Thursday, 18 December 2003

My first few days in Daegu

Number 1/5: My first few days in Daegu.

Ok, so I arrived in Korea at 11.30am, Korean time, at Incheon airport near Seoul. Stupidly, the only money I'd brought with me was Scottish, and Scottish money doesn't translate abroad, but fortunately my credit card had just enough money to get by, so I managed to get a bus to Daegu, which was a few hours away. In this time I also managed to nearly lose my phonenumber book (leaving it at a phonebooth) which would have left me alone in Korea with 25UKP to my name, but it was recovered, and soon I was on the bus and arriving in Daegu.

I arrived about 8pm, into a city of flashing neon. Crazy flashing neon of crazy flashing Korean words on the sides of alien buildings; no doubt I wasn't still in Aberdeen here. I waited at the cold bus station a short while, and suddenly a white man and a Korean appeared - Matt and Sangoon.

Matt was from NZ, seemed friendly if initally a little wholesome (don't worry, this turned out to be far from the case). Sangoon seemed surly (this never changed, though perhaps is his best quality). We got in a jeep and drove for miles into what seemed like the wilderness, though still lit by neon. It turned out that my accommodation wasn't sorted out yet, so I was staying in the spare room in a block with Matt, his cousin Nikki, and Sangoon, who was Matt's student.

I was tired, but not knackered, so went for a little food with Matt, and a beer.

Next day I was up quite early. Matt has to meet Jason - also his agent - to see his new apartment, but also an opportunity for me to meet Jason too. Jason seemed very pleasant, well connected, probably shady but nonetheless very helpful. He dropped me and Matt off randomly in Daegu where some lazy-speaking, lazy-dressing Canadian called Josh, with a lazy attitude and lazy manner appeared. It was his apartment Matt was to view. Josh had been teaching for three years in Korea, and it showed. He had the lazily arrogant attitude of an expat.

His apartment was up to much either. Just a drab, dank hole he shared with his Korean girlfriend. Matt was distinctly unimpressed. We all took a look round the nearby Wall-Mart then me and Matt went to the city centre for a short while before returning so Matt could teach Sangoon.

I met with Jason here, and it became apparant that due to some miscommunication, I wasn't meant to start immediately, but in January. This misunderstanding was certainly not my fault, because all my emails led me to believe that an apartment was ready and waiting for me and the school were keen for me to start as soon as possible. But it seemed that an apartment wasn't quite ready yet, so I'd another week to stay with Matt and co.

I explained to Jason that this wasn't quite ideal, so he said he'd see what he could do. And he kept to his word, getting me and apartment within the week and a start date within two weeks. The bonus of the whole scenario being that instead of arriving in Korea and immediately working, I've had a couple of weeks of sight-seeing and getting settled in.

So that evening, myself, Matt, Nikki, the ever enthusiastic Sangoon and an Irish girl, Una (as in Unabomber) went for drinks and food at a nearby restaurant. It was rather pleasant. Me and Matt were getting on well, he's got a pretty laid back and reckless attitide which appeals to me. Una was sharp tongued but amusing. Nikki is pleasant and sensible, but not boring. Sangoon is just surly. We all got medium drunk on cheap Korean beer (called "Hite", though you're very welcome to stick an S on the front of that).

Daytime Thursday I just lazed. Perhaps jetlag, perhaps just the non-stop nature of the previous few days or week even, but I was knackered. My lethargy was only broken in the early evening when Matt and Sangoon appeared. Sangoon's money from his rich father had come through - we were going to Seoul. Was I coming?

Well, of course.

My first ever Korean meal.

Matt and Nicki outside the restaurant near their home.

This is the sort of man that Matt is.

No comments: