(the shell sculpture at the entrance to Cheonggyecheon)
This weekend, like most, was pretty amazing. First, I'll take us back a few days before the weekend. I took a mid week trip into Yongsan to buy a new camera. I purchased the Canon Kiss x3 (the Japanese 500D). Boy-oh-boy does it take better pictures than my old Sony Cybershot. This gave me a nice little bit of mid week excitement. Some of the pictures I'll be posting in this update are with the new camera, and some are with the old.
On friday, after a nice long week of work, I went out for a couple beers with the Avalon folks. I then submitted to an early night in, because I needed to be awake and out the door by 6am. Although, one beer did turn into two, and two into three. Either way, I came home and went to bed, then managed to wake up at 6:15, instead of 5:45. I'm AWESOME! This led to a frantic search for clothes, and an exhilarating sprint to the bus stop. I'm actually quite surprised that I managed to make it out to the Express Bus Terminal on time. The bus for Discover Korea was pretty clear that they wait for nobody. I was quite worried about being five minutes late and missing out on 62,000 won. I was able to make it there at 7:25 for a 7:30 departure. Amarisse had an equally stressful morning in transit, but we both showed up on time and caught the bus out to Bul Jeong-dong for an exciting day of ziplining.
We arrived at the zipline course around 9:45 or so and found ourselves in the first of five zipline groups. This was the largest zipline course in all of Korea. It was a great way to spend an early saturday. There were a total of nine lines ranging from 100 - 360 meters. We found ourselves in a really fun group of other foreigners. I sadly didn't take many photos, but I am going to post a couple that I stole from Amarisse's flickr account. I really do enjoy the few times a month I get to spend with her. We get along in a way that not many others do.
(Amarisse and I getting pumped up for the occasion)
(Amarisse is just showing us how cool zipline gear can be)
(Our zipline guides)
(just a peak at what the zipline course was like)
On the bus ride home, I was given the option of getting of the bus in Suji, which is right next to Yeong-tong. I figured, "This is a great idea!" because that isn't too far from Jangan, where my home is located in Suwon. I got off the bus, and then proceeded to get on a bus that I assumed was destined for Suwon Station, where I could take a different bus. Turns out, I was on the bus going to wrong direction. I rode for about twenty minutes, when it jumped on the freeway. I started realizing that something was a bit off. The bus driver must have noticed me trying to interpret to route map, and called me up to talk to him. I just said, "Suwon-yeok?" I flat out laughed at me. Apparently this was a really dumb mistake. I had one of those moments where everybody on the bus was shaking their heads, thinking, "dumb foreigner." I was kind of great. He instructed me to get off, cross the street, and get on a bus going to opposite direction. About an hour and a half later, I finally arrived at home.
At this point, Justin and I headed into Namdaemun to attempt to repeat JC and I's, previous shenanigans. This proved to be very difficult. I think the JC has this magical ability to make mundane events really fun. Justin and I just had no luck. We did decide to purchase a couple bottles of mokguli each. This made things a little more fun. We wandered for a bit, then went over to Myeong-dong, only to realize that everything closes around 10pm. Bummer. We decided that this going to be the night that we were finally going to have our Suwon bar crawl. The point of this bar crawl was to explore our lesser known areas of our beautiful city. We called up Matt and Calvin and arranged a meet up.
(City Hall getting ready for Christmas)
(a nicely lit street)
(Justin with a cool light post)
Matt, Justin & I departed into the depths of our neighborhood, only to realize that 75% of the bars nearby have a very specific business tactic that we weren't looking to take advantage of. They all charge anywhere from 100,000 - 200,000 won to sing nore bang (노래방/karaoke) with sexy ladies. The price is high, because they expect you to pay for the company of Korean women. We finally found a nice little second floor Hof that we stopped into for a quick beer. This ended up being the first and only stop on our bar crawl, because Justin received a call from a girl his interested in (Miji). This led to a quick decision to leave Jangan and take a taxi out to Ingye-dong. On the way to the taxi area, we found a claw machine to angered Justin to no end, and also met up with Calvin.
(Matt & Justin at the Hof)
(the claw machine)
(Justin & I having a good time in the taxi)
(Calvin in the Taxi)
When we arrived in Ingye-dong, we realized that Miji (미지) and her friends were at this super happening club. The club also frowned upon foreigners. We needed Koreans with us in order to enter. This didn't really happen, because Miji's friends were inside, and we weren't. While waiting outside to let Miji try to work something out, we met to girls, and ended up just hanging with them the rest of the night. We bought some soju at a Family Mart and went to the batting cages. What else would we do in Ingye-dong, right? One of the girls, Jin (진) was pretty cool, but I'm fairly certain that she has a boyfriend. That was another bummer for the evening, but it didn't really put a damper on anything. After the batting cages, we ended up at some strange bar; I think that it may have been a hookah bar, but I'm not sure. The six of us hung around there for quite awhile, and eventually Justin passed out and our new friends departed, so we decided it was time to head home as well. That put an end to ONLY Saturday.
(just hanging around)
(Matt, Justin & I honestly don't remember her name)
(Jin & myself)
(Calvin drinking at the batting cages)
(not quite sure what we are doing; maybe telling him not to drink)
(just hanging with a cowboy)
(Justin making a terrible decision: two bottles of soju)
(Justin decided to take a nap)
(Matt was loving life)
The next day started a little bit later than I was expecting as well. I was supposed to meet JC at Sadang Station to do some Christmas shopping at 11. I accidentally woke up around noon. WHOOPS! It turned out to be just fine. He was accompanied by Atayeh, a girl that we met when we were hiking Seoraksan. I eventually met them in Itaewan around 1:30. We had lunch, and purchased some gifts, then proceeded to move onto Insa-dong, to try out some authentic Korean goods for gifts. It turned out to be quite successful. We were all pretty much having one of those "I love my life!" days. I'm telling you, JC does something magic to the most routine things.
(JC in Insa-dong)
(a temple cooking shop)
(street-side pottery shop)
(Gwanghwamun from the outdoor fourth floor of a Starbucks)
We totally saw these eight dudes that were flinging little kids into the air using a blanket. We went ahead and waited in line for our turns.
(me: showing off some thigh)
(JC going for a ride)
So, the whole reason for being in the Gwanghwamun area was to goto the Lantern Festival again. JC and Atayeh hadn't been, yet. I jumped at the chance to go again. One, it is really awesome. Two, I had a much more awesome camera in my possession. Some of these photos will look just like last time, but hopefully they look a little better. By the way, there were about ten times more people there than the previous time.
(me and LANTERNS)
(yep, that turtle boat shoots fire)
(JC & Atayeh posing like the hanbok couple in the background)
(myself, by a hope message tree)
(the only pose I could think of in front of these)
(my favorite lantern)
After the lantern festival, we went for a quick bite to eat, which turned into a feast followed by 7 bottles of mokguli. We enjoyed some wonderful conversation and a music sharing session. We each listened to our current "special" songs and discussed what we thought about them. The ladies that were working at the restaurant were loving us too. They got a huge kick out of our broken Korean. We would should "Chogiyo!" and the would respond "Ne." always followed by a hearty laugh. Such a good night!
(JC and Atayeh giving me a preview of the soft crabs we were about to eat)
(see the pinchers?)
(mokguli.... seems like a trend, eh?)
(JC making tough decisions)
(the wonderful restaurant lady)
(just so you can see what we were dealing with, here)
After it was all said and done, we headed home, still loving life.
Cheonggyecheon: Exit 3 Gwanghwamun Station, line 5. Walk straight ahead and cross a big intersection. About a half block down, you'll see a large blue and red shell statue. Turn left, and you are at the beginning of Cheonggye Stream.
Insa-dong: Exit 6 Anguk Station, Line 3. Walk straight out of the exit until you hit a street of shops on your left (maybe 1 minute). Turn left there, and you are right in the middle of a nice stroll of shops and street vendors.