Solipsism and Me

Idle reports from an idle fellow

Monday 10 December 2007

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If you finally get to bed at 11 pm local time, having stayed up with only intermittent naps for about 24 hours, chances are you’ll oversleep, but wake up feeling wonderfully refreshed or at least fully conscious for the first time in a long time. And so indeed it was, with me too dear readers, as I strolled eventually into the breakfast room at the Hotel Posh, about five minutes before closing time. A thorough survey revealed: interesting slices of fresh fruit, lots of ornamental salad, and the usual assortment of buffet type materials, both oriental and western. There is the option of freshly made omelettes which I mentally reserve for a later date. There is fairly dire coffee. There is an industrial scale toaster. I consume as much breakfast as I can in the short time available while waiters hover anxiously clearing tables away all around me, and then return to my room to consider my options. I could go out now or wait for the weather to improve (it’s gray); I could worry about my talk; I could check my email. No prizes for guessing which I do first; I am touched by the number of happy birthdays I received on facebook while I was asleep. Then I try to find the most recent version of my talk on some available computer (no of course I didn’t look in the right place) and worry a bit about that till hunger forces me out to lunch about 2 pm.

After some wandering about (the Hotel Posh is next door to the Town hall in Seoul’s business centre, so mostly surrounded with skyscrapers), I plunge into an establishment offering grilled meat, but not (it transpires) at lunchtime. So it’s another bowl of boiling Korean soup with cold rice noodles and kimchi, this time served in a stone pot and accompanied by purple rice. The soup contains something white and fluffy which I hope is tofu; it also contains several
mollusc like things fortunately still in their shells, and a few shrimps which I try to ignore. The rice is steeped in weak tea. Ah well, it’s filling and warming on a cold day. A touch of shopping (dried persimmons from a street vendor, a gadget to upload photos and some neat pens from a gadget shop, a nice cake for dinner) and then it’s time to return for my appointment with my minder Seoncheol at 4 pm. He’s already at the hotel waiting.

Off we go in his car again, to the Ministry of Culture just down the road, where he parks, and then heads off purposefully in the direction of the street thoughtfully set aside for the benefit of tourists, he explains, which turns out to be full of interesting little shops selling Korean schmuck (paper, glittery things, brassware, ceramics…) arty shops, and coffee bars. It also has specially appointed places where you can pose for photographs, which I duly do, once in front of a photo of a glamorous newscaster and once with a large wooden hammer, supplied by an amused vendor of traditional rice-based produce.

Then Seoncheol announces that it’s time we headed for his home which, it transpires, is an hour’s drive through the same motorway madness that I experienced yesterday. But this is compensated for by the opportunity to meet his charming wife and two small children (10 and 8), who are gratifyingly excited by the sight of Father Christnmas bearing cake. Dinner is eaten seated on the floor, of course: Mrs Kim (her English name is Shannon it seems) converses in English much better than her husband, and has made shabu shabu in my honour; her daughter is a Harry Potter fan. Her son, a stickler for protocol like his father, insists that we put candles on the cake, and sing happy birthday to me in Korean. Which is all very nice. Then I discover that Seoncheol has actually already translated the correct version of my talk into Korean so I dont need to worry about it after all, hoorah. Instead, I show off photos of my lovely family via the internet. In fact the evening is a great success, spoiled only for me by the fact that the return drive runs into a massive traffic jam on the five lane highway, apparently caused by the police slowing the traffic down sufficiently for them to check each car for some recent criminal as it crawls by. Anyway, I am back in bed by 11 pm again.

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Written by Lou

December 14, 2007 at 18:05

Posted in Uncategorized

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