Saturday, March 29, 2008

On Octupi and Bongs

Day 9-12 (3/29/2008)—

So, teaching English has its ups and downs, but life in Korea is crazy. Last night, Vivi (my Korean third to immediate supervisor, that’s higher than just an immediate supervisor) took all of the foreign teachers out to dinner as a welcome dinner to me and a thank you dinner to all of the others who have been taking on extra shifts because of the person (psycho) I was replacing. I frankly thought I had already had the welcoming dinner, but, hey, I’m not going to turn down free food.

As my last class ends at 9 p.m. (I start at 3 in the afternoon), I am one of the last ones to make it to Shabu-Shabu. It was interesting. It was the first buffet-style meals that I have seen in Korea (as if I can speak from less than 2 weeks of experience). As with a few other places, you pretty much cook your own meal right there on the table. The buffet just provides the raw ingredients (and I do mean raw). Luckily for me it was seafood and I LOVE seafood. Of course, it is Korea…my first thing to throw on my plate was 3 bite-sized octopi (I’m an octopus virgin, but I have to try it once), 4 shrimp (eyes, antennae, feet, everything), and to top it all off, there was some type of fish…I couldn’t really tell what it was because it had obviously been hacked up from a whole fish (the teeth were still there for sure).

Once I get these items back to the table, they all go into a communal pot which is boiling in the center of the table. Vivi (being a native Korean) had arrived late and had a bit of an OCD moment about how us foreigners had prepared (or in our case, not prepared the water with the right garnishments) and ordered a new pot of water. Luckily, I did rescue two of the octopi (cooked) and found them a new home in my belly. They were okay. They’re texture is a bit chewy, but the taste has a bit of a tang to it (probably because I was supposed to remove some guts, but didn’t know better, *shrug*). I also got some shrimp which I ate happily. They were good. I never saw the fish parts with the teeth after they went in the water. So, I’m still just calling it fish.

When Vivi took over the process of boiling, I had already kind of called it a night in terms of eating, anyways…I’m not a huge eater at 10 o’clock at night. So, I nibbled on some beef strips, but didn’t go hog-wild. Of course, there was ice cream that was tasty (just chocolate); there is always room for ice cream.

Being Korea (as we’re not exactly a 9-5 working group), after dinner we went out for some more ice cream (at the very exotic…Baskin Robbins). And, then we hopped on over to the Nori-Bong. Now, I had been told that a Nori-Bong was like Karaoke. Which is something I haven’t ever done in the States, but I was expecting something with a bar full of people and some awful singers getting up to the mike.

No, no…a Nori-Bong is a private room where your group gets to sit down (or stand up and sing Karaoke style to each other). I, of course, being the new guy, got to sing the first song. Johnny B. Goode was my choice. Why? I’m a nerd and I was thinking of Back to the Future earlier in the day.

Let’s just say first off, I am the world’s worst singer. And, that is when I am having a good day. However, I have been feeling under the weather…so, I sound like I have a frog in my throat even without singing. I was bad, but whatever…half the group was plastered. So, who knows how I sounded.

Just as a side note. Soju is the Korean version of vodka (it tastes like watered-down vodka, but give it a few minutes and it will hit you hard). I’ve tried enough of it to be wary of the stuff. It does alright as a mixer, but I wouldn’t do it for the taste alone.

After about an hour or two of listening to each other sing (and watching a few folks dance drunkenly on the table, someone should have seriously broken out a pole), we all went our separate ways. Some were still going out for more alcohol…I was going home; it was about one o’clock in the morning in Gimpo-Si. As I was walking around a corner, I noticed a barbershop poll spinning on one of the buildings. That kind of reminds me that I need a trim. Anyways, off to bed.


P.S. My roommate informed me this morning that the spinning barber shop poll actually signals a whorehouse. That would have been a heck of an interesting request for a haircut.


Anonymous said...

Karaoke, huh? I've never done that either but was thinking of trying in the near future. Fortunately for me, I can sing (not boasting here, just a fact: I can carry a tune and people don't usually cover their ears). But still, to your drunken companions, I'm sure you sounded angelic.

For the entire time I've known you, I've been amazed at the kind of things you will put in your mouth. Congratulations on having a strong gut and no aversion to weird textures. As for me, I'd rather get a shot. To each his own!

Take care and try not to get into trouble.


Anonymous said...

hmmm ... I was just looking for a barber shop... officer! RUNGU

SamsoniteArmstrong said...

Boy are you lucky, by sheer coincidence "shave and a haircut" is Korean for "Twenty dollars no kissing"

Matt W said...

Two weeks is good response time for me...
I can't say as I've ever heard you sing, so I don't know. You should be willing to try and eat anything once. It usually isn't as bad as you think.

Rungu and Samsonite--