My last few days in Korea were a whirlwind of activity. After we got back from our ski trip we went for one of the many hikes that were within a 5 minute drive of Derek’s house. We hiked up to what was known as Pig’s Gulch. As legend goes a pig climbed up the mountain and got himself stuck in a small space in the rocky outcrop on top of the mountain. A prince had to go up the mountain and rescue the pig and…..well that’s where Derek’s Korean failed us in reading the legend at the start of the hike.
It was a relatively short hike to the top, where we immediately hopped the fence to scramble over some rocks. Even though there were some metal hand hold’s installed or scrambling was made legitimately dangerous by the all the snow making the hand and foot holds pretty slick. Fortunately neither of us fell to our death and we made it to the pig’s gulch, where we hopped another fence and climbed through the gulch and almost got stuck ourselves.
After that it was off to lunch for Duck with Derek’s co-teacher, which was delicious and again cooked on a large central cook top.
Later that day we agreed to meet with a Korean who was studying for the GMAT with Derek. He took us out to eat in Icheon which is known for its rice. As Derek explained it the Korean version of George Washington only ate rice from Icheon, so we had to get rice. After dinner we went out for some Korean pizza and beer. As American as this may sound I still felt very much like I was in Korea. The Korean pizza was a little foreign, first the toppings were chicken and potato, and second there was no sauce. Additionally instead of the mixed nuts you would expect to have with beer we had a type of dried squid jerky which the old Korean dudes absolutely loved.
Friday started out with more skiing in the Yangji Pines ski resort.
That night we planned on heading out to Hongdae which is the clubbing area in Seoul. In order to replenish our man energy after a tough day of skiing Derek needed some boshintang, literally “invigorating soup”.
What soup could possibly give guy energy you ask? None other than dog soup. Yes fluffy, spot, Lassie, Beethoven, Balto, Snoopy, and Wishbone are all crying at my terrible act. I only really felt bad during the first few bites thinking of my poor dog Charlie and what he would taste like.
Then as my stomach rumbled again and I thought ahead to the prospect of staying up all night in Seoul, I dove in. The meat itself wasn’t too bad, neither was the dog stomach that was in the soup. If you’re wondering, it’s a dark meat (reddish brown in color), a little gamey and a little like lamb.
After we replenished our energy we headed downtown to meet up with some of Derek’s friends where he ate again at a meat buffet. The buffet served raw meat that we had to cook in the middle of the table. Thankfully the girls with us knew a lot more about how to cook the stuff and we didn’t have to risk food poisoning.
After that we went to what I thought was a bar….but really more a private room to eat and drink in.
We ended up in one of the clubs and it was freaking packed, there were lasers everywhere, and we got to drink Bud Light out of bottles….it was awesome.
After the club we went to a singing room or norebang. These are private Karaoke rooms where you can make a fool in front of your friends instead of the whole bar like America.
On Saturday we went to Wolmi Island which is a big boardwalk and amusement park area; think Jersey Shore without all the sleazy clubs or Guido’s. We rode what has to be the most dangerous park ride ever thought of.
Everyone sits in the circle of the “Disco” ride without seatbelts and the operator spins it around really fast and bounces it in an attempt to get people to fall down or create couples by literally smashing a boy and girl together.
After the “Disco” ride we got some local seafood, again cooked in the middle of the table.
On our last day we meet up with Derek’s girlfriend to go to see some street markets in Seoul, get some souvenirs, and see the Korean War museum. The Korean War museum was the place I saw the most Americans outside of the airport. The museum itself was pretty powerful reminder that only 60 years prior the entire country had been pretty much consumed by war, but was able to recover in a relatively short time to become the country it is today.
I was sad to say goodby to the country. I took one last shower/tooth brush/toilet combo shower in Derek’s all-in-one bathroom then said good bye and took the bus to the airport.
It was a great time overall, I couldn’t have even begun to figure out the bus maps without Derek, who was a great tour guide on top of all else. I definitely meet a lot of great people too that hopefully I’ll get a chance to see again sometime in Korea, America or otherwise.