I got up my last full day in London and headed over to the East End’s Old Spitalfield Market to check out the food, and catch a street art tour. I’ve lately really loved learning about the different histories tied to street art and graffiti in cities, which are varied and many, and a great way to bring recent history/modern events alive. Plus, I think art on the street engages the residents of a city on a more human-scale level than giant glass skyscrapers.
I didn’t feel a lot of patience for market stall browsing, so I popped in to Rapha Cycle Club in the corner of the market for some darn decent coffee.
The highlight of the day was getting to hang out with a couple friends we met through a wedding in Vermont last May, felt so fortunate they made time for a visit on a random Monday night! Matt and Elise were gracious hosts, obtaining Korean-style fried chicken and fries delivered, and opening their home to us for a few hours of good conversation over beer. Got to hear first-hand about expat life in Seoul, the chaebol-ruled politics, other random stuff, and even got to meet sweet little Eva and her new baby sister Isa. Check out Elise’s tumblr at Elise Goes East! Can hardly wait to spot her on NPR’s East Asia beat.
After dinner we were beat, but there’s something about the heat and humidity in the day, that makes people go out late at night more here. Plus, it was our last night in town, so we ventured out for some craft beer around the corner from the hotel.
Just like in the States, people here have their noses buried in their smartphones all over the place too. The main difference is just more Samsung representation. Thankfully, it didn’t feel as crowded as some other Asian metropolises I’ve visited, so even though people seemed to have less spatial awareness and almost walk into you all the time, there’s more escape routes than you’d expect.
In terms of places to explore solo, Buddhist temples are well-suited to quiet reflection by an individual, whereas malls may prove quite depressing to go shopping in on a weekday morning without a co-conspirator.
Also: the common space in malls here aren’t air conditioned, so I was feeling self-conscious being “that sweaty foreigner.” Ugh.
Pro v. Cons: on getting out of the hotel earlier in the day: saw a tranquil temple. Con: mileage on feet ran out earlier, so I was basically exhausted and running on fumes and willpower by later afternoon. I get really loopy when that happens… blegh.
Apparently, two things that are hard to find around here are: ranch dressing and taco mix. Since K and I were taught never to show up as guests, empty-handed, we muled some overseas for Elise and Matt.
Bus etiquette: for a moment, I thought people were really rude not scooting toward the window from an aisle seat on the bus, but then new folks entering would just squeeze through to the window seat. So I guess that sort of behavior is only necessarily when there isn’t room to squeeze through.
At the baseball stadium box office:
Will Call Attendant: Hmm, is your name Park?
Will Call Attendant: When is your birth date?
Me: Well…S______ Park reserved the tickets for me.
Will Call Attendant: Do you have her phone number?
Me: (procures hotel business card with number)
Will Call Attendant: Aaaah, the hotel reserved the tickets for you?
Will Call Attendant: Oh, okay, here you go. (hands me tickets for outfield seats)
Me: 고맙습니다! ..Phew! Was looking dicey for a minute there!