Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Turning 30 in Korea

I hadn't expected to still be here in Korea for my 30th. Last year I really thought that I would be done and back in Brighton ready to celebrate with friends and family. Turns out, obviously, that I was wrong.

What better way to turn 30 than celebrate in Seoul, it's just awesome! Hongdae and a night out with the boys. Well it turned into something a little bigger than that. You see, it was Adnan's birthday two days prior to mine so it was a double celebration. Wait, there's more....It also falls on the week where a lot of my friends were about to leave Korea for good and probably never see many of them again....triple celebration. OK so now it's getting messy....

I get to Seoul on Saturday early to pick up my own birthday present of some snowboard gear. I decide to go check into where I am staying and go for a little nap..About 7 hours later I wake up to a lot of angry people trying to figure out where I am. I set em straight and we all arrange to meet up.


I wake up to people trying to break down my door. Owen and Andrew come in and we try and piece together the night. Needless to say we don't get very far. Time to leave....where's my phone...jacket...hoody? Nowhere to be seen and haven't been seen sine.. BALLS.

T shows me a video of last night that includes me, him and Adnan drinking straight Jack Daniels dentist chair style at a bar. My lack of memory is now a little more understood.

From what I have pieced together it was a fun night had by all and I appreciated everyone who came to see me. But this is by far the worst hangover I have ever had and followed very strongly into Monday. If you have ever taught kids hungover then you'll know it is not fun.

As I write this I have also had a bag stolen from me yesterday. In my bag was my wallet, and clothes I wore down to a running track....Some C@*T knicked it and I had to walk back half an hour in the bloody cold in shorts. Thanks a bloody lot.

So items lost in October:
wallet with every card I own in there
favourite jacket
favourite hoody
favourite beanie
tracky bottoms
post-workout hoody
eastpack bag that I've had for about 6 years

fear not, they didn't take everything. They left my water bottle....thanks cunt! (or cunts!)

Stay tuned for halloween fun

Monday, 8 October 2012

Chuseok, Japan, Osaka....WOW

I've fallen in love.....with an entire country. Chuseok is Korea's version of America's thanksgiving. Depending on what day it falls means you can have up to 5 days off work. Just turned out to be one of those years. 5 glorious stress free days and I decided, along with a few mates, to go check out Japan. Tokyo was looking too expensive but Osaka, Japan's second city, was looking pretty good.

The culprits:
me (of course)
Andy (or T, a fellow Daejeonite)
..............3 Brits and an Aussie.

The flight was a mere hour and a half from Seoul. It takes longer to get from where I live to the airport than to fly from Japan. But I've started ahead of my story. Let me take a few steps back to Friday night.

Friday night and T and I were supposed to head up to stay with Adnan cause he was throwing a happy Chuseok house party. We check the bus times, get there in enough time to find all the buses to Chuncheon are all sold out. Oops....not a great start. So we decide to stay hang out in DJ and proceed to celebrate Chuseok early....maybe a little too early .... with soju. Needless to say there is a blur for a few hours after this, but I know I almost lost my phone and the sun was up when I went to bed. We remember saying "crap...let's make sure we set an alarm for out 2pm bus!"
Responsible me sets my alarm and through the crack den of my apartment get my stuff together and hall ass to the bus terminal. I got a good half hour...phew...right now where's T???? First message goes, then the next, then the phone call at 1345 "hello....fuck what time is it? I just woke up naked on my floor".
After compsing myself from fits of laughter and having Koreans look at me strangely, I realise he isn't going to make the bus. One of the great things about Korea is that customer service is paramount and expecting a fight I go and change our tickets for an hour later. Good thing we gave ourselves a barrier. Again, not really the best start..
T shows up, after throwing up half his bodyweight, not looking so great. 20 minutes or so to spare...we grab a quick bite and then wait for out bus...1500...where's the bus??? 1515...1530...1545..errr where's the bus???? 1603 (exactly) the bus shows up...Bloody hell!!! Good thing we had a big barrier. I guess we won't have time for airport beers. NOT THE BEST START....
As we wait for the bus that's an hour late we get a message from Adnan saying "funny how we haven't even booked the hotel yet!" He had one job!! His excuse "my card wouldn't work"..... Iphone to the rescue....all hostels sold out...BALLS... check hotels, ok for not much more money we can stay somewhere in what appears to be a good area. Gotta love smart phones, cause I got it all booked whilst on the bus.....Worst start to a trip ever.

Finally after 3 hours on the bus we get to the airport....We all meet up and it's golden. HAPPY CHEWSOX everyone.

Onto Peach Airlines (????) and this was probably the funniest flight ever. Only an hour and a half flight but I laughed pretty much the whole time. I was sat next to that apparently T hooked up with...she was fugly....but T was sat next to two really hot Japanese girls. Proceed to outragous flirting from all, ridiculous banter and lude behaviour from all. Except Mitch cause he was miles away....kkkkk..Throw in some witty banter with the Japanese trolley dolley as well and it was a naughty time had by all.

Finally we get to Japanaland....Osaka..after an hour bus trip into the city we get to our hotel, which is actually awesome....and better yet in a really central location. Bags dropped, Mexican shower and we are out on the town at 1am....a beer or two might have been drunk, I think there was a cocktail in there as well..but let's just say that going to bed at 11am Sunday morning was the result of a truely awesome night out. Clubs open til 10am....crayyyyyyy zeeeeeee!!

We mustered around about 5 530...What a waste of a day I hear you say...well NO!!! There was a bloody typhoon coming though Sunday, which I knew about, so we wouldn't really have been able to do a whole lot. Plus, the night was worth it. Epic proportions of fun.

By the late afternoon (evening really) the rain had buggered off, we'd some food in our bellies and we were wondering around the central delights of Shinsaibashi, Osaka. Wicked little area. Lights, outrageous haircuts, beautiful people everywhere, scandalous people everywhere and 4 drunk waygooks causing as little trouble as humanly possible. Again another awesome night was had, not sure it was 11am, but the sun was up and we crashed out.
One story I would like to say from this night included T and I going for a midnight offering of sushi. Someone pointed us in the direction of a cheap sushi place and in we went. Upon our arrival we were greeted in the friendliest fashion by two chaps chewing on some raw fish. As soon as the chap with half the teeth left in his mouth sees it he starts smiling and pointing. I smiled nicely, hoping he wasn't some kind of Yakuza...but it all seemed friendly. T and I tuck into some unreal seafood when suddenly more food appears and toothy has sent us over some sushi on him....ended up sending over about 5 different dishes. It was so nice of him so we send him over a couple of beers to say thanks. Then we were stuffed. Excellent...we go and get the bill....this place was 'supposed' to be cheap...turns out to be about 8000 yen...about 100000 won....about £80. OUCH...Toothy pops over and pays our entire bill. "WHAT??!!" He gives me a little bow, shakes my hand then goes back to his friend. Amazing....I love Japan.
We managed to get up before mid day and after an epic lunch, we head off to one of Osaka's main attractions their Aquarium. It's huge. They even have a whale shark!!! Loved it. I also feel very hypocritical by enjoying aquariums but really disliking zoos.
Now off to Osaka Tower for some 360 degree panoramic views. Subway rides, help from strangers we get there and it's a touch of a let down. The views are good but' a city.
Back to the hotel quick nap...and yes you guessed it out again. More amazing food lots of drinks and another sunrise bed time.

We get hoofed out of our hotel because we've booked into capsules for out last night...fortunately they're just down the road....because again we're hungover. We battle through we go to Kyoto. Home of the Golden Palace. It's awesome, and again getting help from loads of people to find our way there and back was brilliant. I think the level of English is higher in Japan than Korea. 
Last night so that means more good food and a few drinks. Problem is now is twofold....1) we have to get up at 430 in the morning and public transport doesn't start til 530...2) we'd run out of money...and I couldn't take any out cause my cards wouldn't work...we'll figure it out. So we agree an early (ish) night...4am rolls in and we stumble into our pods for a half hour of kip. Hirarious. OK now a cab to the airport 10.000 Yen...err "who's got any money???" silence..Mitch the hero grabs his credit card and bails us all out. phew....
The way home is killer, and the rest of the story is basically filled with me asleep in a taxi, asleep on a plane, asleep on a bus and then asleep in my apartment. 
So overview. It touched my heart. It has a lot more variety than Korea. More different types of people. An ability to show some kind of independence and be a bit different. People had said that Japanese people weren't friendly, I disagree with this entirely, and throw down the fact that their English speaking ability shadows Korea making us less threatening to talk to. I would say that Koreans are probably the nicest people on the planet to me, but the lack of communication makes it hard sometimes....Japan is also really clean and well maintained. This may seem a strange thing to point out, but they have a more variety of architecture. Korea is all the same and a bit grey. On the down side to Japan, well there's not a lot from what I saw. It is outrageously expensive, I can tell you that. 
I will have to go back, and it currently ranks as my favourite country at the moment.