07 November 2008

Cooling off around Seoul

The US election is over, and it's time for me to return to my routines and my life. I'm glad that Barack Obama is my next President, and that being an American is now an asset rather than a liability. However, I am still enraged about my home state, California, choosing to take a huge step backward with Proposition 8; nevertheless, I am looking forward to turning the bitterness over Proposition 8 into energy for positive change. Again, retiring my Samsung TV and my BMW will be a start, and will certainly mean a lot to me.

Yesterday was spent at the Techno Mall, a ten-story shopping center made up mostly of electronics goods, located across the Han River from Jamsil. The salesmen (no saleswomen, as it's electronics, and in electronics sales, being a man is a huge plus) there tend to be quite aggressive, so it's not really a place for casual window shopping, but if I really know what I want to buy, I can get good deals there.

The Techno Mall also has a nice rooftop garden on the ninth floor.

From the garden, I have a good view of the river. Here, at the eastern end of Seoul, there was a ferry dock nearby to carry people and goods across the river. In the 1960s, the ferries were replaced by the Gwangjin Bridge, a narrow bridge that is still in use. The bridge above is a much newer one; despite its name, the Olympic Bridge was built around the turn of the millennium, and is one of the few bridges in Seoul to feature stunning architecture and/or artwork. Most Han River bridges, especially those built in the 1960s and the 1970s, have very utilitarian designs, intended for the cheapest and quickest construction.

Today was spent at Jamsil, where I returned to Lotte World and its ice rink. The Jamsil Lotte Department Store had opened a new food mart in its basement, and I made sure to sample some meat products there as well. I have to say, however, that the wine section - and its American wine rack - made me feel another bout of rage, due to California and its Proposition 8. I will gladly continue to buy Napa Valley wines, based on the stances of the wineries, but I will certainly never buy any Temecula Valley wines ever again.

The ride back to my apartment on the subway was a much better experience, however. With Christmas theming starting to go up around me, I decided to play Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas album, from 1994, on my iPhone. That was the very album that I had Mariah autograph for me, in person, that same year, in New York City, as I shared my Seoul experiences from earlier that year. Even through the W years, Mariah maintained a very positive reputation here in Seoul, and now that Obama will take over, her music will once again play a prominent role in bringing US and South Korean popular cultures together. Again, I am very proud of having helped her make that happen back in 1994, and looking forward to improved US-South Korean relations (where I hope to have a say once again).

And every Hyundai Genesis that I spot on the streets also boosts me. My reaction to the Genesis used to be: "D*mn, it's a nice car. I can't believe it's a Hyundai." Now, it's changed to: "That's my next car, my Christmas present to myself this year." I do look forward to returning to California just before Christmas, buying the Genesis, and taking it to my favorite LGBT hangouts (of course, with a story of why I am no longer showing up in a BMW). But for now, I also look forward to my road trip, which will take place a week earlier than originally scheduled, as well as my Hong Kong trip, which will be reserved within the next week for sometime early December.