My previous flowery aside covered a mere few minutes of a frantic long weekend here in Seoul. This extended overture will deal with the rest. Up until now – though I don’t doubt that I’ve made the most of my time here – weekends have had to be a time of rest, at least to some extent. It’s the only way to deal with the hours. Now, however, ‘I’m tired’ is just not an acceptable reason not to do anything, so this weekend was an all out, action packed piece of unmitigated pleasure.
Thursday night seemed the perfect chance to launch a huge gathering on Hongdae. My favourite party district (I’d go so far as to say in the world, which is saying something) always comes to life before a public holiday, and Thursday was no exception. Having persuaded a fairly large and eclectic group to hit the town, the predictable carnage began. Flavoured beer bars, necking bottles of liquor in the park (which functions as nothing but Hongdae’s cheapest bar and live music venue) and a quite appalling piece of singing room action bought us to 6am, and a Friday morning in bed.
By the time I dragged myself out of bed on Friday it was early afternoon and time for some home cooked food (not often I have the time or inclination to cook!) and some screen golf. Koreans suffer from the unfortunate combination of a golf fixation and a country with an extremely small area of flat land. The end result is a huge host of hilly, green-net driving ranges and this hilariously entertaining concept: screen golf.
The games take place in a room that’s a little like a large lounge, with a 30-odd ft screen at the front, a strange machine that feeds balls remotely onto the adjustable tee and – for some unfathomable reason – a wheeled golf bag complete with golf shoes and gloves. Hitting balls a the huge screen just doesn’t seem to get old, though I was predictably useless, scoring the maximum double par for every one of the nine holes we got around. I may even have to give it another go before we leave, just to get past that abysmal record!
Friday night was, to some extent, a tour of duty. I headed to Itaewon for a long overdue viewing of my friend Jason’s band, which despite their stunningly stupid name (‘the decadent gonads’ ) were really quite an impressive act. Jason, who is the lead singer, behaves like quite a nutter on stage, he’s so into the music that he just relentless leaps about the place, and looks like he could use a shower and a sedative by the end of it all. I excuse myself around 1am to prepare for yet another big one the following night.
Saturday was the final day of the baseball season, and despite my oddly heartfelt support for the blue half of Seoul (weird considering my football allegiance), I couldn’t resist the party that would accompany LG (the red half’s) final game. Bottom of the table LG surprised even their own fans by turning over third place Lotte, and everyone celebrated by releasing a huge number of balloons into the air and tying inflated orange plastic bags to their heads. As you do.
After the game we headed for Hongdae round two, drank some yoghurt Soju (quite possibly the best drink ever) and watched some great live bands.
Throw in the bungee jumping and Sunday night five a side football, and this was probably the most ridiculously over busy weekend I’ve ever had in Seoul.
I’ve binged on this city this weekend, soaked up every last ounce of what it has to offer me and left myself in a muddled, aching mess at the front of the classroom. My souvenir Taegugki flag is starting to look so smothered in signatures it’s ceasing to be beautiful, but also becoming ever more meaningful to me. It’s all one big emotional rollercoaster that I plan to ride over and over again for the next two weeks. I just wouldn’t have it any other way!
Next up: Tokyo.