As I had hoped, after sleeping in, I went to Dongdaemun Market with Rachel and Ryan. It is this huge indoor and outdoor market that has everything you would want to find. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have any money to buy anything, but it was fun to browse. People would approach you trying to sell you things, and I really wanted to buy a winter coat, but I didn’t have the cash. I told the lady I would be back come payday, but she didn’t seem very happy about this response. The stay was short, as I had Korean class at 4:30. The class keeps changing, with various students entering and leaving. This can be frustrating, as we tend to repeat things that we learned in prior lessons. However, it gives me a chance to actually have mini-conversations in Korean with other students and meet interesting people. It is moving way to slowly however.
Friday the 13th. Not my favorite day, but never quite as scary as the movies fortunately. After classes, I met up with Byeong Hun and Andie and we went to the lantern festival near City Hall. Andie posted the pictures; there were lanterns representing every country. It was really cool. I thought that they were going to be just standard lanterns, but they were these gigantic representations of various things. Afterward, we met up with Phil and Sam, and said goodbye to Andie and headed to Appujeong. We wanted a quick dinner, but ended up sitting at a restaurant for about 2 hours, eating fried seafood and chatting with some random Korean guys who gave us some of their birthday cake. Afterward, BH and I met Nick and Evan at Monkey Beach and danced for a LONG time. Maybe four hours.
Saturday! Shopping with Sonali in Myeongdong turned out to be really boring. She warned me, I should have listened. However, she gave me a great lesson on Indian culture, so for that I am thankful. BH, Allan and I made a nice little dinner afterward, and then went to Itaewon for a game of poker. This was really boring for BH, so he left to find his friends and I ended up losing my 10,000 Won, but it was fun to hang out with the guys. Not as easy to beat them as it is my friends from home :-P
At around 10, we met up with Rachel Nusbaum for her birthday party. BH invited five of his friends, who may have been bored with us English speakers! However, after an hour and a couple of drinks, many attempts were made at cross-cultural communication and maybe some new connections have been made.
Because we had spent the weekend doing non-Korean things, Andie and I decided we should do something cultural. Around noon, we met up at Seolleung to see the tomb of King Seongjong of the Joseon dynasty. Although the day was cold, the sky was clear and the walk around the park was a nice change from the bustle of the city. The tombs were these huge mounds with interesting stone statues scattered about. I was snapping pictures quite furiously until Byeong Hun told me that culturally this was inappropriate as these were burial grounds. Luckily, I snapped some nice pictures before I realized that I was a bad person for doing so.
Weekdays are weekdays. Work, Korean language lessons, and food at home. A lot of lazy behavior, including watching my favorite US TV programs. Boring but satisfying. My newest obsession? Glee. What an amazing show. I also finally added some 300 pictures to Facebook for everyone’s perusal.
Mark F had invited me Byeong Hun and his friend So-Jin to Suwon for a concert on Friday and I met my friends Katy and Jen there, who live and work in this city about 30 miles south of Seoul. It started to snow: large, wet, and beautiful. When we all met up, we headed to this random bar in a random building to be greeted by applause; they were very excited to have foreigners at their concert. Apparently it was a bunch of Samsung employees, and they ended up giving us free Budweisers because we were Americans. By the end of the night, they had invited Mark and I to the stage, where we danced and sang and had many pictures taken.
After crashing at Jen’s place, Byeong Hun, his friend So-Jin, Rachel Nusbaum and I met at City Hall in Seoul and had a nice fancy lunch. At Pizza Hut. Koreans love to take crappy restaurants in the US and make them seem awesome. Outback Steakhouse is apparently one of the best, and they think it is a legitimate Australian restaurant.
After the meal, we walked to Insa-dong to meet up with Arianna for some tea. This seriously was the best tea I have ever had in my life. Ginger tea on a cold day. Perfect. Plus, we decided on Christmas plans: a weekend at a ski resort in Eastern Korea. Another walk through the lantern festival and then we returned to Kangnam. Katy and Jen met up with us at my place and we went to get some burgers, coffee, and soju. The Rainbow House had an ethnic music night, and we listened to this fantastic, eclectic Asian music while smoking hookah.
Nothing says breakfast better than kimchi. Seriously, fermented cabbage tastes FANTASTIC in omelets. I’m obsessed. After some badminton (Byeong Hun and I against Rachel Frank and So-Jin) Rachel infected me with another obsession: Go-Stop. It is the Korean version of poker, except with flowers and animals and ribbons. Look it up if you are interested. I play it online at school now all the time, and we might introduce it to the poker club.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Nothing exciting. My lessons this week have to do with Thanksgiving, which is making me homesick. Tomorrow though, Thanksgiving Day here in Korea, Andie, Sam and I will meet up with our recruiter for some live octopus. Sounds like a Happy Thanksgiving to me!