Friday, May 31, 2013

Over a year. And Namdong Tower.

I have been in Korea for a year and ten days. This last month I have been thinking a lot about my last year. I don't have any wise things to say in my reflection, only that I have been here a year.

Besides this, one of my good friends is leaving within the next month. I have been told that you eventually meet enough people in a place like this that leaving parties are a regular thing. I still haven't gotten there yet.

These event have gotten me thinking a lot too about my next step. Where from here? Korea isn't my plan forever, but I don't have anything firm yet afterwards. Thailand to get a CELTA certification for more opportunities? I know some people that plan to do that, travel some, and then work in the Middle East, living on a complext and get paid well. Vietnam is another option. I've been told you can live like a king there for cheap, but the profit isn't as large as in Korea. I could try my hand at a international school, but those are extremely competitive from what I understand. I could head to California and travel up the coast, maybe get a teaching job somewhere out west. Or, of course, I could go home.

The view from the wildlife bridge.
I have been here a year. I'm signed up until at least August, and perhaps I will be here another year after that. I'm not sure. My friend is leaving. I biked home as usual today, but seeing as I had no plans, I decided to take a different route. Instead of heading between the church and library as usual, I took a left towards the wildlife bridge and climbed up and over the highway. I started taking turns here and there, meandering in the general direction of my apartment but always somewhat off the mark. I rode through the industrial sector, passing scrap yards and auto shops. I even passed a Salvation Army and an international market that most catered to Bangladeshi food.

After getting myself adequately mixed up, I started heading towards Namdong Tower. I never knew what to make of it, but I knew I always meant to go there. My community is by no means an exciting place, and I always thought it was odd that we would have a sightseeing tower smack-dab in the middle of an industrial park, but, there it is.
Namdong Tower

Underneath the tower I discovered an indoor pool with cheap daily rates. It is connected to the tower by a hallway that appears to showcase all the different products that have been manufactured in Namdong throughout the years. At the end of the hallway sat an empty ticket desk. I took the elevator up. It's about 100m to the top I believe. A fancy restaurant is on the highest floor. The floor below it is an observation deck with labels showing what direction and how far you have to go in order to get to various cities around the world. I meandered around the observation deck until I noticed three or four tables pushed together having dinner.

I decided I better wander back home. Like so many other things in the Incheon area, I believe Namdong Tower, with its empty ticket desk and observation deck being used as restaurant spillover (for a restaurant that was hardly full), must have begun as some sort of graft project or political promise. Incheon is bankrupt, and the lonely Namdong Tower stands as a testament to that.

On my way home I met someone who has been living here for six months. We had never seen each other before. Occasionally it pays to occasionally take the long way home.