Day 178

Thursday | August 23rd, 2012


I’ve been here too long to know as little Korean as I do right now in this moment. Aside from a handful of words which are mostly used with the dogs, I know nothing.

I’m going to Seoul and I need a room, but I forgot how to get one. I grab my oldest Korean language book and snap pics to read on the train. It’s not a solution.

I thought reading the pictures and familiarizing myself with how to get a room would be easy … and it might have been, but I totally forgot all about it once I stepped out of the house. It was raining heavily. I was heavily focused on the weekend ahead, debating how long I should stay in Seoul, who should I call, where I needed to go, what I wanted to buy, what my budget was like, etc. and ooo! Pretty! (snap)

In the station, I was focused on getting some food for the drinking ahead. This turned out to be 건빵 (gun bbang, what FH and I have called Scooby Snacks for years and years), dried pineapple slices, and water. I can’t lament the dried pineapple slices enough. I’ve only seen them at Storyway, Korail’s overpriced convenience store that dons every train station in Korea, both inside and often on the platform itself. The pineapple has a lot of sour and vitamin C to offer for the 2,000 won the small package sets me back each time.

Even with time to kill at the station, I didn’t think to study my Korean. Instead I called my father, who was working and I promised to call back later (and then totally forgot about that as well). I was eating 건빵 and pineapple and suddenly my train was boarding.

The train ride was uneventful and nothing was dropped on me. I had a distracting window seat and a power plug. I stared out the window and played resource hungry games on my phone. Another dig on the new KTX (see Day 173 from previous gripes), is that now both times someone has gone and taken such a massive dump that their smell clogs up the whole car. This is a car that is hermetically sealed and mildly pressurized. Somehow the air circulation system is fracked up so the vent under the window that blows heat and AC also prominently carried fresh poo smell with it. Not what I want from my luxury train ride. The girl next to me spent much of her ride with her finger plugging her nose. It was that bad. Even the train stewardess got on the intercom (twice!) to chastise people for using the toilet and flushing paper towels, which I can only assume was the reason for the smell in the first place as it no doubt backed up. Yet another insult was the power plug which couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver steady power to my iPhone. Whenever I plugged in, the phone would behave sporadically. Buttons would touch themselves, retarded strings of characters would enter themselves when I tried to text people (think “YvvmlkYvvmlk”). It was nuts. It’s the only time I’ve seen my charger (the best on the market, btw) get completely fluxed.

Getting into Seoul was easy like it always is. Taking a bus to Hyehwa was also easy since I knew when my bus was coming, unlike in Gyeongju where I wait around forever to be lucky enough to see any bus go by (in the rain) like I did this morning.

My conversation with the 여관 (yeogwan, small cheap motel) dude went completely off the rails since I didn’t freshen up on the lingo beforehand. It took way longer than it should have to explain that I wanted a room for three nights (I decided on the fly) and not one. It was only worked out when I handed him cash for three nights, then he informed me that Friday and Saturday night were another 5,000 won and I gave him more cash to get my key.

I sent a message to Meow after this near debacle to report my shame:

My Korean is so bad, I should be kicked out of Korea.

My room was special, like most yeogwan rooms are. The view and light were nice and the interior foresty wallpaper was a different touch—usually it’s just a cool or obnoxious pattern. I laid there for a little bit waiting for POD to get to CZ. He did and sent me a message, but I’d fallen asleep. I picked my motel because it was two blocks from my second Hyehwa flat (the one I lived in before Meow and before we were married), three blocks from my third (the one I shared with Meow after we were married), and one block from CZ. I still managed to be late meeting POD. Classic.

I drank two beers and ate Nachos and met POD’s girlfriend J. I didn’t really have a plan for the night other than meeting up with TD and his brother PD and the rest of the crew in tow. Because of this flexibility, POD & J, pulled me with them to go drink makgeolli at some special restaurant. They didn’t really need to force me, but by going I missed out on a solid meal and broke my first rule of alcohol consumption. That led to some nasty repercussions … of course.

Together we polished off two bottles of makgeolli and one bottle of house-made takju (which was nasty, but a POD favorite). We ate two side dishes, but not a full meat meal did they make. We then joined the crew (TD, PD, their father Mr. D, PD’s friends, KL, and a token Irishman) back in Hyehwa where they had cancelled their fish dinner plan and went to my favorite pig meat chain in all of Korea and had a real meal deal themselves.

From there it was a bar, drinks, and more rules of alcohol consumption broken. KL bought a shot, which knowing the rules were being broken, I drank on the pretext that I didn’t have much to do on Friday, it was vacation, and ‘hey, how is this rule anyway?’ Next Px showed up with some blokes and felt guilty for not being drunk or being late or something other and bought bombs for a full table. I excused myself to an ATM only to come back and find a Carbomb waiting for me. I drank it in one shot (no spillage) just like the Daegu days. Rules be damned!

The group moved to Seoul Pub, a bar of note for it’s extreme dogginess and the place where I met Meow the first time on TD’s birthday. It’s also where POD met his lady. And where MH met his wife. It’s a special place. There I drunkenly ordered a cheeseburger to quell an empty rule-broken tummy. That’s about the last clear memory of the night.

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