Saturday, July 25, 2009

Something funny happened on the way to the stag party.....

After beign called out by a drunken buffoon about my lack of writing on the blog (just kidding B, I know you weren't too drunk, ha!), I figured it was time for me to sit down again and crank one out for you guys. This particular post is a short one but I like it regardless. It's not particularly insightful on Korea or anything like that but it does highlight the fact that it's the small things that make life and that sometimes the journey can be as much fun as the actual destination. Enjoy!

So a friend of mine from the football (soccer) team I play on is getting married in late August, so that means 2 things my friends, bridal showers and dress shopping....errr, I mean one thing, stag party!! As a group, we decided to head to some place called Geoje, some small city which has to be better than Ulsan by default.

Saturday afternoon rolls around and I lazily walk to the meeting spot to cram into a 9 person van with 6 other guys from the team. Most of the people got there on Friday but the rest of us get out late in the evening on Fridays so it made more sense to leave on Saturday. So we roll out on our 4-5 hour trek somewhere around 1:00 and everything seems to be going well.

At one point we stop for at a truck stop for a bathroom break, get some snacks and stretch out. My friend Donal and I step inside and come across one of those once in a lifetime decisions, you know the ones where you make a bold move which could be seen as a heroic move or a complete utter move? Yeah, one of those moves. So there we are in the truck stop, looking at the vast cds and cassettes (yes they still sell them somewhere) where our eyes come across the only western one, and quite frankly the only one we recognized. ABBA Gold, on cassette!! Now, the decision was a tough one, as the cassette costed 5,000 won, or about 4 dollars. After looking at each other we knew there was no option, no guts no glory!

With our split purchase in our hand, we walked back into the van with grinning and giggling like school girls. The moment JK started the van, we popped in the tape, anxiously waiting the response or boos. The first song that came on, to no surprise, was "Dancing Queen". Within seconds, all seven of us were singing along to the song, quite a feat considering that there were two koreans in the van, one who hadn't said a word in English in the 3 hours up to that point. The sound wasn't great, but oh what a sight, 7 grown men singing "Dancing Queen". We listened to the rest of the tape, but I don't think anything could've topped the initial rendition of "Dancing Queen".

Now the rest of the weekend was good, had some good laughs, blah blah blah, but I know that the ABBA experience will always stay with me. Like I said before, sometimes it's those small moments that make a good time great, a great night an excellent, etc. And really, that's what it's all about..................

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Who needs a bunch of mud anyway, right?

Well let me start with my token apology about being a poor blogger, been busy but been really lazy as well. What can you do? Anyways, last weekend, the 11th and 12th of July, was the kickoff to a weeklong fest appropriately named "Mudfest" in Boryeong, a coastal city on the west coast of Korea. They apparently ship in some mud which is supposed to be healthy (although some people reported that they had a bad reaction to the mud) and have it on the beach, and people spend the weekend on the beach, in the mud and get drunk all weekend. The event is pretty big amongst the foreigner community, and something like 90% of the people that attend are foreigners.

I was unable to attend but to be honest I wasn't sure if I wanted to go as it seemed like a spring break type event, but at the same time I wanted to see what it was like because it was so hyped up. No mudfest, but fun was still to be had in Ulsan, right? So Saturday evening I met up with my good friends Mal and Lu, the dog they were dogsitting (her owner was at mudfest surprise, surprise) at one of the beaches here in Ulsan. I started off the evening by passing by a cart on the boardwalk area of the beach that sold Italian treats and sangria. Sangria, in Korea, who would've thought you would be able to sangria here? So I picked up some cups for Mal, Lu and I. The verdict, better than I thought it would've been and the couple that served it to me was super nice and seemed super cool, so definitely a plus and a recommendation if you find yourself on Ilsan Beach in Ulsan.

From there, we met up with our Korean friend Martin and headed to a hof (beerhouse, they took the name from the German word) for some beers and fried bar food. Since it was raining and it seemed like there was no end in sight, we decided to head to a restaurant and get some proper food. With Martin being our master of Korean culture and making sure that we get as much as possible, he took us to try a new Korean food, 족 발 (jok bal) or pig's leg. Just think of them taking a piggy's leg and then slicing the leg into slices that look like silver dollar pancakes. Presented in a big pile with some bones and a knee cap in there, and you're good to go. And just like a lot of Korean cuisine, it was served with doenjang (soy bean paste), garlic, and leaves to wrap the meat up and eat like tacos! The jok bal was pretty good, very fatty and wasn't my overall favorite Korean meal, but definitely worth trying.

After our meal and one doggie wee incident in the entrance of the restaurant, the 5 of us (including our canine friend), got into a taxi and head across town to where Mal and Lu live. We then went to a bar to continue our festivities, but unfortunately the bar had other plans by serving us some of the weakest drinks I had ever drank in my life. Congratulations Wa Bar for actually making people sober up in a bar, well played. Weak drinks aside, it was a good time as our friend Mike was able to meet up with us there as we were just able to enjoy some good company.

The next day I woke up for a soccer game which we ended up forfeiting after a nasty injury decimated our squad of 9 people down to 8 (normal squads have 11 plus substitutes. Another casualty of mudfest). While I was unhappy that we lost, I was content that I got to go home and get some much needed rest.

Later on that day, I met up with my friend JK at Munsu Soccer Stadium (a site for the 2002 World Cup) to watch the Ulsan Hyundai Tigers take on FC Daegu in a K-League match up. It was pretty cool because we sat with the comissioner of the Korean Amateur Soccer League, which was probably more exciting for JK as I couldn't really have a conversation with them due to the language barrier. Still, I think it was good for them to see a foreigner that was interested in the local football team.

From there, the comissioner dropped me off near my home so I could get some dinner and cap off the weekend. All in all it was a good weekend, despite missing out on the most talked about party in Korea........