Oddly ornate Western architecture.

   There has been a ton of adventures and small stories to put down this last week. Rather than spend a ton of time documenting all of them I figured I’d put it down in a series of installments. Hence all of the post in a day or two since they’re covering a pretty packed 5 day period. Did my best to keep them somewhat in time-linear order though.

   So this weekend all of my coworkers were going out to stay at a pension (kind of like a house you can rent for the weekend) on the East coast. They had placed the reservation before I arrived and were apologizing profusely about not being able to invite me since it was already booked. This crew is way too nice, haha.

   Since they were all leaving early Saturday morning they were taking it pretty easy Friday night. I on the other hand kind of was wanting to go see some of the city. It was a 3 day weekend and for some reason or another was feeling the itch to go do some dancing and have a drink or two. Hung out with one coworker and watched a Werner Herzog documentary about the people who live and worked in Antarctica. Great flick. Headed out for the subway at about 11:30 to catch the last train into Hongdae.

   I knew that the subway stops running from midnight to about 5:30 so I was going out late on the off-chance I might stay out until the first run. Subways here cost no more than $1.40 at most whereas a cab back to my apartment would run me around $15 (which is still far less than the equivalent cab ride would be back in Seattle). I know some people back at home might be a little alarmed when they here I went out at midnight for a night on the town by myself (Dad, I know you are cringing as you read this) but this is a really safe part of town and my coworkers gave me a summary of how to make a night of it when going out solo.

   I also like the immersion aspect of going out with no one else. With other foreigners I can feel somewhat insulated by the numerous aspects of Seoul and Korean culture that seem so alien to me. By myself I was forced to observe more carefully and be a little more bold in talking to people whose grasp of my language was unknown to me. I could have gone to Itaewon and been surrounded by other foreigners but I kind of like the challenge of being forced to adapt and be on your toes socially.

   My first stop of the night was at “Roots Time” which is a small reggae bar. There were only two other girls in their at the time and by the time I left I would be the only patron. My coworker had warned me that it was either really packed (the max occupancy is probably only 20 people with no standing room) or pretty dead. Tonight was a dead night. I did enjoy listening to some good old school roots reggae, flipping through their vinyl collection and chatting with the Japanese bar tender who is an avid reggae fan. He was pretty stoked when he saw my Motorhead t-shirt but we shared a laugh about the fact that if heavy music and reggae are your favorite genres then epic shows in Seoul are going to be few and far between. Had one beer, chatted for a while and then left.

Big ups to this tiny bar.

   I had trouble finding the specific bar (Sk@ bar) I had been to and had a great time dancing and meeting Korean college kids at so ended up at Zen Bar where a lot of foreigners frequent. The fact that I just had gotten my haircut and don’t yet have an ARC made the bouncer pretty wary of me. I think he thought I was enlisted as he grudgingly let me in with a very firm, repeated warning of “No fighting.” Talked with a Korean tattoo artist for a bit but this stop was fairly uneventful.

   After hitting the streets I was still sober, being solo is nice in the fact that if you are somewhat intelligent you probably limit your intake of ethanol…and ready to find Sk@ bar. Asked an Irish chap on the street and got some great directions. Went there and danced pretty tough, met some Korean and Italian kids and had a great time. On the way back to my station I actually ended up sitting in between two Korean guys the same age as me, one of whom was born in the states and had just moved over and the other who had just got back from living in Texas for 4 years. Great coincidence, we shared some stories, laughed about cultural differences and the night ended on a good note as I waved goodbye upon disembarking at Daelim station.

   Oh, I also saw a painting of “The Little Prince” above a DVD store. My godfather Lugino bought me this book as a child and it was one of my favorites. Brought a smile to my face seeing a familiar literary reference. I guess there’s also a themed town based of the book and a semi-recent movie remake of it. Props to the Korean people for respecting Antoine de Saint-Exupéry so much.

The heart-warming story of life's circle via interstellar travel.

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Great week, scratched off many of the items on the things to do before I leave list:

  • Brilliant BBQ at the little bro’s house, his oyster shucking and prep skills are getting great. I myself absolutely disdain oysters but respect anyone performing their craft well. This was followed by a rather unsuccessful trivia night at the local watering hole but hey, can’t win ’em all.
  • Finished “Proust was a Neuroscientist” by Jonah Lehrer which was a very intriguing and well-wrote discourse that made a compelling case for many of the recently discovered theories of neuroscience being posited by artists in their work far before their verification in modern laboratories. A few of the more illuminating examples where the author Gertrude Stein, the chef Auguste Escoffier and the painter Paul Cezanne. Highly recommended by yours truly.

    Cortex Expansive Discourse

  • Had a mirth filled and exciting tour of South Seattle on some friends’ homemade bikes and trikes. I was part of the manpower pedaling The Fugitive which is a three-man trike (two people pedal one steers) which is unique in that the onboard propane tanks fuel both the barbecue in back and the flamethrower chimney on the top. One epic form of transport right there.
  • Enjoyed the company of some old college friends on one of the few sunny and warm days so far this April. Caught lunch on a deck at the Pike Place Market and then cruised to Zigzags for happy hour. Highlight of this establishment? Murr the Blurr who has been rated as the number one bartender in the States by Playboy and GQ on multiple occasions. Went there with my great friend and old college roommate who is a bartender at one of the more frequented spots in Seattle and even he didn’t know half the items in the libations served. Enigma ingredients only stoked the curiosity.
  • Said goodbye to all three sides of the family. Rolled up to Whidbey Island with 4 out of 5 of my Dad’s sisters (yeah I’ve got some Irish Catholic in me, haha) to the memorial service for one of my grandfather’s best friends. Yesterday I cruised out to my aunt on my birth-mom’s side house which was coincidentally one block away from the house I grew up in the mountains of Western Washington. Walked down the street with Padre and reminisced for a moment of childhood antics. Today we celebrated Easter with my Mom Patti’s side of the family and I soaked up the great support they wished me and we all laughed while watching the younger cousins do easter egg hunts in slickers and rain boots amidst the drizzle.

Viewpoint Vista of Youth

  • Tonight is another BBQ at my brother’s featuring his masterful working of quail and flame-broiled Peeps (exotic smore time).

Carmelized Nickelodeon

Three weeks left and the days are going by faster and faster. Glad I feel like I’m making the most of my time though. Buenos noches until next post from the predeparture front!