On the TV behind her a man was being tickled by a rotating wheel covered in feathers on all sides. His wide-eyed expression seemed to reside somewhere between ecstasy and agony, and he was in fits of involuntary laughter. A small crowd was gathered around him, laughing hysterically. Footage of baby crying began to blend into the shot, over the howling man. It all began to look rather sinister. But who am I to judge? It's their culture.
Despite this troubling first look into the psyche of a nation, my first day in Seoul went surprisingly smoothly. I made to my hostel without getting lost (though I had help from a nice Taiwanese girl) and I even managed to fix up some long term accommodation in a tiny, soulless (but not "Seoulless", wahey, get it?) room for an unbelievable €132 a month. I'm sure I'll begin to feel the walls closing in after a matter of days, but right now it seems slightly adventurous and glamourous - like what James Bond might do if he were a student on the poverty line - and in Seoul. Or at least as cool as Tintin anyway. I move in tomorrow.
I've only been out and about on the streets for a couple of hours, but it's clear the city is teeming, chaotic, intimidating - and very, very exciting.
There are very, very few white people here. I've seen two today, which is strange to see, coming, as I do, from quaint old Ireland.
Second: to the casual observer, it might seem at first glance that Seoul has the greatest number of teenage lesbians per capita on the planet. Everywhere girls walk around in pairs holding hands. I'm assuming for the moment that this is an altogether innocent cultural quirk.
Anyhow, I'm looking forward to what comes next. Time, I think, to see how well the Koreans hold their drink.