A night out on the town

Trip Start Aug 25, 2012
Trip End Feb 25, 2013

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Flag of Korea Rep.  , South Chungcheong,
Saturday, September 8, 2012

Up until now I have spent most of my time alone in my apartment or in my English classroom at school. That's pretty much my routine. Wake up, go to school, teach or prepare, come home, shower, eat dinner, go to sleep. Later, rinse, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. The reason for this is because I live in Shin Pyeong, near my school, but all of the other Native English Teachers (NETs) in this area live in Dangjin, which is about 20 minutes away by bus. I have driven through Dangjin, but never really spent any time there, so I don't exactly know how to get around. I had also never actually taken the bus anywhere in Korea, I've just had it explained to me. So, that makes getting out and about a little more difficult.
So, some other NETs were talking about going bowling on Saturday and I said that I was down to bowl. Saturday arrived and I heading out towards the bus stop. I found a phrase book among the books that the last teacher left for me and I carried it with me as I walked. I found the phrase that said "I would like to buy a ticket to..." and I muttered it to myself as I made my way the two blocks to the bus stop. I bought my ticket and boarded my bus without incident. I was feeling excited but nervous, I still had to get off at the correct stop. But really, there was nothing to worry about there. I found my stop, got off and decided to wander around Dangjin for a little bit.
Chad, one of the NETs, said that he could meet me at Dangjin bus terminal, but he wouldn't be arriving for about a half an hour. So I roamed about, looking at restaurants and into shops, taking pictures of everything. Dangjin is MUCH bigger than Shin Pyeong and it is obvious just from the size of the buildings. I was excited to see the array of things that they had just a bus ride away and started to make plans for visiting again.
I met Chad at the bus station and instantly remembered him from orientation. Chad is a hipster. No. Chad is THE hipster. Chad showed up wearing black on black Converse high tops, dark skinny legged acid washed jeans, a purple band shirt, and a white satin members only jacket. He topped his look off with large, plastic, white rimmed sun glasses. Damn.
So I wandered off with Chad to meet up with Jennifer in downtown Dangjin. I didn't really remember Jennifer from orientation but she said I looked familiar. The three of us were apparently all that were coming. I had hoped to meet a few more people, but that's fine.
We decided to go to dinner and I said that I was open for pretty much anything. Chad suggested a place called Lotteria and I said I had never heard of it before. Apparently Lotteria is a Korean version of McDonald's. Oh. Okay. I guess I can eat a chicken sandwich and fries. I suppose because it was my first night out in a while I was hoping for something a little bit... not McDonald's? But, go with the flow!
While we dined on greasy fries and slippery chicken sandwiches I got to know Jennifer a little bit better. She explained to me that she came from the south and that her mother was a government conspiracy theorist and her father was an evangelist. She had come to Korea to get away from them, but also to spread the word of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I nodded and smiled politely. Now, this isn't really my bag, but I can be friends with pretty much anyone. I explained that I have friends who are Christian. One of my best friends, Dana, is a Christian and I love her a whole bunch, so I have no problem there. She seemed relieved. Jennifer told me how so many of the other NETs had treated her poorly because of her faith and had harassed her simply because she believed in Jesus. I nodded and tried to assure her that I had no problems.
After dinner we grabbed some ice cream for desert. We sat and chatted for a while at the ice cream shop. I noticed that every once in a while Jennifer would drop into baby talk and then apologize for being a geek. That was complimented by the fact that every so often Chad would slip into a terribly British accent on "accident" until Jennifer corrected him on it.
Alright, enough with eating, I was ready to bowl! I wasn't exactly sure what to expect and what I got was almost, half way what I was hoping for. Korean bowling is exactly like American bowling in every way, but Korean bowling alleys aren't. We walked into a brightly lit establishment with bowling lanes, balls, benches, and nothing else. No restaurant, no bar, no music. This is a place of bowling. That is all. The people who were there seemed really pretty serious about it to. Most of them had custom balls, hand braces, rolling bowling ball bags. It was like a scene out of The Big Lebowski except no one was drinking beer... and everyone was Korean.
We found our lane, picked our balls, strapped on our shoes, and got to rollin'. Man, we are BAD at bowling. Seriously. Not one of us could bowl. Chad insisted on running at the lane and whipping the ball down towards the pins. Jennifer took the opposite tactic, trying to delicately drop her ball and wish it down towards the pins. I just don't aim well. At one point, a Korean even came up to Jennifer, trying to show her how to hold the bowling ball correctly. In a moment of amusement I granny rolled my ball down the lane on got a spare. I turned to see a Korean trying to explain to his buddies what I had done. I gave him a double thumbs up and he cheered me on.
But, without food or drink, bowling gets kinda boring pretty fast so we decided to head out after two games. Chad wanted very much to go to a bar called Liverpool. He told me how awesome it was and that some of the other guys in Dangjin had gone there before. We wandered the streets of Dangjin, trying to help him find the place. We zigged and zagged down streets and up alleys as Chad struggled to figure out if any of it looked familiar. Finally we found it and I was excited to head downstairs. Liverpool was musty, dank smelling, and most importantly completely empty. Not a single other patron was in the entire place. The bartender perked up slightly as we walked in and she took our orders. I ordered a Malibu and soda because I haven't seen rum here the entire time I've been here. Jennifer ordered a beer, and Chad got a gin and tonic. So we bellied up to the bar to chat.
As we drank we talked about... pretty much everything. Jennifer recounted most of her entire life story to us as she tipped her beers back. (She informed me that she had just started drinking because her father didn't approve of alcohol) She talked about the various fights she has been in, the falling outs she has had, the abuses she has suffered. She mentioned her degree in Christian Theology and her bible studies. She told me about the philosophy of evolution and how it has no basis in reality. The more she drank the more animated she became about her great relationship with Jesus and her less than stellar relationships with... everyone else. I nodded along, adding in a few words here and there, but she didn't seem to need much encouragement.  Chad slipped into silence over his watered down gin, zoning out while looking at the dark stained bar.
After a number of drinks it was starting to get late. Before arriving in Dangjin Jennifer had generously offered to let me stay at her apartment because the buses don't run after 9 pm in Korea. So Chad bid us goodnight and headed back to his apartment. Jennifer and I had an uneventful walk back to her place and an uneventful sleep. The next morning Jennifer helped me get back to the bus station so that I could take the bus back to Shin Pyeong. She said it was no problem because she was headed that way anyway. She informed me that she always takes the bus to Seoul so that she can go to an English church service in Changnam.
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Carlo on

"...the philosophy of evolution and how it has no basis in reality."

Now THAT's entertainment! ;D

Benny on

This post got me thinking about the way I pick my friends here. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by people who speak my language, so that I can find those who I have things (and values) in common with so easily.

I hope you meet some other new people too! Whatever happened to that guy you met at your second school early on? Have you seen him again, or do you have a way of contacting and seeing him?

beckiablaze on

The guy I met at one of my schools is at my second school. I teach at one school four days a week, and a second school just one day a week. He works at that school in the afternoon and I work at it in the morning. I am hoping to run into him on Wednesday, or find someone who has his contact info.

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