Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm 24, but still 25 in Korea.

Matt's Dinner Evening

I will start this most interesting blog update with Tuesday. Tuesday was the first of many dinner evenings with the foreign teacher staff at Avalon. Matt decided to initiate a sort of potluck dinner to be alternately hosted by a different teacher. The host is responsible for the majority of the cooking, but the rest of us are to bring sides or drinks. I am looking forward to this tradition every Tuesday. It's my turn in two weeks; I'm not entirely sure what I'll be cooking, but I'm still excited.

( Matt being class as hell with his glass of wine )

( Ciaran demonstrating exactly how we serve ourselves pasta )

( A toast to friends )

( Ciaran with Matt's amazing photo collage )

( Matt & Calvin )

Osan Air Base Breakfast

Thursday was a day we were all looking forward to. Jen goes to church down by the air base in Osan every Sunday, and over the many months, she has made a number of US Airforce friends. With these connections of her's, we were able to get onto the air base to eat breakfast. It is something that we've been talking about for quite some time. A delicious hearty American-style breakfast is hard to come by in Korea, so we decided to plan it to semi-cooinside with my birthday. Maybe, I was just looking at it that way, and it was pure coincidence. Either way, my though process looked at this event as a big "Happy Birthday, Spenser!"

We departed our apartments at about eight am. Surprise, surprise, I wasn't up. I slept terribly the night before, and when they knocked on my door at five till, I jumped up and threw on clothes and was out the door in five minutes. I wasn't about to miss out on pancakes. No sir. We took a cab out to Hwaseo station, which I am becoming more and more fond of every day. Then, the air base was only about a half hour by subway. The air base was strangely American. I imagine that it was a small taste of what reverse-culture shock must feel like. We all freaked out when we saw signs in Miles Per Hour and gas being sold in Gallons Per Dollar. When we arrived at the dinner, Checker Tails, a dinner accurately named to match it's decor, I ordered myself the Osan Special (pancakes, eggs, bacon, and coffee). It was marvelous. Marvelous enough that JC at two full meals, actually.

( The excitement on the subway platform )

( Osan Air Base )

( Checker Tails )

( Justin, loving life )

( Dollar bills!!!! So strange! )

( three-quarters of the Fantastic Four; the fourth is behind the camera )

Birthday Evening

The night started out slow, just like any other night out in Korea does. I got off work, after being treated to a birthday cake from Avalon. As it is in Korean tradition, I had to magically cut a small cake into like 20 some odd pieces and hand it out. Luckily, I had JC as my personal delivery service. I cut, he made sure cake was received by the necessary personnel. When I finally finished up, I rushed out to Hwaseo station (as afore mentioned, I am starting to love this station) to pick up Chelsea, who was about to experience Suwon for the first time.

We began the evening by going out for galbi (korean barbeque) at a place nearby work. All of the foreign teachers were in attendance, with the addition of Miri, one of our Korean teachers. She is my desk neighbor at work, so it was nice to have her out with us. She did frown upon Calvin's terrible meat cooking skills, though. He burned three pieces of meat, and she looked absolutely horrified. It was pretty funny, actually. They even insisted that I stand up and give a toast, which I obviously agreed to.

After a few drinks at the galbi place, we headed home to change, which turned into a bit of a pregame drinking activity. We killed off Ciaran's bottle of Jack, cracked open Justin's Patron, and drank a bottle of sake. We finally made our move to Ingye-dong, which was obviously decide in the most Korean fashion ever, rock paper scissors (kai, bai, bo!). Of course, we had to make one more pit stop on the way out to a new location. We stopped to see our neighbors who own a small establishment about a block from our apartment, on the way to the taxi stand. We played this ridiculous Japanese drinking game that JC loves and I suck at. After all was said and done, we drank a few bottles of soju, and continued on to Ingye-dong.

This part of the evening is still a blur to me, but the pictures help to present some clarity. From what I remember, we met two guys name Jade and Jason, hit baseballs at the batting cages, picked up crabs, and played that drinking game again. My friends say that I passed out at the HOF around 4 in the morning, but when I came to, JC, Chelsea & I made our way to the fortress to watch the sun rise.. Justin didn't make it, because he had to carry Calvin home; he was having trouble walking. Needless to say, Calvin didn't make it either. We got out to the fortress and did some exploring, and also got yelled at for sitting on the wall. We had a little mokguli (i think), and ended up leaving before the sun had risen, because it was really damn cold. Good birthday. I definitely won't forget it.

( Ukelele + America = Korean Birthday? )

( This was the sake that I took from a love motel in Hiroshima )

( yep, let the games begin )

( JC, Justin, Jade, Jason, and myself )
^I just realized that I'm the only one without a "J" name^

( Fishing for crabs )

( GOT ONE! )

( JC & Justin in the batting cages )

( Chelsea & I in front of Janganmun )

(JC & I at the Hwaseong lookout )

As you might expect, I got a little bit of a late start on Saturday, but I wasn't about to let that stop me from having a superb weekend. I met up with Chelsea in Yongsan to see The Social Network, which was good; not as good as I was hoping, but still good. I had just heard that critics were saying it was the best movie of the year, and possibly the decade. I hardly doubt that this is the case, though. I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a good flick. While in Yongsan, we saw a movie, browsed the electronics mart, questioned people about PSPs in the sketch underground video game mart, ate Japanese food, and had coffee. It was a successful Saturday.

Coffeest, Seoul Forest & Myeong-dong

Sadly, I awoke on Saturday to watch the Hawkeyes play Ohio State and lose. This actually lost me 5,000, which I am bummed about. After the game I realized that it was around 9am, and it would be silly to go back to bed. I searched the internet for great coffee shops in Seoul and went on a solo mission. The first one ended up being closed. Not closed, as in not open, but closed as in there was nothing there anymore. This was a disappointment, so I jumped on a subway and went out to Gwanghwamun where another one was supposed to be. After getting myself nice and lost, I eventually found it. It was a pleasant place to spend a few hours. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere, and called Coffeest. One of the employees spoke great English, and helped me pick out the perfect coffee, and because the house blend refills were free, I hung around for quite awhile.

I eventually got ahold of Justin, and we arranged a meetup at Seoul Forest, which is more or less a big park. It wasn't that impressive at night, but I would be interested in visiting again during the day. Even though the park wasn't that great, the Han River WAS! It was my first visit to the river, and I couldn't refrain from taking tons of pictures. It was gorgeous at night.

The last stop of the night was a quick swing into Myeong-dong, because Justin really wanted a North Face fleece, which they ended up having none of. I purchased a great beige colored American Apparel hoodie, and we ate pizza. That was about everything I did in the past week. Some interesting, some not, but still, I feel like every single day is even better than the last in Korea.

( A nice little Italian restaurant across from Coffeest )

( Coffeest 1 of 3 )

( Coffeest 2 of 3 )

( Coffeest 3 of 3 )

( A gate next to Gwanghwamun-yeok 1 of 2)

( A gate next to Gwanghwamun-yeok 2 of 2 )

( The Han River 1 of 2 )

( The Han River 2 of 2 )

( A tunnel by Seoul Forest )

(Justin in Myeong-dong )

( Another shot of Myeong-dong )

Myeong-dong: Exits 5 & 6 Myeong-dong station, line 4, you're right there, in the middle of everything when you exit.

Seoul Forest: Exit 8 Ttukseom station, line 2, follow the signs!

Coffeest: Exit 7 Gwanghwamun Station, Line 5. When you exit, do a 180 out of the exit, and take a right at the intersection that is right there. Walk for about 300 meters and turn right at the intersection after the Salvation Army Center and walk 400 meters to Sunkok Museum. It's on the left.

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