The weekend after that, John and I went to Seoul with Alex and Billy and Peter and our new friend Rob. We also met up with Frank, who was John's roommate freshman year and who has managed to unravel many a good time in the past. This time was no exception. (In a drunken attempt to hit John, Frank has actually managed to hit me in the face before.)
So it started out really great - we met at the bus terminal in Yeoju at around 12:30 PM, made it into Seoul by 2 - 2:30 (the bus ride is only an hour and a half, if that), and were navigating the subway toward this stream in the middle of the city that Rob wanted to see. The stream was pretty neat - it's this little river-type thing that was once disgustingly polluted before the government decided to clean it up and turn it into a little nature area.
We wandered around this area for a long time. On either side of the stream is a street with toooons of little shops crammed up against each other. These shops tended to be very specific and came in groups. For example, there would be a few shops in a row that sold baseball caps, and another few shops in a row that sold zippers, and so on. It was really cool. I bought these obnoxiously typical oriental foot slippers that I ended up getting rid of because they didn't fit me right.
We also found a huge market crammed into an alley. Down the center of it where small stands where you could sit at a little bar and each delicious food. I had Korean dumplings in soup (mandu), which I watched the woman make right in front of me. It was unbelievable.
So then night was falling and we decided to hit up the local Buy The Way convenience store for some inexpensive drinks before hitting the bars. We bought some bottles of soju, some beer, and some wine and sat around outside and chatted. I had told Billy that I didn't want Frank there and that if he came, I would leave. Well, he was coming, so I decided not to be a poor sport and leave, but informed him that if we started drinking, I would leave. But I didn't leave! And we got drunk outside at the Buy The Way and especially at this unbelievably delicious and cute Korean restaurant we found (I started a conversation with the Koreans eating next to us and pretty soon we were pouring drinks for each other - the girl even gave me her number). Dinner was actually blissful - one of the happiest times I've had in Korea. There's just nothing like overcoming a language barrier and truly enjoying people who have been steeped in an entirely different culture for their whole lives.
In the meantime at the other end of the table, Frank started blabbing about his lamentable love life to the entire table as he got drunker and drunker. We retired to a bar and then there's little left to the story, really. Frank gets violent when he drinks, especially when he's emotional. Plus, he's talked himself up as a martial arts champ to 6'8" Rob all week, put him in multiple headlocks the weekend before, and so this time Rob was having none of it and smashed Frank's head into the sidewalk six times.
The damage was considerable. Frank's face was messed the hell up but he was only ever wailing about this girl he was into, Rob was in tears because he never wanted to hurt him that badly, and the rest of us were just unbelievably upset by the whole episode. Ugh. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth - and I will leave it at that.
But here are some pictures:
Peter is on the right and Rob (aka "Lob the Lobster", but that's another story) is on the left. But this picture is all about the dude in the middle, who is carrying a ridiculous load of something on his back. Amazing.
Here's the stream I was talking about...
....and here's some guy singing in it. Haha! The ledge in the foreground is a bridge and the end of the stream. Along this part of the stream are all the myriad little shops. A short walk away is Dongdaemun (dong-day-moon), an area known for its giant fashion shopping centers in the form of towers.
The view from the bridge.
This is an older part of Seoul. On the hill behind the traditional Korean building are a bunch of traditional Korean homes. It's so cool that these areas still exist in such a modern city.
Unfortunately, this is what the night looked like for us after dinner. These two are Koreans, but you get the point. At least none of us needed help walking (except for Frank).