Saturday, February 25, 2017

Happy Hunting Ground

I really, truly hate the phrase, "Getting there is half the fun."  It must be a relic of a bygone era, where travel meant something besides being crammed in with way too many idiots.  Take the journey from UB to Seoul, for instance.  When Enkhaa got me to the airport, the check-in line was probably the longest I've ever seen (in UB, at any rate).  Then the security line was long, and so was immigration...when  I got through I only had 40 minutes til we were scheduled to take off.  Incheon was no picnic, either - Azhaar estimated I was in the immigration line an hour, and THEN I got triggered by a bunch of people who were NOT MOVING to get through customs.  This meant that I didn't get on the train into town until 11:20, and fortunately I was second in line, or I might have spent the following hour on my feet, hating life, because it was packed.  

I hadn't actually thought much about the final leg of the trip - getting to Azhaar's flat - until I wheeled my little carry-on off the elevator above Noksapyeong.  This was when I realized that I'd just assumed I'd be able to find her apartment.  As I mentioned last time, I have a pretty badass memory, but I've only been to her place twice, both times following her up the hills after midnight, and I'd received a message from her while I was waiting in the never-ending immigration line telling me to let myself in because she had a headache and was going to bed.  So even though I'm pretty good at sweet-talking people into loaning me their phones when I can't use mine, I didn't want to wake her up unless I had to.  Well, my memory came through in the end.  At the bottom of Noksapyeong hill, I found my first landmark - kimchi pots - and then got to the noraebang (I thought it was a supermarket, but I recognized it when I saw it), and when I got to the 7-11 where we bought my coke the last time I visited, it became a matter of finding the place I thought was right, and confirming it by checking the wifi names.  Easy cheesy.
This morning Azhaar (in her bedroom) messaged me (in the living room, LOL) wanting to know what I wanted to do today.  #1 on my list was the fabric market (followed closely by a call to my Dark Lord and Master to figure out when I could see hiim).  After a quick shower our consultation led to us scurrying out the door to hit Macca's (I'm reverting to the Aussie slang for everyone's favorite burger joint for the next four years...Ronald &Co. shouldn't suffer the indignity of being associated with a despot) for breakfast before taking line 1 to Dongdaemun station (where we should have taken exit 9, but we got there in the end).  Back in my misspent young adulthood, I spent a lot of time trawling the aisles for the perfect sparkly bits to add to my belly dance cossies.  It's a little slice of paradise - if you know what you're looking for, you'll find it there.  If you don't, you'll find something anyways.
Well, I don't dance much anymore - maybe I'll dust off my bedleh someday - but I'm almost as enthusiastic about my newest hobby: designing and sewing chibi plushies.  This week saw the end of a month-long sewing frenzy brought on by a half-cooked whim regarding a booth at this summer's AnimeIowa (it was a short-lived some point I realized I probably ought to be able to use a sewing machine before I go into business).  The problem is, I'm no longer satisfied making simple characters with whatever material I have on hand.  When I started thinking of it as a business, I discarded my old personal obsessions and developed new professional ones (well, sort of, anyways.  I'm still only designing characters I like...but now I take into consideration what people might be willing to pay shit tons of money for.  Also, what would look cool AF).  
Azhaar suggested we go to the fifth floor first, and get fabric afterwards.  I thought this was genius, since it meant I wouldn't have to carry tons of fabric around with me while I was trying to squeeze past people who have absolutely no awareness of their surroundings.  Like many markets, you'd best approach DDM with a plan.  When we got to the fifth floor we chose a time-honored strategy - picking a corner and working our way up and down the aisles, stopping to pick up the things on my list:  ribbons, buttons, chain, buckles.  I was looking for very specific things, but as mentioned above, if you know what you want, you can probably find it.  If you're patient enough, anyways.  Raycie LaRaye taught me this strategy,  and it served me well - by 1:30 I'd found everything I needed, and helped Azhaar find a few things she didn't, but since she was having fun I didn't feel too bad.
After sitting down for a few minutes, I decided I wanted to pop down to the cloth floors to look for iridescent fabric...and if they had any colors of fleece I needed, it would probably manage to find its way home with me.  I stuck my LeSport duffel bag in my backpack for this exact purpose, but when I got to the fourth floor most of the stalls had rolled down their shutters.  Between the time we had walked past on our way to the beads and jewelry, it had become a ghost town, so maybe Azhaar's suggestion backfired a little.  An excuse to go back on Monday or Tuesday is not a bad thing.
Shopping doesn't seem like that strenuous activity, but we approached it with killing intent, so we were famished.  While we were at Macca's that morning, I noticed that they were now serving mozzarella cheese sticks.  This food has been haunting me for several months - in Osaka the Kawaii Kingpin suggested we stop into Lotteria for some when we got back to Kyoto, but neither of us actually remembered.  By the time something random dug the thought out of my head, I was back in UB, a million miles from anywhere that would serve them.  Over Christmas break considered trying them at the Lotteria in Incheon, or else possibly at Denny's back home, but neither actually happened, and the ones I found at a restaurant in UB were completely unsatisfying.  So when I pointed out the fact that Macca's had them, and she suggested Lotteria's were actually really awesome, I'd come full circle.  True to both of their words, they were amazing...but I was a little underwhelmed by the serving - two short sticks.  There's surely a joke to be made in there, but I've got four more days to make it, so I'll leave it there for now.

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