Monday, October 17, 2005

Good times

I got off work at 7:20 and caught the subway to Apkujeoung for a night out with my Korean friends, Jamie and TKoo. I met them and some of their friends at a kalbi restaurant and one of them actually went to University of Canberra a couple year before me! I've never met anyone on my travels who's even been from Canberra and we both even knew all the same bars and restaurants. She lived in Australia for 10 years and it was really unusual to hear a Korean with an Australian accent. Afterwards we all headed to some posh bar (of course, it's Apkujeoung) called Water or Pool or ??? and went to a noraebang inside it. It was definitely the nicest one I've been to; the waiter brought a silver tray full of fruit and dried squid. I think dried squid smells like burnt hair but I tried it Friday and it's actually not bad, kind of similar to beef jerky. Koreans eat the stuff like potato chips. Anyways, by the time I was belting out November Rain with TKoo my voice was almost gone and we left shortly after around 3:30am.

I woke up at 9:00am and by 11:00 I was on the subway to meet a friend for lunch. We had really good chamchi kimchi jiggae and then walked to the Han river to an "island" that resembles an abandoned landing strip in the middle of a huge city. We got a good view of the 63 Building (the tallest building in Korea) and touched the murky brown waters of the Han with our feet. Afterwards we went to the Yongsan electronics market and had coffee. After coffee I got on the subway to Apkujeoung and met Jamie in order to get a new phone. The cell phone my school gave me is a Zach Morris phone in Korean and I think it's been floating around foreign teachers since around 1992. Jamie and TKoo are always making fun of it and decided they would get me a new phone (my "walkie talkie" doesn't quite fit in with the Apkujeoung crowd). All I really wanted was a phone in English that had text messaging. What I got was a phone that is more like a mini computer that can take pictures, video, watch downloaded TV or movies, radio, MP3 player, internet access and probably heaps of other features that I will never even learn (the 300 page manual is in Korean). Wow, that was so nice but I kind of wish he hadn't bought it or at least let me pay some. If I lose it I will feel so guilty... I kept asking the cell phone lady if she had any used phones but it was no use, she spoke no English.
One sweet cell phone later I was once again on the subway to a vegetarian buffet restaurant for a birthday dinner for Elizabeth, a girl I met at the politics discussion/documentary group. The restaurant was the greatest, I would have sworn I was eating meat if I wouldn't have known better. As usual I took full advantage of the "all you can eat" and left extremely full. We went to a bar near the restaurant and then we went to Gangnam and went to Woodstock Bar. Like many Korean bars, it's really rustic with wood tables, floors and walls filled with years of carvings in English and Korean. (I also love the music selection at most bars and you can request songs all night long!) To my surprise, on the table in right in front of me I saw my Grandpa's name carved in the wood. Very interested, I leaned over for a closer look and right at that moment a Korean hippie came over and poured me a shot of Jack Daniels. Unfortunately, it all ended up right on "Jim Young" and proceeded to drip off the table to my jeans. Damn, I hate the smell of Jack!!! He poured another shot, we took it and I cleaned the Jack off of Jim.
It's relatively early (for Korea) at this point and I decide to meet up with Amanda and live it up in case she has to do a "midnight run" before next weekend. We meet in Itaewon but decide (as usual) that the Shinchon nightlife is far better. From Scrooge Bar in Itaewan we went to our favorite Nori Bar (similar to Woodstock but much better) in Shinchon and danced until around 4:00am. Finally ended up in Valerie's boyfriends extra room near Shinchon (where I also found Harry Potter book 2!).

I woke up at 10:30am and Amanda and I walked to the subway, her on the way to Dongdaemun market and me to Hwa Gye Sah temple. Afterwards I met a 17 year old Korean girl named Julie who thought I was in middle school. She was in shock when I told her I was a teacher... "Teacher, no! Middle school student?" She was a really sweet girl, we might do a language exchange together, she called herself my Korean "yo dong sang" or "little sister".
After the temple I went to Shinchon and met back up with Amanda for the Politics discussion/documentary group. To everyone's disappointment, they couldn't get the dvd player to work so we all left. Instead of politics we decided on Mexican at a place called "Chois". I have a slight addiction to Mexican food and I haven't had it since I got here and wasn't planning on it because I figured it would all suck. I was wrong. Chois is the GREATEST! I actually had guacamole, REAL cheese and jalapenos... yum. I will soon return for the Chois.
Amanda and I then went to a bar called "Watts on Tap" with another friend and sat on the rooftop patio. This is the first bar in Seoul to be opened solely by a foreigner and it has good Belgium beer on tap. One beer later we were walking by Nori bar and decided to wander in. Before we did though, we realized we had the exact same clothes on as the night before (who cares really? Better than a 45 minute commute just to change clothes!) In a moment of insanity we both switch shirts somehow thinking that no one will notice. Only one table inside Nori but it's 2 Germans, a Japanese girl and an Australian I met on Thursday night. Only had one beer and caught a cab to home sweet home...