Saturday, July 31, 2010

Drinking and Partying

Hello friends!

First off, I'm sorry. I've been really lazy lately. More than normal. So, um. yeah. It's not like we haven't done anything. We've done some things, certainly, but well...Ok.

So, in recent news, we've been working at our summer camps which is glorious! We only have to work until noon and we get paid the same. And, more often than not, we also get lunch. Usually pizza or fried chicken. And they give us breakfast-bread and muffins and honey butter. YUM! There is, of course, the problem of weight gain. During our winter camp I gained about 10 pounds; Of course I think it was coupled with learning how to make eggnog from scratch, but you know, I'm still trying to be careful. I only eat the muffin top in stead of the whole thing. :)

Great. So, what else have we been doing that has kept us away from the most read blog on the internet? Partying. Really, I feel like this past month has been constant events or parties. We've hosted a few parties, gone out for a few parties and just ended up chilling with friends until the wee hours of the morning. I think there are quite a few people who really do relish that lifestyle..but for us-we're just tired the next day and then have to take all week to recover. Although, obviously it hasn't stopped us...hmm, well, at least it's fun. However, this weekend has been somewhat mellow. After staying out until 3 on Friday, we opted to say in and watch Trueblood all day saturday and today we're going to watch musicals at a friends house.

But, I digress. Whenever you read anything about Seoul, it's referenced as a city that is awake 24 hours a day. I suppose there are other cities that are also equally caffeinated (or in the case of Seoul, drunk) but there's something more accessible to being up all night here.

One night we were just sitting at a convenience store, drinking on their patio and when we finally looked at our watch we realized it was 2am.
Another night, we were hanging out in our apartment with friends when we got the urge to go singing. We found a singing room and stayed there until 3am.
For a friends birthday we wanted to go dancing and just ended up bar hopping until 4am.

You might be saying, "Well, you could do that in any city! (not if your in Boston) So why is Seoul any different?" And while I can't speak with any real authority as I haven't partied in all the cities of the world, I can speak to the difference in Seoul to some other American cities.

1. You can drink on the street.
It's not that you see many people walking around with cans of alcohol or bottles of soju. (Unless they're foreigners-and then you can almost guarantee they're carrying booze) It's more the fact that all the convenience stores sell alcohol and almost every single one has a little table out front where you can drink it. So instead of spending 5 bucks for a drink at the bar, you can start out cheaper at the corner store.

2. Alcohol is cheap.
Ok. in all honesty, I don't mean tequila and whiskey are cheap, but beer and soju are cheap. A bottle of soju costs a dollar and Korean beer is really affordable too. Also, there's lots of bars that have cheap drink specials. There's a few that have $2 tequila shots or buckets of beverage. MM! But my favorite place has a 5 dollar cover and ladies drink FREE! Yes. FREE. This is remarkable. And wonderful considering that Jamie and I are a couple. Much cheaper for our shared income and because I'm usually there with my husband and wearing a wedding ring I don't have to spend my evening fending off drunk GIs. (well..)

3. Plenty of places to sleep
While you could certainly sleep on a park bench, you could also spend 6 dollars and sleep in the Jimjabang (Korean sauna) or you could spend $30 and sleep in a love motel.

4. Transportation is Cheap.
So, the subway stops running at midnight. (I KNOW, right?!) But you can take a taxi cab! We take about a 45 minute taxi ride and it costs us between 16 and 22 dollars. wow! And, you don't need to tip here. (although we do)

OK. so, all that being said, we don't party that often. This month has been strange for us. It's happened because we don't realize how late it is. The streets never get quiet, the buses never stop running, and the stores never close. Wow. This means, of course, that there is a fair amount of English Teachers that are here, right out of college, who party all the time-call out sick because of hangovers and spend all their money on partying. We don't do that. This month has just been...summertime I guess.

Anyway, we miss you all. We'd love to be partying with you.

Interesting things about Korea.
This addition focuses on drinking.

Koreans drink FAST. I mean, like 5 shots in five minutes-and it's not just the 20somethings. All ages. I think Americans settle into one establishment and get big glasses or beer or a mixed beverage. Koreans will visit many places in a night and eat and drink at each one. So they drink fast and continuously while they're in one place but have some time while they transition. Also, the beverage of choice is Soju.

As I mentioned above, everyone drinks, not just the young people. In fact, if you are the oldest-or the highest authority-in a group, it's customary for you to take a shot with each member of the group. Jamie watched his principal take a shot with every teacher in a group-almost 20 people!

Customs and Politeness:
We're still trying to learn all this-it's all new. I'm sure there are some I'm forgetting.
  • It's rude to take your shot facing an elder. Turn your head to the side to take the shot.
  • People (elders usually) will give you their own shot glass, you take a shot with it and then hand it back to them so they can take a shot with it.
  • It's rude to fill your own glass. If you need a refill, fill someone else's and they'll do the same for you.
  • Don't top off. Wait until the glass is empty.
  • When filling a glass pour with two hands and when getting your glass filled hold your glass with two hands.
  • If someone older or of a higher authority comes to have a shot with you, stand up.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quick Update

Hello! It has been a while since the last posting, so we'll do our best to catch up. We haven't embarked on any major adventures in the past month, but we've been keeping ourselves busy nonetheless!
One of the most exciting things is our new air conditioner - please take a look at the pictures, the thing is literally as tall as a refrigerator and has two parts. Well, we're excited about it now, we'll see how excited we are once we see our electric bill for the month! That being said, we feel that since we spent so little on heating this year, we can splurge a bit and life of chilly bliss this summer. Seriously, we could keep a penguin in our room...maybe even a shopping penguin!

Lets see...what else is new in the lives of Jamie and Shannon? Well, we've discovered a couple of board game cafes in the city. Word is that these were really popular in Seoul a few years back, but most places have gone under. The two we have visited are pretty amazing. You pay an hourly fee per person and are free to use all the board games they have, and they have a pretty great collection. They even have a board game "menu", but it is in Korean so not much help to us, but we like the idea nonetheless. Of course you can get snacks and beverages too.

OH and how could I forget World Cup soccer! We thoroughly enjoyed being in a country that actually cares about soccer during the tournament, and it was also really cool to have two teams to root for. We managed to catch almost all of the South Korean games and the USA games (with the exception of the two that were aired at 3:30AM our time). We did stay up for the USA Ghana game, which was also at 3:30, and ended up going to bed at about 6:00AM. We had a little foreigner fan club going for each of the games and I really developed an appreciation for the sport, I can't remember ever really liking soccer until this World Cup!

Wait a second, it really HAS been a while since our last post! We did go on a little trip during Buddha's Birthday weekend. This was around May 21st (Buddha's B-day) I'll recount the week, it was pretty exciting! First off, there was a lantern festival in downtown Seoul. It was probably the longest parade I've ever seen. There were thousands of people just marching with lanterns, alongside groups of dancers, huge paper floats (including animatronic fire-breathing peacocks!), and some international Buddhist communities. Amazingly we managed to snag front row seats, too!

We then made a trip to an island called Muido in the east sea, near the country's major airport. We had intended on staying the weekend, but we forgot to bring enough cash to get us through the entire time (no credit cards or ATMs!). We weren't too disappointed, as the sea retreats a couple kilometers at low tide leaving a massive mudflat for a view. Not that appealing, actually! We did enjoy the daytrip, though, and we were accompanied by some of Shannon's Korean co-teachers and we had a nice time hanging out with them.

We decided to count our losses and just head back down to the coastal city we were a little more familiar with, Pusan. This was our second time visiting Pusan and this time we opted for an ocean side motel (still super cheap). We got in a solid beach day and had some beautiful weather. There were probably more westerners at the beach than Koreans, and it was very easy to tell them apart. Most westerners were sunbathing while most Koreans were hiding under umbrellas and were fully clothed. Our guess is that, while it was a beautiful day, it wasn't technically summer yet and therefore most Koreans were not opting for summer wear. Culturally, there are many different things that fit with each season, so our guess was that beach clothing may be one of them. But who knows!

While in Pusan we found our way to a Westerner owned bar that was having a trivia night! As a trivia fan, I was quite excited and we actually had a really fun time hanging out with other foreigners there. Shannon managed to get us invited to go sailing the following day, but accidentally gave the guy her number instead of mine (she'd left her phone back in Seoul). But that is OK, the following day we had our own adventure in store. After downing a delicious meal of Japanese style kebabs, we went to a two man play called "Stones from His Pockets". We ended up being the only two people in the audience! Instead of just buying us a drink and saying ,"Sorry, its crazy to do a show for two people", they went on with it anyways! Let me tell you, there is a lot of pressure being the only people in an audience. You are solely responsible for all audience reactions, laughing, sighing, heckling. It was pretty intense. A really good show though, and we actually bumped into one of the actors a few weeks later in Seoul. While he agreed the experience had been awkward, he said it was actually one of their best performances so I guess we must been a pretty good audience after all.

So that was our Buddha B-day weekend. Since then we have also: gone to a music festival in the foreigner/ Army base area (very much fun), celebrated several birthdays (also in the foreigner area - we also found a Western country style bar called the Grand Ole' Opry where they encourage line dancing!), attended a two day international breakdancing competition, and had a very nice 4th of July barbeque.

OK, I know. We've been busy after all.

And what is coming up on our radars, you ask? Well, both of our schools are just finishing up their finals for the semester...but there is still two more weeks of school left (strange, I know). We will both be working at district English summer camps (we'll be at different ones, though). We know the drill however, as these camps will be very similar to camps we ran in Winter. We know our staff and the setup down pat, and its honestly a pretty sweet deal. We only teach till about noon each day and then we are home free. So three weeks of half days! Word is though, that this will be during monsoon season and its also been getting mighty hot/humid around here.

What's after camp, you ask? Well we have a little bit of time off before school starts (a little more than a week), so we may be heading off to Japan! Our itinerary is currently a blank slate, though, so if you've got suggestions let us know!

AND, for your viewing pleasure, Shannon and Jamie (mostly Shannon) have been busy putting their creative skills to use. Check out our videos! Most are for teaching purposes, but all are pretty funny/cute. Our real video camera died, though, so forgive the camera quality.

Interesting things about Korea:

Samguk Kimbap (this one's in video form!)