Saturday Night in Seoul

I don’t want to talk much about Friday. The day itself was really stressful. Now the problem seems a lot less overwhelming, but I don’t really want to talk about it either. Mr. Lee could tell I wasn’t happy, and kept assuring me that he’d make sure everything was taken care of, and I trust that it will be. To make matters worse, we ran late coming back from Daejon and ended up getting on the wrong train, which was non-stop to Seoul, so we passed right through Cheonan.We didn’t even buy a ticket, just ran on. But then in an unprecedented fashion, the one time I don’t have a ticket is the one time an usher is actually checking for them. Mr. Lee explained and bought tickets from him, then the necessary tickets from Seoul back to Cheonan, so it was essentially a non-issue, but it did give me quite the sinking feeling in my stomach, particularly after the day I had.

We picked up the new teacher at the bus station. It was another small adventure trying to find him. All he said was he was at the bus station next to the mall before the pay phone cut out on him. The problem is that the bus station is in a mall, so the directions weren’t particularly helpful. His name is Lawrence and he’s from Texas. First night we just went to a dinner with Mr. Lee. We had samgyeopsal, which is just slices of pork that you cook yourself on a little stove top built into the table. It comes with all manner of banchan, including raw garlic cloves, raw jalepenos, raw mild onions, kimchi, etc… Also with the meal came a very thick egg soup. It was basically just an egg whisked in a bowl with water and boiled with some vegetables in it. It was kind of like an omlette, but a little fluffier, and it came in a bowl.

Afterwards I took Lawrence to a PC Bang since it was late at night and he wanted to get in touch with his family, etc… Didn’t do much of anything after that since I was exhausted, but he explored on his own.

The next morning we got up and went to Dunkin Donuts and he got in touch with a friend he knew from Texas that actually only lives like two stops away on the subway, so after much confusion and discussion about which station should be gotten off at, we decided to meet up. Little did I know that this would lead to a night of clubbing in Seoul, so I only started with 20,000 won on me, which is approximately no money in Seoul clubs. The friend’s name is Jamarian, but people just call him J. Later in the night when I was a little buzzed I couldn’t help but tell him that he looked exactly like Mos Def with facial hair.

After like ten minutes of meeting we decided to catch the KTX to Seoul to meet another of Lawrence’s friends from home that lives in a northern Seoul district called Chandong. It only took half an hour by KTX to Seoul station and then another 20-30 minutes from the subway to her place, which is less than a block from the station, so it’s super convenient. Her name is Sid, and she’s had a rough go. She’s only been in Korea a month, but she’s already had some creepy drunk guy chase her and her friends around and her wallet stolen just two nights ago, so she was a little stressed. Obviously, the thing to do was to go clubbing and blow some steam off. Another teacher from her school, Mike joined us.

I felt awful not having any money on me, since I literally met the four people that day and they were already paying for food and drinks and my bar cover at the second place. I guess I’ll just have to treat them when they come to Cheonan. We spent a little time going to the clubs they had been to the night before to see if anyone had turned in her wallet, but no luck, so we jumped on the subway for a couple stops and went to the Hongdae district. Hongdae is the area right around Hongik University, so it’s a gigantic party scene in Seoul. It’s one of the places to go to party. Of course this makes it expensive as hell. I’m not one quickly or unnecessarily parted from my money, and particularly when it puts me into other people’s debt, so I didn’t have nearly enough to drink to get what I’d call anything close to drunk, but I still had a great time.

The first bar we went to was called The Ho Bar. I’m unsure of what exactly the owners intended with the name, but it is quiet easily lended to jokes. It was a Western bar (meaning American, not cowboys) so lots of white people. It was a decently chill place. Crowded, but not terribly so. Just stayed for a couple beers and shots before we left for a place called NB2 (Noise Basement is a bar that is apparently so popular it requires two locations to service its patrons).

We got separated from Mike on the way, and Sid ended up approaching a random group of five Korean girls who said hi to us as we passed to ask for directions. We left them, but Sid kept asking for more directions and they eventually caught up with us and went to NB2 with us. It was a 15,000 won cover to get in, which made me feel awful for J having to pay it for me. The club was absolutely insane. It was a hiphop club, which basically just meant what we would think of as a club where you go to dance. The place had three levels and was absolutely packed. Just wall to wall people going nuts. J and I stayed with the Korean girls for an hour and a half or so, while Sid went and did her own thing and Lawrence played the oppa role.

In Korea, they’re absolutely nuts for titles. Every person has a title that depends on a lot of factors. It depends on your age, their age,  work/personal relation, your gender, their gender, etc… Oppa is a term for a younger female to use towards an older male very informally. It’s generally reserved for older brothers and very close friends. Eoni is similarly the way to address an older female from a younger female very informally. Again, older sisters and close friends, generally. Sunbae is a general term for anyone more experienced than you in your work place that’s more polite than a friendly basis. Technically Michele, Jieun, Mr. Lee, etc… are all my sunbae. I don’t know the terms for male relations yet, since the only reason I know these is because Sid uses them a lot.

Anyway, as the night wore on, Lawrence decided things might be getting a little too PG-13 for him, so we decided to all leave NB2 and go home. Now, this didn’t mean Cheonan. Subways and trains stop running at midnight. Luckily clubs in South Korea don’t close until 7 AM, so it’s entirely routine for people to stay up until 5 AM drinking, if not later, until the train begin running again to go home. Taxis nearly double in price after midnight as a consequence, so the ride to Sid’s was like 30,000 won. Just another portion of money I have to pay back to J.

The ride was pretty hysterical, and it was almost all captured on camera, so we re-watched it this morning. Some of it was a little embarrassing, but nothing life changing. I actually only said two things in the half hour ride, one of them being “that’s what she said” so I luckily didn’t make any terrible faux pas with the new friends. We got home and to bed around 4 AM, and I slept on the floor since Korean apartments are generally small and bare for single people. I did eventually move to a bed mat once it was vacated in the early morning, but still ended up getting up at like 8 AM. We watched Zombieland (it’s quite easy to find pirated DVDs for like four for 10,000 won)  and chatted a little before I left.

I managed to find my way all the way from Chandong to Cheonan by myself. It was fairly simple, with only one transfer. I did run into a minor set back when three stops from home the train decided to reverse direction. An old Korean woman that came on to sweep up the train said something to me, but I didn’t understand. So I just went back one stop and got back on the same train going the direction I needed. Since I had spent my last 4,000 won on some soju at a Hof (place where one can drink, but ordering the Korean equivalent of bar food is required) I didn’t have any money for a taxi from the station. I’ve found my great sense of direction to be incredibly useful. It ended up being about a half hour walk from the station to my apartment.

I left Sid’s place around 10:20 AM, and got home just after 2 PM, so it was essentially a 3 hour 40 minute trip, all setbacks included. The upshot was that it only cost like three bucks to ride the train that long. Not a bad trade off. I took a quick shower since I was pretty gross after clubbing and sleeping on a floor, then headed to the Dunkin Donuts to write this and check up on my stuff. Lawrence said he had to meet some friend of the family, so he went and did that with J. J lives quite close, so they should come back nearly all the way together. I’m not terribly concerned about Lawrence being able to find his way home even though it is only like his first 36 hours here, haha.

One last thing. Here there are cards called T-money cards, which are essentially pre-paid credit cards you can use for subway trains (not KTX unfortunately), buses, some taxis, and at several convenience store trains. J showed Lawrence and I how to buy them at Seoul station on the way to see Sid. It only takes about three seconds and it’s crazy convenient.

Sorry about the gigantic pictures. I forgot to resize them and I don’t want to do it now since I’m kind of in a hurry to get dinner since it’s almost 5 PM and I haven’t eaten yet today. Also pictured is my entrance ticket from NB2. I didn’t realize until this morning that it doubles as a coupon for a free drink, otherwise I certainly would’ve used it.

One Response to “Saturday Night in Seoul”

  1. Heh, Tmoney cards! Hope ya having a blast colin.

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