A Year in Seoul - video by Maddy

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Livin the Dream

It's five o'clock on Friday afternoon, and after a long hard day of facebook, it's time to let loose. I pack a bag and head to the subway station to catch the train to Bucheon to visit Lacy. I haven't seen Lacy in a whole week, which after being glued at the hip in Thailand feels like an eternity. I can't wait to talk about our week, but mostly I'm just excited to see her new Asian haircut.

This is my first time using the subway, so I'm really hoping I won't get lost. It turns out the Seoul Subway System is awesome. All of the signs and announcements are in both Korean and English and everything is set up pretty logically. Plus, my stop is on a really convenient line. The language thing is pretty huge, because unlike Thailand nobody in Korea seems to speak any English. They also cannot comprehend that someone could be unable to speak Korean, so even after you try to explain that you can't understand them, a Korean will continue on with an enthusiastic five minute monologue while you smile and nod helplessly.

After a seamless one hour ride, I arrive at Bucheon Station and meet Lacy. When we get to her apartment we proceed to drink two bottles of red wine and chatter incessantly. I haven't spoken to a native English speaker all week, so “I have too many words in my head.” Lacy has no cups, so we drink our wine out of plastic Popsicle makers (yes, the girl doesn't own a single cup, yet managed to buy Popsicle makers...). We also make some really delicious curried tofu and rice.

All of a sudden, we look up and realize it is now 1:30 am and we haven't even left the apartment. Should we go to sleep? Never! It's off to the expat bar we go! After wandering around lost in the cold for ten minutes we hop a cab and make it to Rhythm and Blues bar, only its in Konglish and says something like, Rhythm and Rooz...ah Korea. I meet some of Lacy's friends, and friends of friends and we play some darts. Everyone is talking and laughing and suddenly I am starving. Lacy's eyes are half closed and I ask her if she wants to get something to eat. I'm wondering why I'm hungry until I realize that its about 5:30 am. We head to a Korean restaurant for some bibimbap (Korean rice with veggies...so good!) and manage to order some food with the help of a new friend. By the end of the meal Lacy is trying to use the table as a pillow, so I figure its time to take her home. The sun is on its way up as we enter her apartment.

We did have plans to meet some friends in Seoul at 2 pm the next day to have lunch and explore, but we wake up at 1:30 and immediately discard such a crazy idea. Instead we lay around until 4, get ready to go out, and then head back to the subway. Tonight at 7 we are meeting everyone from our group in Thailand for Mexican food in Itaewon. I tried several times to get my beloved chips and salsa in Thailand, but always ended up with some sort of wonton chips and chili sauce (gross!) so I'm really hoping for better luck in Seoul. Lucky me, the food is yummy and they have actual corn tortilla chips and guacamole. It's really fun to see everyone again, and also strange because we are all fully clothed (and grumbling about the cold). I also enjoy seeing cheese again for the first time in six weeks. I learned a really fun fact at dinner (thanks Kel!) - salsa is actually the Korean word for throw up. You'd think that would put a damper on my salsa feast, but you'd be wrong.

After dinner some Soju (Korean alcoholic beverage of choice) juice boxes are broken out and we head to a bar for a drink before hopping the subway to meet some of Maddy's friends in Hongdae. Lucky us, drinks are 2000 won off until midnight! Better drink two... We manage to make it in time to meet her friends and then we head to a club for some dancing. I order another drink and magically, I get two! Lucky me, its two for one! I think you can see a pattern developing here (I officially love Seoul). Did I mention what I paid for my two drinks? Three bucks. We spend the night dancing, taking pictures of ourselves (of course) and randomly yelling out “I love my life!” Then of course when it is a suitably early hour we go in search of Korean food. This time we literally scour the city for vegetarian food. Everyone tells us no, but I think they are just misunderstanding us on purpose. The 50th restaurant finally has something we can eat and we order up a small feast. After, we are exhausted by eating and faced with a predicament... the subway doesn't open until 6 am, we have a few hours to kill. And that is where the Korean sauna rears its magical head.

For the equivalent of 6 bucks we gain entrance into a 24 hour sauna complete with hot tubs, showers, saunas, and... A NAP ROOM! We put on the hilarious sauna outfits, have some good naked fun in the hot tub (why there are middle aged Korean women at the sauna at 4 am I just don't get...) then grab a mat, stretch out on the heated floor and pass out. At 8 am, a very adamant Korean woman wakes us up and we head out the door with our first weekend in Seoul behind us. It's official: we are living the dream.



    ps WRT 설사 ...it's actually not the word for throw up, it's diarrhea.

  2. i adore korea... its a small shock to the system after japan with all its politeness, but korea is fantastic!! and the boys are so cute :p

    but i agree with you - both times i have been there this year, i have only found two or three people capable of speaking any english... usually i have to speak japanese (which is crazy) because i know ZIPPO korean

  3. you are seriously living the life. remind me again why I didn't come with you?