So we haven’t done much in terms of seeing the city or experiencing the culture lately. But what we have done is made wonderful new friends, eaten amazing food, slowly turn our apartment into a home.
On Friday (Day 31), P and I met in Itaewon, the “trendy foreigner” area of Seoul. I caught a ride with one of my new friends, and it was my first time going into Seoul in a regular car. Let me tell you, that made me want a car even less. My friend introduced me to another of her friends: the most adorable Colombian you will ever meet. I swear everyone I meet is sweeter than the last. It is pretty awesome to be making such great friends.
Ok, I got a little off topic there. Back to Friday: P and I met in Itaewon (he rode the subway in from where he had been all week). It was a very cold night after a long week of very nice weather, and neither of us were prepared for the cold. I actually wore cute shoes out for once!! We met with a friend we had met on Day 2, whose wife just flew in last week (hurray for reunited couples!). At this point she had not had a traditional Korean meal! So while P and I were feeling empanadas from that Paraguayan restaurant we mentioned before, we knew this woman needed some beef and leaf in her life. (I’m pretty sure I’ve posted about beef and leaf before, but if not: Beef and leaf is a large meal of grilled meats wrapped in lettuce with various side dishes, sauces, rice, etc. It is pretty good, but P and I feel it’s never quite worth the trip for us since we aren’t huge kimchi fans. Often it’s just not enough meat for us.)
We ordered a plate of sliced pork (why hello Korean bacon — Yum!), and beef ribs. I was freezing so I got a very delicious spicy beef soup. One of the side dishes was baby crabs covered in some sort of amazing red sauce. It was pretty cool. None of us had eaten anything quite like that since coming to Korea.
After dinner, we walked around the area and just checked out what bars are in the area, and got lemon squares and pies from one of my favorite bakeries here!
****Disclaimer**** there are pictures below with semi-inappropriate names.
It turns out Friday does not count as a weekend when it comes to the bus schedule. P & I ended up taking the subway home. The subway is about a 10 minute drive from our apartment. Usually, we will wait for a bus, but sometimes when it’s cold and late we will spent the extra 1000 won and take a cab home. Well for some reason, a lot of taxi drivers think they can take advantage of Americans after dark. They all think that they can charge more than the meter price of the taxi. I’m sorry bucko, but I don’t need your services that badly. Yes, I will walk before I allow a cab driver to rip me off. As P & I waited for the bus, the cab driver eventually realized that he was losing out on a costumer and eventually came down to the meter price.
Saturday, P & I were planning on checking out some palaces but completely overslept. We ended up joining our new friends to see the movie Tron. It was much better than I was expecting, and P was excited because he got to see the movie. I guess he had been wanting to see it for awhile, but didn’t think I would be interested so he never mentioned it on any of our movie dates back home. I think I want to be Cora for Halloween, and it made me want an edgy haircut. Just gotta let it grow a little first!
Oh, forgot to mention! Before the movie, we had a little time on our hands, and were staving. I had been dying for pizza (good pizza, not Pizza Hut–I eat way too much Pizza Hut). Well there’s a little place in Itaewon called The Pizza Peel. Well it turns out, the pizza parlor is owned by a Canadian. He came here to teach English four years ago and never left. It was a way cool atmosphere. He had a Wall-E action figure on the counter, a chalkboard menu, David Letterman on the TV. Best of all, though, he had stacks of books: How Koreans Communicate, Digital Photography, tour guides; basically, a huge variety of neat books on the culture and on traveling in general. We ordered a “Texas Ranger” pizza: BBQ, bacon, cheddar and swiss cheese. And, boy, it was AWESOME!
Ok, back to after the movie: We finally got our empanadas. Yum! And we discovered Rotiboy! Rotiboy is a coffee shop and bakery that stands for “sincerity, honesty, and intefrity.” Yes, that is right ladies and gentlemen, intefrity. We’ve noticed that there is little to no proof reading this country, which makes for some pretty interesting signs and shop names.
It was very surprising to bite into the “Rotiboy” and discover it has a hollow inside filled with butter! Yum. I was expecting fluffy and sweet, and it had a nice crunch and saltiness to it.
Friday and Saturday nights we had very enjoyable and relaxing food filled fun. We made a number of new friends this weekend,who are already proving to be amazing (I hope we can keep up!).
Sunday, P had to return to Camp Whatever, and I had to make a trip to Gimpo to pick up our new rice cooker (!!!). I had no idea how long it would take me to get to Gimpo, so I left with P and rode the subway with him until we had to switch lines (we are southeast of the city, P was going northeast, and I was going west of the city). Sunday was also our first day of Korean rain. It was very rainy, and with that, very cold. The station where we parted, was a fairly open train station. Only a small awning over each platform. P’s train arrived first, so I snuck over to the vending machine after he left (remember, I eat like a four year old when he’s not around). Korean vending machines are pretty cool: You have to punch in what you want BEFORE you put in your money. It was almost a little stressful, having to decide what I wanted first (not that I don’t usually, but that the machine required my decision first amped up the pressure a bit)! I decided on what looked to me like Korean chocolate Hit cookies. They were thoroughly delicious. After about a cookie and a half, combined with my Snapple I had stashed in my backpack, I had a pretty gnarly sugar tummy ache going on. But it was definitely worth it!
Two train changes later and I arrived safe and sound in Gimpo. It’s actually a pretty happening area. There were tons of different bars and restaurants (Irish, French, Texan, Elvis, burger joints). I was very surprised by the variety. In addition to the variety, they also still had a lot of the small town butcher shops, fruit markets on a big chunk of side walk, etc. I wish I had taken more pictures, but it was cold and windy, and I did not want my hands out of my pockets for long!
I stopped in a home goods type store for band-aids. I think I wore funky socks or something, but I had rubbed my leg raw in the two hours I walked around that little town. As I was walking away, the manager hollered for me to come back, and handed me an umbrella (I had put mine in my backpack, because I got tired of fighting the wind). It was very sweet. She actually tried to brush the water off of me as she handed me the umbrella. It was a wonderful reminder of just how kind most people are here.
I wondered my way back to the subway where I was meeting the lady for the rice cooker (and it’s awesome, btw). I got there a bit early, but I had a book, and there was a 7/11 with baked goods nearby. Well I got the most amazing little corn shaped icing-less eclair bite sized pastry things. They were amazing. And only 2000won! I handed the lady 3000 (I saw it on the sign, along with a few other prices, so I thought that’s how much they were). This woman actually chased me down to give me back my 1000won. Once again, I am amazed by the kindness I see here. The likelihood of this happening back home over a dollar seems slim.
After the rice cooker exchange, I hopped the subway home. I got back into our neighborhood after dark, and by that point, my leg hurt pretty badly so I opted to take a cab from the subway station instead of the bus. Once again, I ran into a jerk face cab driver. I didn’t even mention the base, just gave him our neighborhood name. He responded with, “[Base name], how much?” Me “No, not [base], neighborhood, meter price.” He then had the nerve to laugh at me, and say no to the meter price. That’s okay, buddy, there’s a line of cabs behind you, and a bus on it’s way. You just lost yourself a tipping American. I cannot wait until I know Korean, so I can call these guys assholes in their own language (I know that’s a little rude, but I am really sick of these jerks who think they can rip off Americans). So I got out of this man’s taxi, and went to the next one. The driver was an older gentleman, and very very kind. He asked me as we drove away, “What wrong with taxi?” pointing to the original cab. I told him the driver wanted more than the meter price. I didn’t understand all of it, but the taxi driver then went on about he can’t stand shady taxi drivers. He was really quite sweet.
Overall, it was a great weekend (and this week has been pretty darn good, too). P met one of our downstairs neighbors tonight. I came home at about 2 this afternoon to her singing karaoke. At 9 when P was getting ready for bed, he went downstairs and asked them to turn it down. Yes, our neighbor was singing for at least 8 hours today. Turns out she’s this teeny tiny old Filipino woman. How cute!
Well, I am off to bed. Good night, world. Below are a few random photos that have nothing to do with anything really.