Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Humidity and Humility

I am on vacation for the month of August. I never thought any place could be as humid and as sticky and uncomfortable as it is in Korea. I keep remembering that air conditioning is a relatively new phenomena and that most places in the world did not have in the recent past. I am having a hard time with the lack of good air conditioning in my apartment. Many places in the world now do not have it at all. Korea is certainly not a third world country, but their air conditioners are not the strongest I have been in. I have learned over and over again how spoiled I was in California. I am growing more attuned to my surroundings.

Last month, I bought a second hand portable swamp cooler. Normally, one puts ice and water in it. That would make this humid climate even worse so I freeze water in small coke bottles and use them instead so there is no additional humidity in the air. Even with that, it is hard to deal with the weather but I have been surviving here in my apartment. No one in this building has air conditioning. The new apartments next door are occupied here and there and few have air conditioned units. One of the men who do such installations said that all of the companies that install them cannot keep up with the demand. No apartment comes with its own air conditioning.

The other night I came home and found my fan had broke and I had to go and buy another one. I bought a table fan which was on sale and is a much better one since I put it on the portable air conditioner.

I have been working on a book and that is going well. I have the window open now as it is 10 pm and the early morning hours are very nice as well. I wear very little in side my apartment and the landlady came by and gave me some produce from her garden which is very nice. I had to look for a robe to open the door. It was some corn, tomatoes and one melon. Food is very expensive here in Korea and many people have their own gardens.

I think I was spoiled when I came here. I was used to living in air conditioned homes, used to having my own car, used to wireless computer Internet connections and all English speaking television stations. I was used to second-hand book stores with books in English and brand new book stores with lots of choice in books. I was used to shopping for whatever I wanted in food and having a kitchen that was big enough to cook whatever I wanted. To me, this situation was normal. Now, I know it is not. I was used to cheese of whatever kind I wanted. If I needed to buy something to wear, I would go out and buy it. Not only are clothes expensive here but sizes for most Europeans are simply not available.

Still, being here has been one great adventure. I would not have missed it for the world.

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