So, let's have a chat about day two. Day two began with me waking slightly tired and after a shower a great breakfast down in the buffet. I know I complained about the price of the alcohol in hotel yesterday, but it the food here is great. The buffets are pretty impressive. So I chatted with a few INELI colleagues over breakfast and then made my way out the door for a walk. No idea where I was going, but I wanted to spend an hour out and about. I managed to find a little path which led down the hillside through scrub and past the back of houses and a construction site. Finally, after coming down a very impressive wooden walkway on the side of the hill, I found myself at a two lane road. I had arrived, unknowingly at Itaewon. Itaewon is a long long, shopping street which is very tourist orientated. It is nothing remarkable at all, other than just for its sheer length and collections of shops but I smiled the whole way down the street as I passed shop after shop of stuff. All closed of course, at 7.30am, but it was good to get this orientation early. Half way down I spotted a jacket I really liked, so I might need to go back one night and check it out. The shops on Itaewon open around 11am and goes through to 10pm at night.
In the end I walked the whole length of Itaewon and round the bottom of the hill our hotel is on and back up the little street I was describing yesterday. I passed a guy begging on the side of the road. Honestly, for some reason this guy touched my heart more than the street people I see in the U.S.A. There was a pain and sadness in his eyes which was different. Anyway, I gave him 10,000 Won, which is about $10 NZD. Did I make a difference? I have no idea, but in my life $10 NZD is very little, I am sure in his it means a whole lot more.
The day was full of INELI thinking and talking, which was great. It has been brilliant to reconnect with people, be inspired by the likes of Deborah Jacobs, Amy Carter Gipson, Sandra, June, my wonderful fellow innovators and even occasionally, by myself. I know that last bit might sound funny, but sometimes when I hear myself within this group, I wonder why I can't say some of these things at home. I guess being away from the pressure of work and without the politics that go on in a local body you can be more free to aspire. Now there is a challenge if I ever heard it.
The last bit of the day was syndicate work. It was good to be together as a group again. I won't lie, part of it made my brain hurt. We have some challenges ahead getting our scope right and understanding what we are going to deliver, but I am confident we will get there. I should add, this was not helped by me making a proposal to change the scope based on the days discussion, which with some tweaks, we have moved towards as a group.
Lastly, we come to the evening. Oh what an evening! We group cabbed it to the designated restaurant of the night, which was an Indian place just down off Itaewon (not that we really knew where it was until we got there). We were somewhat surprised when the cab driver stopped just around the corner from the hotel outside a flower shop. Much confusion in the cab, the driver talking to us in Korean, the INELI's debating the merits of eating Geraniums in English. Then we looked up and realised the other cabs had stopped too. A short trip around the corner and we were all stopped again, outside some odd little bar. Confusion, conversation, and suddenly the cab convoy was off again down the hill across Itaewon and we stopped outside the Indian restaurant.
The collective sighs of relief were somewhat short, when we discovered that the restaurant was booked for 7pm and we were there at six. Some quick talking got us to 6.30pm and we resolved to go for a look around the place. Itaewon is weird wide street during the day. At night it is a thriving night market, with shops, roadside stalls and about half the people in Seoul walking up and down it. If you want to buy something odd, this my friends, is the place to go....
Anyway, back to the Indian place, we had lost some people by now due to frustration, lack of desire to eat Indian and the discovery that the place was dry. Yup, we had found the only restaurant in Korea that does not serve alcohol of any type. But, a big group hung in there and we had a thoroughly normal Indian meal. It wasn't out of this world, but it was good. The restaurant itself was just a bit odd. It was one of those nights.
Back to the hotel and a group of us decided to head down to the night market at Dongdaemun. This was a crazy night remember, so it was only fair that we should have the weirdest ride ever. The guy drove near the speed of light, and although our cab left third, we were there first. Another cab arrived, but we lost one. No amount of searching turned up our lost colleagues. This was especially confusing as one is a tall, blond, long haired guy from Sweden. He kind of stands out around here.
Anyway, Dongdaemun is a odd place, at least to he Western eye. It was pumping. I mean, if you think Itaewon was packed, boy Dongdaemum is heaving. The shops don't really seem to make much sense to me. There is no order which makes sense in my head. All that said, I would not have missed going there for the world. It is an interesting place and an interesting insight into the way people hang out in Seoul. We saw the Cheonggyecheon-ro, which is this lovely little river, was has been restored to its glory (and improved I think) after a motorway was demolished that had been built over it. That is what I call courageous and inspired! We also saw the amazing temple there. Just towards the end of the night one of our group found the talk, long haired blonde Swede and his boss. By the magic of Seoul, we were back together again....
And so ended a interesting night in Seoul. A few drinks back at the hotel, sitting in the dark on the terrace with cans not purchased on site and so not costing 30,000 WON each. This place is culturally so different from my world and I love it. That INELI library Ninja's were born that night, but that IS a different story.