Vast Visions

a year abroad in south korea

Food and Dranks – Endless Sides

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So yeah guys, it’s a Sunday mornin’, rain is fallin’, and I am in an absolute daze. The past two days have been a marathon. From 6am on Friday morning to 4am today I had three hours of sleep. Whaaaaaat. And let me tell you, it was the most absurd 48 hours of my life yet.

Let’s rewind a bit to see what went down: I got a text from one of my good friends from EPIK on an unassuming Friday night. I had finished teaching classes for the day, and she invited me to a late dinner with a Korean “Wine Club.” I looked from the text on my phone to my pajamas…looked back at the text and told myself “what the hell, let’s do the damn thing tonight.”

After a flurry of clothe-changing and a powerwalk to the Homeplus station, I caught one of the last subway trains heading into Banwoldang. If you haven’t figured it out already, Banwoldang is pretty much the lynchpin of nightlife here. From Banwoldang, I caught a cab to a place between there and Beomeo. I handed off my phone to the taxi driver and someone from the wine club directed him. When I arrived, I met up with my friend and the wine club, a table of about 20 Koreans ranging from late 20’s to…late 40’s I’m guessing. Yep. A few ahjusshis in the mix, and I was the token foreigner amongst them.

We had some delicious, amazing blueberry makgeolli, and the pours didn’t stop. Apparently the group had already been drinking wine before that at a different location, and this was their second round. I graciously accepted the 술 and ate some kimchi pancakes with the welcoming group. Many of them were apprehensive about using their English but a few bowls of makgeolli in, everyone wanted to try some out on me. Especially the ahjusshis. After asking me where I was from, one of them (the one belting it out on the far right of the picture) told me “you are my style – Indian, my style” and asked to take a picture with me. This picture he then sent to his friends, apparently…

Overall there was a good balance of men and women in the group. At one point, one of the women encouraged me to pour one of the men a drink and call him “oppa.” Not missing a moment to impress, I one up’d that and said “오빠 많이 마셔~~” (oppa, please drink a lot~~) to which everyone lost their shit.

Well I’m not sure what time it was at this point but I know that since I had been there the group had gone through about 7 pitchers of blueberry makgeolli. The place we were at closed, and we moved on to Round 3 – 노래방 (Karaoke). Since orientation I hadn’t been to another noraebang, but it’s a lot of fun for me. I know a lot of k-pop songs so it ends up being fun for everyone to sing along. We headed over to a place called 토마토노래방 and for you all that can read hangeul THAT’S RIGHT: the place was called “Tomato Noraebang” LOL. Now here’s where things started getting weird…

You would think that after a round of wine, soju and makgeolli that Korean people would stop drinking. You would be wrong. At the noraebang someone ordered 10 bottles of beer and a few bottles of…something that was hard liquor but not soju. Some people were passed out for the duration of the noraebang session, some dudes were snoring, ahjusshis were serenading me with trot songs, and then this one dude started telling me sweet nothings in Korean…??!! I looked to my friend, not really knowing what to do…she couldn’t translate what he was saying either because he was slurring LOL…. He had k-pop orange hair, fake gold chain, strangely acid-washed-bleached jeans, and the overwhelming smell of alcohol. I politely repeated to him in Korean that I really didn’t know what he was saying, but there was no deterring the woo-ing as he picked up the mic to sing melancholy-sounding ballads. -__-‘

At another point, maybe at 3am ish, my friend and I catch the ahjusshi who took a picture with me quietly sitting there with his phone. Then we catch a glimpse of the phone. HE WAS LOOKING AT THE PICTURE…….LITERALLY JUST SITTING THERE STARING AT THE PICTURE OF ME AND HIM……….. o___o! Slightly skeeved out at this point, but mostly super tired, my friend and I put in one last song (Everybody by Backstreet Boys, of course), declared it 마지막 (the last one) and thus our noraebang-ing came to an end. We woke up the dudes who were passed out and we parted ways in the wee hours of the morning.

Since my friend came from far away, both of us went to my apartment and got a whopping 3 hours of sleep before the daylight crowbar-ed our eyelids open. We went to a noodle place near my apartment for brunch and it was heavenly – two big bowls of jjajjangmyeon (black bean noodles) and an order of sweet and sour pork ;___; <3 We were practically falling into a coma at the restaurant though, so we stocked up on some vitamin water and headed off to the museum we had planned to visit.

Took a micro nap on the subway ride to the museum and successfully got there without getting lost (hooray!). We wanted to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibit, which you can read about here. The museum and the exhibit was beautiful, playful, awesome, and well worth the pilgrimage. Can’t wait to see what the next show is going to be~

After the museum we stopped by the Lotte Department store, which is ten floors of glistening, shiny awesomeness. Luxury brands like Gucci, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, etc. packed every sparkling floor. At the eatery section we had some absolutely killer pho (fuhhhh) and kebabs?? Kebabs are a thing in Korea. They’re everywhere, with middle aged Korean ladies making them. I had a wrap at one of the kebab stands and it was delishasss. The ingredients were so fresh. I am really, really going to miss the food here.

So I parted ways with my friend here because she had to catch a train at this stop. I rode the subway back to Banwoldang, where I was supposed to transfer to the green line and get my butt home, when fate intervened and…I ended up catching dinner downtown with some friends.

At dinner, we had some samyopsal (**pork belly) and wrapped the meat in sesame leaves. Man, too much good food. Then someone ordered some bamboo soju and of course I had to try it. Mah gawd, that stuff was heavenly. So some shots of soju and glasses of beer later, I’m wandering around Banwoldang again with some more people I know headed to a bottle bar. This place lets you pick out as many beers as you want, and at the end you just give them your bottles and pay. So easy! I said I wasn’t going to drink anymore but I had a sip of a beer called Mariachi, an agave/lemon flavored beer, and I had to have one. (Guys, am I sounding like an alcoholic yet??)

Well, after hi-fiving/gang-signing someone else I knew who came to the bottle bar and finishing our respective beers, off we went again to a pretty low-key bar that played some classic tunes on vinyls. Good conversation over some more beers that were conveniently situated in an inset bucket of ice on the table. Afterwards I think we visited the club for a bit, cheered on one of my EPIK bros that was DJing, and dipped out towards MF Bar. What does MF stand for, even? (**”My Favorite” LOL) Anyway, it’s where everyone and their mother has their birthdays and it was PACKED. Apparently there were multiple birthdays that day and it was swarming with people who were well past tipsy. There were some pretty obnoxiously drunk, clumsy girls there, doing some ungodly things with some random Koreans. Yep, scum of the earth was festering at MF on that particular occasion. Not my favorite part of the night, but I did get to see more people I knew, met some cool new peeps, and…had some more beer.

Last place of the night/morning was Thursday Party, where outside a Scottish dude that I met at MF tried to start a fight with me. Getting all up in my grill. After he strangely started wrestle-hugging me and insulting/complimenting me (I have no idea what he was doing) I thought he calmed down. I was conversing with a few people when all of a sudden he comes back and starts forcibly poking my face. MY FACE. Assault poke. I didn’t really know how to react, What exactly does one do when someone starts poking you hard in the face?? WTF? I tried evading/backing away but this guy was persistent… Eventually after enough people tried to intervene he stopped. -__-;

After that strange, strange episode I took a cab home and arrived at my apartment at 4am today. Slept in, woke up and ate some ramen. Rested, recovered, and still asking myself what the hell happened for the past two days. Korea, that was a whole lotta weird in a short amount of time. Here’s to surviving it. Cheers, 건배~~~


Author: Natasha

26, student of law but still a dreamer. currently living in chicago.

One thought on “Food and Dranks – Endless Sides

  1. Sounds awesome. To clarify, MF stands for “My favorite.” It’s an interesting little place. I was there this weekend as well!

    And samgyeopsal is bbq pork belly. Nice and tasty!

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