It has been so long since I posted anything worth reading.
Let’s see. The last time I wrote was right before Valentine’s Day. That weekend, P and I were out and about in Seoul looking for birthday presents for my mommy. We started in Itaewon, the area outside of main post, and ended up in Dongdaemun. Up until this point, we were fairly certain we did not like the Itaewon area for shopping (and we’ve only heard bad things about the Itaewon nightlife). Dongdaemun made us 100% certain we would not be shopping there again. The Lonely Planet guidebook describes Dongdaemun as a trendy fashion area with reasonable prices. P was a little hesitant to make the trek out there, since he isn’t the biggest fan of shopping. I am so glad we did, though!! We only went into three of the buildings, and I would be content to wander those three buildings for months. These three buildings were each at least nine stories tall with two to three basement levels of clothes and other various goods. AND EVERYTHING WAS CHEAP! I got two skirts for 10,000 won (that were 20,000-30,000 each in Itaewon), and a sparkly headband for 8,000 won that would have easily been $20 back home. Even P was excited to be there since all prices are negotiable. All the malls are open until 4:300AM, so there is no worry about getting there early. I think the deals would be better around 3 or 4AM, honestly.
One mall even sold “HOPE.” We never found it, but we know it is there somewhere!
Another cool thing about the area: FOOD. On the top floors were all sorts of restaurants and snack stands. At the third mall we visited, we were both getting thirsty, and got fresh fruit “juices.” I am starting to realized that smoothies are actually called juice here. I got kiwi and P got strawberry. I definitely won that food battle (we have competitions to see who can order the best dish at every meal out pretty much). Also, Koolaid seems to be a special treat here. I have seen it on a lot of menus.
Outside the malls and shops and restaurants were tons of street vendors. They sold everything from food to shoes. One awesome thing we found: French Fry Corndogs. Yes, that is right. They deep fried French Fries onto these corndogs. How cool is that??
We took the subway home that night (at about 11PM! Woohoo, late night shopping), and met up with a friend for dinner. We went to this area called Gangnam (I believe I have written about this area before… The bar Woodstock ringing a bell? Well, if I haven’t no worries, I will by the end of this post). I think we got out of the cab too soon, but there was no hustle and bustle to the area we found. But that is a-okay. We found a very nice and clean restaurant, where we ordered a spicy soup (that was what I wanted and everyone else followed. I am such a trendsetter. Just kidding) and a thing of communal beef. The awesome thing about Korean meals is the excess of side dishes. In addition to the usual kimchi, veggies, and rice, this restaurant served the most amazing cool cucumber seaweed soup. It was divine. Overall it was delicious and very reasonably priced. We wandered around after dinner looking for the bar we went to the previous weekend, Woodstock, the ex-pat bar. We never found it, since I am pretty sure we were in the wrong location. We ended up at a beer restaurant (you know like the microbreweries that are also restaurants? Well this one had no brewery, but had the same sort of vibe), and the boys had a beer and we all chatted and had a good time. We went home after that since it was getting late, and we had plans for the next day.
So the next day, Sunday, Day 19, we had a few people over for dinner. Exciting news: OUR OVEN WORKS. For those of you who don’t know, P and I had a schizophrenic oven in our last apartment. Heated up to whatever temperature it chose and burned AND undercooked everything. Don’t ask me how, but it did and it sucked. Less exciting news: The dryer that came with our apartment had strange things growing inside. Unfortunately, I did not realize this until after I had already started washing clothes. After our guests left that night, I ended up taking the clothes and spreading them all over the kitchen counters. Mildewy clothes are not my friend.
Rewinding a little to dinner. We found that sliding the kitchen table over to the counter makes for a really good dinner party set up. Food was delicious. I made a white chicken lasagna (mostly from ingredients found in our “PX”), ran down the street and bought some awesome dumplings (there is a dumpling shop at the bottom of the hill that sells some awesome steamed yaki mandoo and pork filled dough balls — which are really good with a little Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce), and another Paris Baguette dessert. Now, I wish I had taken pictures but I didn’t, which just means I have an excuse to go buy another one in the near future. When I went the PB, I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Well, I ended up with a “yogurt filled strawberry roll.” I didn’t know at the time what it was because there was no sign and the only English speaking employee was about 15 and very embarrassed. This was easily the best dessert purchase I’ve made in awhile. It was soft and tangy and sweet and AMAZING.
One of our guests even brought us our first plant. It is a pretty pink exotic looking flower. No idea what it is, but it is beautiful. P and I have decided that we want to get a lot of plants and flowers for the apartment and roof area. I would love to turn the back corner of the living room into a little jungle. What else would we do with the space??
Last week, we had a new dryer delivered and an extra bed. These are our only pieces of military supplied furniture, thank goodness. The dryer works like a champ, and the ugly bed is the most comfortable one in the house (and both are new!). We are grateful, however, to have an apartment decorated uniquely. Many families here don’t get their apartments furnished through their landlords and instead choose to use the furniture from military housing. The same furniture they issue to single soldiers in the barracks. It is good furniture if it’s the only option, but it is nice having something a little different. Today, another bed was delivered, this one ordered by the landlord. It is a beautiful bed, but it is low to the ground and hard as a rock. We will end up purchasing a mattress topper before anyone comes to visit. P and I actually ended up buying a cheap “egg carton” mattress topper that is insanely comfortable. Now we can have a good number of visitors at once. We have two guest rooms, and could easily fit a blow up mattress or two in the living room.
Friday, P and I went to the big PX to buy sheets since we were having guests. Well, we ended up walking away with a lot more than just an extra set of sheets. P found himself a very large TV on sale. I will admit it was a very good price, but I was trying to hold out a little while on getting a TV and –wait for it– an XBox/Kinect system. P has been dying to get the Kinect ever since he played it back in Alabama. BUT because P got his TV and XBox, he told me to pick out a camera. I have been eying DSLR cameras for awhile. I love my point and shoot, and despite the fact that my folks got it for me 5 years ago, it still works great (I definitely plan on holding onto it for when we go to certain places). We had been talking about getting the Nikon D3100, but ended up going with the D3000. It was a good bit cheaper, and still had a lot of the same features. Getting this camera also meant I had an excuse to get this purse I saw at the PX when we first moved here! I know a camera case would be a little bit safer, but the purse is far more convenient (and stylish!), and I think it will be plenty safe if I wrap up the camera and watch where I put my bag.
So Friday night, we went to a sushi place with the couple staying with us and some of their friends. It was pretty cool. You had 45 minutes from when you sat down to eat all of the sushi you wanted for 20,000 won. They had some pretty good stuff and some stuff that just didn’t thrill me. It was a great deal for P and the other guys. I had a little trouble eating what I felt like was enough to justify 20,000 won, however. But it was pretty awesome because the sushi came around on little boats. I wish I had had my camera.
After sushi, we wandered around Gangnam for a while just looking to see what we could find. We ended up back at Woodstock, me with my amazing lemon tea and the others with a pitcher of beer. After a few hours, we got bored and started wandering again. We discovered that the term bar in Korea is synonymous with restaurant. We ended up at a place called Rainbow. It was a total hippie hookah bar, complete with pillows on the floor for seating, upside down crates for tables, and buckets full of booze. Literally, all of their drinks could be bought in “bucket” size. There is actually a sign that says, “Give bucket a chance!” We didn’t get home until 4AM Friday night. I consider getting home after midnight to be a full night. By 4, I was definitely dragging. Oh, to be an old lady trapped in a 20 year old body.
On Saturday night, we actually went back to Rainbow for Reggae night (or Leggae, as the Korean announcer called it). It was originally going to be a chill date night for me and P, but our friends’ plans ended up falling through, so they came with. Korean Reggae is actually pretty cool. Cool in the sense that it was pretty much exactly the same as any other Reggae you’ve heard. He did sing some in Korean, though, which actually was pretty darn cool. And he had dreadlocks. Have you ever seen a Korean with dreads? Well you’re about to. And Robbi, if you’re reading this, you must come visit us so we can take you to this bar.
P and I are becoming big fans of Rainbow, and will likely become regulars. Every Saturday is reggae night, which is actually a rather relaxing atmosphere.
After Rainbow, we ended up in one of the Gangnam area night clubs. We went to the less popular clubs, since they had a cheaper cover. P and I are not really into the clubbing scene, so a 20,000 won cover (each) was a little high for us. That was an experience to say the least. At first there were maybe four people in this club, but by the time we left at 3:30AM, it was pretty packed. One girl, I swear, was drawn to me like a magnet. It was insane. P and I would move around the club, and at least four times this girl managed to find me and dump her entire drink on me. This isn’t even including the number of times she just stumbled into me and didn’t have a drink in her hand either. Then there was an MP chick who kept dancing on a pole, and swore up down that she’s “never done anything like this, ohmygosh, haha.” At about 3, P and I saw her swagger out with a nasty looking hispanic dude with his hat cocked to the side and pants falling off. Yes, everyone, this is the type of person protecting our military. And you know she likely isn’t the worst our military has seen. Crazy.
When we finally decided to head home, we went to get a cab, and let me tell you there are some shady cab drivers out there. A lot of drivers don’t like to take soldiers home since there is little chance of them finding some to pay cab fare back to the Gangnam area. We walked out fully expecting that mentality. Instead, we found about 5 cab drivers who swarmed us and started calling out prices to bring us home. One man suggested 30,000won. You want to know how much it costs to get from Gangnam back to our house with hitting every red light and tacking on the 20% after midnight surcharge? 13,000 won max. We we told the cab drivers to eff off that we would only pay the meter rate, they just laughed, and we kept walking. It is no wonder there is such an issue with drunk soldiers beating up cab drivers. At least these guys said they wouldn’t take us back for the meter fee. A lot of drivers evidently just won’t start the meter and then when you get to your location, the cost is two to three times what it should be. Even P’s sponsor has had trouble with shady cab drivers. The nice things is , if you have them take you to post, they can’t do a thing to you if you get out of the car and walk through the gate. Luckily, we found a sweet old man, who brought us home at the meter rate.
We all woke up at about noon, and headed to Paris Baguette for breakfast. Okay, lunch, but it was the first meal of the day. I’m pretty sure P and I are becoming addicts. I tried the baguette pizza this time. I was in heaven. It was just onion, olive, pineapple, and various peppers for topping, but oh boy, it was delicious. The sauce was great, there was just the right amount of cheese. I have yet to find something they make that isn’t divine. Even P’s eggs benedict looked delicious and I don’t even like eggs benedict. Our guests left after that meal, and P and I promptly crawled back in bed. We woke up at 6PM, waddled down the street for pork dough balls, and waddled our way back to bed. This weekend absolutely wore us out. We slept until nine yesterday morning. So, minus about four hours out of bed on Sunday, we slept for over 24 hours.
P is gone for the week now, and I am facing a massive amount of work. Okay, not massive necessarily, but more than I care to do. BUT I do have the Newcomer’s Orientation this week, which I am thoroughly excited to attend. And I am starting a new workout regimen, which, hopefully, will be a nice substitute for spinning. The best news of all, however: It is finally starting to warm up here. Temperatures are reaching a balmy 50 degrees during the day, and I can actually leaving the house without 1400 layers.
Well, I am off to catch up on some homework. Have a great night/day, y’all!