Sunday, November 01, 2009

Desk Set

When we first came to Busan, we'd bought a couple of small desks for our small one-room apartment, which allowed us enough space for one computer monitor each and a third shared screen to display certain stock market data. This was a big downgrade from the six screens we'd had back in the UK, so now that we were back here to stay, we wanted to get back to having the kind of larger desks which would support more monitors.

It quickly became clear that looking around in our local area wasn't going to yield results; generally speaking, Koreans seem to make do with less living space than British people, and it's primarily small desks which are sold in stores. Fortunately, we were still able to buy a couple from a catalogue in what is rapidly becoming our regular supplier of furniture. They weren't quite an ideal size or shape, but it appeared to be the best selection we could make without a much more prolonged and vigorous search.

Our hopes for a quick delivery were not high, because it was the Friday before Chuseok - effectively making it the last business day ahead of the holiday - and yet four hours later the desks were being delivered to our apartment in preparation for being assembled. Fortunately assembly wasn't a problem, because the owner of the furniture store would be doing this - it's automatically part of the service in Korea, something which I'm sure would be music to the ears of so many of my countrymen who've struggled over incomprehensible pidgin-English self-assembly booklets in flat-packs which often seem to be omitting something important. It's an aspect of the Korean shopping experience I really appreciate.

The speedy arrival of the desks though set up an unfortunate clash. In recent months I'd been on my treadmill in the UK almost every day, and it wasn't an activity I wanted to give up despite my change of country. Earlier in the week we'd been shopping around for a Korean replacement, and it hadn't proved to be easy. I didn't want anything too sophisticated - and invariable larger - but the search for a simple manual treadmill was an elusive one, with one fitness equipment store owner after another telling us that 'no-one' wants a manual treadmill any more - everything they had was electrically powered. We'd eventually found something that fitted my needs - more or less - on the Internet, but because it was a Taiwanese import the delivery would take three days. We'd chosen it anyway and the 'engineer' who would deliver it and set it up, phoned us after we'd bought the desks in order to set up a time to come to our apartment in the afternoon. Sure enough, despite our hopes to the contrary, the desks arrived about ten minutes after the treadmill, leading to the unfortunate arrangement of two workmen trying to set up large pieces of equipment on opposite sides of a room far too small to really accommodate either of their activities easily. It was organised chaos, but as is the way with these people, they rose to the challenge.

The treadmill, as its description had suggested, was something of an oddity. Aside from being twice the price of my old British one, it was surprisingly narrow and short in comparison. Perhaps this suits Koreans - or Korean apartments - but the 33.5cm width means there is little scope for drifting left or right, and 106cm length means it is easier to step too far to the front or back of the running surface, either of which issues could cause an accident. It appeared to be the best we could do though.

While both the desks and the treadmill were not quite ideal, at least the service was much better than anything I could have expected in the UK.

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