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The Typhoon That Wasn’t

Preparing for the typhoon

The Canadian One shows me a message on his phone.

Him: ‘KC says it depends on the typhoon. What typhoon?’

Me: ‘The one on Tuesday.’

Him: ‘There’s a typhoon coming?’

This was Saturday and the answer to that question was yes….and then eventually kinda.

The original warning for Typhoon Bolaven

On Monday, while Facebook was busy letting all the ex-pats know a typhoon was imminent, to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worse, some of us were more fixated on the news making announcements that all the schools were to be closed. Was my school going to be closed? Was I going to have a day off??

Korean schools rarely close. Ever. Apart from that freak snowstorm that happened over two years ago, no school I’ve ever worked for has had an unscheduled day off. And even on freak-snow-day, I went to school, sat around and was then eventually sent home. It’s so unusual people that still talk about it now in the same way they speak of leprechaun or government conspiracies. They adopt hushed tones like their day off will be revoked two years later.

‘Hey, were you around when all the school shut for that snow day?’

Although, the downside to that is, classes have been paid for and must be made up and so we all had to drag our asses into work on a Saturday to make up the missed classes.

Student: ‘I am not happy. I want to go home and play computer games.’

Me: ‘ME TOO!’

A typhoon warning was issued on Monday and by Monday night, most schools had announced closures except The Canadian One’s school who waited until 8am the following morning to make their decision.

I called my mam to warn her about the typhoon. The news in the UK and Ireland tend to dramatise everything that happens in Korea and I didn’t want her waking up thinking The Canadian One and I were going to be trapped in the apartment running dangerously low on beer water, with no power, no internet connection and with us both having iPhones, well, they’ll both be battery dead before midnight 10pm it gets dark.

Windows were taped up. Flags brought indoors. Texts sent by our schools with warnings to ‘stay indoors for safety’ and ‘not to go outside’. The Canadian One and I stocked up on emergency water, bread, milk, beer, cigarettes, soju and Doritos, the staples in life.

It was due to hit at 2pm.

2pm came and went.

3pm came and went.

The Canadian One and I ventured outside to buy coffee and check out the weather. Nothing was happening. A lone orange taxi crawled up the deserted street searching for customers. A beauty shop employee stepped through the automatic doors onto the street and looked up. She turned back to her colleague and shrugged.

We took pictures of trees and clouds. We bought our coffees and a new umbrella just in case.

Along the way, Typhoon Bolaven became Tropical Storm Bolaven and the streets of Seoul were deemed safe to wander. Not that I did any wandering of any kind. I stayed in my air-conditioned apartment watching 30 Rock.

We were lucky. We were safe in Seoul. Other parts of the country weren’t so lucky. Friends had their apartment windows smashed in. Others living on the 15th floor of an apartment block felt their building sway in the wind. For some, flooding was the order of the day.

Another typhoon warning was issued on Wednesday and yesterday and today we’ve been experiencing Typhoon Tropical Storm Tembin but alas it didn’t stop us venturing out for chicken and beer and moseying home at 1am on a school night.

In Tropical Storm Bolaven, we ventured out for coffee.

In Tropical Storm Tembin, we venture out for chicken and beer.

I guess it’s all about the important things in life, right?

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