Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hell's Crossroads

A few days ago a notice appeared on the entrance to our apartment building, informing anyone who cared to read it that work was shortly commencing on the adjacent road outside. But they really undersold it. On Thursday a man in a mechanical digger armed with a large pneumatic drill worked his way up the edge of the road gradually breaking up the tarmac until around seven in the evening, and I resorted to putting earplugs in to avoid being driven insane. But the best was yet to come.

Fast forward to today, and having gone to bed at half-past two this morning (such is my work), I am awoken from my stupor at seven-thirty by the distinctive noise of the world coming to an end. Gradually realising that I was not Arthur Dent, and our heavily vibrating room was not in imminent danger of destruction by a large yellow bulldozer, I even managed a little more fitful rest before finally surrendering to the sounds of progress and getting up to enjoy the artificial earth tremors created by the apparent annihilation of the world outside more fully.

I suppose I should feel grateful that they didn't just work through the night, an encroachment on individual peace and quiet I wouldn't rule out in Korea. But where were these people when I needed them for my house projects back in England - a country in which you can only hire people to work from nine in the morning, and even then on the understanding that they won't actually start doing anything until ten? Another one to file in my mental list under 'Korean Work Ethic', '24-Hour City' and the increasingly popular 'General Insanity'.

But every cloud has a silver lining. They are working on the sewers, and aside from the fact that while walking around Busan you can experience some of the most wonderfully festering smells ever created by four million people living too close to each other wafting up from underground grates, there is a more specific back-story. A few months ago, not content with seeking us out in public, the Busan Sewer Smell started visiting us in our apartment courtesy of a drainage hole for our non-existent washing machine in the corner of the room. We taped it over with some short-term success, but later it evidently found other, more mysterious ways of entering, requiring the regular burning of scented candles and occasional trips to the far end of the apartment for the purpose of breathing. So perhaps this problem is finally going to be fixed - although I won't hold my breath. Or maybe I'll still have to.

1 comment:

Lee said...

"...some of the most wonderfully festering smells ever created by four million people living too close to each other wafting up from underground grates..."

This is probably the most accurate description I've yet read or heard of the way Busan smells. It can be truly, impressively horrible at times.

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