Yep, today is (or rather was, since I'm way out here in the farther eastern part of the world) my birthday. So, birthday = 생일 (sang-il). Congratulations (in its most polite form) = 축하합니다 (chookha-ham-nida). Happy birthday to me.
It was a pretty good birthday, considering I'm several thousand miles removed from my closest friends and family. Mom -- thanks for the package, and don't worry about the bacon-destruction-by-fire costs. I got it. =) It's the thought that counts, and I'm glad that you thought of me and decided that bacon was a suitable birthday gift. Apparently, I'm doing something right. Awesome. And for all the facebook and email birthday wishes, I'm very grateful.
So -- the party. Last night I went out with Bo Il, Mi Sun, Mi Jin, and Yu Sun. Most of the foreign teachers here either don't like me or were out of the country on vacation. Not sure... but what I am sure of is that it was their loss. We met up in Icheon, went to the sports bar (which, unlike America, does not show copious amounts of sports on big screen TVs). Drank, ate anju, drank more... played Titanic, an awesome Korean drinking game. Basically, you pour a glass mostly full of beer, then float an empty shot glass in there. You take turns pouring soju into the shot glass. The one who makes it sink (hence the name) has to chug the whole thing. Poor Mi Sun -- she was a trooper though, I gotta say. Also had these evil little cocktails, where you take a half-shot of coke in a shot glass and put it in the bottom of a beer glass. Then you take a half-shot of soju and put it on top of the coke shot glass. Then you pour beer into the glass until it's nearly full, while the two shot glasses (if constructed properly) should maintain structural integrity. Then you chug the thing. Good times. Like a Korean car bomb, I guess... although the name does leave something to be desired.
The sports bar also has a Wii, so we played some Wii boxing while all the other Koreans in the bar cheered us on. I kicked ass, in case you were wondering. Undefeated heavyweight champion of the wooooooooorld... and so on. Also played some Wii tennis, which was less fun, it turns out. I mean, still fun, but the rest of the bar lost interest at that point, and what's the point of kicking someone's ass if there's not 30 random people cheering you on? Exactly. We also played some darts. I was on fire the first game (and no, in case you were wondering, I'm not good at darts) but I was nailing bulls-eyes left and right. Won handily at 501. Then came round 2. Since there were 5 of us and only 4 players can play at a time, I got to play as a team with Mi Jin the second game. Now, I'd like to say that this cramped my style, but I was definitely the flat tire on the vehicle that was our losing team. I actually scored a 3 on one turn. Total. With 3 darts. And 3 ones. Ouch. Anyway, our penalty for losing was that we had to finish all the booze left on the table so that we could go bowling. Now, I know what you're thinking... and yes, losing is awesome. Maybe better than winning.
Bowling -- I'm sure you're curious, so let me clear this up. It's exactly the same as it is in America. They even have the computers that keep score for you. The only difference is, Koreans don't drink when they bowl. Which is totally backwards, because they drink at pretty much all other times. Weird. Anyway, I was the clear winner at this little competition. It took me a while to find my groove, and by the end of the 2nd game I was pretty tired, but even with those setbacks and using the house ball I managed a couple of games in the 150 range. Which I was pretty happy with.
Then, off to another bar. More drinking. Then home for sleep. Now then, a list of presents: I got a new Nike golf glove; a "massage stick" with a stuffed puppy on top (no... just no. Not like that); a box of seaweed soup mix; a kick-ass cappucino flavored cake with disgusting amounts of chocolate utensil-shaped thingies on it. My analysis -- the golf glove: very cool. Needed a new one anyway. Can't wait to go golfing and try it out. The "massage stick": at the time, Mi Jin told me it was a one-shot stick. "One-shot" is the Korean way of saying bottoms up. It means that everyone will chug whatever drink they're holding. I'm assuming that the stuffed dog stick is for beating people who don't comply. Which is way more fun than hitting your own back in some kind of masochistic massage ritual, I gotta say. The seaweed soup: this is a traditional Korean birthday meal. It's like eating ham and beans or split peas on New Years; it brings you good luck. So, I dutifully cooked myself a big ole bowl of seaweed soup and rice for lunch today. And it was absolutely delicious. We actually eat this fairly often for school lunch... and it is, I'm sure, much better than it sounds. You don't even really notice that you're eating seaweed. It's just a nice flavorful broth with green things in it, which also taste good and more or less like the broth. So yeah, I think most everyone I know would enjoy it (except perhaps for Gran and my little cousin Erik, but he doesn't count -- he won't even eat pizza). I'll keep you posted on the good luck.
Perhaps the best present of the day was the news my coteacher gave me. We're getting a new foreign teacher next week! An American guy, and that's all they know right now. What this means for me, however, is no more teaching after school classes! He's in charge of that mess now. As much as I love my kids, I'm pretty happy about this no more lesson planning thing. I assume I'll have to help him out for the first couple of weeks, but maybe he's like a teaching ninja and will totally rock the house -- more free time for me! Also, found out I'm getting a Christmas vacation this year! So *sings* I'll... be home.... for Christmas....
And I'll see some (most? all? who even still reads this thing after I completely flaked out on the updates?) of you in a few months! What a great day!
Oh... and today, the girl came over and we watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I love that movie. I'm a dork. But it was really nice -- she just wanted to be here with me on my birthday. 고마와! 너는 최고!
And that was my birthday, Korea-style. I'm planning a little jaunt down to Busan and some of the surrounding countryside for later in the week. Updates on that coming soon, as well as pictures from my weekend by the sea in Sokcho. Don't be a stranger, and I won't be strange.