Day 16

Wednesday | March 14th, 2012


Today was my day off. It’s like having a Saturday in the middle of the week. It would have been great to sleep in and ease into the day, but I had to make the trek to Daegu and visit immigration instead.

This is where I clearly have not gotten out of my Seoul mindset. I stressed about this event last week. It probably even had a bit to do with my infamous headache. The layout of the situation was simple: I needed to go to another town, visit a government office and muck around with red tape. I expected this event to eat up a large part of my day and planned accordingly.

I booked a train ticket from Seogyeongju which appeared to be closer to my flat. I booked my ticket early so I wouldn’t not be able to get a ticket. I set the time early enough so I could make the 11.30 appointment at immigration. I stressed and worried that I would oversleep and mess the whole thing up. I planned on 5-6 hours of sleep and getting to Seogyeongju Station with a comfortable 20 minutes to explore and maybe get some grub.

What transpired instead was a lengthy lesson in planning, mindset, and countryside reality.

I slept maybe 2-3 hours. The station turned out to be around the bend from the campus (basically a healthy walk) and it was smaller than my living room (no joke).

Sitting in a chair in the station, a snap to my left … and a snap to my right. There were five other people waiting. There were only cold drinks in a cold station. No donuts food in sight.

The train was mostly empty. I got into Dongdaegu Station, got on the the subway, got off the subway, and walked the rest of the way to immigration. I was at the front gate at 10.08. I thought I would burn this extra hour of time by walking up the street and exploring a bit. I thought I would find some donuts. I made it to the big intersection near Ayang Station at 1017.

It was here, waiting for the crosswalk sign that I realized I had planned my whole adventure like I would go about trying to get something done in Seoul. I had naturally allotted about five hours to what was essentially a 40 minute activity not counting the train rides. Not only was segment of my journey not jammed to the edges with people, there was almost no waiting involved—I was stuck in a minor (3 minute) traffic jam on the way to the station in Gyeongju, but that was nothing compared to what I expected or am used to.

I used my phone to look up “dunkin donuts” and got four locations in Korean in under 3 seconds. This was the next thing to hit me. I had asked a friend where immigration was (that is how things have worked forever, asking people). It never occurred to me to punch it up in something like Google Maps or even my own phone. Even when studying the screenshots of Daum Maps I was sent, it didn’t occur to me that all this information was already in my pocket.

Looking at the map in my hand, the closest Dunkin’ Donuts was back at the train station. I determined I had enough time to walk back to the train station, buy and eat a fritter, and still return to immigration before my appointment.

What follows are the time notes I made while donut hunting:

  • 1008 immi
  • 1017 intersection
  • 1032 nearly there
  • 1039 maps says I’m on top of it
  • 1043 zoom map, says i gotta cross rails
  • 1046 there’s one in the station now! doh
  • 1058 fritter consumed
  • 1059 waiting impatiently in 동대구지하철역 afraid I’ll be late for actual appointment
  • 1101 on subway tying shoe, still worried that 2 stops will take too long and I’ll miss appointment
  • 1102 first stop
  • 1103 second stop, surely some angry ajoshi will fling himself on the tracks just before the train and make me late
  • 1106 동촌역
  • 1107 peeing, washing hands, both frivolous, late making actions
  • 1108 point proven (about donut hunting and being on time)
  • 1111 waiting to cross street, immi on other side
  • 1114 immi front gate
  • 1124 frothily waiting for appointment
  • 1131 appointment
  • 1140 done
  • 1152 동대구역 return ticket in hand
  • 1230 get on train for home
  • 1351 outside of Gyeongju station

Imagine my shock, when cutting through the train station in an attempt to get to the other side of the street and seeing a Dunkin’ Donuts already in the station only ten feet from where I stood earlier wondering why this Dongdaegu Station still didn’t have a donut shop when Daegu Station has had one for years. Fooey. I did get a fritter and a bagel finally.

Immigration was about what I expected. The only Daegu-specific features were: less English ability; less signage; official “helper” girls; and grumpier clerks. I’m not really sure if I will get a new ARC out of this experience, the guy behind the counter asked me if I was changing my visa to E2 even though he had Meow’s family register right in front of him. I don’t care what happens really, the whole point of the trip was to change my address and not get penalized again. He at least got that I was changing my address. He wasn’t sure why I was there and didn’t seem to get that my ARC was full, but whatever.

While I was waiting in line, a free range ajoshi who hit me up for chit-chat. That was fine. Then wanted me to make conversation dialogue in response to a prompt. I was pretty offended by that. When I refused, he got angry and wanted to know why. He said I was an English teacher (after I said I was self-employed) and seemed to think I had some sort of duty to give him free pointers. I finally told him straight that I didn’t care and wasn’t interested in helping him. He was pissed, but he left. Later, on the train back, I felt guilty.

I slept on the train, of course. And I was stressed that I would miss my stop, of course. I tried to stay awake by taking pictures out of my window.

It was nice to be back in my city. It turns out that Gyeongju Station is closer than Seogyeongju Station. I explored a little more on the walk home.

I didn’t do much when I got home except rest and fiddle. That’s what days off are all about anyway.

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