If the hotel we stayed at the first night seemed somewhat stark, dingy and antiquated we were in for quite the surprise upon arrival at our next lodgings. “The Guest House” (actual name of business) just opened up for business in the past two months and was fully furnished with a very modern (two separate computers for guest use) and trendy look to it. We slept 4 people to a room in separate bunk beds. The beds were comfortable and the layout of the room was quite convenient with individual lockers and a large closet for clothes and luggage. Not only was there on site laundry for your sandy, sea-smelling beach attire but they had a fully stocked kitchen and provided breakfast free of charge, though conversation for me was slightly limited.

Korean frosted flakes? Order Up!

Lively conversations around me are a reminder that I need to focus more on my Korean conversational skills.

I really enjoyed the charismatic and goofy owner/manager of the property. The first night there my coworkers decided to go to the bars immediately after the beach. I for one am more of a shower and change kinda guy, don’t really like sitting on a bar stool with the feeling of sand in my shoes and in my clothes. Due to this I hopped on the subway for a little evening transition time in between festivities. On a related quick tangent I feel like a true expat because I now have not one, but Two Korean subway cards! One Seoul Metro linked onto my bank account and one Busan Hannaro card.

Haha, back to the story… I arrived at the guesthouse after a quick stop by the store for some Mekju (beer), ramen, soft tofu and green onions. After a quick shower I fired up the elements and started crafting a little curry ramen stew. While talking to my new friend Peter who was a student/soldier (all Koreans over twenty must serve for a little under two years in the armed forces) I pulled out my trusty bag of culinary tricks and added a little complexity to my dish. Many of my friends will tell you that I can’t eat without my assortment of condiments and I packed accordingly for this vacation. My coworker from Philly likened me to a culinary Felix the Cat and his magical bag of tricks.

Peter saw the meal and the mekju I pulled out of the fridge and seemed to be a bit inspired as he produced a bag of rice balls stuffed with kimchi and boiled potatoes and ran down to the 7-11 to purchase some beer of his own. Around this time the owner came out of his room/office smelling the curry in the air and looking curiously at the dining table. Upon seeing my dish he let out the often hear “WOW!” and asked if I was a chef. I laughed and told him my Dad had spent some time in this occupation but that my brother was the cook in the family and I just learned some tricks and enjoyed the hobby.

We sat and chatted in simplified English for a bit and then Peter returned with some beer. Food was traded and beers were clanked together held by two hands and the utterance of “Gombey” which is the traditional Korean cheers. Do not accidentally say “Kampi” or you will look like a real ass…

The next morning the same WOW was uttered a few times by Peter and the manager when I made a little breakfast omelette. I felt a happy and somewhat proud sense of Deja Vu.

Sprucing up the finished product with a little Sriracha, garlic salt w/ parsley, basil and a drizzle of Chili oil.

Breakfast of Champions!

The manager was so impressed he asked me to give him an English name. First time I have given a grown man a namesake. Cheers to you Ethan of the guesthouse and all the gracious and fun-loving other Korean guests I met there!

And thus you were named!

Big Ups to my Guest House peeps!

Lunch was had across the street at the Shinsegae department store. The sushi was really good in the food court with a nice tuna roll wrapped in that crazy purple rice they have here in Korea. It was pretty similar to most of the department stores except for the fact that….IT’S THE BIGGEST ONE IN THE WORLD! Haha, yeah, movie theatre, spa, Romanesque fountains with alabaster sculptures, an ice rink and a giant Guiness seal of authenticity on the front it was a little overwhelming.

If you go to the website you might even get to see the testimony “webmercial” video testimony he filmed of my review to try and coax other waygookins into his 21st story guest house of wonders.

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Up on the 17th floor of the Metropolitan tower…Great radio show. Might just be the first time “Annyong Geyseo” was uttered on Seattle’s corporate radio waves. Purely Epic. Headbanging, laughing and all in all a great time. Sounders tied but hanging with the hermano and great friends who own the airwaves was an outstanding time!

The view, the friends and the music. I will miss this vantage point.

   Last weekend in town is going great so far. Got into town early and made a chili tofu scramble with little bro then met up with one of my best friends and the three of us saw Thor at Pacific Place in downtown Seattle’s Westlake Center. After the movie we shot a few games of pool. Nick had a date that night so said our farewells and traveled over to Toulouse Petit for dinner with my buddies girlfriend who had been unable to attend the going away party since she was feeling under the weather. Spirits were high and the food was spot on! I ordered the tagliatelle (may have spelled that wrong) pasta with a sage and pine nut cream sauce that was delicious.

   After hanging out for a while here we cruised up Queen Anne hill and met with some friends of amiga’s from Portland at Sully’s bar and restaurant. Turns out one of my friends teaching in Seoul is a mutual acquaintance so I have a letter to deliver upon arrival. Small world sometimes. Great times had by all!

   Sorry this is a quick one but I need to hop on the bus downtown to drop off the last of my library books, snag some postcards at the Pier, gifts for friends in Seoul at the Market and then…go to the Sounders game tonight. Yes! Good luck boys, give em hell on the pitch. After the game I’m hoofing it over to the KISW studios for one last metal shop broadcast with the dynamic radio duo. All in all perfect end to my last night in Seattle for 2011!

   Very productive day had so far! Not only did I get a ton of packing done (1 of two check in bags packed) but I bused into town to get price checks on IPod charger (I’ve been bumming off friends for last two months), international converter and purchased gifts for the director & supervisor at my new school. For the director I picked up 12 oz. of SBC’s (Seattle’s Best Coffee) medium roast (#3) and for my supervisor I dropped by Safeway and snagged some Boehms chocolates. My mother was a chocolatier about 26 years ago and I’ve known Bernard the Swiss owner since I was a baby so it felt like the perfect gift since on of my soon-to-be coworkers informed me that my supervisor enjoys chocolates.

   I said I would fill in a little more detail on mother’s day. My brother and I collaborated for making Mom dinner. I picked up some fresh spinach linguine noodles at Pasta Co. along with some produce (sugar snap peas were decadently fresh) and mozzarella balls. He dropped by Pike Place Market and snagged some scallops, sushi-grade Ahi tuna and Manilla clams. He made a scallop clam linguine with a vegetable reduction and I made a veggie lemon alfredo linguine with oregano and basil. We also whipped up a fresh romaine salad with the mozzarella balls, seared tuna encrusted with sesame seed, some crusty garlic baguette and last but not least a spicy ahi ceviche. All in all it was a hit and Mom was quite pleased with our culinary efforts to please. She also dug the bouquet of Sunflowers I snagged from Metropolitan Market.

   Heard from my recruiter, my director is going to pick me up at the airport next Tuesday and take me to see the school and then my new apartment. This is great because there was a possibility that I would be spending the first couple of weeks in a love motel while waiting for an apartment. All of the foreign teachers live in the same apartment building, I can’t wait to meet them, the rest of the staff and my future students. On the flip side of this I’m getting boggled at trying to decide how to spend my last days in the US of A. Tomorrow I’m meeting with my little bro and good friend and roommate from Bellingham post-college days to see Thor (stoked to rock my Icelandic heritage pride, VALHALLA!) and then have dinner with my friend and his girlfriend who has been a great amiga for many years. I cruise back out to the booneys to watch my little sisters while my parents meet up with the grandparents to offload garden supplies (they’ve bought quite a few racks of flowers in the last week) and celebrate my grandmother’s birthday with dinner. Saturday is the real tricky one, I’ve been invited to go see one last Sounder’s game (against our new rival the Portland Timbers), go to a birthday BBQ kegger at the high-school homies casa near my folks or make it to one last show (Ghostland Observatory who totally rocked it last time I saw them at Sasquatch Fest). So many great choices with so little time, but there are far worse dilemmas in life.

Oh yeah, my team totally dominated at Trivia Night this Monday winning with 34 points (2nd had 29) out of 7 teams. Sweet, sweet victory!

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That title is for you Arrested Development fans out there (picture Gob Bluth, haha). Since my flight leaves in one week my going away party was this past weekend as well as shows, welcome back parties and Mother’s day. It was packed to the brim and outstandingly epic!

   I cruised out to Seattle on Wednesday to have dinner with one of my oldest friend’s since high school Mountain. We caught a Sounders game at Kells Irish Pub at the Market and then went back out to West Seattle to make food at his place. I whipped up some quinoa with organic chili, onions, garlic, corn and plantain chips which was quite a hit. He’s a skilled brewer of wines and beer so the dinner was accompanied by a great homebrewed porter and some delicious honey stout.

   He works at 6am so I headed back into Seattle proper after that to meet with my friend who works at Kells and play some FIFA 2012 (one of the few video games I love). The downside of this night was that at some point in my sleep I managed to cut my eye. I’ve done this at least two other times so instantly knew what had happened. Luckily it was a very superficial injury so healed pretty quickly and I didn’t have to sport an eye patch or anything. Today was Cinco de Mayo but the last place I really wanted to be was at some bar with a ton of people trying to find an excuse to drink way too much tequila on a Thursday night. As I get older I kinda wave started appreciating celebrating holidays a little more authentically. St Patty’s was celebrated at a good friends family house were they had a band playing fiddle, flute and Irish bagpipes (just mentioning a few) with traditional songs, lots of great conversations and a real family and celebration of heritage feel to it. That’s the way to do it.

   I decided to go out to a friend’s show on Capitol Hill instead. You may not have heard of the Seattle band Smooth Sailing but they are really coming into their own and I highly recommend checking them out. Here’s a little sampler.

http://youtu.be/fx5Xni4Jl9I

The show was great got some props for my dancing, new amiga Sam stated “I didn’t know that it was possible to dance to metalcore like that!” haha. Great times.

The following day (Friday) was the actual day of my going away and it was pretty booked. Snagged some tacos with my buddy Kev and little bro from Rancho Bravo and then made my way to Key Arena. I was recruited by a good friend to be on his Street Team for the Street League Skateboarding competition this weekend in Seattle and orientation was today. Street League is a project of Rob Dyrdeck’s and is an attempt to legitimize skateboarding to form leagues and become seen as just as professional a sport as futbol or baseball. You might recognize Rob from his MTV shows “Rob and Big” or “Fantasy Factory” or DC skateboarding company. The competition happened all weekend and was a great time. In honor of my upcoming departure our entire street team was “Team Savage” which brought an uberwatt smile to my face.

   Once I got out of the orientation it was time to cruise back downtown and check into my hotel. My mom bought a hotel room for me as a going away party for this night. Since she is a GM (general manager) for this hotel chain she reserved a king-sized suite for a ridiculously good price. I checked into my room, dropped off my bag, changed into board shorts and threw on the bath robe before heading up to rooftop hot tub. The view was awesome and I could actually see parts of the Mariner’s game happening next door at Safeco field. The water was warm and the Spire Dark n Dry cider in my hand was crisp and delicious. Great way to start the evening.

   After an hour in the jacuzzi I ran back down to my room, took a shower and hopped on the hotel shuttle taking me to the market to meet everyone at Kells. My game plan was to have the night start at Kells, have some great conversations, a few stiff drinks and enjoy a little of the band from Ireland playing that night (figure that might be a rare commodity in Seoul). Ten to midnight would be spent at Kells and then go finish off the night at the dance party at the Alibi Room a few blocks down. It was amazing. Tons of friends from many different times of my life made it out and I felt truly blessed to have so many make it out. Thanks again to all who made it! We even ran into Phoenix Jones the “real-life” Seattle superhero and leader of the Raincity Superhero Movement. My little brother gave him some respect and then was interviewed by the Seattle Weekly about his thoughts. My two favorite quotes “I’ve gotta a lot of respect for the guy, I mean that’s so dumb it’s stupid-cool” and “Just a shame he’ll probably get shot in the face”. Hope I got those right little bro, feel free to correct any misprint. I hope Mr. Jones avoids said bullet for a very long time, he does have a bulletproof rubber suit and a giant cattle-prodesque taser. 

    More updates including more detail on Mother’s Day soon to come but I have one last Trivia Night at The Great Nabob’s to go win. Need to take a siesta so my thinking cap is in the full effect!