Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Von came to visit me on Monday, and today, Wednesday, we flew into Tokyo, Japan for our visit our second Asian country.  Our hotel is in Minami-Asagaya on the Western side of Tokyo, on the Maronouchi Line of Tokyo Metro.

Although I don't claim to know Korean language yet, I've gotten used to the sound and rhythm of it being spoken all around me.  It's been a mental work-out to try to listen to a new, new patterns of speech to listen for the information that might be helpful to me in subway and in the stores.  I'll most likely put up pictures tomorrow of our trip so far.  First impressions of our neighborhood:  the streets are very clean and very quiet, there's no smoking outside, and manga is everywhere.

Tomorrow I'm going to Harajuku,  Roppongi, and lastly, Shibuya for a New Year's Eve party at club Womb in the evening. My mission is shopping, then partying. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Definitely the coldest day of the season so far today!  The daytime temp was -3 degrees!  Okay, okay; that's Celcius, but still I feel like it's the dead of winter.  There have been Christmas decorations up for the last two weeks, but it just doesn't feel like the holly jolly season I'm used to experiencing.  I think it's because I don't have the people I love near me.  Part of me is sad, but it's mostly just different.  TV here isn't as saturated with Christmas-themed ad jingles and seasonal warm-hearted mini-series as in America, and it's the first time I haven't been fed up with "Jingle Bell Rock" by the middle of the merry month.  I get a break this year! While I'm sure I'll start missing the exhaustion from all the Xmas glitz come March when I realize it's absence, for now I'm relieved(1).

But, please, don't think I'm forgotten about my family and friends from back home.  I'm giving all my good cheer (presents) to Von when he comes to visit East Asia over the New Year.  He'll bring it back with him on the plane and mail it to you all using USPS.  So, even though you'll get some gifts a little late, I hope you enjoy.  When else are you going to get some authentically cool crap from Korea?  

If you're one of those people who can't live without Christmas, please continue to live it up and have a happy holiday season! 

1. I am really missing Christmas cookies, however. :(

Friday, December 4, 2009

Korean Double Date

Last night my friend Meredith--from Utah, living three subway stops away from me in Beomgye--were invited on a double date.  I've been meeting one guy named Seong Jin about once a week for chicken and beer(1) and sometimes he brings his friends. His English is almost nonexistent, but we both have a sense of determination of communication that I think is uncommon for monolingual Koreans and certainly a rarity among foreigners here(2). Sometimes he invites his friends, who speak a little bit more English, and we always have a great time.

One of his friends asked if I had any other foreign friends that would be good for double or even triple dates. I've spent so much of my life hanging out with groups of guys (I think we more often mesh a little less awkwardly), so I said why not. There was one guy specifically that I wanted Seong Jin to take with us on a double date named Jim.  He's a taekweondo instructor, very fit, and he's got a cute asymmetrical anime haircut that I knew would win over one of my lady friends. 

We met last night at 9.  The friend he brought along, I had never met before, was named Hong Gil.  At first sight I was a little disappointed because he didn't have the same cute Korean style as Seong Jin and his friends--he looked more like an American guy, with a loose-fitting pair of light stonewashed jeans, an olive green jacket and a T-shirt.  We went out for beer, soju, makolri and bar food, which, in Korea, is top-notch non-fried stuff.  It was a little awkward at first since Seong Jin and I both knew two of the party and Meredith and Hong Gil only knew one, but the tension broke when they realized that HG lives in the same city that M trains in Moi Thai (a martial arts fighting style used in the Thailand army) and that HG also does martial arts--taekweondo and Judo.

This was an interesting experience.   It's like regular dating, without having to txt message your friend under the table or having to go to the bathroom together to let one know what the other is thinking about their date.  A "team"--divided by first language--can drop out of the group "conversation" and speak in a slightly coded version of the language to discuss more intimate things the other team doesn't need to know.  The coding consists of a more complex sentence structure, more difficult vocabulary, and slang.  Back in the group, it's like a language and culture workshop for both teams held over wonderful food and plentiful drink. 

1. I might have said this in a past blog post, but it's worth repeating.  Fried and barbequed chicken is one the most abundant and well-like foods in Korea and anywhere you go in a metropolitan area, a fried chicken place is not far.

2. It seems most foreigners band together with other foreigners and kind of cut off from what happening in Korea with Koreans.  Many seem like extended-stay tourists to me, seeing the sights, but not wishing to really observe and go with the flow of the culture.  

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