September 22, 2008

Korean Cafes and Downtown Yeoju

I had my first experience with Korean cafes on the way home from the Temple Stay. I parenthetically mentioned this in the Temple Stay entry, but what happened was one of the co-teachers doing the Yeoju English Stars camp with us offered to drive us home after we all ate and drank after the camp. It had been a really long day and we were exhausted, but this teacher (his English name is Dan) really wanted his brother to meet us so he asked if we would talk to him for "just an hour". We agreed to because we knew Dan was aware of how tired we were - we figured it was really important to him. Plus, refusing an invitation in Korea is pretty rude.

So we went, and we were really glad we did. The cafe was a really nice one: it was a two-story building that was really cozy inside with comfy chairs and wooden booths. We had picked up his brother on the way (his brother is also an English teacher), so the 4 of us took a booth and a waitress came over and brought us menus, water, and an an ash tray with a wet napkin spread inside it. We decided on beer (except for Dan, who was driving - he had a coffee) and sat and talked for an hour or so. John and I were pleased because we felt like we had gotten pretty good as speaking so Koreans could understand us and also at handling the awkwardness of these first conversations. It's pretty awkward when the topic of our relationship comes up - people are always wanting to know exactly what we are to each other and if we live together and stuff. (It's actually kind of tough to get across that we live in the same building but in different apartments, and that we did not ask for this. Someone felt like being exceptionally kind when we were assigned our schools.) Anyway, we learned a lot from the two of them and it was really entertaining to see two adult Korean brothers interact. They teased each other just like in the United States. Haha, it's amazing how everything here is the same as home, only different.

So then the next day, we figured we'd check out downtown Yeoju (we live in a village called Ohak that recently became part of Yeoju). We talked to Shannon online and met up with her at the bus terminal. The three of us grabbed some lunch at a chain called "Paris Baguette" which is the strange sort of bakery. Then we walked around downtown to see the sights. There are a bunch of clothing stores (like Fila and Arnold Palmer...actually, most of the clothing stores here have English names, regardless of whether or not they're Western companies) a supermarket, tons of little stationary stores where you can buy cute school supplies, bars, restaurants, cafes, PC bangs (bang = room; they're places where you pay by the hour to use a computer, generally for online gaming), and a pedestrian mall.

An example of a PC bang. They're everywhere, and they all have funny names like "Sudden Death". Haha!

Here's the pedestrian mall. John tried to take a video of this ridiculous little dog wandering around with a little grandma doggy sweater on it. It's the most common kind of dog around Korea....they look kind of like a cross between a pug and a spaniel and a weiner dog. Unbelievably ugly. John loved this one cause it was so old and senile and hilarious-looking in its sweater. Anyway, he didn't press record hard enough so the video was never taken.

So then we got tired of walking around, so I suggested finding a Korean cafe. This one wasn't nearly as classy, but it certainly worked for our purposes.

In that white dish in the first picture are these weird Korean Fritos. Decently tasty.

So theeenn....we made a trip to E-Mart for some school supplies (see post "Dad, this is me, on the runway for real" for a description of E-Mart). E-Mart is just down the road from the bus terminal in downtown Yeoju, so on the way back to the terminal where John and I catch taxis back to Ohak (about a 5,000 KRW or 5 USD ride) we stopped for some pizza! It is, after all, a "Delicious Concept For Family"....hahaaha the Konglish you see around is just ridiculous.
Here you can get bulgogi pizzas (see the "Dad, this is me, on the runway for real" post for an explanation), which are delicious.

Also in downtown Yeoju is a fast-food restaurant you can find anywhere in Korea: Lotteria. Lotteria is like a Korean McDonald's, only they don't really know how to do burgers here. John and I ordered a "Paprika Bacon Beef" burger and got a burger with all the things you see listed on the wrapper below except a burger instead of a chicken patty, plus bacon and a giant slice of a yellow bell pepper. The "fresh sauce" is really strange. It's dark and gooey.) But we thought the wrapper was really funny.


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