Running Around Town

To Do:

  1. Take sheets to seamstress near Express Bus Terminal Station stop
  2. Bring prints to frame shop near Samjaki Station stop
  3. Hahn’s Custom Tailor to pick up Andrew’s custom suits near Itaewon Stop
  4. What the Book for travel guides walking distance from Hahn’s

When I was growing up, occasionally Saturday was  this marathon of errand running, where, my parents would divide and conquer the long to do this that had accumulated on the refrigerator door. There is actually a bit of a warm-ness to these memories. There is something in my psyche that can’t get enough of making a list and then crossing it off.

Our Saturday “To Dos” may not seem like much to the average list maker, but trust me it was ambitious and not something I wanted to face on my own, so I enrolled Andrew (bribed him with Korean BBQ and maekju for dinner) and we geared up to get things done.

1. Take sheets to seamstress

This was first on the list, because it presented the most uncertainty and the biggest challenge. 

Side note: Bed sizes are not the same in Korea as in the US. Although they use the same terminology, a Korean king-sized bed is not equivalent to the US king size, it’s more like a queen with a just a few inches added. In fact, it’s so close to a US queen that I have managed to rip 2 sets of perfectly new sheets in trying to force it to be so…..if you can imagine, this requires some serious pulling and pushing and usually my feet are involved and I’ve even been known to fall on the ground. I was trying to be frugal as sheets can cost an arm and a leg here but in the process was left with nothing. Needless to say, new sheets were a must.

I recently discovered from Sue (the best co-worker/friend/translator/godsend I have met in Korea) that if I bought 3 king-sized flat sheets in the US, I could have a local seamstress create a fitted sheet, a duvet cover and 4 pillow covers for a full bedding set to fit the Korean king.

The entire process -including delivery to my home within 3 days- is less than $30! Seriously, do you not want to get a different color made for each day of the week!?!? Hooray for Sue, flat sheet seamstresses in Seoul and business trips to the US!

Now the hard part, running the final errand.

The directions to the location and instructions for the seamstress came from Sue. As I have shared before, there are no addresses in Seoul. Since Koreans are famous for getting things done and very quickly (refered to as bali-bali which literally means fast-fast), I was hoping that they were working on implementing the missing system and miraculously introducing it while we are here. Unfortunately, it is not happening.

Instead we settled for the metro station stop, the exit gate from the station, a description of the building outside the gate, up to the fourth floor of shops divided by partitions, to find shop #107. Thank goodness Andrew’s Korean is good enough to ask for store #107.

The message tells the seamstress that I have a Korean king size mattress, a US queen size duvet, 4 standard pillows and where to deliver it hence the Mary Choquette at the end (mailing addresses are written in reverse order from zip to name). It also says to feel free to call Sue if there are any questions. I was hoping to not have to bother her on a Saturday.

By the time we found the building which we weren’t sure was right, we felt better once the elevator floor listings included a fourth floor – good sign that we were on the right track.

Even more promising were the stalls on the fourth floor. Victory!

Next came the awkward process of trying to communicate with the seamstress. Although I am ashamed of my lack of Korean (it’s been 5 months I should know more) and the state of my hair, I had Choq discreetly video (what a trooper) my attempt and failure to drop off the sheets. Despite my efforts, thanks to Sue, we crossed off number 1 within an hour flat.

2. Custom-Frame Shop

After feeling triumphant with number 1 we headed back to the Metro to take the train 6 stops up to Samjaki where Andrew had found a custom frame shop that was English-friendly. It’s amazing how useful other people’s blogs can be living here. Since the success rate of finding things on Google like you can in the US is very low, we have found searching other expat’s blogs is the way to go. Thanks to a military family with 6 kids (wow) living here we found our spot.

The photojournalism will stop here with this one. As soon as we entered the store, it didn’t seem appropriate to take any pictures. The tiny shop was filled with Army wives. Clearly, the military family’s blog was a popular site for many military families. Being there made me realize just how much they know through years of being able to share information that we don’t know. And it also was a really long hour spent listening to them go on and on and back and forth like a bunch of mother hens. 

Other than the desperate housewives of Seoul Army Base episode, we were pleased with the service and the selection and the prices were surprisingly lower than you would pay at home. Much lower. Would recommend 0901 Gallery and Frame and should finally have some things to hang on our walls in 2 weeks time. Yay for #2!

3. Hahn’s Custom Tailor

This one was pretty straight forward as we discovered Hahn’s the first week we were in Seoul when we were without our wardrobes and Andrew was in need of a sports coat. After 20 minutes on the train from Samjaki to Itaewon we were in business. The availability of tailors in Seoul is constant so we are trying to take advantage of the low-cost custom-tailored suits. Andrew had 2 made so we needed to pick them up. A lil fashion show and some minor adjustments and we were on our way. Piece of cake.

4. What the Book for travel guides

This, again, was an easy one because I had been there before, not to mention a really fun “to do”.  We were picking up travel guides in order to plan our trips over the next year and a half.  What the Book is an English book store that sells Lonely Planets along with some of my other favorites like Us Weekly and Jodi Picoult novels.

We have spent some serious time over the last couple of weeks putting together trip ideas across Asia.  One of the best parts of being here is having access to so many countries in close proximity. On Friday night over a bottle of wine and some dinner we determined where we will be going. It’s a bit ridiculous how exotic and amazing the itineraries feel for a couple Midwestern kids, but we cannot wait to make it part of our Asian living experience.

Thanks to David and Gina and a wedding gift in May, we splurged and bought a small library to make sure our trips are not without a guide. Score for 4!

4 to do’s and 3 hours later we were satisfied with our marathon of errands and in need of a reward. 2 maekjus and a rooftop deck was a perfect way to celebrate crossing the finish line of our run around town.

Plans to celebrate Buddha’s upcoming birthday on Sunday with a street festival and a latern-lit night parade. Will be sure to share pictures as I imagine it will be spectacular.

A very special thanks to all the help with the panty hose debate. Decision has been made to keep my legs bare but not without an emergency pair in the purse in case of disaster. Monday morning should be a bit of a nerve wrecker. Wish me luck!


6 responses to “Running Around Town

  1. Mary… I just love your blog! You really should be writing a book! I would read it over and over again! Glad you made a decision on the panty hose! I think you made the perfect one!

  2. I am in the process this summer of starting Mary’s book.
    Mary, you can edit when I am finished 😉

  3. Mary I love the videos!!! more!! It’s great to see you both. Looking foward to next year.

  4. Hi Mary,
    I don’t know if you are still in Korea? If so maybe you or Sue could help me! I am looking to start a little clothes collection here but can seem to find a good/affordable seamstress?

  5. haha Mar what a cute video I couldn’t stop laughing for a minute there lol.

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