21 October 2008

A parting shot

This will most likely be my final post before my temporary return to Los Angeles. I am, however, glad to know that I will be back on the road soon, and uploading hundreds of extra photos in the weeks and months to come. I will keep traveling despite the US electioneering by South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak - and if Lee really gets on my nerves, I will make sure to get away to Hong Kong for a few days.

After the movie at COEX Mall, I looked for Mariah Carey's new compilation, The Ballads, at 3-4 different record stores in the area. No luck, however - even though today was the release date, it appeared that nobody had it. I'll pick it up after I return from Los Angeles; The Ballads will not be available in the US for several more months at least, and South Korean versions also include full lyrics, their full Korean translations, and a synopsis of the artist and each track. All the more reason to buy it here - as well as a nod to my 1994 memories, which not only involve Mariah's South Korean fans, but also Mariah herself in person.

On the subject of high-profile foreign entertainers, Billy Joel is set to come to Seoul for the first time, performing at Olympic Park on November 15th. I don't know his music too well though, so I don't think I'll attend.

And below is my only shot for today:

A Cologne manhole cover in Seoul? Yes! As I left COEX Mall, I decided to stop at Wangsimni, where Korail recently opened a new 17-story subway station building with private funding. Korail operates the Jungang Line at the station, and is building an extension of the Bundang Line, which primarily serves the southeastern satellite city of Seongnam, to there as well. Wangsimni also has Lines 2 and 5 (Seoul Metro and SMRT, respectively), and is the only Seoul subway station that offers all three subway operators together.

The upper levels are offices, while the lower levels house a shopping mall and the train services. There were a number of these Cologne manhole covers on the ground floor and the first basement floor, which are designated as "Enter 6," a shopping mall consisting of fashion and athletic apparel for men and women. I loved seeing these, as I was able to distract myself by reminding myself of my visit to Cologne, which took place on December 5, 1999 (a Sunday - all the shops were closed) for seven hours, and to this day remains my only stint in Germany. I need to get back to Europe sooner than later.

The Wangsimni station complex also includes a number of restaurants (including a very nice-smelling Vietnamese rice noodle joint) as well as E-Mart, a mass discount store chain run by Shinsegae Department Stores, and similar in character to Wal-Mart. (In fact, Wal-Mart has withdrawn from South Korea, and all Wal-Marts have become E-Marts.) Could be an interesting place to hang around after I return from home.