Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Respectful Trip to a Buddhist Temple

AR in the KR

When living overseas, it is important to hang out with as many people from your hometown as possible. It really freaks out other foreigners to see so many people from Arkansas in one place.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Noraebang: FEEL THE EDGE

It takes about 40 minutes to an hour to ride the subway from Ilsan to Seoul, depending on where you want to go. However, the subway does close down in the middle of the night and opens after five in the morning. Therefore, the most effective thing to do is just stay out until the trains start running again.

Mansion, a spacious club near Hapjeong Station, specializes in chandeliers and classy times featuring house music. But was that enough to stay out until 5 a.m.? Not nearly!

We needed to take drastic action to keep the party going until literally six in the morning, so we visited two different noraebangs, or karaoke rooms. I think they put something in the microphones that makes you sound better than you should, but I don't think it was so good that you need to see any video evidence of me singing Elton John.

And here is the pre-dawn sky of Ilsan at close to 7 a.m. Not pictured: The Intense Cold.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Zan Bar, one floor above the Frog & Toad in La Festa, Ilsan, is a really attractive place to have two drinks, especially if you are a fan of blue lighting and music ranging from hard house to yacht rock. Service is likely to be a free drink in a bag (like a Capri Sun) when you leave. Maybe. Sometimes.

Bar Boom, pretty easy to find in the heart of La Festa on the opposite side from Rosenbrau, is a huge attraction for a lot of foreigners and other people who like to be crushed together on a dancefloor. Nonexistent service, but they do play a lot of Top 40 hits. Very technically proficient live DJ playing to a cramped dancefloor, Bar Boom is proof positive that people will face a comparably-abusive atmosphere to go where other people go. Your Mileage May Vary.

ped, immediately below Bar Boom on the second floor of the F building in La Festa, is extremely welcoming and a relatively new club. 5000 won cover, but our service experience after that was an endless supply of tequila. One bartender also wanted me to try something he invented, I think it was Korean cola with Cass beer mixed together. It was...good? The DJ was all over the place, from Daft Punk to "The Rockafeller Skank" to MGMT, plus a bunch of stuff I don't remember because of the tequila. Also he had a megaphone. Smaller crowd but much more room to dance and high energy from all present. Highly recommended, and not just because the Armani-clad manager told me to say that after he gave us his card.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Instant Food Blog

Here are some of the more questionable food items that I have in my apartment, laid out on top of the most questionable piece of furniture I have in my apartment, a pink couch that I found in the parking garage of my building. On the left, we have a bag of Seasoned Dried Fishmeat, which are fried crackers that taste like fish. They are so bad that after eating half a bag, I woke up in the middle of the night with intense stomach pains and what I thought was the beginning of a fever. I was fine by morning, but unless we are all willing to give my immune system the bad-ass credit of stopping Swine Flu dead in its tracks in less than six hours, it's probably better to assume that Seasoned Dried Fishmeat is toxic mulgogi and should not be eaten by anyone.

The bag to the right is, of course, a bag of ramen noodles. In Korea, it's generally true that a restaurant uses a cartoon depiction of whatever animal you're going to eat inside on the sign out front, whether it be a cow for beef, pig for pork, or octopus for wriggling tentacles on a plate. The notable exception to this is restaurants with signs that feature pictures of waterfalls. They serve dog. Which is fine. All I want to know is, do the little foil packets in these bags of ramen contain raccoon flavoring? I feel like no matter what the answer is, I'm going to be disappointed.

All of the boxes on the couch are filled with chocolate and cookie sticks called Pepero Sticks (not Pocky). These were all given to me by my students on Wednesday because they love me.

On an unrelated note, Wednesday in Korea, or 11/11, was also "Pepero Day," a day for exchanging Pepero sticks that was started by Lotte Department Store in the 1990s as a shameless cash grab, and is the second-most insidious thing that Lotte has perpetrated on the Korean people, right behind giving the company a name that nobody here can pronounce.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bird-Watching in Ilsan

When a Korean child is born, they are immediately one year old. And while most Koreans still celebrate their own individual birthdays, legally everyone becomes one year older each January 1st.

Also, the drinking age in Korea is 20.