Friday, September 4, 2009

Natural male enhancement

Bokbunja is one of the most interesting items I have encountered since my arrival in Korea. I first encountered it when a guy from work used a big jug of it to mix with soju this last weekend. From the picture, I had just assumed it was raspberry juice (something I had never tried), but it turns out it is much, much more. This magical juice is made from a species of rubus berries. As stated by Wikipedia, “Rubus is a large genus of flowering plants in the rose family.” Raspberries and blackberries both belong to this genus, but bokbunja is made from rubus coreanus, also known as the “Korean black raspberry”. This berry is native to Japan, China, and Korea, and is believed to have the ability to increase a man’s virility on a number of levels, most of them sexual. It’s not an uncommon drink, by any means, but it’s common to draw lots of giggles from any girls who happen to see you slugging a bottle of it. All I can say is, regardless of its effects on my man parts, it is super delicious and I plan to drink a few bottles a week.
Wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kenny Rogers is a Wise Man

I made plans this last weekend to go out and kick it with a couple other native teachers from work and two of the Korean teachers. We’d settled on going out Saturday night for some drinks followed by (you guessed it!) norae bang. We started off heading back to the Cave Bar for more scientifically measured beer. It was even better the second time! I even ended up doing a little soju bomb in honor of the fans back home.

Technically, if you mix soju and beer (mekju) it’s called somek, but I contend that if you drop it into a glass it’s still a bomb. The best part of the Cave Bar was that it ended up being 20% off! There was a random company holiday and tables were allowed to draw a random bonus to their night, and I ended up pulling the second best one! There was a 30% off one, too, but I’m not complaining.
We ended up kickin’ it with the Canadian couple from my work over at their sweet pad just down the road. It was fun to just hang out with people and be able to shoot the shit outside of work. An hour or so later we made our way en masse to a sweet norae bang that ended up being 2,000 won a person (~$1.60).
In Japan, karaoke is charged by the person by the hour, so a group of 10 people would still have to pay around 700 yen (~$7.55) each for an hour of all-you-can-drink awesomeness. Here, they charge by the room, so a place that costs 20,000 won an hour will only cost each person 2,000 won. Oh, and there’s no alcohol. You can buy beer at some places, but it’s overpriced and nothing in comparison to the nomihoudai I had grown accustomed to.
After singing for over an hour, I had done my best to convince people we should go and check out the local nightclub. Imagine my surprise when we get there and they refuse our entrance because there are too many white people. Needless to say, I was super pissed. It was the first time I’d been denied entry anywhere, plus what the fuck?! A couple of the other teachers were much less surprised than I and assured me it happens in a lot of places outside of the greater Seoul area. I was so tempted to go up and punch the doorman right in the face. On the plus side, it helped fuel my interest in Korean language so I can at least handle the situation next time with some tact and make sure I know the right cuss words to utter under my breath.
All in all, it was a good night. We decided to go bowling instead of the shitty local club, and I had a great time. I’ve been listening to Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” a lot recently, and I think his words apply here:

You got to know when to hold’em,
Know when to fold’em,
Know when to walk away and,
Know when to run.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Is that a stalactite?

Yesterday, after work, me and a few people went out to this bar over by where the other foreign teachers live. They called it the "cave bar", and that is a perfectly accurate description of the place. First off, we had to descend into the stairwell that housed its entrance, and from that point on everything was styled to look like the inside of a cave. The design was plastic and had a sheen to it but it created a really nice atmosphere. One of the guys brought along a Korean girl he'd met last weekend, Jane, and she was a total Godsend when it came to the menu.
Most menus in both South Korea and Japan have tons of pictures in them to entice the sutomer to buy things. Imagine if nearly every menu were as colorful as that of an I-Hop or Denny's. However, the bar scene is another story. Neither Japanese izakaya nor Korean pubs have pictures on their menus. This isn't a big problem, for the most part, but it does restrict a person from being able to try anything new.
Okay, back on point. I had eaten some delicious beef steak pizza earlier for dinner, so I wasn't interested in any bar food. The coolest thing that DID manage to catch my attention was the graduated cylinder filled with 3 liters of beer for 11,000 won (roughly $8.80). The tube looked like something out of a chem lab and had a stopper so we could dispense drinks at our leisure. It was really nice to be able to find a new location for some night time fun since it's hard to get around if you can't tell the cab driver's the name of where you want to go (duh). After kicking it for a while, my work buddy Ryan and I talked about how much we'd love to see some Korean theater sometime, and we agreed to let each other know if anything comes up. In case you didn't know, I'm a big fan of the performing arts. I've already experienced traditional Korean dances and music. It only follows suit that "the stage" is next. Time to do some research.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Lost Chicken

Hokay, so…
I just got back from a 2 ½ hour romp looking for some chicken. It only took me about 45 minutes to find a place, but then I got lost on my way back. I can’t wait to get a phone with some GPS on there. I sort of meandered down the streets at 8:30 on a Sunday night looking for a sign with a chicken on it. After I found one, I ordered a delicious saucy chicken set (set me back $15 since it’s for a couple people normally, but I was Jones’in’), and I was ready for it.
However, I did not keep track of how far in either direction I’d walked and I found myself going down some very unfamiliar streets. Luckily enough, I found a sweet little arcade and was able to throw down in a little Drum Mania. A couple teenage boys there watched me, asked me where I was from and we helped me out as much as they could with their limited English. I followed there directions but still ended up nowhere. I caved and took a cab the last kilometer. On the plus side, I was able to remember what “station” was in Korean!
Adventuring isn’t all fun and games.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Some new friends

Last night I went out with the other new person, Allyson, to kick it with a friend of hers who is also teaching English over here. His name is Jona (like saying Jonathon but stopping short) and he had some cool friends and a 360 with Rock Band. Needless to say, I was more than excited to make his acquaintance. After the 20 or so minute walk to get to his place (not bad around here) we ended up heading over for some norae bang (Korean karaoke). Before we went, I decided to get some soju and a chaser. Not a bad move considering half a liter of it costs 1350 won (little over $1) and it’s 40 proof. For around $2 I was set for the night. Definitely one of the perks of the country.
Another plus was that Jona had some really cool friends who I was happy to make the acquaintance of. Although there are other foreigners out and about it is difficult to find a situation in which you can actually get to know each other. Luckily, I was able to make few new friends. We rocked it out at Jona’s place until around 6am when I was exhausted and everyone decided to meander back to their homes. I have to say it was a very successful night.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Early bird gets the spatula

Woke up full of energy at 4am today. The weather was overcast and shitty, so I made breakfast, watched a couple episodes of Rob and Big and got dressed to go adventuring. First thing I did? Went downstairs and bought myself an umbrella. Ten bucks at the convenience store, and right downstairs, so I'm not complaining. I decided to walk down to the train station and get myself a little electronic pass yo use on the trains and busses. I'm going to do my best to make it over to Seoul this weekend. Word of warning: nowhere in Korea is open until sometime after 8am apparently. That's definitely something I gotta get used to. Can't find early morning food very well.
Ah well! I gotta go buy a spatula from a cooking wares store I found and try to get one of the transit passes, too. Wish me luck~

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Word Association

Sitting outside on my balcony, looking down at the bottom, I thought about how I’d be able to survive the fall. Seven stories onto the dirt below. I bet I could figure something out.
The next thoughts that flooded my mind were memories of driving down the 101 when I was a kid. I can remember driving along the coast with my brother sitting next to me. He’s in US Marines right now, so he’s certifiable, but back then I took care of him everywhere we went, and he used to be scared of a lot of things. Now, when we were driving down the highway I used to have to trade seats with him depending on which way we were going so that he couldn’t see out the window over the side of the road since the cliffsides scared the hell out of him. I can remember his little crying face looking at me, worried to death that he was going to fall out and die. Sometimes I miss those days when we would go everywhere and do everything together. He was a great kid and he’s a good little man, now.
Miss you, homie.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's pronounced "no-ray bong"

Finally got out to go singing last night, and it was awesome. Went with a few people from work, including the other new teacher and one of the Korean staff. He showed us to this place that had a really nice set-up. It was pretty pricey as far as Korea is concerned at $25/hour for the room. Fortunately there were five of us, so it worked out to be about $5 a pop. That is, until the one guy who didn't have money decided he needed some beer. He walks out and comes back in a minute later with 5 beers without really asking the rest of us. I mean, I thought it was an alirght idea, except I ended up having to drink most of it since they guy split 20 minutes after he'd ordered. It ended up tacking another $7 on top of the bill for each of us. Poor form, sir.
The person I was most happy to hang out with was Greg, an older man who had been in korea for a while and loved to share. He could honestly answer the questions I had without any of the BS filter some of the Korean teachers used. All in all, it was a good night.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My First Thoughts

So here I am, sitting in my new studio apartment, thinking about how much free time I have to myself. It’s pretty incredible, to be honest. Jet-lag aside, I will normally have the better part of daylight to do whatever I please until I head off to work at 2pm every day. Plus, if my vision and instincts prove correct, I’m living less than a block away from work. Pretty cool set-up. Oh, did I mention my apartment is fantastic? It’s a standard studio apartment with my bedroom area up a little staircase under which my kitchen and washing machine sits. It’s more room than I have ever had to myself before. It could use a small bookcase and maybe a desktop organizer, but I’m not complaining in the least! I can already imagine how cool it’s going to be in the winter living here. Right now, however, it’s humid as balls. A mere 70-90% humidity throughout the day for the entire 10-day forecast. Nothing I can’t get used to, but sleeping last night was a pain in the ass. I was excited to find upon my initial entry into Brighton Ville (my building) that there was an elevator. My last stay in Korea was plagued with buildings just under the height regulation to mandate an elevator. Did I mention how much I hate stairs?
I’m really excited for my first work-experience at Avalon. Another foreign teacher (we’re the foreigners here) is going to come get me in a few hours. I’ll be sure to tell you how things go.