So far, I consistently wake up an hour later every morning: today it’s nearly seven o’clock when I open my eyes. There is coffee to greet me and another relaxed morning to enjoy. After all, we are in the Land of the Morning Calm and we may as well act like it.
We take a bus to Namdaemun Market and it’s a fun ride, fun to effortlessly see new bits of Seoul. Namdaemun itself is street after street after street after indoor street of stalls and shops overflowing with clothing and shoes and jewelry and umbrellas and bags and souvenirs and food…which is what really brought us here.
Carson buys shrimp dumplings which are good, and kimbap which is decent, and blood sausage which I cannot stomach at all. We lunch in a back-alley hole-in-the-wall restaurant that gives a whole new level of meaning to those adjectives. The alley is so narrow that even Koreans couldn’t drive cars through it, and it is filled with Ajummas cooking away. We have to squeeze past them to enter the restaurant. The food itself, bibimbap and grilled fish, tastes quite good.
But that’s the thing about Korean food; it demands to be tasted. It’s all so packed with flavor. It is confrontational, and in this moment I am not in the mood to be confronted. I do not need another sense assaulted. There are too many people in the market, too many scents in the air, too many voices pushing into my ears. My soul feels crowded. Carson buys me a strawberry shake of some sort and a slice of watermelon, and in their gentle taste I find a little solace.
After a long wait, we take the bus back home again. There’s a bit of a traffic jam in front of Namdaemun and unfortunately for the introvert, the bus is packed as well. But then it’s raining by the time we reach the apartment and Carson, Trennis, Ruby, Olivia, and I wander down the street to the convenience store for some tasty things to put into our mouths. Back to the apartment, and we relax. A little too much. Naps are taken.
Around nine o’clock, Carson drags me from my bed and the apartment, and we walk the rain-shining streets to Gusto Tacos. Trennis and Ruby join us there and though we all enjoy the tacos, there is enough sleepiness among us that combined it could create one totally asleep person. We don’t hang around long after we’re done eating. The streets are quieter tonight and our beds are calling our names.