Dongducheon, South Korea, Asia
I’ve spent these last five days with Crystal, Andrew and baby Jax. Most of the week was spent chilling at the house, eating a lot and shopping. It was really nice being in a nice apartment for a while and not have to live out of my bag. Plus, it was really nice being around other Americans who I could speak English with and not be as annoyed as I had been in China. It was great getting to know Crystal, because even though we are cousins, I can only remember meeting her once, and that was for a couple of days. It was like meeting a whole new family member, and it was really nice. Plus, getting to meet Andrew and Jax was a bonus. Unfortunately Andrew was limited to staying at home for most of the week because he had orders to wear his uniform all the time. The last thing you want to do after a full day working in uniform is to go out after work in the same gear. I can understand why he wouldn’t want to go out like that. Of course there was also the two dogs, Wenis and Ari. Wenis was a cute little white maltese, while Ari was a pain-in-the-ass beagle. Seriously, he was just an idiot.
Staying up here in Dongducheon has been strange because I know I’m in Korea, but it really doesn’t feel like it. The majority of people around here are Americans, either soldiers at Camp Casey or spouses of soldiers. All the restaurants or shops we went into had Americans in it, and that was a sight I just wasn’t used to seeing. Plus, all the shops around here cater to the American taste, so you could buy the same kind of drinks and snacks that you’d be used to getting back home. One day we went on base and had Taco Bell in their food court, which I’ve been craving since I left America in January!
The area near their apartment called “The Ville” was just a few little street that a car could barely fit down, so it is mainly just pedestrians walking on them. It consists of a few streets lined with bars, clubs, and shops. The bars and clubs are filled with “juicy girls” who have mainly come over from the Philippines in the hopes of nabbing an American soldier for a husband. The shops consist of pawn shops, pirated DVD shops, fake handbags, fake jeans, and fake American sports jerseys. The quality of some of this stuff was so good that I picked up a Wes Welker jersey, a Larry Bird jersey (’85-’86 Championship season), and a couple pairs of True Religion jeans. For all four of those things, I paid $108. In America, they would cost about $800.
One day Crystal and I went down to a town called Uijeongbo to have a look around some markets and do some shopping. We ended up going there and just having a couple things to eat and never bought anything tangible to bring home. It was interesting to see how much fish the Koreans have at their markets. Much more than I’ve seen anywhere else, and a lot of it is dried fish. I don’t really know what they do with so much dried fish, but it’s everywhere!
I desperately needed a haircut because the last time I got one was in Laos, and they did a pretty terrible job then. I figured this would be a good place to get one because they are so used to cutting american’s hair. It was a very strange haircut I got. An older woman cut my hair and it looked like she did a good job, until I got home to find out it was completely crooked. After she was done cutting, she sent me to the back of the shop to get my hair washed by another girl. She washed it and then brought me back out front and proceeded to give me a very strange massage. She went for my shoulders, my neck, then tried cracking my neck, and stretched my arms out behind my back. Not sure what that was all about. Then she put a tiny bit of gel in my hair (about how much I would have used), and the older woman wasn’t happy with that so she put a huge glob on my head so I looked like a freakin’ greaser! Ah well, it was worth the $11.
Another day Crystal and I took Jax to the hospital on base for his six month check-up. He is just the happiest kid I have ever seen. Even when he got three injections, he cried for about a minute and then stopped. Crystal felt a lot worse about it than he did. We went out for lunch on base and met Andrew and I’m impressed at how good their food is. I had a Philly cheese steak and it tasted just like the ones from Papa Gino’s back home.
The rest of the week was just spent relaxing and it was exactly what I needed. We handed out candy to the American kids on Halloween, and then got Brazilian Barbeque for Crystal’s birthday. Nothing too crazy, but it was great! Although travelling sounds like it should be very relaxing, it has been uber stressful in China, so a little time off from all of that nonsense was excellent. I’m leaving tomorrow morning to head into Seoul for a couple of days. I’m not sure what to think yet because it could just be another big city. I’ve seen enough big cities in China to last me a lifetime, so I hope this one has something good to offer.