The Subway takes me all over town, every Sunday. By Subway, of course, I mean the sandwiches. Subway Sunday has become my answer to church over the last couple of months, and I’ve been surprisingly pious. It’s become a fairly productive habit too, as it does something that never happened the first time I was living in Korea - it gets me out of the house on Sunday.
I’ll get this out of the way first - I love Subway sandwiches. I love the Bell more of course, but Subway is the one fast food establishment that I’m okay with eating twice in the same day, or five times in a week, or other such extreme combinations. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat at McDonald’s twice in a day too, but one of those times has to be breakfast, which is a wholly different experience. I can (and have) go to Subway twice in a day and ordered the exact same sandwich both times.
Going to Subway in Seoul is a bit of a trick, however. There aren’t any near my place, the closest one takes 40 minutes or so to get to, so going out to Subway every Sunday is no small commitment, it requires leaving home for several hours. Fortunately, this dovetails well with my non-ending quest to walk everywhere, and I mean everywhere, in this enormous sprawling city. The subway rides to Subway are always long, but I also have a non-ending slew of podcasts to get through. Between Bill Simmons, Adam Carolla, Rick Steves, and fantasy football, I’m downloading upwards of 12 hours of new content onto my iPod every week, and I gotta listen to all that sometime.
The best part of Subway Sunday, beyond the podcasts and the delicious sandwiches, is that it draws me out into the city at least once a week. Monday through Friday, I’m never further than a 20 minute walk from my place, Saturday afternoon has proven to be the realm of veging out/crippling hangover, and Saturday night generally leads me to the usual places - Itaewon, Hongdae, Gangnam, Hyehwa (although coincidentally, all four of those places boast a Subway) to go to bars and clubs. In many ways, every Subway Sunday is the same, but then again, it’s the primary x-factor of the week. I never decide where in town I’m going on Sunday until I leave, and I don’t require the place I go to actually have a Subway, so long as I can hit it up somewhere on the way home.
Indirect Subway-seeking journeys have sent me on circuitous paths all over town. I’ve visited Yongsan electronics market. I’ve walked the length of Tehran Street, Gangnam’s strangely named skyscraper/business road. I had a massively long walk from Seoul Forest to, again, Gangnam station with a roasted chicken sub on the brain keeping me going. I also walked from downtown Seoul to Itaewon over Namsan Mountain, which finally connected the only portion of the city I had not walked between my current apartment and my first one. I went to Bundang, an hour and a half away, both to take advantage of their Subway outlet and to nerdily ride two of the remaining four subway lines in the whole country that I had not ridden before. I hit up Subway in Itaewon after my miles-long, 20+ store search for a new winter coat. I even went up to the Subway in Dongducheon, a place I visited largely because I had heard it’s horrible and filthy. It was, but it wasn’t as horrible or filthy that I’d hoped it would be , but because of its proximity to a US army base, it was the most “American” Subway I’d been to, with prices in dollars and more than one kind of cheese. Herein lies the one problem with Subway Sunday - it happens on Sunday. Even Itaewon is boring on Sunday evening. If I want to see Dongducheon at its filthy ghetto peak, I really need to go there on a Friday or Saturday night. Given the $40 taxi ride home that would require, I doubt it will ever happen.