Let the adventures begin

Trip Start Sep 28, 2012
Trip End Oct 03, 2012

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Flag of Korea Rep.  , South Chungcheong,
Friday, September 28, 2012

As soon as I got my class schedule I noticed the conspicuous holiday over the last weekend in September. It didn't take long for the Native English Teacher FaceBook groups to blow up with talking about what people would do with their time off (a whole five days with no school). Cheryl and Adam (who I went with to the bath house in Asan) messaged me and said that some people were planning a trip to Seoul. Sure, why not, I’ll go to Seoul. So, the planning began and soon things started to take shape. Hotel rooms were booked. Roommates were chosen. This was gonna be fun.

I worked all day on Friday but silently I was itching to get out of class and get on the road. Finally the time to go rolled around and I couldn’t get home fast enough. I was already packed, so I put my things together and made my way to the bus stop. I didn’t have much of a plan aside from take a bus to Seoul (not sure which station I’ll arrive at) and take the subway to Gangnam (where we’re staying) and then take a cab to my hotel… or something. Good enough! So, with a little bit of difficulty, I got my bus and was headed out.

I just barely got the last seat on the bus and unfortunately, some of the passengers had to stand the entire way. My seat mate was an eager and unshaven old man who wanted to speak to me although he spoke virtually no English. I plugged my headphones into my ears and cracked open my Kindle, but that didn’t deter him from trying to explain things to me in Korean. I did my best to nod and smile, but had absolutely no idea what this man was saying. After a while he gave up and allowed me to read my Kindle in peace… although I am pretty sure he thought I was reading a Bible.

Finally, after 2 hours (stuck in holiday traffic) I landed in one of Seoul’s many bus terminals. I stepped out and into an immediate flow of people. I wandered into the terminal, looking for signs in English that may point me in the right direction. Suddenly I saw a face in the crowd that didn’t belong there. I spotted a young black woman, someone decidedly NOT Korean, looking as discombobulated as I was. I walked up and tried a tentative "Hello" and she locked eyes with me immediately and responded in kind. Yes! “You speak English” I proclaimed and she grinned at me “It’s comforting, isn’t it?” I asked her if she knew where the subway was and she told me she had just come from there. It was right outside. Sweet!

I stepped outside the bus terminal and indeed, there were the steps down to the subway. I went down a few flights of stairs and found a young man standing in a little information booth. I pulled out my new smart phone (!) and pulled up the subway map that one of the English teachers had helped me install on my phone. I showed him the map and asked him to show me where I was. He found our spot on the map and I realized that I was already very close to Gangnam. Well, that was easy.

So, up to the street I went, intent on flagging down a taxi. I handed the taxi my hotel reservation sheet which had the address in English and Korean and was whisked into the thick traffic. It didn’t take too long to find the hotel so I paid my 6,500 won and thanked my driver.

I looked up at Hotel Vole as I ascended the steps. The building is tall and squished between a bunch of other stores and shops that reach up to make the Gangnam sky line. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I wouldn’t have been disappointed no matter what I was hoping for. Check in was easy and I made my way up to the room I was going to be sharing with a Native English Teacher named Nina (who I hadn’t actually met yet).I opened the door to our room and I have to say that it was awesome. The pristine white bed was set up against a diamond mirrored wall. Two flat screen monitors connected to twin computers sit on a white desk in front of clear, plastic chairs. A huge flat screen TV was mounted on a wall that was decorated with graffiti-like art. And the bathroom! The bathroom was my favorite thing about this place. The Jacuzzi tub with a rainfall shower head made me absurdly happy.

While I was waiting for the other NETs to get into Seoul from their respective cities, I decided to take a shower, the first shower that I had taken in a month where I didn’t have to hold the shower head over myself. It was lovely.

Soon after, Nina arrived and we got ready to head out. The other NETs were already out in the city, getting their drink on, and we were eager to join them. We had a bit of a snafu in the cab on the way there (looking for a bar that is part of a chain means that you end up at the right bar in the wrong part of town) but eventually we caught up with our friends. Then we could get down to partying!

At the first bar we were standing around talking and I noticed that the bartender was mixing a drink in a shot glass that looked pretty good. I started watching him make it as he floated Bacardi 151 on the surface of the shot. I turned towards him and he gently slid the shot over to me. I looked at him quizzically and he said that he had made it for me, then he grabbed up a lighter and lit the alcohol on top on fire. He then grabbed a plastic straw and handed it to me. I looked between him, the blue fire flickering on top of the shot, and the straw in my hand. Go! Go! He said. I blinked, but time was wasting. I slid the straw to the bottom of the shot glass and quickly gulped down the warm, deliciously chocolatey liquid. I pulled the straw out of the flaming shot glass and it brought a bit of fire with it, splattering on the bar. The bartender leaned forward and easily blew of the rest of my fire. Well... what a way to start the weekend! 

Soon after we were ready to move on and we walked down the block and found another bar to take over. We flooded the bar with our bodies and voices. The girls crowding around a bunch of tables and the boys getting rowdy at the dart board. We stayed out drinking and talking until 3:30 in the morning. Apparently Korea doesn't have bar time. After we had drank our fill we poured out into the still active streets and found a little old woman who was selling street food on a stick. A drunk Korean man found us and started buying us fish cakes and corn dogs. It was delicious and a perfect way to end an exciting and exhausting day.

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Mom on

Food on a stick - a perfect way to end your first day in Seoul!

Carlo on

A flaming shot?? That's one very perceptive bartender. :D

I love that "Party time!" pic, btw. &lt;3

Sarah on

Ditto on Carlo's comment about the flaming shot. I'm a little surposed you didn't dip you finger in and show the bartender how a liberty shot is done ;)

Erika on

This sounds like so much fun!

Benny on

Flaming shots! That's one way to make you right at home!

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