After our market and mall explorations, we started to walk back home. Went down the underground, which runs the length of one long street, and contains dozens of shops (as well as the tube). Thought we knew which exit to come out of, and did. But even though it seemed as though we were in a place we recognised, it turned out not to be. So we crossed the road (via the underground again) and came out on the opposite corner. Went along the road: gradually realised this wasn’t an area we recognised either. Scary, since the streets don’t appear to have street names (unlike most of Europe where signage is very good, and usually on the corner buildings). We looked at our map, but it’s a tourist map and shows buildings and places rather than streets. Tried to work it out from the underground map but it was just as confusing because we couldn’t reconcile streets with the area above us. Went above ground again and found a bus map which had streets on it, but it didn’t seem to match up with our map either.
Finally, a man came along and offered help. The only trouble was he didn’t speak any English. Consequently, somewhere along the line we had a misunderstanding, and he led us two blocks in the wrong direction!
It was quite cold at this point, and, against all our best principles, we went into Starbucks and bought some very expensive cappuccinos. In there, I met a young lady (I think she was one of the staff, but was off duty) who spent quite a bit of time trying to help. Even she couldn’t figure out from our map where we were (!) but she finally offered to go and look on the Internet (in the staff quarters) and print out a map.
After some time she reappeared, with the map. Great relief.
We thanked her and set off in the right direction this time. Crossed the canal we shouldn’t have crossed before, crossed the square as marked on the map, and before we came to the street where we should have turned left on according to the girl’s map, we found the fish market! Having been caught out several times before in terms of thinking we knew where we were (previously we‘d two or three times seen what we were sure were shops we‘d previously passed but they weren‘t), we weren’t completely convinced this was the same fish market we’d seen before, but we decided to go through it anyway, and gradually realised it was the same one. Enormous relief.
In Europe, for the most part, I could figure the language, but of course here, even though there’s a lot of English signage around (particularly in advertising) the majority of words are in Korean.
I meant to mention, in my post about the shops here, just how small many of them are. Many stalls cover a very small area, but the shops aren’t much better: some are so crammed with stock that there’s virtually no room for anyone inside. Some shopkeepers work outside on the footpath. All your competitors are likely to be within spitting distance, selling exactly the same items. And the tiniest shop I saw had a man sitting in what must have once been the doorway to an upstairs apartment. He was surrounded by keys and his key-cutting equipment. He wouldn’t have been able to stretch out either arm, let alone both. There was no room behind him, and presumably he could only get into this ‘shop’ by taking out the little barrier that was in front of him.
Celia made some rude comment about just how much room we’d ‘demanded’ at the bookshop.