I wandered the back alley markets again tonight looking at the vast array of plastic junk and mounds of fruit. This powerfully suggestive smell of fried chicken kept me moving down the street. This chicken was being fried in oil that looked like it dated back to the Korean war. The cook was this middle-aged balding (no hair net) guy smoking one of these ridiculously long, thin cigarettes while he shuffled chicken in and out of the vats. Of course I bought some! The batter was really thin, just a coating really, and was lightly spiced with chili (the only spices I've seen here are salt, pepper and chili, garlic doesn't count because there's enough of it in the food to make it an ingredient.) This chicken was probably the best thing I've ever tasted, spicy, crispy and surprisingly ungreasy. I think I'll avoid eating it too often though.
Tonight I also went on another late-night shopping spree at Homeplus, the 24 hr department store. My apartment still needs a few more things to make it home-like instead of something like a flophouse. I picked up a lamp, some clothes hangers and a little potted ivy plant as household improvement items. I also bought a new digital camera, my old Canon Powershot has taken more than a few knocks in my wanderings and the zoom control is a bit wonky (yes, I know, I totally am trying to justify it :P) and a couple of DVDs (Korean TV is very odd so I haven't bothered much with it.)
When I went outside to get a cab they were all being boarded, so I flagged one down. The driver spoke pretty good English and we had a chat about the usual stuff, where I'm from, what I'm doing, etc. He mentioned that he only drives a cab as a part-time job and pulled off his hat to reveal a shaved head. "I am monk, I study at Buddhist College..." Blink. I had no idea that monks were allowed to drive a cab, but I guess student monks are? He was an amiable guy and he even gave me a discount on the fare, he also said that he would pray for me to have happy dreams. I wished him a safe night's journey.
I didn't tell him that I'm a monk, but I think he guessed that. He didn't say that he was gregarious, but that was pretty obvious, too. I would have taken his picture but it would have spoiled the moment I think.
People have been asking me when I think I'll get homesick; I don't think I will. I feel at home no matter where I am. I'll always miss my dark, wet rock in the Atlantic, but it's been there a long time and it'll be there a while yet. It's a bit like Buckaroo Banzai said, "No matter where you go, there you are."