Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Shopping And Party!

We went to bed around 6am Saturday morning after our Friday partying. We slept for a while, probably till noon. For lunch, we grabbed pizzas from the nearby Pizza Etang, my fiancee's usual pizza place. It has a good taste and is a happy place and makes you have a great satisfaction.

Anyhow, we headed off to Yongsan, the area with the electronics markets, and looked around a bit. I was there last time I came to Korea, and it's basically full 5-6 story departments stores filled with stalls selling phones, camera's, mp3 players, computers, and other hardware. Most of the group was relatively uninterested though, as the prices were not really cheaper than here. You can certainly find a deal, plus you can haggle them a tad, but unless you sink some time into it, you're not going to find a huge deal. I was interested in seeing the laptops, but I wasn't seriously going to buy one as I was watching my spending and also they all had Asian keyboards with the small spacebar and such. A huge department store of electronics with whole floors devoted to camera and cell phones was a tad impressive though.

Outside of the market was a water fountain that cascades down the building's steps. We debated how many children slip and fall to their death yearly, but there was little consensus. It's good for pictures though.

Nearby was the red light district, so we walked through, seeing the buildings with their glass window displays and their occupants. It was fairly quiet considering it was early afternoon. My fiancee made a few attempts at some covert pictures, as the older pimp-like women really frown upon cameras for some reason. She snagged one, from a distance with zoom. Her other attempt was to hold the camera to her ear and pretend she was talking on a cellphone, taking the shot at an angle. It didn't work so well.

The successful covert shot, and then the not-so-much shot

From here we went to Myeong-dong, one of the clothes shopping areas. My fiancee wanted a few things, Daniel was still looking for good Konglish shirts, and Branko was still on the lookout for a purse for his sister. One of the greatest things that I had my last trip to Myeong-dong was this twisty fried potato on a stick. It was yummy so I wanted another (which showed up this year in Canada at the CNE called Potato Tornadoes). There were also 12 inch ice cream cones, which we each had. My fiancee wanted to do a little shopping, but Adam was starting to crash, so the two of us stayed in the area while Adam, Daniel, and Branko went back home to rest and get ready for the evening.

The crowds of Myeong-dong

Food! And more crowds.

Potato sticks! And ice cream!

The greatest sports store. And some sort of mascot for something.

When we got back we found that they had done the resting part but not much else. So, while they started getting ready, we went to the awesome nearby Fried Chicken place, Oh My Chicken, and grabbed food for us all. It is so good, and this chicken is one of the things I will miss most about Korea. It's that good.
So tasty!

The evening was to involve drinking in Itaewon, so we headed off. The first place was a bar call Polly's Kettle, at the top of "Hooker Hill" (the foreigner area you see is not particularly classy). It was not the best looking bar, but they have drink specials called "Soju Kettles". They are basically soju mixed with Tang and servered in a 2 litre plastic coke bottle with the top sliced off. Like I said, not a classy area, but oh so cheap and very tasty. It's like drinking juice.

The club was featuring only Michael Jackson songs for the first bit of the night, showing the associated music videos with a wall projector (song after song). My fiancee and I got the dance floor going (whoo Michael Jackson!). There was one really really drunk girl dancing really really suggestively in a really really short skirt (short black skirt + white underwear + black light = not class). We couldn't decide if she was a prostitute who had wandered into the bar, or just an incredibly drunk (or high) girl. Again, not the classiest of areas. After a bit though they switched the music to some full-on hip-hop and the bulk of the bar's population took to the floor. The entire bar started dancing when the Cupid Shuffle came on. That songs a big hit in Korea.

My fiancee and I then left the bar for a bit for a little Korean tradition of hers. She and a friend of hers usually grab a beer from a convenience store and drink it on the street before going back to the bar ($ convience store < $ bar). What can I say, we're cheap. On our way, we saw that really really drunk girl leaving one of the side building where the prostitutes do their trade and throw something at a guy on the street, before being ushered inside by an old woman, which put the questions out of our mind (really really drunk girl = prostitute). Shortly after we got back, the crew decided it was time to move on. Hongdae = More class!

When we got to Hongdae, we got cocktails in a bag! This is a genius invention of Korea, a place where drinking on the street is allowed. Little stands sell you mixed drinks, and they give them to you in a zip-lock bag with straws!

We hit up Ska 2, the empty bar from Thursday night. It was far from empty on a Saturday. Jam-packed and hot but the dancing and music was good. Nothing very exciting happened though, just lots of dancing.

After a while my fiancee and I left to run down the street so she could show me her formerly favourite bar, Bar Boom. Bar Boom had good atmosphere, good music, and used to have a all-you-can-drink for three hours wristband for $10. They unfortunately dropped the wristband just a few weeks before our trip and now no one went to the place (though they still have cheap drinks, just not insanely cheap). We went in and there were only 4 people in the bar having a conversation at one of the tables at the back. We each ordered a beer, made two song requests of the DJ, danced, and then left.

We got back to Ska 2 and ordered a shawarma from the cart outside and ran into Adam, Branko and a few of my fiancee's friends leaving the bar. They were tired and done with Ska 2. Adam and Branko decided to grab a cab home. The rest of us went next door to Go Go's. We danced there for a while and at about 4:30 we took off and cabbed home ourselves. We got home and crashed, waking up an hour or two later when Daniel (who had stayed at Ska 2 earlier in the night), got home after crashing in a PC Bang for another hour and then taking the first subway. We all slept. Another classic Korean club night.
From Daniel's camera. Leaving the subway early morning

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday: Part 2 - The Evening

We got back to the apartment after the mountain quite sweaty and fairly tired. A round of showers, some laundry, and some napping made up the afternoon. When the evening hit, we went out for our night on the town.

Look at these GQMFs

The plan was to go to Itaewon with a number of other English teachers for some Shabu-shabu (hot pot!). Sadly though the restaurant turned out to be tiny and unable to fit really even half of us. So we went to a nearby Indian restaurant and, due to the group's size, spilt tables with us at the one and all of the teachers at the other. It was tasty tasty food. The nan was awesome and the biryani came in the shape of a heart (awww). Everything else was good too.

We drank our usual beer with Soju mixed in. After dinner, many of the teachers were heading off to Hongdae, but we took a trip elsewhere. Our destination was a bar in Apgujeong called Monkey Beach, a Thai bar with buckets of mixed drinks and live fire shows! We got there and they were actually checking id at the door (never seen this in Korea). This was bad for Adam, as he lost his in the ocean at mudfest. However we sorta milled around the bouncer and took our time pulling out ids and stuff and Adam was able to just walk in with me unquestioned.

Once inside we hit the bar and got ourselves our drink buckets. The bartender must have liked my fiancee as we saw him put 8 or 9 shots into the two buckets she ordered for us. Daniel on the other hand only got 3 or 4, found the drink rather crappy, and quickly switched to beer.


We danced for a bit. The place was kinda wild with people dancing on the long tables in the center of the room. It was fun though. Branko disappeared, dancing with a girl for a while, and the rest of us lined up a spot to watch the fire show. It was pretty good. The guy spun burning chains and staffs and stuff around to a barrage or dance and trace beats. Impressive. Afterwards there was a basketball shootout to win bottles of booze. A few of us got in line and my fiancee just missed. Branko rejoined us and we left the bar to meet up with everyone else in Hongdae.

When we got outside, it started to rain fairly heavily. The subway wasn't too far, so we ran for it. Branko wasn't pleased though, he hates being caught in the rain, and kept asking if we could just get a cab. He offered to pay for the whole ride himself, and even said he'd pay double, but we were so close we just went to the station. A subway trip later we were in Hongdae.

Branko doesn't like the rain and is dangerously close to Buzz Kill Zone

I however have no problems being wet.

We met up with everyone at a bar called Jane's Groove. It wasn't particularly crowded, but it was still early. They had a cover to get in that was a tad higher than what we like to pay, but they gave out a free drink ticket with it so we were cool. Plus, they accidentally gave some of us a second ticket. Sweetness! We danced for a while and the crowd stated to get a bit bigger.

Branko owning the Jane's Groove dance floor.

Eventually we left and went to Go Go's and danced there for a while. Here we lost Branko, as he went off to party with people he had met at Jane's Groove. There were some interesting characters in the crowd, including, inexplicably, some guy with a tiger head.

Tiger head? I don't get it.

Hey, where did Branko go?

As the night went on, the place started to clear out a little after 3am. We left after they played Bohemian Rhapsody , clearly an end of night song (though they weren't closing yet). After Go Go's my fiancee and I split a shawarma from a street vendor. The shawarmas in Korea seem to be called kabobs (even if it is in fact shawarma), and aren't particularly amazing (especially when compared to Scarborough shawarma). We ate and then went to Norae Bang! The place we went to is a luxury Norae Bang (though no more expensive) in the middle of the clubs. It has glass walls on the front of the building, letting you see the singers inside having fun, and letting the singers see out into the Hongdae crowds. We got a room without a glass wall and queued up quite a few songs. I sang for a while and then Adam and I passed out while the others continued.

At about 5am, we left and went to the subway to catch the first train home. We found Branko sitting outside of the apartment with stories to tell. A classic Korean foreigner party night.

The tired trip home

And here's Branko!