Korean summers are hot. They’re really fucking hot, man. At home twenty-three degrees Celsius would be a heat-wave. We’d have to declare a national holiday and have ice flown in from Greenland to help us cope. We Irish cannot handle heat.
On our moving day, the temperature was in the mid-thirties.
The luggage that we had brought from home wasn’t exactly traveller friendly. We had two large rucksacks – one a cheap Northface knock off that herself had bought in Thailand, the other a cheap knock off that I had bought in Argos. We also had a giant wheelie suitcase and two smaller back-packs. These bags contained all our worldly possessions. I had read before coming here that clothes and shoes in my size would be difficult to source. We both brought two pairs of runners, two pairs of work shoes and winter boots each. We had also bought two vintage German military coats (because we’re so fucking cool man!) at a thrift fair in Smithfield before we left. They were only €15 each. They saved our lives in the winter that was to come. (As it happens, they’re still with us!) Practical for the cold, not practical to carry around in the blistering heat.
Our luggage weighed around eighty kilos in total. I volunteered to carry the bulk of the load as herself had been having trouble with her back.
We weren’t sure what exactly was causing her these problems. The quality of beds in some of our accommodation was pretty poor. The mattresses were either incredible thin, or too soft and flimsy. We had yet to reach that “just right” Goldilocks moment. I didn’t mind doing the heavy lifting that Saturday morning. As far as I was concerned, it was going to be for the last time until we returned to Ireland.
Spatial awareness is a concept that has yet to catch on in South Korea. The more bags and awkward load you had to carry, the more people made it their business to walk in to you. It wasn’t like the streets were jammed either. I found the majority of footpaths in South Korea to be incredibly wide, I didn’t experience any of those crowded footpath crushes that I’d seen in old photos. People kept bumping in to me accidentally on purpose in the train station and knocking me off balance. I get claustrophobic in confined spaces sometimes. I get this really strong urge to break out, swing elbows, jump through ceilings like Superman. I hate being jostled and nudged when I’m in this condition. Having to carry a huge load (behave yourself) exacerbates this feeling.
I’m not proud of it, but I had to throw elbows that morning. One middle aged man shouted at me for giving him the stiff arm on a travellator. He was coming against me, the wrong fucking way, with acres of space to his right, but instead decided to walk straight in to me. At the best of times I’m my usual meek, non-confrontational self, but today with the heat, the large load (behave!), and the stress of signing up to a cult for a full year, I’d just had enough. I sent that ignorant Ajusshi flying. It felt good, man.
By the time I got on the train I was soaked with sweat. My t-shirt looked like I had taken a shower in it. Ew. I had to put up with a few stares in the carriage. I could take that. It was the pointing and laughing I had issue with.
Obviously, the travellers that morning had never seen a heavy-set Irish man carry his entire house on his back in blistering heat before.
They hadn’t lived!
Next time: Moving on out
If this is your fist time reading I Almost Worked for a Cult, catch up on the series at the below link: