Two new people – Sidney and Esther arrived at our centre this week. Its been around 8 months since we had anyone new who didnt already live in Korea, and its made me realize just how much this city has become part of me. I cant imagine not knowing what I know now. Not knowing the simple facts you need to know to exist in this city is such an alien concept to me that I cant even imagine it anymore. I guess moving to Dublin is going to seem strange!
I cant imagine not knowing that trying to pay for a drink when partying with Koreans is like trying to scratch that point on your back you just cant quite reach. I would never even contemplate riding the subway between 8 and 9am for any purpose other than relieving severe constipation and the idea of the Berlitz block shift is consigned to the area of my brain where it rightfully belongs (mythology – somewhere alongside the Lochness monster). I think Im only now realizing how much Ive taken Seoul to heart, and how much Korean culture despite my ineptness at the language and its numerous irritations has become part of my very being. Fortunately, I have a weeklong holiday now to make the most of it.
What better was can there be to start a much needed vacation than drinking with a construction company? GS and construction companies on the whole have a reputation in Korea for drinking unbelievable quantities in lavish venues until its the inside of their heads that needs construction work. Ive been teaching GS for ten hours a week for the past five months, though, so it was about time I accepted one of their dangerous offers and played the sacrificial English-speaking lamb.
The night started at a slow pace: beer and snacks in an up market beer bar. This was swiftly followed by one of the places that give this company such a ridiculous reputation, however. Secret Garden is a basement bar in the centre of Koreas biggest business district that serves only whisky, and only at ludicrously expensive prices.
Amongst other things the five of us put down a bottle of 15-year-old Glenfiddich (in bars in Seoul thatll set you back at least $300 personally I dont event think it tastes that special, but you just dont turn that kind of thing down!) which the model-standard bar maids share whilst doing a very good impression of someone whos genuinely upset when you say you have a girlfriend (maybe convention dictates the only answer to that question is no, but theres no way Im playing that game ) Worryingly, while the rest of us were getting progressively more wobbly on our bar stools, the bar maid didnt seem to so much as slur her well spoken English. Who know what kind of state the poor girls liver is in. Only in Korea!
We finished the night in a third place supping on Guinness (the argument being I need to get used to it before I go to Ireland) and discussing the teams intention to take me to see FC Seoul, justifying me to their directors as a VIP. Whilst I have my doubts about the schemes success, seeing as it doesnt involve me lifting a finger and it would be great fun, Im quite happy to let them try.
Its Saturday, I dont have to work for 9 DAYS! Luxury beyond belief. Im going back to bed to contemplate the Seoul experience and nurse my whisky-soaked head.
PS Booked flights to Taipei and Tokyo this week some last minute Asian travel before the trip back to Europe. Im looking into Qingdao too, as some of the pictures look amazing. All just two day weekend trips, but two days is better than none at all :).