Cold chillin’ in winter Itaewon

Korea in the winter’s shaping up to be a fun, if not jaw-droppingly cold affair. For real, though, this country’s slid in the past 30 days from ‘elDiablo covered in gasoline on the surface of the sun’ to ‘Sub Zero cruising low rider polar bears around Hoth’. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to freezerfest 2012.


“Underfloor heating in the apartment, you say. I’ll take it.”

It’s cold as a bastard in this place right now, man. But the living’s still easy, even though it ain’t summer time no more. October through the beginning of November’s been a jam. Late last month, I finally put myself on a train and hightailed it across the country to Busan to visit some friends I have out that way and see the sights. We found this awesome foreigners pub in the city where the owners had set up a braai on the roof. Tricked out with steaks some godlike party goer rustled up from what I can only assume was the freezer of a benevolent deity, we set about drinking Hunters and looking down our noses at the milling throngs of non braaiers passing by in the street below us.


South African booze: turning expats into snobs since Bob showed up earlier with a sixpack.

Heading out into the world at large later on, we found a table outside a CU (Family Mart), drank makgeoli and soju, and were treated to the most bizarre chemistry lesson I’ve ever heard concerning the transmogrification of the fancy-brand soju with the olives in the bottle into olive oil if you put it in your cupboard for 6 months.

We fed beer to the guitarist from a Metallica cover band, who would later go on to make a complete ass of himself by shouting down the other members of the band halfway through Master of Puppets. We danced a funky dance at some funky clubs. I impressed Korean women by being able to click the click in Xhosa and crawled into bed after sunup,


Last week saw me in nearby Bupyeong, getting introduced to the great Korean art of Noraebang for the first time since I’ve been here. Noraebang, for the uninitiated, is renting a private room for Karaoke with a group of people. It’s incredible, and I’m incredible at it, and I think it’s just better for our relationship if you don’t ask any of the people who watched me do it if that’s true.

Now, for the naysayers in the audience who’ve complained about me never getting out and doing something without a party theme: this Friday past, I took to the Suraksan mountains for a hike with my Hagwon coteachers. Aside from the ridiculous notion of waking up at 6 in the morning to go out and do things (and believe me, I wrestled with this problem on levels of rage and self-directed misery previously unknown to me)…


“This is bullshit.” – Duncan

I had a great time. We hiked 200 meters up into the mountain at a pace roughly as brisk as a glass of Burt Reynolds’ aftershave on a cold winter morning. Arriving at a clearing, we dropped our picnic blanket and broke out the dried squid, fancy bread and makgeoli. We followed it up with a slow walk through the woods back to the foot of the mountain, and some old fashioned Korean barbecue.

More soju. An hour or two on the subway, some taxis and a trip through to Itaewon last night for a birthday party that wasn’t, and you’re all up to date on the life and times of me. The novel’s looking tight (I’d put the full length first draft at about a month and a half from now). School’s going well. I’m also, for some reason, the only expat I’ve met in my time here who is gaining weight on a Korean diet, which is disconcerting, but tasty. Oh, and I took a bunch of pictures of some of this stuff, which I’ll attach after the break.

Happy trails, friends.


Picnic time in Suraksan on a gorgeous day.Image

Breaking out the makgeoli.Image


Yeah, I forgot to mention, but makgeoli’s like solid white when you shake it up, like milk. Image

More hiking and amazing scenery.Image

More hiking and amazing scenery.


More hiking and amazing sceneryImage

This was the worst hubbly, hehe.Image

This restaurant is the business.ImageImage

Papa Gorilla, the club we jammed at in Hongdae.Image

This ridiculous looking cocktail is a zombie. It’s delicious, and should be served in cafeterias the world over.Image

This is it compared to a normal drink.Image

These are clubbers. See them club.Image

This! This is a South African breakfast served at this expat restaurant called Braai Republic. I got me some lamb shanks, bacon, krimmelpap, tomato relish and ouma bread, while Jermaine hooked up an actual potjie.Image

Braai Republic. Where happiness lives.Image

This is the view on the way back from Itaewon.Image

More Suraksan shotsImage

More hiking and amazing scenery.Image

This is pretty rad. The kids in this photo are all using these high powered air hose things to blow the sand and dirt off of their shoes after the hike,Image

This was the situation in the men’s bathroom at one of the restaurants this weekend. I was not amused.Image

Jermaine and Sivmui on pillows at the Indian place.

~ by dook on November 11, 2012.

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