This is waaaaay more dramatic-sounding that it really was! You know how I do.
But my eye, you guys. My eyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
I thought I would be OK if we went back to the room so I could take my contact out, and then carry on with business.
I think this was in the City Hall subway station. All I remember is that it was the exit right next to some convenience store where Henry bought a cord for the wifi thingie. So, whatever subway station that is.
Weird family portrait in this mirror-y art installation thing.
Not even an eyeball hanging out of its socket could stop me from taking a picture of the adult shop by our guest house, which we pointed and snickered at EVERY SINGLE TIME and yelled, “IT’S HENRY’S STORE!” This was second only to a lingerie store elsewhere in Hongdae called Sexy Cookie, which I only just realized Friday on our walk home from Summer Breakfast Club that I never took a picture of it!! I tried one night to get Henry to stand in front of it for a picture after he was mouthing off about how things like this didn’t make him feel ashamed or bothered, yet he was super quick to snuff out any impending photo ops, so…
You tell me.
Went back to the room and peeled the contact off my eye.
THAT FELT GREAT.
I’m fucking kidding.
It felt goddamn awful, like several layers of my eyeball slipped off with the contact like fucking onion skin.
Now I was at the point where my eyelid was like, “Hey, I’m just gonna stay shut for the next 72 hours, cash me outside if you disagree.” But I kept fighting to keep it open and my eye actually looked like it was bleeding and then the whole fucking lid and area around it turned swollen, so I had to walk around THE FUCKING COOLEST AREA OF SEOUL with my hair flung over my right eye like a follicular curtain of shame. And it would sporadically well up with tears because, as Dr. Henry liked to remind me 87 times during this chapter of my life, “EYES ARE SELF-CLEANING.”
So then my other eye wanted to join the watering party and then it was also raining so my face was all oily with humidity and basically, I wasn’t bringing any Korean boys back with me at this juncture, is all I’m saying. Unless I could find some strange subgroup on the dark Internet of Korean men who like white American girls that look like freshly-punched glazed Easter hams. Then, swipe right boys!
Plus, I was shambling around with only one contact in, so my balance and depth perception were fragile.
Thank god this Taeyong birthday tribute was so gigantic or I might have missed it.
(It was painted over by the following week, in preparation for the next idol shrine to go up.)
It started pouring right when we were looking for a pizza place. (Chooch’s choice—I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes it’s easier to just let him have his way every now and then so that we’re all happy and it’s not, apparently, the Erin Show even though I AM THE REASON WE WERE EVEN THERE!)
My only requirement was that I wanted it to be a place that wasn’t super crowded so that people wouldn’t have to stare at the Mongoloid American. I considered getting an eye patch and pretending like I was healing from plastic surgery, which, in Seoul, no one would even think twice about.
We found a small little walk-up called Monster Pizza right by our room and it was perfect. We sat at a table outside and it was getting dark so my eye was less noticeable maybe.
We went back to the room to relax for a bit and I tried on my new pajamas that I bought in Hongdae after seeing this pattern EVERYWHERE, even in the shops in the subway stations. I was nervous because most shops like that are one-size (or free-size) which made me so nervous last time to the point where I panicked and refused to buy anything, but this time, I took the (half) blind leap and bought it. AND IT FIT, WOO!!! So then I was just like, “BUY ALL THE SHIRTS!!” after that.
I wanted to see the Han River later that night so we had to take the subway to Yeouido and I thought Henry knew what he was doing but he had us walking for-fucking-ever on some trail which wasn’t actually all that bad because my eye was being a fucker still and it was nice to not have to be around crowds. Nearly ever person we passed on the trail was an old person which I thought was awesome – old people in Korea are so into fitness! They’re an inspiration.
We saw this random BTS thing next a yacht club. I guess you’re supposed to write a letter to them and put it somewhere, I dunno. America’s oversaturation of them has kind of left a gummy taste in my mouth so I’m not as excited to see BTS stuff anymore. Interestingly, though, Korea doesn’t shove them down a person’s throat as much as you would think so it wasn’t BTS-overload for us at all.
Anyway, we were out by the Han for what felt like hours. The air was so soupy and thick with humidity and my eye felt like it had been removed and replaced with a shrunken Pinhead. I was in PAIN, y’all. However, when Henry suggested that we get our first bingsu of the trip before heading back to the room, I didn’t put up much an argument (although I did whine a lot about the pain I was in, just in case either of my healthy-eyeballed companions forgot).
It felt SO GOOD to be back in Korea’s underground again! Chooch and I developed a really weird attachment to Seoul’s subway system last year and when we first heard the “train is approaching” jingle this time around, I felt my heart skip a beat.
Also, I can’t remember if it was like this last year, but I noticed this time that the jingle for the airport train was a REMIX of the standard subway tune!
Subway art on point, Seoul.
The streets of Hongdae <3
I kept asking Henry if my eye looked OK and he would say yes without hardly looking, so then I would ask Chooch and he would do this sharp intake of breath and then say, “……well…..” with his face molded into a strong YIKES! expression, so if you ever want to know the truth, ask Chooch not Henry.
We went to Sulbing, which is a popular bingsu chain in Korea. Bingsu is a traditional Korean shaved ice dessert, but that description does NOT do it justice. It’s not like that coarse, watery snocone bullshit. This is a soft, velvety, fluffy concoction of what we believe is more of a milk-ice. There are all kinds of seasonal flavors, but the most original, I think, is the patbingsu – red bean. I prefer the green tea varieties, which also usually include a layer of soft, sweet red bean paste (don’t knock it, man—it’s a fucking crime that we don’t use this ingredient in American desserts) and an additional cup of green tea-infused condensed milk to pour over the whole thing.
It is our absolute favorite dessert in Korea! There’s a Korean bakery in Pittsburgh that makes it but they use regular ice and, well, that ain’t it.
Chooch got the tiramisu one, and Korean’s obsession with tiramisu never ceases to amuse me! I thought maybe it was a trend that would have died out by the time we came back, but no—you can find tiramisu-flavored treats in nearly every bakery and dessert cafe.
I always make Henry share a bingsu with me even though I’m sure I could easily clean a bowl on my own, and he gets so annoyed because I always order without consulting him and he dislikes green tea which is my favorite and I ask you, blog, for the 8087986th time, why are we still together?!
I was so miserable up until the bingsu was placed in front of me, but not even the invisible sword impaling my right eyeball could take my bingsu joy away from me. It was the best way to end the day, that’s for sure.
We walked back to the room after this and I went to bed hoping that my eye would be back to normal the next day.
Please look forward to my next post about Incheon’s Chinatown, but in the meantime, you can read about the next morning when Henry and Chooch abandoned me.