead.

Seoul is so huge I don't know where to start - the night lights are spectacular, especially the 40 storey high graphics projected onto specially built panels all the way up a nearby hotel. The old palace grounds are across the city square from us, and this afternoon we wandered through them on our way to an exhibition of 20th C Latin American mural art. Most of the temples/residences are either 'new' copies, or radically revised/altered versions of the original, either because of something like fire, or something like a Japanese or Northern Korean invasion. I think it ends up a bit like the old axe story - I've had this axe for 30 years; I've had 5 new blades and 4 new handles, but it's still the same old axe.

I've tried to have some things made at the tailor, but apart from the cost, which is NOT Thailand-esque at all but rather expensive, I missed out when they underestimated how much fabric was needed for a coat BIG ENOUGH TO GO AROUND A HUGE WESTERN GODZILLA-GRRL LIKE ME. Oh, sorry, was I shouting??

Tomorrow we are going on quite a long tour around Seoul's hot spots, ending up at a huge street market. We walked through this same market yesterday, spending a couple of hours shuffling through the 'everything you could possibly imagine' stalls and tripping over the displays on the pathway... I didn't buy a single thing, I was too overwhelmed. And somewhat annoyed that the ONLY thing I didn't see was fabric. No point looking at clothes for miniature wimmin, or ceramics and glassware, or souvenirs (I'm truly over souvenirs).. or amazing displays of foodstuffs I can't identify. The fish market has species in it I reckon are actually plasticine models made by the local kindies on their sci-fi days.

I had a purrfume accident leaving Helsinki, so I'm not even looking at that here. Also, I have found in the past that Asian purrfumes tend to be either strong gardenia, or strong lily, or green tea. None of these scents are tempting to me, spoiled as I am by my very early venture into lily of the valley via Dior's 'Diorissimo' (and my good taste was vindicated when I read that it was Princess Diana's favourite). And green tea is a DRINK fagodzake!

I seem to be a bit speechless. News from home about springtime and the badness of the cats on the home front is just killing me. All I can think about is that, come Tuseday next week, I can begin a long period of deck therapy, with my fatty catty nearby in case I need to wuffle my face in his tum, and my Miss-chief Mummy-Mangler ambushing my ankles and returning them to their usual happily scarred state...

Today brought to you by large Asian city eau-de-rotten cabbage mingled with top notes of exhaust and dust, and a long after-whiff of 'orrible drains. My blasts of Magnifique are completely useless as a force field. I can't smell it at all, which is a bummer considering the city purrfume is up me nose with a vengeance. That is one of life's little nasal ironies...

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