Ok, I know I promised the second part of the Seoul trip but this is something that came up and I have to write it while it's still fresh, and writing this at 4:00 am while still intoxicated is "off the farm" fresh. This is what blogging is all about folks!
Anyways, my friends Mal and Lu invited me to come spend the evening with them, get some dinner and a drink or two, nothing crazy cause Mal and I are both fighting off a cold (those virus carrying kids, I tell ya). I, of course, accepted since the other option for the evening was eating out by myself and then returning back to my apartment to pretend like I was going to clean up or work on grad school applications, ha!
So I meet up with them around 10:00 in the p.m. and then we head over to one bar. After meeting up with the other half of our group, their canadian friend Mike and his Korean Coworker, Martin, along with Martin's friend Nam Yeon, we met up with Mal and Lu's coworker and friends at another bar for some beers and some appetizers that kind of played the role of dinner for the time being.
I was quite keen to end my night there, say around 12:30-1:00ish, given the circumstances and the fact that I was expecting a low key evening. Then, Nam Yeon ran into me on my way out of the bathroom and dared me to do something great for the evening. Ok, maybe he didn't dare me to be great, but he did say that they were going to a "traditional soju" place after being at the current establishment. How can one deny something "traditional", right? So I eagerly accepted..... err caved in after a long fight, that's right, I struggled with the decision.
So we head on over to this place which is a 5 story building which has a sign for many establishments, one of which being Nora Zone (Norae, Nora, however you spell it in English, means song, and generally means that Karaoke will be involved). I hope deep down inside that this is the place Nam Yeon plans on taking us to but I don't get mt hopes up, he did say traditional before, right? Right? Step into the elevator and sure enough, he presses the button for floor 5. Look out Nora Zone, here we come!
Now to preface this is a little bit, I have been to noraebang (노래방, which means song-room) but did not end up remembering the experience so this was basically something new to me. A little about the place, we were led to our own private room which had a screen, and a booth with a table, like one you'd find at a restaurant. We were then enclosed in the room, alone to make asses out of ourselves without anyone ever knowing. Well that might not be entierly true because I heard some of our neighbors singing, but you get the point.
Now it's exciting to have a room just for karaoke, but it doesn't stop there. Oh no, Martin and Nam Yeon either call the front desk or go outside and talk to them, not sure which, but some 15 minutes late a waiter is coming by with some plum wine, and some kiwi soju cocktail, and the food. They brought us a plate of sausages, some kind of Korean shaved ice/ice cream, some Korean omelette thing, two kinds of soup and some skewered meat. Thats what I called service!
Now we've got food, the booze is flowing freely and only one thing is missing, the norae!! Martin and Nam Yeon started things off with a Korean song and rocked it out and everything rolled on from there out. I will say that some of the highlights of the evening, singing wise, was singing "Rainism" by the Korean singer Rain with Nam Yeon. He covered the Korean and I covered the English parts and we rocked out and got something like a 98%. We also did the cheesy of cheesy with barbie girl by Aqua and Nam Yeon and Martin knew it almost as well we did, which I'm not sure as to which is more pathetic. Then Mal, Lu, Mike and I did some classic songs like Wonderwall, Come Together (by the Beatles), Bittesweet Symphony (too dark of a song for karaoke, which we found out too late) and Mal and I did Stairway. Lastly, Nam Yeon and Martin decided that we should close the evening with "We Are the World", definitely the cheesiest of cheese but would you expect anything else from noraebang?????
I wanted to end my blog post there but I am unable to as there is one other thing that I need to touch on. After singing our last song, we leave the room and I stepped into the mens room to take care of business and come back to the front of the lobby expecting to chip in for the room that we had for the evening, only to find out that Nam Yeon took care of it. And i mean he took care of it in the sense that none of us paid him anything for it. Now, I can't speak with certainty for the whole world, but I can't think of too many places where people would treat everybody to an evening out like that. This is not a one time occurance either, as this has happened in the past with me and it has also happened with other foreigners when spending time with Koreans. Without a doubt, Koreans must be some of the most friendly, giving people out there.
All right folks, well that is my noraebang experience. I will see you next time but for now it's off to dream land, a place where kiwi soju rivers flow freely and "Barbie Girl" is the accompaniment to daily life.......
Random Thoughts. Cox' blog to Cleveland sports with a hint of music and current events thrown in there.
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