Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm a Seoul Man!

On Saturday, I had to work for a couple hours in the morning. I'm not sure why exactly, but we had a group of about 60 3rd-graders come to the Global Center, just to check it out. Now, normally we have the 5th and 6th graders read through different dialogues in small groups, but clearly that wouldn't work, since (most of, anyway) the younger kids couldn't read. So, basically, I just kind of explained the airport thing, my co-teacher Mrs. Yun translated, and we let them play with the metal detector. We had them doing some (very) basic dialogues, helping them to read and talk and stuff, but yeah. It was actually pretty fun, I gotta say.

In the afternoon, I met up with Laura in Icheon and after a quick bite of lunch, we went to Seoul to hang out with a couple other foreign teachers. The plan was to go with this guy Francois to a South African cultural thingamajig, but our bus was running late with the traffic and he was coming from somewhere else in Seoul... By the time we all met up, we decided to bail on the cultural thing and just walk around for a bit. Laura wanted to do some shopping, so we went to Myeongdong, which is a pretty rockin little neighborhood. She did end up buying some shoes, eventually, but the real highlights were elsewhere. First, we watched these two Koreans making ... aw hell, I don't know the name. They take strands of something white, and roll them and twist them out, breaking and doubling them over each time. The whole time they kept up this running count (2, 4, 8, 16, 32...) and in between they had this really hilarious little dialogue that did. It was punctuated several times by "Englishy, oh my god!" and was a really fun performance. Well, after they got up to 16,384, they cut the strands into small sections and put spoonfuls of almonds, walnuts, and peanuts in there. We decided after all that work, we'd buy a little tray of them. I wasn't really expecting much in the way of flavor, cause they looked pretty plain and bland. Imagine my surprise when I took a bite and found I had just purchased a homemade Korean Butterfinger. I mean, no effin joke, this thing, despite having neither peanuts nor chocolate, tasted identical (even had the same texture) to a Butterfinger bar. Score one for impulsive buys and kick-ass marketing, I guess.

Second highlight was the western buffet we ate at. I say "buffet," although it was actually billed as a salad bar. But this salad bar had all kinds of stuff on it, including pasta, pizza, tandoori chicken, curried vegetables... plus greek, caesar, chicken, pasta, sweet potato and probably a few other kinds of salads I can't remember right now. It was flippin expensive, but damn was it good.

Then Travis bailed to head home and Laura and I went over to Hongdae to party it up. First we hit the vodka-in-a-bag lady for some tequila sunrises (and vodka cran, a few minutes later, for me) and then walked around for a bit. We walked into a jazz bar, at least according to the name. Even though it was like 11:00 on a Saturday night by this time, there was no one in there, but we had a drink because it was a really nice little place. Now, the reason we went to Seoul in the first place was for "Kimchibilly" night at this little club. Yeah, that's right: Korean rockabilly. And it was great! Actually, when we first got there it was this Korean heavy metal group playing, but they finished up a few minutes later and we settled in for some, well, rockabilly. I danced my white little ass off through 3 different bands, while Laura drooled over the Korean guys in leather with Elvis-hair playing upright bass. Yes, all 3 of the guys playing upright bass were dressed in leather and had cool slicked-back hair. So, you know, fun for her. I was feeling a little left out until the 3rd band busted out this totally smoking hot little Korean punk girl singing lead. So, good times were had by all.

After the gig Laura took me to this really chill lounge, where you have to take your shoes off before you enter and it's like walking through this giant cave, except everything's painted white. There's no seats; you sit on cushions on the floor with pieces of tree stumps for tables, and everything is real secluded with drapes and whatnot, and you end up tucked away under a curving white rocky-looking ceiling that's only 4 feet high and you have to crawl around and it's just weird. Also, the path has a little trench running along beside it that looked like it ought to have water in it but didn't; there were a couple of bridges and stuff too... not sure if that was just for the night or if they had some kind of problem with it or what. I mean, you can't really have a lot of drunk people climbing around and using bridges (with no rails) if you've got running water, I guess. I mean, maybe in Korea you can... who knows?

Finally, around 4am, jimjilbang, sleep, wake up, steam room, ice room, mineral baths, shower, and back to Janghowon. Relaxation.

It was a nice send-off for Laura, who's leaving next week to go back to her family and boyfriend and her nice little town in the English countryside. Actually, I don't have the foggiest idea where her town is (I mean, it is in England, just don't know where) but I like the thought of it being a quiet little hamlet nestled among some rolling hills. Perhaps with a meadow, and a little brook running alongside it. Although I guess the odds of her town existing in the 13th century are pretty minimal. Anyway, bye Laura! We'll miss you!

Coming up next time: return of the "Icheon Cultural Experience," featuring "Ceramics: Round 2! This time it's personal!"

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