Scene: Seoul, Korea. Approx 9pm.
The night starts off with Sunghee and I meeting Friend #1 as we get out of the subway station. We wander around for a bit looking for the “nice” “American” restaurant. We’re going to the American restaurant because they want to make sure that I’m happy with the food. We finally find “Jaz Cafe” and head in. It’s nice and modern and we actually have a raised table with chairs. Very American. I review the menu and order a “Steak”. Friend #1 orders a “Philly Cheese Steak” (the reason for quotes will become apparent later). I also order a Diet Coke but the waiter does not understand me. Sunghee tries translation for me. “Diet-oo Cocoo”. The waiter still isn’t getting it. He goes and looks in the soda refrigerator and consults with the chef. He comes back and says he has no idea what we’re talking about. Friend #1 jumps to the rescue. “Cocoo Cola Lite-too”. Ahhh! That’s it!
The meal starts off with the traditional American Cream of… well nothing soup. Think of Cream of Broccoli or Cream of Potato soup with out the Broccoli or Potato. I devour the soup because I’m really, really hungry and I can’t wait for my “steak” (or as the menu calls it, “The best beef steak in the city!”). Finally our meal comes and my steak is about 4″ around and 3″ high. Wait a second, this isn’t steak, this is a meatloaf. Yes, apparently in Korea “steak” means meatloaf. It wasn’t even very good, very bland and they had no ketchup. Friend #1’s “Philly Cheese Steak” actually did have strips of beef in it, onions, a small amount of cheese-wiz and tons of MAYONNAISE. It was also served on grilled, triangle-shaped, panini bread. It was very gross.
We finished up dinner and headed off to meet up with Friend #2, aka Sunghee #2. I only remember her name because it’s the same as my wife’s. Anyways, we wander around for a while longer until Friend #2 makes her appearance by jumping out from behind a bus stop and tackling my wife and almost takes me down too. Friend #2 shows off her new tattoos, which are actually her eyebrows. This is apparently the new hot thing to do. First you electrolysis your eyebrows off, then you have new ones tattooed in. No plucking or penciling in for the rest of your life! She’s also had the “eye surgery” done, which along with her tan and round face make her look almost Spanish instead of Korean.
With Friend #2 in tow, we set off for more wandering. And wandering, and wandering. We’re looking for some bar and walk in circles for 30 minutes while I’m pointing out all the bars I see, hoping that one of them is good enough. Friend #1 gets on the phone three times for directions and we finally find it. I’m pretty sure we walked by this place twice before, but I didn’t know it was a bar so I didn’t point it out.
We walk in and inside there’s a wading-pool / river thing running through the floor. People have their shoes off and are sitting on the side of the pool with their feet in the water. But we’re heading up stairs to get a bed. Here’s a clip from a movie that was filmed at the same place:
Sunghee and her friends order a bottle of wine. I try a bit of the wine and don’t really like it so I review the drink menu. Hmm, lots of wine. I hadn’t yet learned of the magical powers of Soju at this point in my trip, and the only thing I can read on the menu is Margarita, so I get one of those.
We also get “food” which is a sliced tomato with sliced tofu covered in soy sauce. I don’t touch that either.
We also took lots of pictures. Here’s Friend #1, Friend #2 and Sunghee.
After I finish a couple Margaritas I realize that I’m going to have to pee very soon. I ask my wife to ask her friend where the restroom is and I get an answer of “out the door, around the corner”. Alright, I go out the door and around the corner, see what looks to be a bathroom, but wait, there’s the universal “woman bathroom” sign on the door, but no “man bathroom” sign. I stare at the door for about 10 seconds, trying to figure out what to do. Friend #1 probably doesn’t know where the men’s room is so there’s no sense in going back to ask. If I go in this one, what are the chances that it’s being used and the girl who’s in there freaking out? At this moment the waitress walks by and I get her attention and point to the ladies room door and then to me, then to the door while saying “Mens?!? Bath… room!?!??!”. She shakes her head “no no no” and does the “come here” sign with her hand and starts walking down the stairs. I follow her down the stairs, past the bar, and into the kitchen where she picks up a plate of cheese, turns around and starts walking towards me going “Out! Out! Out!” with a shooing motion. I back out of the kitchen and she walks past me back up the stairs. Hmmm. I ask the bartender “Bath… rooom?” He points around the corner, and Ah-ha! Mens room! There is a stall, which is being used and a wall with water running down it into a drain below the floor. I’m thinking the wall is a decoration and while I’m waiting for the stall to empty another guy walks in and pees on the water wall. Oh, ok. I’ll pee on the water wall too which was kind of cool.
I head back upstairs and Friend #3 has arrived and brought a cake for us. You can also see the tomato / tofu / soy sauce concoction here.
We finish up the cake and head off to the subway station. Along the way we pass by this “Art and Crafts” store, as my wife calls it. If this store was in America, the only people who would shop here would be 12 year old girls. The store was filled with pink pencils, fuzzy pens, heart shaped notebooks and “Happy Virus” stickers.