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Friday, September 25, 2009

Not the last post from Korea, not the first from India

But rather the first and last (until next February, presumably) from Kuala Lumpur. My layover here lasts another 3 hours (16 hours on the way back!), and then a short hop to India which will put me in just around 11pm. I very much anticipate the first night, what with leaving the airport after midnight and trying to get a hotel in town, to be the most stressful and hassly part of the trip. This probably means that I'm incredibly naive and ignoring the peskiness of touts, stomach bugs, mosquitoes, bumpy roads, and broken-down buses. Nonetheless, it's nice to think that I'll be able to get the hard stuff done with pretty quickly. Anyhow, I managed to get some money from the exchange bank in Daegu and I have Chris's travel guide, so all should be good.

The last few days have been somewhat ridiculous. I did my best to see most of my friends one more time before leaving Daegu and Seoul, which led to several busy days involving lots of busing and subwaying back and forth to various places. This culminated yesterday when I woke up, went to the Korean medicine clinic to get some heating pad, acupuncture, suction cup, and electric massage action on my lower back. This was necessary because of my and Chris's capers involving a motorcycle, a helmet, and 3 wigs.

The point I want to make is that the suction cup therapy (부항 Bu-hang, I believe it's called) is really freaky, though unfortunately, as it was done on my lower back, I couldn't see it directly and I can only report on what I surmise must have happened giving all the weird sensations. First, they prick your skin with a relatively thick needle or something, enough to pierce you and get you bleeding. Then they stick a little cup, the rim of which is coated with some cold jelly lubricant substance, probably to prevent skin abrasion, over the wound. They turn on the suction and at this point, all I can say is that my skin felt all floppy and slimy and the sensation made me think of blowing bubbles underwater or an octopus hopping around, and I am pretty sure a bunch of blood rushes up into the cup and into a tube. A chilly, sloppy, bubbly skin eruption is how I'd have to describe it. If I ever do it again, I'll try to give a more helpful account.

I spent the afternoon with my friend Dylan/Seokjune at Seoul National Univeristy (he's a lackey in a genetics lab), had lunch at one of the school cafeterias, hung out in the computer lounge printing out insurance documents, and chilled out at a campus picnic table. Then I headed back to my hostel, chatted for a while with the staff, and headed out again for a joint goodbye party with Belinda, one of my roommates/coworkers from the summer camp that ended 5 weeks ago. We happened to both be leaving today, her for Shanghai and me for, as you all have heard a million times by now, India. We invited some of our friends from around town and a few of the Korean co-teachers from the camp, and then we managed to do exactly what I knew I should have avoided, namely, staying out until 4AM on the night before a long day of flying. We went to an allegedly famous Japanese noodle restaurant, which, in all fairness, did serve some pretty awesome noodles. There was even a Korean celebrity in the shop (at 3AM), but nobody could remember what she was famous for, so I didn't even bother trying to talk to her or ask for an autograph.

I headed back to the hostel, napped on the couch for about 90 minutes (I am pretty sure they changed the keycode for my room), then got up at 6, cleaned up, ate some of the granola that Chris made me as a goodbye present, and got on the airport bus. The next several hours were a daze and I pretty much only remember using all of my remaining change to purchase a bottle of organic brown rice green tea, eating some airplane food including a nice celery, corn, lettuce, and kidney bean salad(and thinking about how airplane food, at least on trans-continental Asian flights, is generally fairly delicious) and waking up in Malaysia.

All in all, given the blood suction and lack of sleep and hectic last few days and long, disorienting flight, I am in remarkably good shape and may actually manage to survive my first night in Madras.

Did I mention the current temperature there is 38 celsius?