I have had the best day. McDonald's and Costco--seriously, how does it get any better?
After waking at 11:30 this morning (consequence of being up until 3, 3:30), I was feeling a little groggy and sluggish until I remembered the day's mission: Obtain Cheese. As you can imagine, I practically propelled forward once the objective was clear, so with an empty canvas tote and my UmBrElLa!!, I headed out to grab the 937. I cannot reiterate enough times how incredibly and utterly important it is to BOARD THE BUS ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE STREET. So $1.10 later (1100 won!!) I found myself at the end of the line (please note that a real authentic Korean fell into the same trap) and being guided off of the bus. A quick to call to Ashley confirmed that I am eternally in need of a compass, and I found myself at a new store. Being the adventuresome (adventurous? hehe, I teach English) person that I am, I headed in to inspect what was being sold.
The store is called HomEver, and it's pretty similar to Home Plus. I estimate it's 3/4 the size, but the goods are different, so I had fun picking up and inspecting everything that struck my fancy. In the end, I came away with $6 worth of crayons (for only $2.10!), note cards to turn into flashcards, and a child's game. Let me explain the game. It's a board with 30 panels and 30 buttons. The buttons slides up and down over an image, the top half being a picture and the bottom half being the identifying word in Korean. I was so excited I almost giggled out loud until the kid behind me started crying. FYI--they're just as shrill here as home! I picked up and put down probably a hundred things, reminding myself that I needed to have lots of room in case I ever found Costco.
10 minutes by bus is 20 minutes by foot--unless there's a McDonald's on the way. Yesterday, I never got around to eating (I tried at 1 a.m. this morning, but most places were closed, and after I got hit on the second time I decided I was safer at home), so I figured I deserved and owed myself a Shanghai Spice Chicken Burger. Let me tell you, the mayonnaise was extra mayo-y, and chicken was extra Shanghai-y, and the fries were crisp. It was AWESOME! Refueled, it was time to find the correct 937, which I did, and rode with great anticipation to the Motherland.
It's E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S!!! I walked into the building, practically salivating for the samples I was about to encounter when I was confronted with seven floors to choose from. Fortunately, 4 of them were parking. That's right. While you suckers park miles and miles away from the mall, there's no such thing here. Space is too precious to turn into a parking lot, so there are scores of parking garages, and major stores have their own. I decided to take the escalator and follow the other lemmings, seeing as how they usually know how to read the signs, and after being corrected (got off on the third floor, had to go down to the first) I made it to member services and got my card. (Which will eternally be pronounced card-uh in my head.)
A side note: they're pretty big fans of escalators here, and the landing is about 1 1/2 feet shorter than it is back home, so once the incline (or decline) is complete, the next step is on solid ground so that you have to be paying attention. All of those Croc shoe incidents, if you noticed, have been over here. AHEM! Your toes are more in danger here regardless of shoe selection.
The first floor is as big as any Costco back home. And there are three of them. The first floor had a lot of kids books in English; I'm thinking about getting a book for each of my kindergartners (finally spell check caught that word and had a suggestion) and telling them when they have practiced it really well they can read it to the class. I got some first-grade level trivia questions that I think I can use in all of my classes, if nothing just for English practice. After a cursory spin around, my cart and I rode the escalator to the second floor.
Also known as Heaven.
I was greeted by a Jack Daniels sign and acres of foods from home. And I touched every single thing on that floor. I caressed the cheeses, salivating at the blue but keeping my focus: cheddar. After nearly running over and nearly being run over, I cruised through the bakery (real cake!) and found the most beautiful yellow brick of sharp cheddar on earth. Every ounce (no kilograms here!) worth the $11.57. I kind of had to jostle around a woman who was contemplating the cream cheese selection.
Let me help you read into this phrase. "Contemplating the cream cheese selection."
1) Costco has cream cheese.
2) If Costco has cream cheese, then Costco has bagels.
3) My onion bagel sandwich was delicious.
Continuing, the woman looked at me as I'm accustomed to being looked at, and she spoke like I'm not. "Is this cream cheese wrapped or in a tub?" she asked. !!!!!!! Just like that! There was no need for guessing or inference; she knew English! So after discussing the benefits of buying 2 bricks of cream cheese versus 3 tubs ($4 difference for 100 mg, not worth it), she told me where to get the bagels and my day was complete. I did not pass go, I did not collect $200, I went directly to the check out counter where I gladly paid cash and hurried to the bus stop. I got home without any further delay and toasted my bagel in a frying pan (just needed it warm!).
I also bought some kick ass socks for Molly for 50 cents. I love Korea.
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