After breaking into the Olympic Stadium, swaggering through Gangnam and stealing a hula hoop, I thought I’d seen and done everything Seoul has on offer – but I was as wrong as Bruce Jenner when he tells himself he looks like a real woman. Today I hit the road again to visit the Namdaemun Markets, see a frightening demonstration, and climb a giant tower. And I did it all with a hangover!
The markets are tops, with people rushing all over the place, dudes clapping to get everyone’s attention, women selling Dagwood Dogs, and all sorts of clothes and bags and other crap to buy. Heading into the confusing maze of alleyways and dead ends and stairs was the first time I’ve felt Seoul is an actual Asian city. The rest of it is a bit sterile, but the markets are buzzing with life and well worth checking out. The street food rocks and the handbags looked very nice indeed.
The Koreans are a bit weird – I guess having nuclear weapons pointed at you 24 hours a day isn’t great for the ol’ sanity – and it’s not unusual to see a group of people walking down the street dressed as robots, monkeys or superheroes. It’s just what they do, and I love them for it. So when I saw a couple who were obviously very much in love and dressed like space pilgrims, I just gave them a wave and went on my way.
As I turned a corner I could hear all sorts of shouting and assumed there’d been a terrorist attack or a footy player had pulled his wang out or something, but was astonished to find a martial arts display in progress. Half-a-dozen little blokes in snazzy costumes were swinging swords around and chopping bamboo poles into bits. It was really impressive and I started cheering along with the crowd, but what really got me going was the fact one of the ninjas was a woman. I found her ability to fuck shit up to be strangely attractive, and when she was finished chopping up bamboo, I wandered over to ask her out on a date. When she started yelling at me and thrusting a spear in my face I ran away and hid in a bush, but thinking back on it, she was probably being quite receptive to my advances. That’s probably just how psychotic Asian sword-wielding babes let you know they’d love a drink.
The N-Seoul Tower looms large over the city and is a symbol of pride and hope for the locals, so I made a point of getting to the top of it. I’ve been to some of the world’s great towers – the Oriental Pearl in Shanghai and whatever that one in Riga is, to name just two, so I rolled over to it and climbed in a cable car to take me to the top of the hill that it sits upon. If you’re ever in a position to head up the N-Seoul, don’t bother with the cable car unless you’re a massive fat cunt or something. It costs $8.50, the line-up is huge, the cart is packed with stinky Koreans, and you can’t see a thing out the windows anyway. Just walk up the stairs, which takes maybe 20 minutes, is free, and provides a nice look out over the city.
When I finally got up there I was met by a tower that’s identical in design to Canberra’s Telstra Tower. As I walked towards it, I felt as if I’d gone back in time to when I was in Year Six and went to Telstra Tower during an excursion to the national capital. I could only hope that, this time, upon reaching the top I wouldn’t be molested by Mr Peterson in the toilets and threatened with death if I told anyone. I looked around when I got up there, but could find no signs of the twisted tutor, so turned my sights instead to what I could see out the windows. Which was five-sevenths of fuck all, really, because there’s more air pollution in Seoul than in the toilet at the local Jenny Craig.
The night ended with the Raiders losing to the Storm and me drowning my sorrows in a steaming mixture of warm beer and dumplings. My team got knocked out and the woman of my dreams packed up her swords and fell into the arms of another man, but I can’t get too worked up about it. Life moves on, adventures roll into experience, gentle breezes cause change, and in Korea Colonel Sanders is a fucking Asian. Goodnight, my lovers.