Sunday, February 6, 2011

How Did You Do That? (28 December)

As much as I would like to sleep in this morning after a really busy Christmas trip and getting home late last night, I have made a doctor’s appointment.  You’re probably thinking Another doctor’s appointment but this one is just a routine visit to have a blood test done and get a new prescription for my thyroid medication.  It literally takes 20 minutes although correcting the appointment takes a lot longer since the new International Coordinator at the Gunsan Medical Centre mistakenly makes the appointment with a different doctor. 

The Kindest Doctor Ever...

I then speak to her about the tingling and numbness that I’ve had in my left arm for the last two weeks.   It’s really starting to worry me and I think that I should see a doctor to have it checked out but I’m not sure which specialist I’ll be sent to since Family Doctors (or GPs as we call them back home) seem scarcer than hen’s teeth.  The coordinator suggests trying acupuncture about which I’m a little hesitant.  It’s not that I’m scared of needles – I’m just not a fan of them.

I find myself agree to try this and ask her where I should go.  She happily tells me that there is an oriental medicine department in the hospital and shuffles me off in the direction of this department.  Any doubts that are sprinting through my head as I sit outside the doctor’s office are squelched an hour later after this particular doctor has done a full examination.  Not only does he speak directly to me (even though he’s speaking Korean), but he takes the time to listen to the problem, ask questions, do a physical examination and a couple of on-the-spot tests which is very unusual compared to all of the Korean doctors I’ve seen so far.  By the time we get to the needle part, I actually feel quite calm as a result of his impressive bedside manner. 

Just a Short Walk

Several hours later than I’d planned, I finally leave the Medical Centre and head home to get ready for a friend’s visit.  I do a very quick clean of my apartment and then head to phone store to try and get a new cellular phone since my one appears to have died completely.  At the store, I’m told that my phone can be repaired but not in-store.  I’m given verbal directions that simply amount to around the corner and approximately 1km down the main road so I head off rather confidently in this general direction.  I walk and walk and walk until I see the tunnel that is officially the end of my neighbourhood. I’m pretty sure that I’ve already walked more than 1km so I enter the very next SK store that I pass and ask for help.  The women draws me a map since I clearly don’t know the name of the major intersection that I need to cross and then writes down the name of the repair centre.  When I finally reach the centre, I realise that I’ve walked halfway to Lotte mart – definitely further than 1km down the road.  However, the news that my phone simply needs a new cable and will take 10 minutes to fix and only cost 18 000 won is fantastic!

As I leave the service centre 15 minutes later, I’m so absorbed in reading the text messages that have accumulated over the last 24 hours that I’m not really paying attention to the fact that a snow storm has suddenly started while I was indoors.  Walking down marble stairs with fresh snow and a distracted step is guaranteed to result in an unexpected tumble down the stairs which is exactly what happens.  As I stand up once more, I realise that I’m directly opposite the Samsung Digital Centre so I make my way across the street to try and find a power cable for my laptop.  Unfortunately, it’s the wrong size!  Determined to figure out just how far I’ve actually walked this afternoon – and since I don’t know what to tell a taxi driver in order to get back to the phone store where I need to recharge my airtime – I decide to walk back to Soryong-dong.  Now that I know where I’m going, I realise the walk is probably only about two and a half kilometres although it’s an extremely cold two and a half kilometres tonight!


Back home, I half-heartedly sort out a few more things in my apartment before I have to leave for the bus station to meet my friend.  It’s only then that I realise that I have no flight details for him and no idea what time the bus arrives.  All I can do is estimate an arrival time which means I’ll probably be sitting at the bus station for a while tonight.  I pack a book and head back out into the cold to, hopefully, meet my friend.  Forty minutes later, with no way of contacting him (I’ve even tried his Japanese phone number to no avail), I start phoning and texting everyone I can think of to get ideas on what to do. 

As I’m walking back and forth between the intercity and the express bus terminals, my phone rings: My friend is standing outside of what he thinks is my apartment!  As he describes the door, however, my relief returns to anxiety as I suddenly wonder which apartment building he’s standing in since the description doesn’t match mine.  Reassured by the fact that he can see Wolmyeong Park behind him, I can only conclude that he’s at the right complex but in the wrong building as I hurriedly grab a taxi and head home to meet him.  How he managed to successfully get from the bus station to my apartment via taxi which my address written in English is beyond me – there are days when I can’t even get back to my apartment and I provide the address in Korean!

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