December 31, 2009
SoKor Day 21: New Years Eve in Seoul
After a glorious night belting out some tunes in Karaoke last night, we got up and packed up all my stuff, and headed off to Lisa's school to check out before heading up to Seoul. We went downtown to the (very modern) train station. We got to the train station and booked our tickets, the trains were pretty busy because of New Years but that worked out well, as it gave us a good amount of time to get some nice lunch before heading up to Seoul on the train. We hit up some great rice and beef stir-fry for lunch. Again we were given a whole ton of tasty Korean side-dishes free with the meal. I'm getting really used to Kimchi and that really good red pepper paste now!
It was really bright and sunny as we started to get closer to Seoul, and a fair bit of snow on the ground, too. The train conductor was hilarious, he kept nodding and smiling at us, I think because we were the only foreigners there (that seems to be a trend around here!) The train system was very modern and fancy, there was a Noraebong (Karaoke) booth in the train! Also PCs and Internet, Arcade Games and other cool stuff in the Cafe car.
We arrived in Seoul at Youngsan Train Station and met up with Liz, and old elementary school friend who is also living in South Korea. The three of us jumped on a bus and headed back to Sillim Dong, the area where Liz's apartment is now. We hung out and caught up for a bit, and Lisa took a nap while Liz and I headed out for dinner. The food was great!! We got some Galbi - grilled beef, grilled kimchi and garlic, and we got the requisite thousands of free side dishes. It was super good. Surprisingly, Rice was not a standard option, you ordered it extra on the side. The default way to eat the BBQ food was to wrap it in a lettuce leaf, which was really tasty too.
As a thank-you for our patronage (another "serviceuh"), they triumphantly presented us with a block of Spam (oh, no) and started meticulously slicing it for us and placing it on the grill. It seemed rude to not eat their free thank-you gift to us, but Spam is definitely about the most unkosher thing imaginable, so I told poor Liz that, unfortunately, she'd have to take one for the team on this ;) Apparently grilled Spam tastes as terrible as it sounds, but man South Koreans sure seem to love it!
After dinner we met back up with Lisa and headed out to some New Years celebrations. We tried to get up to the top of the 63 Building but it was closed, so Plan B was to take off to the Hongdae (University) area and we arrived there basically just as the countdown was happening, to a huge party happening in the middle of the street. People were breakdancing in the street and singing and dancing to Michael Jackson songs that were blaring from huge speakers. We wandered Hongdae for a bit and tried to get into some ice bar, but we kept ending up in this elevator lobby, and the entrance to the bar seemed non-existent! We kept wandering to a place called Chez Robert, and walked in and up a flight of stairs and then up a super steep set of stairs to a tree-house sort of bar. It was cool! We got nachos, which were a huge plate of chips and a bowl of hot salsa. :) They were playing Weezer and a bunch of other recognizable tunes - it was funny to see the very hip Korean bartenders singing along to the songs in English.
We hung out and chatted for a while and then took a taxi back through Itaewon (International District). I saw a random Canadian Flag as we drove past a Canadian "Rocky-Mountain-something" bar, but the area seemed to be winding down for the night, so we headed back to Sillim and called it a night.
Tasty lunchtime meal in Suncheon before heading up to Seoul on the train
Getting used to the metal chopsticks now!
"Caution: Heat may cause sever burns" - ouch!
Liz!! Out for Korean BBQ dinner before New Years
Uh oh, dodgy double-barber poles!!
Party in the street in Hongdae just after the countdown
Chillin out at a "treehouse" style bar in Hongdae
Practicing the Korean-style "V" chin photo :)