What a weekend! Here it is, for your vicarious-living pleasure. =Þ
Thursday, went out for dinner with the teachers to have an early Teachers' Day celebration. We hit up this tofu restaurant over the river in Gamgok. This place, obviously, specializes in tofu! I realize that sounds... shall we say, less than exciting, but it actually was quite satisfying. We got 3 different kinds of jjigae, or... tofu/bean paste soup. Also appearing were tofu in other various guises, grilled pork and duck, several kinds of kimchi, braised cabbage (I'm really guessing on that one, but that's what it tasted like) and lots of soy sauce and chili paste. Naturally, this being Korea and all, two other things that almost always happen, well... happened. We ate the meat and toppings on individual lettuce leaves, all wrapped up like a mini lettuce burrito; and we also drank quite a bit. Soju, beer, and homemade makeorri out of a little ceramic pot, but drunk from little (obviously homemade, as they all varied in shape) ceramic mugs. I'm not a huge fan of the makeorri, or dongdongju as it's also called, but I had a bit just to be sociable. Good times.
Friday, after school we played games against some of the students' parents. The women played kickball! I totally wanted to play, but I guess that wasn't in the cards... oh, and the teachers got their asses handed to them by the moms. I mean, it was ridiculous. I think there's some kind of underground maternity kickball league going on or something, because those little Korean ladies could kick the shit out of the ball. It was awesome. Then the male teachers played choh-gu against the dads. We lost too, but it was close. We played best 2-out-of-3, each game to 15. It was a back-and-forth struggle, but in the end we lost the 3rd game 15-11. I started out in the back, receiving serves and trying to set up the people in the front. Turns out, I'm no good at that. So, during the 2nd game I moved up to the front row and things went much better from there. Not good enough, I guess, because we still lost... but fun was had by me. Yeah, I just used a ridiculous passive voice, and I ain't changing it.
After the games were over, we had a huge samgyeopsal cookout, with lots of candy, watermelon, and Korean treats... but the highlight was the (I'm just guessing here, but still) 25~ pounds of meat they threw down. I mean, just... awe-inspiring. Again, soju and beer played a big role, and it was fun getting to meet the parents and ... well, not so much chat really, but at least shake their hands and smile. I imagine it's fun for them to get to see their kids speaking English with me. I hope so, anwyay. After that, Mi Jin and I went out to HooLaLa for drinks. Now, she was a little nervous about this (we were waiting for Mi Sun, who usually helps to facilitate/translate our conversations) but we actually spent about an hour chatting pretty easily. It was way cooler than I thought she thought it would be. And nope, I ain't changing that sentence either. That's exactly what I wanted to say. Anyway, I'm sure the booze helped: it always seemed to make my Spanish conversations flow a little more smoothly... you know, when that inhibitive part of your brain shuts down and stops reminding you that you can't speak the language, wondrous things will happen.
Well, Mi Sun finally arrived and we had a really fun time at the bar. Left there and went across the street to the noraebang. I know I've said it before on here, but Mi Jin has an absolutely amazing voice. It's jaw-dropping. Literally... at one point both Mi Sun and I were just staring at her in disbelief. She could totally be on American Idol (ha! really, sean? not korean idol, maybe? anyway) if she wanted to. Really. It's that good. So, after a good hour and a half of singing, we parted ways, and I made fun of Mi Sun because it was now approaching 2am and she had to work the next morning. Unfortunately, I guess the joke was on me because I woke up for no discernible reason around 8 the next morning. Boo.
Actually, it turned out to be a good thing that I did, because I had really screwed up the alarm-setting attempt the night before. I was supposed to meet Moy in Icheon at 10. It's an hour-long busride on the (cheaper) city bus. And yet, for some reason, I set my alarm for 9:40. Not too sure what my thought process was (like, I wouldn't even have had time to make the 10:00 bus at that rate...) but I know there had to be one. It was late. Whatever.
Saturday, went to Icheon, then on to Seoul. Bought some new books: the sequel to that Genghis Khan novel I liked so much (Genghis: Lords of the Bow, by Conn Iggulden) and also Red Dragon -- the original Hannibal Lector story. Had lunch at Gecko's in Itaewon: an honest-to-god all beef cheeseburger. Dripping with grease. Crinkle cut fries. Real ketchup, lots of salt, and a dash of Tabasco. Dear lord in heaven, was I happy. But not as happy as I'd be later.
We eventually made our way up to Uijeongbu and Moy dropped off her computer for repairs. We went back to the Veterans' club, had a beer, and met up with Elena, our ticket onto the Army Base. She signed us on post and we went to a restaurant called Mitchell's. I had a ribeye. Medium rare. With corn and a baked potato. Butter, and sour cream. And a big ole salad, with ranch dressing. I realize these things don't have the same effect on most of my readers that they do on me, but when you haven't seen a steak in over 6 months, well... anyway, it was glorious. I had to make a conscious effort not to just pick that thing up and gnaw on it like a caveman, and I succeeded. But barely.
Later, more drinks... met up with Elena's friends Maria and Chris, and went to a massive succession of different bars and clubs. Vegas Bar: lots of "juicy girls." Attired in miniskirts, fishnets, spiky heels and not much else, they try to flirt with you and get you to buy them "drinks": $15-20 glasses of juice. Hence the name, right? Am I right? Ha... ok. No, no juicy girls for me. I can't even say I was tempted. I mean, come on, looking's free, right? After that... hell, I'm not even sure. We walked around barhopping (in the rain, might I add) for hours. Ended up, after hitting probably 6 or 7 other places, at a Korean bar called Tom's. It's worth mentioning that Tom's was the first place we went to that didn't play the song "Beautiful" by Akon. It thus became my favorite. We ordered some anju: dried squid jerky, served with mayonnaise, peanuts, and what I can only describe as Korean M&M's. And yes, I did try the dried squid. It's not terrible, but uh, how did I phrase it at the time? I don't hate it, I'm just choosing not to put it in my mouth ever again. Something like that. Once you chew on it a bit, it sort of rehydrates itself into this extremely fishy-tasting mush with the texture of a wet napkin. Although, everyone else at the table liked it, so maybe I'm the odd one out.
I'm not sure what time I actually went to sleep, but I'm positive the sun was coming out by the time I got back to my hotel. A brief nap, a hot shower, then back out to greet the day. Sunday was more relaxing. A cup of coffee, a spot of shopping, a bite of lunch, another cup of coffee, a stop by the library on base, yet another cup of coffee, a bus ride, a brief walk through town, a tuna salad sandwich, an hour of reading Steven King's "Desperation," an episode or two of "Party Down" (one of a handful of new TV shows I'm trying out, and pretty damn funny actually), and a whole lot of sleep. And that, my friends, is what we call a weekend.