9/27/2008

Starting the Goodbyes...and Seoul Food...

Celebrations are in order! It's my 100th post! Never thought I'd have this much to write about honestly.

Last weekend was a phenomenal weekend! I think I'm still recovering from it, hence the late posting. So hmmm, let's see. Well Friday was the last class with my kindy crew. I didn't cry (shock!) but I did snap LOTS of pics. When the teachers explained to them that I wouldn't be coming back anymore, their faces just went south and many of them clung to my legs. I had like 5 little people pulling on my pants!! Kinda scary. But I really appreciated their love for Joia teacher! The Directors even gave me little presents, like traditional Korean wallets (I can fit about 2 quarters inside..lol) and a Korean fan, and a miniature Korean screen with some writing on it. No idea what to do with the last item, but it looks cool. So, here are my rugrats, whose names I never really learned because they didn't have English names. It's harder for Korean names to stick in my head unless I hear it a lot. But I'll really miss these little devils a lot.









On Saturday, I went to Korean class. After that, I met another one of my fabulous readers and fellow bloggers in Hongdae for lunch! (Hey T!!!) She actually just got out to Korea and is teaching English as well. We ate great galbi and chatted, totally forgetting that it was pouring outside. The rest of my day was spent napping. Let's be honest - there aren't many things more relaxing than napping in the rain. Of course, I took the wrong bus home again. Yes, even after 11 months, I'm still getting lost in Korea. Pathetic right? Saturday night, I went out for drinks with some friends in Itaewon. We bar hopped from Gecko's, a packed pub, to Caliente, a salsa dancing venue then to Helio's, the hip hop bar/club that's always overflowing with soldiers and freakishly tall basketball players. I had fun, but I wasn't too happy about dropping $25 on a cab home at 3am. I chalked it up to it being my penultimate weekend in Seoul....penultimate. Always wondered when I'd ever use that word...

Sunday though was the BEST day! My friend, Z, had a soul food dinner. She lives in an apartment building that is a stone's throw from Seoul Tower. It was potluck style and everyone brought traditional dishes like mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, greens, sweet potato souffle, cornbread, fried fish, and some vegetarian friendly dishes like tofu "chicken". We even had deserts like banana pudding and dump cake. And I, with my non-cooking self, brought the plates and cutlery! Yes, don't look surprised...I'm that one at parties. Always. So we laid out blankets and candles on the rooftop of the building and just bugged out. Wow, I haven't laughed that hard since....last week! That's all I'm doing these days is laughing, eating, and drinking. But I met some cool, new brown folks at the party. I wish I were staying longer to develop these new friendships more, but I just have to hope that we'll keep in touch across the distance!








My last full week at school went well. My Directors are really pissing me off though. I'm supposed to finish on Tuesday September 30th. They've asked me to work on Wednesday Oct 1st and Thursday Oct 2nd now. I told them I could work Wednesday but not Thursday because I had too much to do and Friday October 3rd is a national holiday. So, fine, whatever. But then yesterday, my coworker let me know that I won't have to work Wednesday because the new teacher will come by then. She's the translator since my bosses don't speak English so it came right from them. Great! So, what did I do? I made appointments and filled up my schedule because that's a whole extra day I can tie up loose ends. Stupid me....Don't you know I got a call today saying that I do, in fact, need to work Wednesday?!!? I was livid and I'm going to tell them I just can't make it. I mean, it's not my problem right?? I fulfilled my year-long contract. I was only working Wednesday as a favor anyway. But I'm also nervous to say no because I won't have all my money in hand by then. I don't think they'll pull any funny stuff but you never know. But, truly, I've made dentist and doctor appointments and I have so much to do that I can't possibly cram it into Thursday. So, what say ye, readers?? How should I handle this situation?

One week left!!! Can't believe it! My, how quickly time flies once you get outta your apartment! :)

Until then,

J

9/16/2008

A Bus to Busan

That's Busan with a long U by the way. Anyway, I'm back from my mini-beach vacation with the girls! Busan is way down at the southern tip of Korea, normally about 4 hours by train I think. We had a really fun time just hanging out and being 8 black girls in homogeneous Korea. Talk about staring! Oh but where to begin with this laugh-packed journey?

Well, for one, this trip almost didn't happen. The night before we were to leave, I realized that folks had bought bus tickets and NOT train tickets. I didn't mind so much because I like buses but what I don't like is sitting in traffic for hours on end. Since last weekend was Chuseok, aka Korean Thanksgiving, I was imagining miles upon miles of cars, exhaust-filled lungs, and flared tempers. We'd gotten wind of a picture from someone's Chuseok trip last year and it wasn't looking so good for us. Some estimates had us on the road for 14 hours....17 hours...and my favorite jaw-dropper, 24 hours!!! I almost just said F*ck it. But we didn't...after just 6 hours, we arrived at Haeundae Beach...and the recklessness began!




Call it irresponsible, but yes, 8 people showed up in a new city with no hotel reservation, during arguably one of the busiest times of year. Not entirely smart but it worked out for us. We scored awesome rooms at The Westin Chosun...on the beach! . Aeja and her big mouth actually got us a great discount too...("Ummm, excuse me Mr. Front-Desk-Guy, how come no one carried our bags for us? I mean, this is The Westin. Even at regular hotels, they always carry your bags...) And 20 minutes later, they had knocked our price down!



After checking in and getting freshened up, we headed to dinner. Some of us wanted meat (ME!!) and others didn't so we split up. The restaurant we ended up at was practically abandoned. I was waiting for some desert tumbleweed to come rolling through there. But it was perfect because we could be as loud as we wanted to be. We ordered about 3-little-pigs worth of pork. I drank an entire bottle of wine almost by myself because it tasted like grape juice. Everyone else had soju and beers and truly, we bonded. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip, just kickin' back, eating, and drinking. A gal could get used to that..



Later that night, some of us (ME!!) really wanted to go out and check out Busan's nightlife. But first, we had drinks downstairs in the hotel. BIG MISTAKE! For one, the bartender couldn't make a mojito or a Long Island had you held a semi-automatic weapon to his head. Since I'm a connoisseur of both beverages, I know good and damn well what they should be. And let's just say both drinks (at $12 each) left me feeling entirely unsatisfied. In fact, that was the first mojito EVER that I didn't finish. The horror! We still took silly pictures though...



Busan nightlife is pretty lacking, too. Maybe the city was just dead, which is understandable, but I'm just so biased towards Seoul that I couldn't help but wonder what the hell anyone does here besides go to the beach. Our first stop was a "club" at the bottom of The Grand Hotel. Ironically, it was called Boracay. As we walked down to the center of the Earth getting to this place, we couldn't help but notice the complete absence of any thumping beats. No people going inside. Only an uneasy group of would-be bouncers and servers hoping to usher us in and make us spend too much money. Once we reached the front of the club, our mouths all did a simultaneous gape. The place was pretty empty but more disturbing was the slow, elevator music coming from the DJ booth. What in the hell....???? We nearly turned right around, but I was meeting a friend there. We gave it about 5 minutes and a shot of tequila and they were bumping some hip-hop. Crisis averted but very scary at first.





So, never ones to stay still, we headed to the other side of the beach. I think this one was called Gwang-alli Beach. We were looking for another club which turned out to be right near our hotel actually. But we hung around Gwang-alli Beach for a bit. It was just one row of bars and stuff, no clubs at all. We went to a pizza joint and just sat and talked really. I watched a mangy dog piss on the sidewalk and then the restaurant owners came and shooed him away. Then he did it again. We also saw a cute puppy being paraded around by two men. Total chick magnet...the puppy I mean. The guys weren't much to look at. Around 3am, we crawled into taxis and went back to the hotel.

The second day, we woke up about noon. I don't usually sleep til noon but I did one of those things where I woke up every hour for like 5 hours but went back to sleep cuz no one else was up yet. So finally, we kinda split up again because some of us wanted Friday's and others wanted Chinese food. I have a new appreciation for Friday's and their amazing Junebugs and Mac N Cheese Balls....and burgers....and Parmesan-Crusted Quesadillas. I will never disparage them! So yes, 5 of us got lit up at Friday's on a Sunday at noon and had a damn good time doing it. They let us sit outside so we had the nice beachview. We almost had a food fight, too. Or maybe just a ketchup fight. Hanging out with my girlfriends, you would think we're a bunch of guys with all the trash-talking we do. And that's just how I like it! :)

**Lu making a very difficult decision - taste or effect??**




As for me, the rest of the day was spent in bed. I was so sapped for energy. I can't even explain it. Therefore, I missed out on the afternoon's activities, but I heard about it so I will still post pics. The others went to hang on the beach and did some double-dutching. Good thing I wasn't there because I was told early on (by some especially cruel older girls) that I sucked at it. But my friends had a great time....and a new Korean fanbase!!







For dinner, we all went out together (for once!!) to a wonderful Thai restaurant. It was also very empty which worked out great! Come to think of it, maybe everyone just left when we showed up! Hahaha...I ate some pineapple/shrimp rice and yes, it tastes as good as it sounds. I also ordered some pad thai, which I didn't care for. It smelled like feet to me. For dessert, I ate some coconut milk concoction. I question the validity of this Thai restaurant though because there was NO sticky rice in sight! What kinda mess is that??? I still tore it up though. By the end of dinner, we were reminiscing about the 80s and singing just about every R&B song you could imagine. Ahhhhh, so wonderful. Only about 2 people could actually sing (Crystal and Jameelah) but we all pretended for the helluva it. Outside, it was pretty dead but we took that moment to goof off a little.






The bus ride back was equally smooth and "quick", only about 6 hours. SUCH an amazing time! Even though Busan isn't like Seoul, I think that's the point. It really felt like a getaway and I appreciated that. My only regret about this trip is that I hadn't met some of these lovely ladies sooner. :)

I was planning to make a quick trip to Tokyo at the end of the month. A friend of mine will be in town and she invited me to a concert but damn those skyrocketing ticket/gas prices!! In 24 hours, the ticket went up $100 and that's just outta my reach. Maybe it's for the best as I couldn't really afford Tokyo again, but I just wanted to see my friend and hang out. Guess I will be spending my last 2 weeks here packing and partying....and maybe having a date. I've been chatting with the random guy from Gangnam, the one whose face I can't remember. He's very nice so we'll see how that goes! Damn, I hope he's not ugly yall....but I can't for the life of me remember!! Sh*t.

Everything's all settled for Boracay, too!! I've been talking to Tony a lot and he bumped into Noeme, the little girl. She's really excited that I'm coming back....and of course, Ritchie. Ummmmm.... **swoon**

Ok, bed time for me!!

Until then,

J

9/08/2008

When Gangnam Calls...

I should definitely be showering right now since I just came home from the gym. But I'm not. Yet. I like to just bask in the aftersweat. Ok, there really wasn't any aftersweat because I didn't go all that hard tonight. I'm feeling a little sluggish actually and maybe that's because I stayed out all night, once again, on Saturday. But I had a very special reason. I got to meet one of my readers! (HEY M!!) She hit me up just letting me know she would be in town and if we could hang out. So of course I said yes! I introduced her to other brown folks out here and we all had a really great time. We met up in Gangnam for galbi. We must've sat around chatting about all kinds of things - from Koreans' endless fascination with our hair to the closeted gay Korean population - for about 2 hours. My Korean guy friends and acquaintances can swear up and down til they're blue in the face that there aren't gay people in Korea, but EVERY population has gay people. I don't know why my friends want to argue with me about this. Denial does not equal disappearance. Just because you're not choosing to acknowledge something doesn't mean it's not there. Let's all wave and say hello to the big, gay elephant in the room, Korea. All together now!!

**climbing down from my soapbox**




So, after a satisfying dinner, some of us headed out for dancing. We ended up at Harlem club. I made a beeline for the bar once we got in there because it was SO empty! I just kept thinking what a crappy night it was gonna be. But oh was I wrong!! Out of the five of us that went, only Kayla and I stayed until the sun came up. But I was pretty impressed that M and others stuck around till at least 2 or 3am. By that point, I was fading too. Only two things really keep my engine going into the wee hours - Long Island Ice Teas and eye candy. That's really it. Lucky for me, both were plentiful. Correction - I had ONE Long Island that lasted me 3 hours. I mean, it just wouldn't go down! I'd take a sip and it was like the bartender snuck his ass behind me and re-filled it! Speaking of bartenders, Kayla and I harassed them for a good while. But they liked it! One of them was so damn pretty, like a doll or something. And the other one just seemed annoyed and angry, like he soiled his diaper and his mom wouldn't change it. We got him to crack a smile though...after about 2 hours. I spent the better part of my time waiting in the crusty bathroom line though. There were only 4 stalls and two were locked because I believe two girls passed out inside. I have no mercy for people like this though. I just want to handle my business and keep it moving!

I spotted some super cute guys. One guy I checked when I first walked in. Truly adorable. He bought us shots and partook in the festivities. And then he dropped the bomb that he had a girlfriend in Canada. He whipped out some camera pics of her. She was very cute but not as attractive as him. In between his slurring speech and my equally blurry vision, he claimed that he "really loved her but didn't trust her at all". Interesting but not for me to figure out. So I made my way to someone else to keep the party going. Lol.

By 5am, I was coming down from the interminable Long Island and just wanted to go to sleep. But we went to the neighboring hip-hop club, NB. It was actually waaaaaaay better than Harlem. I was shocked to find it packed as hell at that hour, folks still dancing like mad. I met a cute guy named Ju Hyeon. You know, truth be told, I can't remember his face or features. I know I sound the plumb fool but it's like that sometimes, yall! Damn those strobe lights. But I'm pretty sure he was cute and he was tall! Really tall. But just one small problem - he goes to school like 2 hours away! I haven't figured out if he commutes back and forth or what but that simply will not do. Honestly, I leave in 3 weeks so what's really gonna come of this?? But maybe we can have coffee or something. Then there was another guy named Chan with a cute hip-hop style, not the obnoxious gold-chain wearing caricatures that I'm used to seeing out here. He was very shy so his friend who spoke perfect English helped him out. There is something to be said for a guy who acts very shy initially. Can't put my finger on it, but it's...intriguing. His friend, by the way, was married with two young boys at home. So why in the SAM HELL are you out at the club at 3am?!?! I wish my husband would...

After NB, Kayla and I went to Burger King. This BK is pure foolishness. We rolled up in there and why did they only have chicken sandwiches??? How is Burger King not gonna have ONE, SINGLE burger?! I think this doesn't make you a burger king but rather a burger idiot. I tore up that chicken sandwich until the nausea kicked though. On our way out, saw this fine specimen on the street. Korea Sparkling...never seen someone who just sweats on his shoulders and nowhere else. Fascinating indeed...



I got home by 8am or so. I was actually in physical pain. Somewhere throughout the night, I dislocated my shoulder because that puppy was wailing when I laid down on it. I had scraped my ankle pretty badly the night before too (thank you, sangria!) and that was throbbing anew. My obliques were killing me because my gym friend made me do sidedips way too deeply. And of course, because it never fails, someone stepped on my damn foot. Some drunk girl who wanted to dance with me shoved her stiletto into my arch then laughed nervously, backed away slowly, never to return. UGH...so goes my weekend. :)

Here are some bonus pics so you can see what I've been doing the last couple of weekends...

*out at Carne Station with Jameelah and friends*


**Kevin and Arigato during our snack party** Kevin, along with about 4 others from his class, quit recently :(

**Kayla and Leslie at the Que cookout in Yongsan**


**Susannah, Kayla, Chentel, and Christina at Rhythm N' Booze**


**my favorite couple**

This weekend, I'm headed to Busan with the girls for Chuseok!!! Woo hoo, a beach!! :)

Until then,

J