Thursday, April 29, 2010
4/4 I'm in Ildong after an exciting weekend in Seoul and Hanam and I am exhausted. On Friday I walked over to the bus terminal to find Steve and it was funny as he was frustrated in trying to find my place. You see, it's not too difficult to find the town you are trying to get to; However, the streets are very difficult in learning where people live, etc. It's best to just remember landmarks or have people meet you at an easily identifiable spot. we walked down to my apartment and I showed Steve the place and we drank a little Makgeolli and caught on what was going on in our lives. After talking a while we decided to go out and grab some dinner. We picked a restaurant at the end of my street. I was excited as this was going to be my first meal out in Korea.
It was kind like you see in the movies where there's a small table and you sit on a pillow with your legs crossed. We ordered the beef (Bolgi) and wow what a feast. You get beef, mushrooms, lettuce, Kimchi (Of course), and several other veggies and sauces. In the middle of the table is a grill where the food is cooked. Once cooked you take the beef and mushrooms and put them on the lettuce as well as any other veggies, sauces you desire and shove it in your mouth. The lady running the restaurant showed me how it was done by shoving one in my mouth! For drink we had water and also shared a bottle of Soju which is a sweet potato "vodka" that you take in shots. It is very much the custom to drink at every meal in Korea and you are not suppose to pour your own drink or allow someones glass to remain empty. Drinking is viewed much differently here than in the western world and like anything in Korea there are rules to drinking. For one, you never pour your own drink; two, you usually hold your glass with two hands when receiving a drink. When pouring for another person you pour with one hand and place the other hand on your chest almost underneath the opposite arm pit. Another custom is not drinking directly in front of elders, as you would turn to the side.
After finishing our meal, we paid and it was only 10,000(~$10) each, not too bad. Afterwards we decided to try the karaoke bar next door and the language barrier set in as there was confusion in trying to get a beer! Finally, we sat down and ended up drinking 5 beers between the two of us and paid our bill of 20,000 Won, which was a bit high for 5 beers according to Steve. The next morning we ate ate Lotteria which is basically a rip off of Mcdonald's and they are everywhere in Korea. I got the same as Steve and it was a burger with special sauce, yellow pepper, tomato, bbq sort of sauce, pickles and the burger came with fries and a drink for 5,700 Won. Next we bought our tickets to the Dongseoul bus terminal and we nearly missed our bus. One the ride in I was able to see more of the countryside and the skyscraper apt complexes. When we got off the bus it was like a whole new world as I had really only been in Ildong up to this point and now I was in Seoul with millions of people! I noticed a sign on the bus ride in that read "Since 1462", I'm not in Kentucky anymore for sure. we stopped at Techno Mart which is somewhat of a huge department store and it has everything, including Reebok Pumps and the building is 12 stories high. We decide to hop on the subway and visit a Buddhist Temple in the NW part of the city. The subway in Seoul is the largest subway system in the world is very packed and very clean. The Buddhist Temple is absolutely spectacular visually and spiritually and we stepped into the main building to witness everyone praying and the monk chanting and playing the drum. We stood in awe of this event and the three large bronze Buddha statues in the center of the temple. As we were leaving Steve mentioned you can spend the night in a temple, robes and all, thus adding to the list of things I must do while here.
Next, we walkedd down the street and decided to eat and stopped at NY Hotdog & Coffee ;It's interesting to see Korean's take on American ways. Afterwards we caught the subway again and headed toward Hanam, home of Young Steven. This trip took some time as Hanam is a bit outside Seoul and we also were on the other side of the city. Towards the end of the subway ride we crossed the Haan river which bisects Seoul and there you can see the bride with the Olympic torch on one side of the subway and the Olympic Stadium on the other, from where Seoul hosted the 1988 Olympics. Once we got off the subway we caught a bus which was quite crazy with the traffic; stop and go for over an hour. However we made it to Hanam and Steve gegan showing me his city. We walked around for a while and grabbed a pizza and while waiting for the pizza sat in a tent, which are very prevelant, and had a couple beers and rice popcorn. Once the za's (for Ben Marks) were done we headed over to Steve's apt and what a stark difference from my apt building, as his building is 15 stories high and his on the 14th floor.
We relaxed on his couch and enjoyed our 'za from Pizza School and watched some Steven Seagal, who is evidently really big in Korea! I used his internet a little after eating to get caught up with the rest of the world. Late we headed to a bar to meet other English teacher and it was great to meet people doing the same work as me. I met 3 guys, 2 of whom were from Texas and the other from England. We talked about where we were from and about our jobs here in Korea. Later in the evening I was introduced to a Dragonball, which is a shot glass of coke, shot glass of Soju, drop them in a glass, add beer and chug! It's a quite tastey drink and the last thing you taste is the sweet taste of Coke.
After the bar Steve and I stopped for dumplings (Mandu) which were delicious and only $4. We decide to grab a cab home as we both were exhausted plus it was only 3,000 Won total. In the cars they have these large screen and they are navigation systems as well as tvs and many people watch tv as they drive! Once we were back to his apt I decided to stay up a while and check out things on the internet, Hopefully, I can get caught up soon in my journal and get it all in this blog. 'Til next time.