Seoul subway encounters

Sometimes, in the middle of a subway ride in Seoul, you might get entertained by a peddler pushing a trolley of goods into your carriage and speaking in rapid Korean to pitch his or her product.

I always find it interesting to see what they have for sale.

Each peddler usually sells only one cheap product. I’ve seen them tout stuff from woolen tights to thermometers to magnifying glasses. And the cool thing is that people actually buy them.


Lady selling magnifying glasses


In the photo, you see a lady showing two elderly commuters how well her magnifying glass works. It comes with an LED light which you can turn on and off to shine on whatever it is you’re trying to magnify.

The lady went around the carriages, passionately extolling the virtues of her product, using a small subway map as her subject for magnification.

She managed to sell a few in our carriage, including one to the two elderlies in the photo, and one to us. It costs KRW3,000 (S$3.50).

We think it’s very useful for reading pocket subway maps, and also area maps in our Lonely Planet guidebook, which feature words so tiny that they hurt my eyes to read, especially when I’m outside in the dark and cold, trying to read them under a street lamp.


Magnifying glasses


By the way, I have a little story to tell about the two elderly ladies who bought the magnifying glass.

Kay and I were originally in their seats. When they came onboard the train and stood in front of us, Kay got up to offer his seat and I followed suit.

The two ladies were so thankful and apologetic, one of them held my arm and touched my shoulder in gratitude just before sitting down. (Generally, you’ll find that elderly people in Seoul are very expressive in their gratitude whenever people offer them seats.)

Many stops later, the passenger beside one of the ladies got off. Quickly, the elderly lady took my arm and urged me to sit down.

I smiled at her and nodded my thanks but asked Kay to sit down, instead, so he could rest his arm to ease the crazy swelling in his hand. He wasn’t using his sling and was wearing a coat so it wasn’t apparent that he was handicapped in any way.

The two ladies looked slightly shocked when he took the seat, lol.

But, soon, they noticed his swollen hand and pointed at it while looking at us questioningly.

I mimed a chopping motion on my own arm to gesture that he has a broken arm. I think they understood and started looking at Kay sympathetically. The one sitting beside him even gave him a motherly half hug and “aww-ed” at him compassionately.

It was so sweet!

And then Kay asked me to show them the photo in my camera of his wound with the stitches and I was like, “Don’t lah! You’ll freak them out!!”

He insisted that they wouldn’t, so I showed them and they nodded sympathetically again and patted his shoulder.

They alighted before us but, before doing so, the lady beside Kay grabbed my arm again and made sure I sat down in her place.



Elderly ladies


In other news, I went to the supermarket on my own yesterday to buy fresh fish for dinner. I told Kay to rest in the apartment because his hand was still as swollen as the day before, so he needed to lie down and prop the arm up as much as possible.

When I came back with the fish, Kay looked at it and said, “Alamak, you bought salted fish!”

LOL. The fish was coated in what looked like rock salt which I had thought was ice chips. Well, there must have been ice, too, because the fish was partly frozen. I didn’t think at the time that partly frozen means it’s not “fresh” cos the fish in Singapore wet markets are always covered in ice, aren’t they?

Anyway, I can’t be too sure of anything because I didn’t touch the fish. I just pointed out what I wanted and the fish guy at the supermarket packed them for me.

But I don’t think it was salted fish like Kay said. The fish still had their guts intact. So we washed them thoroughly and gutted them, then pan-fried them without marinating them.

They turned out to be really fresh and tasty without seasoning. And we didn’t mangle them too much this time.




Anyone knows what fish they are?

We ate them with sweet potatoes (boiled) in lieu of rice. Sweet potato is tasty but so filling.


Sweet potatoes


And these veggies again, which we ate three times in a row because the packet we bought lasted three rounds.




I am now quite sick of the buttery fragrance in my food which at first I loved so much.

I always use butter when I cook (which is not very often and usually only involves eggs). So I have wondered many times why people don’t cook with butter more often since it makes food taste and smell so good.

Now I know. It can get really sickening to eat butter-flavoured food for days in a row.

We still won’t buy cooking oil because we only have about 9 days left in Seoul and we won’t be cooking in all of them.


Last photo. Do you think this baby looks kinda mature?



Something about his features just makes him seem non-babylike. Or maybe it’s his expression. What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Seoul subway encounters

  1. Avatar

    hahah ! Yes those ahjunma can be very nice but they can be very fierce ,yes i mean VERY fierce. ;// 한국 아줌마 장난아니에요. Of cos normally foreigner get special treatment.

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