Friday, July 24, 2009

Walls and the Holes in Them

I have a long overdue post about my trek out to the N Seoul Tower with Aaron, but since he has all the pictures from the trip with him (I didn't have my camera), I'll have to make do with a filler post.

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet and assorted "social networking" sites, I've managed to make the acquaintance of a Korean fellow (Jong-min) who speaks fluent English and who doesn't live unreasonably far from me out here in Minlak-dong. We spend most of our time in the neighborhoods surrounding Korea University (mostly Anam), where he knows the places to go to eat and drink.

Something that seems to be popular in the more casual places is store-sanctioned graffiti. Nice restaurants will keep their walls prim and pristine, but the ones more equivalent to your college town pizzeria have walls covered in scribbles, cartoons, declarations of love, etc. Last night we had dinner at one of these places: a kim chi sort of pizza deal (I forget the name but pictures will be forthcoming as soon as I remember), sausages, and giant plate of french fries, and one "Dragon Shot" each to drink. (More on the Dragon Shot in another post.) This particular eatery boasts, in addition to wall-mounted TVs and a boisterous atmosphere, a giant LED marquee, to which you can text some message or other, where it will scroll by (with the last digits of your phone number) until someone sends in their own. So while we ate dinner, Jong-min's:

"I work on Saturday. FML."

rolled by. Prior to that, a line in Korean about a girl wanting to find a guy to take her to a noraebong scrolled by for about twenty minutes or so.

Another one of these places—smaller quieter, and without the technology, but with the same floor-to-ceiling graffiti—served soju cocktails (read as: soju mixed with fruit juice) in little ceramic pots. The food there was also delicious, and the price was nice: drinks and food for the two of us came to 13,000 won. Google tells me that's $10.43 American. Win.

Or last Wednesday, we enjoyed a giant plate of kim-chi and tofu at a Korean "tea house" that specialized both in Korean teas and Korean spirits—so naturally we indulged in some of the latter (Chrysanthemum wine, to be exact).

Departing from Korean staples, there's also an Uzbekistan restaurant in Anam that serves traditional Uzbek(i?) and Russian food. No pirogies, but yes to pirozhki, borscht, and imported Russian beer. Never would I have guessed that I'd need to be able to read Cyrillic while I was in Korea.

Billiards halls are inexplicably popular here. You can't walk for ten minutes without seeing a sign for a pool hall, all of which stick to some (un)officially agreed-upon standard in symbols:

Which sign do you think is for the pool hall? Go on, guess.

Billiards seems to be just as popular as eight-ball here; you can find both kinds of tables in pool halls. I shot my first game in over four months last night, and did rather well—though it's a bit intimidating when your table is right next to a billiards table with very serious-looking Korean ajosshis who obviously don't mess around when it comes to billiards, pool, or any variant thereof.

If it sounds like I'm drinking a tremendous amount, the fact is that's what you do in Korea. It's rare for me to have more than three or four drinks on a weekday, though, which is hardly even a buzz.

I plan on getting a cheap little point-and-shoot while I'm here (my Kodak EasyShare is too nice a camera to take out when there's alcohol involved), so with any luck, pictures of these places will be forthcoming.

No comments:

Post a Comment