One thing we see a lot of in Chungju are shipping containers. We're not a major transport hub or anything. But the city is full of converted containers, usually filling in as storage, living, or office space where there isn't room for a more permanent building.
They make handy farm sheds.
And they can be used for extra seating space in restaurants.
Some are better appointed than others...
This one even has an address.
Here's one that just needs a Beware of Dog sign.
Our new neighborhood is already densely packed with buildings. But about a month ago a shipping container appeared on a slim triangle of open land. It was a new, pre-fab affair, painted a bright, primary red.
Over the course of the next week, it became clear this was no ordinary container shed. Every time we walked by there was some new and startling improvement. A giant bay window. A thin wedge of a deck. Awnings over front and back entrances. It was beginning to look like some kind of luxury container condo. Was this the newest trend in high-density housing?
At the end of the week, we stopped by to check out the latest addition: an enormous banner across the deck railing. It announced the grand opening of Waffle University, a mini coffee shop and waffle bar.* The inside was like one of those magical Harry Potter tents. They'd crammed a counter, chairs, waffle irons, an ice cream freezer and twelve flavors of pastry cream (plus assorted toppings). There was room for us, a pair of grannies chilling out and reading magazines, and two perky servers.
We ordered ice cream waffles and took a seat on the deck. Outdoor seating is rare in Chungju--city blocks are squished full of buildings, and any remaining space gets parked on. Here we were up off the road, protected from the street by a rail and from dangling spiders by an umbrella. It was hands down the nicest box we'd ever eaten at.
*Waffles are dessert in Korea. My friends were amazed to hear Americans eat them for breakfast. I explained that breakfast waffles don't come with ice cream, lest they think us bigger piggies than we actually are.