Monday, May 19, 2008

On Parties

What do you do for fun in a foreign country? Well, some days you can go hiking in a park, visit ancient palaces, or look at cultural curio shops. However, you can not do those things every weekend. So, what do you do when you can’t do touristy things. Well, that’s easy…alcohol and alcohol related activities.

After getting off of work at 9 p.m. on Friday, my roommate suggested going out to a live music event at a bar in the nearby town of Ilsan. I had never been to the town or the bar before, but it was quite a bit of fun.

The event was located at a German bar, Brau Hoffen (there is an umlaut in the Brau and possibly the Hoffen, but I’m too lazy to search for the double dot thing). The bands (there were about 4 of them) were all Filipino. I’m not exactly sure how many bands there were because they all looked the same. And, that is not a comment on Filipinos all looking the same. The bands literally looked very similar (I have a feeling they were a family group). Anyways, they played a variety of Korean and American music. The American music was from the 80’s and later. The Black Eyed Peas, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Justin Timberlake were a few of the artists covered. The variety was actually pretty good and the bands did a good job overall. Although, all of the girls with the exception of one were just eye candy rather than good singers. The exception was still eye candy, but at least she had good pipes as well.

So, there in Ilsan, Korea, there were 8 westerners drinking beer out of gigantic beer glasses (I mean these things were literally 3 feet tall and those were for one person; okay, well, I don't drink beer, but I had some comparatively pathetic glasses of gin and tonic) listening to a Filipino band playing American music in a German bar…only in Korea.

After getting home at nearly 5 o’clock in the morning, I had just enough time to go to sleep for a couple of hours before it was off to a Korean wedding… Ahh, wonderful life in Korea.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

On 101 Things You Should Know About Korea

1. Kimchi exists solely as a way to prove that you are, in fact, Korean.

2. If you are a woman, you may never ever put your purse on the ground. And, if you sit down in a chair, putting your purse behind the small of your back is perfectly acceptable. The fact that this seems to cause back pain does nothing to downplay the belief that the ground may have some form of Ebola or another deadly disease that must be avoided at all cost. And, death to the foreigner who is asked to carry a purse and mistakenly puts it on the round for a second. Holy Toledo Batman!!

3. Speaking of Korean name is Koko Bat-uh-man. Best name ever. Although, the phonetic translation of my name is something like "most excellent doctor" which is just so freaking true in my own mind.

4. Baseball teams all have players with Korean names (even the Westerners), but all the team names are in English. Why? Who knows...

5. Two channels on television are permanently dedicated showing Counter Strike and Warcraft (old school) tournaments. For those not in the know, those are computer games.

6. No matter how much your roommate insists that it is true, do not believe it when he tells you that the proper way to say goodbye when leaving a store is to say, "nigga-say-yo". Although, it was worth a good racist-implied laugh.

7. Speaking of racist terms...what is a "gook"? Well, I'm one. I'm a "wae-gook" (foreigner) and Koreans are "Han-gook".

8. Having resided in Alaska for a year before heading over here, I feel it is bloody hot at the current level of 60 degrees F. Although, the Koreans have not hit their threshold for the word, hot, yet, I have still found funny things about their attitudes about dealing with heat. "Fan Death" is one such thing. Koreans believe that if you go to sleep with a fan on in your room that there is a good possibility of you not waking again in the morning. It has something to do with the fan blowing away your body heat and you dying from the cold. I'm not exactly sure how they survive through the summer without a fan on at night and with air conditioning being a non-existent commodity it living quarters. According to some of the Korean teachers at work, I am extremely lucky to have survived with a fan on in my room every single night since I've been here.

9. I'm not going to be able to explain about their belief that blood types determine a person's personality because, frankly, I'm not really sure beyond that. However, one of my co-workers claims that it is a fact that 75% of all convicted felons have Type-B blood. She has yet to claim my offer of 50,000 won ($50) for providing scientific proof that that is true.

10. The same girl that told me about the Type-B felons asked me, what my blood type was? I have absolutely no idea, which I think amazes all of the Koreans that have asked me that question (it's actually pretty common). Right after asking though, she said, "That is a come-on". Her English is limited, so I'm not really sure if she was making a pass at me or if she just found "come-on" in her idiom dictionary and wanted to try it out. Who knows, maybe it was a missed opportunity on my part.

11. Envelopes have lick able glue on them right? Apparently not. You must either use a glue stick or tape to close an envelope, but you can have fun disgusting your co-workers by testing the envelope with your tongue to see if it does or does not have glue.

12. When walking down the street, Koreans who are sick, avoiding sickness, or avoiding Yellow Dust (Chinese pollution) will often times wear big blue face masks (these things make doctor's masks look small), but they will think nothing about pulling the mask down just enough to take a draw on their cigarette.

13. If the blue masks weren't bad enough, nothing beats the joggers' sun-visors that hang down in a pretty good parody of a Darth Vader mask.

14. Touching food with your hands is a terrible travesty, but walking past a guy peeing in the corner of the subway station is pretty much par for the course.

15. There are no garbage cans in public!!!

16. A bottle of Soju can get you pretty much wasted for $2. And, $1.50 for a Coca-Cola can make the taste almost tolerable. But, passing up your Soju to the girl who hired you is absolutely priceless.

17. There seems to be just about two variations of foreigners out here. First is the foreigner who is drunk. Second is the foreigner who is hungover.

18. Number 17 seems to apply to a lot of Koreans as well.

19. Koreans kids can be little s____, just like American kids.

20. For the first little while, its true THEY all look the same. However, they will say the same thing about you (just ask).

21. A Korean girl speaking with a British accent is annoying. Although, she's my noona ("older sister").

22. Said girl says she is born and raised in Korea, but even I catch some of her mistakes in Korea. I think she's a Russian spy personally.

Well 101 questions was quite a task and I got to 22, so I failed, but I will write some more later. Korea is still awesome. Peace out for now.