Whenever I told Seoulites that I taught in Suwon their reaction was:
But that’s so far away!
I laugh because I make the trip literally every weekend.
But Suwon has been good to me. No really—it has. I’ve made a lot of memories and friends here and it will always have a special place in my heart. As I count down my last days here I’m getting a bit sentimental—so here is a Suwon appreciation post:
Suwon Station: A mixture of a subway/train station and a high end shopping mall where Silvia and I met up every weekend to take the train into Seoul. I don’t think there was a single time where we weren’t running through the station, because one of us was always late (usually me). Also the location of the Speed fan signing (in the high end part) and Books Libro, where I bought most of my new albums.
Buses: While Silvia lived within walking distance of a subway to Suwon Station, I had to take either the 92 bus, which took 25 minutes, or the 990 which took 10. Catching the 990 was always a magical moment since it came less frequently and I was usually chasing it down the street. My favorite memory of the 990 is the morning (4am) after we arrived in Suwon Station from Busan. I had school in a few hours, and the buses to my market stop running at 11pm. Or so I thought. Waiting at Suwon Station with Silvia and Maria talking to taxi drivers, the 990 suddenly appeared out of the darkness. Like Harry Potter jumping on the Knight bus, I ran after it and hopped inside, waving to my friends out the window. They told me that it was so sudden and they hadn’t heard my goodbye, so they turned to each other and said, “well that was the last time we ever see Mallory”. But no—I made it home in 5 minutes thank you.
My Market: There were no slaughterhouses or anything of the kind in my market like in China. But there were fresh fish stands that smelled like…fish…and fried chicken stands and fresh fruit and vegetable stores. Walking down my market street was an assault on the senses that I didn’t always appreciate. Often times people would just leave their extra stuff on the side of the road. It would all be gone by the next day. I got swiped two nice mirrors just off the sidewalk this way.
The overpass: There is a wonderful grass green overpass I take to cross the street to school. The right side is paved for the bikers and ahjummas coming back with their wheeled carts filled with groceries from Lotte Mart. The left side are stairs that are just a tad too wide for my stride so I look like an idiot walking down them.
Under the overpass, there is a rotating collection of furniture and ahjussis chatting. I don’t know where the furniture comes from, and I don’t know where it goes. A motley collection of 70s couches, swiveling office chairs, and white lawn chairs goes in and out.
And I don’t really know why the ahjussis are there. Some to take a smoke, others in hospital gowns to take a walk (I live next to a hospital) and I’ve even seen some gambling.
My School: Our little campus was just one section of one floor of a giant building, snuggled between a traditional restaurant and a photo studio.
Around my building half a dozen other buildings, coffee shops, convenience stores, and small restaurants.
My coffee shops: Since my apartment has no wipi I’ve spent a considerable amount of time rotating through coffee shops in my area. I’ve tried just about every non-coffee beverage in these places and they know me pretty well. Some of my favorite haunts:
And my personal favorite, rising out of the darkness
I’m sure there will be more things to miss, but as I’m in this weird goodbye/hello stage I don’t really know what else to dwell on.
For the past 6 months, Suwon has been my home–a city just outside out of Seoul where I made some incredible friends and eternal memories.
But maybe in another 6 months–I’ll think Suwon is far away as well.