Colin the Party Machine

Friday, as planned,  I went to the Banana Bar, and was one of two people there. The other guy was a Korean guy who asked if he could play pool with me. I played easily the worst I’ve ever played since playing regularly. He beat me six straight times. After more people showed up and insisted we let them play (pff, whatever), we just sat and chatted for awhile. His English name is James, he majored in English in college, and until recently worked as an English teacher. He may come to the language meetings, and we made some rough plans to meet up some time soon to smoke some hookah, since I can’t find any places for that in Cheonan on my own.

Saturday was quite an event filled day. Let’s just start with this:

My word, what is that behind yon tree!?

No, these aren’t burglars with the biggest set of brass balls imaginable, they’re movers. The first time I saw this, I was totally surprised, but it makes sense. Given the fact that almost all Koreans live in apartments, and a good number of those in high rises, it makes moving large pieces of furniture in a bit tricky. So what’s the best solution? Bringing it in through the window.

Here you can see the little motorized platform that runs up and down the ladder. Just moments after this, a guy got onto it and rode it down sitting Indian-style.

Anyway, this was just a happy event on my way to Bucheon to meet Dave and Justin. I took a couple more pictures, but only two are really worth showing:

I stopped by the RnB to get some pictures for the review, but it wasn’t open, so I had to settle for a picture through the tinted glass doors, but it actually didn’t turn out too bad. Now you can see where I get the majority of my drinking done.

Goddamn puppycups. This notice for… God knows what, is in the elevator in Justin’s apartment building. I can honestly find no reason that disembodied puppy heads would be imposed onto sippy cups, and what possible correlation this could have with one’s elevator riding experience, but nevertheless, puppycups.

After meeting Justin and David, we went to Bucheon’s central park to meet the Welshman, known only as Graham, and another guy named Matt. We drank makgeolli – a traditional Korean rice wine about 10% in alcohol by volume, and fooled around on a badminton court for a couple hours, despite the fact that literally none of us had ever played before. Once we quit and began watching the Koreans play, we realized just exactly how little we knew about badminton.

Afterward, we went for a galbi dinner, which was quite nice. I’ve mentioned before that because Korean’s don’t tip, waiters won’t come unless they’re called. In larger restaurants, or places where not every table can easily be seen, each table is given a little button that buzzes a sign which lights up with the table’s number, and the waiter will attend the table. Graham was particularly enamored with the corn souffle banchan that came with the galbi, and he probably ordered no less than twenty refills. We could tell the waiter was getting a little exasperated, so we finally convinced Graham he needed no more corn and left the poor man in peace.

Due to some prior obligations, Justin wasn’t able to make it to Seoul, so we just went to the RnB, which is always a safe bet. It was a bit of a slow night for the bar, but fun nonetheless. I won money playing pool for the first time. A whopping 3,000 won — or roughly two and a half dollars. Justin and Dave left a bit earlier than I, and I ended up chilling with the bartenders and the jazz band that had played a show there that night. I played them in darts and beat them quite easily. The bartenders decided to close early since the bar was slow and head to Itaewon.

Itaewon is the site of the largest American army base in Korea, and it’s near the heart of Seoul. It’s the hot place to be for foreigners, hookers, and pickpockets. We hopped in a cab and went into some bar in a basement, which was pretty decent. I played pool for a couple hours. I was clearly the least talented pool player, but through virtue of strategy and a fair bit of chance, I was able to stay on the table a fairly long time, and even hustle a couple drinks out of people. Itaewon itself was a little underwhelming. I expected lots of signs and bright lights, but it looked like any normal street, except it had Subways and Papa Johns and shit. It just goes to show, the parts of Korea with high concentrations of foreigners are easily the least interesting.

I honestly don’t think I can say a lot about the patrons of the bar without seeming mean-spirited, so I won’t even begin, but needless to say, it wasn’t my kind of crowd. At the bar, I ran into a guy named Kevin I’d met a couple times in the RnB. He was dancing goofily with this middle aged Korean woman who looked super out of place. She seemed really uncomfortable and was moving really stiffly, but he was just trying to help her loosen up and have some fun. Eventually, he passed her off onto an equally out of place and stiff Korean middle aged man, and they awkwardly front grinded for awhile.

We didn’t actually leave the RnB until around 3 AM, and it was about half an hour there, but we ended up staying until 8:30 AM, so it was worth our while. The bar actually closed at 7 AM, but the bartenders I went with knew the management, and since I was in their company, I got to stay after hours, which was nifty. Eventually, we got too tired to stay longer, so a bartender named Lila, Kevin, a Korean named Peter, and I got in a cab and rode back to Bucheon. I stopped by Justin’s just long enough to grab my bag, then got on the first bus to Cheonan. I slept a little on the bus, but not a whole lot. I feel fine, currently though. I think I hit my second wind.

While I was in Yawoori, I got a new Korean book. I’m almost done with the one I’m using now. The new one is just vocabulary, though, and not any grammar or what not. I figure for the meetings I can just go and make flash cards with a Korean and then they can quiz me. I’m really trying to be earnest about learning Korean. Other than Lawrence and Dave, I’m the newest person to Korea in all of the people in my circle of friends and acquaintances, yet my Korean is better than most of theirs. I don’t mean to brag or demean other people. It’s entirely possible to get by without learning too much Korean, and most people are only interested in staying for a year, so they won’t have much need for Korean. I just mean to say that I’m really taking it seriously being over here.

Later tonight I’m meeting Chang-ki. Perhaps for dinner and hanging out. Maybe a little studying. I’m not quite sure. I guess I’ll have to bring my books and my appetite. Tomorrow marks the proper start of a new unit for my classes, so that’s great. I’ll at least have a little more direction and clarity for what I should be doing.

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