Sound of Vitality

Blowin up Haengsin-dong. Holla!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Awesome weekend pt. II, the retreat

On Saturday Taylor and I headed to Seoul to meet up with the Pine Tree Club for their mini retreat. We took a bus 1 1/2 hours out to the country somewhere east of Seoul. I snagged the last seat on a bus packed with people, which left Taylor standing in the aisle. This was particularly infuriating because the guy sitting behind me had a seat next to him just full of a big box of soju and snacks.

By the by we arrived to a place with little cottages along a river surrounded by hills. We put our stuff in the cottage and proceeded with team building exercises. We played a game where we divided in teams of 20, formed giant conga lines and chased each other. We had a scavenger hung, a 3-legged type race where there were 3 of us tied together, then a race where there were ten of us tied together. Then we went inside and had some ramen and a samgyeupseul (bacon) and kimchi dish. This is Hyun cooking it up in the main room:

There were charades games and song games, then came the violence games. This one was where you had a balloon tied to your foot and the other people were trying to pop it. This is the all girls' game:

I really didn't want to play but I was forced to. The guys had to play sitting down because the standing up game was way too dangerous, we soon found out. So you're supposed to shuffle around the floor without using your hands and kick and pop the balloons from a sitting position. It was impossible - I lost quickly:

There were many other games, including one where three teammates and I had to get a letter written on our foot, then put on a big woolen sock and then four dudes fought us to get the sock off and see the letter. I fared a bit better at that game, but didn't get any pictures of it. This game next is a two man game. It's called 'shim shim shim'. So you say 'shim shim shim' then one guy with his hand tries to guess if you'll turn your head left, right or not at all. If he guesses right he picks up the big squeaky mallet as fast as he can to whack the other guy in the head, while the other guy tries to grab the tray to defend himself as fast as possible:

After seriously like 6 hours of straight games the drinking finally began. We headed outside and barbequed samgeupseol and drank soju for quite a long time. I didn't take any pictures outside, but snapped a few once we got back inside the big room again. This is Insub, the former president, and I:

Here's Taylor hanging with some folks late night:

A couple random shots:

This girl in the middle was the champion of the party. At like 10 she was complaining of being 'dizzy' and seemed down for the count. This photo is taken at nearly 5 am, right before I went to bed after conceding there was no chance I'll be able to stay up as late as everyone around me:

Then while I slept her, Insub and some others tagged me and many other people. They just laughed and said 'You got tattoo!':

I didn't get it as bad as this guy though:

It was an awesome time. Taylor and I were the only non-Koreans there, so it was a really cool glimpse into the world of Korea without foreigners around. Thanks PTC!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another awesome weekend

Friday was Buddha's birthday so we had the day off. Keri and her friend Minji came out to Haengsin from Seoul and with Taylor we all headed to Ilsan to enjoy the beautiful day. It was warm and beautiful and we walked around the Western Dome and Lafesta malls and Lake Park. Feeling a powerful thirst from the warm weather we settled in front of a convenience store for some beers, then headed to my friend Jun's restaurant for dinner afterward. The restaurant specialized in fried pork and fish and I must say, it was mighty tasty. We all headed back to Haengsin to chill on my porch and listen to some tunes, then had an impromptu photo session:

Tomorrow I'll tell you about Saturday and the PTC overnight retreat I went on.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Lantern Parade

I headed to Seoul with my friend Taylor to meet up with my friend Keri and her brother at the lantern parade in Insadong. It was quite a scene. The parade starts at dusk and seemingly endless. Keri got there early and saved us some folding chairs right on the road, which was a cool vantage point. I was waving at the parade marchers like crazy and trying to get them to give me the peace sign, or hang loose, or devil's horns. I think it was a result of my manic waving that a kindly ajuma (grandma) handed me my very own lantern. Bonus.

There were a ton of these dragons that breathed fire. I took like a million pictures and couldn't capture the fire.

Umbrella lanterns!

Friday, May 14, 2010


My friend In Hwan invited me to see a game last Sunday. It was the LG Twins versus the Kia Tigers. I asked In Hwan before the baseball season began who I should root for. He said he liked LG, but he said 'They have many fans but they usually do not win.' Just like the Cubs, I thought, so I became an LG fan. I lucked into an incredible game. We sad in the seats in right field, where you have to get there early to claim a seat because there isn't any assigned seating. I was late - it was really far from where I live and I still haven't gotten the Seoul Metro timing down. The tickets were $7 and beers in the stadium were $3 sold from a 7-11 like store in the park which also sold snacks. There was a KFC in the park too.

Before the game they had all kinds of contests and stuff, including this one I tried to capture where a guy had to carry his girlfriend or wife for about 50 feet, then answer a trivia question. That's what it seemed like anyway - I still don't know Korean:

They have cheerleaders for the game. I mean hot girls in baseball-type dresses dancing all game long. It's incredible. They also cheer songs all game long. Each team has several songs, each player has a song, and different plays have a song (like if the pitcher throws to first too much they sing that he ought to throw home already). We had a cheering stage by us but there weren't any hot cheerleaders, just two famous super-fan dudes:

Kia fans were on one side and LG on the other. I'm not gonna lie - Kia was out cheering LG for a lot of the game. And they were the out of towners too.

This is a shot of the LG fan side. Everyone had those boomsticks and sang like crazy. It was pretty amazing. I love going to baseball games. LG was down 3-1 in the 9th and came back to win with two doubles, then a single to score 3 runs and instigate an on field celebration. Nothing beats that. An additional bonus is that Hee Seop Choi was there playing for the Tigers. He had a lousy game but it was nice to see him again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Good weekend!

On Saturday my friend Taylor and I went down to Seoul to meet my friend Keri for some drinks near Insadong, then some samgyeopsal. We had drinks at the Sam 1999 cafe. There was R. Kelly playing somewhere outside the cafe, which portended a good night:

There wasn't anyone in Sam 1999 but they did have a huge head at the table next to us:

The samgyeopsal (which is barbequed bacon kind of) was delicious but the kimchi was the best I've had in Korea. We devoured the meal:

Taylor, Keri and I went on to a bar for some soju cocktails, then Taylor and I headed back toward home. He convinced me to skip Haengsin and head straight to Ilsan to meet some friends out on the town. Well, we found out that the Gyeunggi line train's Ilsan stop takes you to a really strange area, way far from the fun area, Lafesta. After much waiting we finally snagged a taxi and met up with his friends. After the bar we decided that it'd be a great idea to grab more beer and sit out front of the convenience store. We ran into a rowdy group of Koreans that only wanted to talk with us and touch way too much, but they were fun. One guy looked like this Korean rapper, G-Dragon and didn't mind being called that by us. Here are some end of the night photos at the GS 25 convenience store:

These dudes kept pulling my hood over my hat. I have no idea why:

Next post is about Sunday - I went to see a Korean baseball game!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Children's day and the gun club

Wednesday was a national holiday - Children's Day! Can you believe such a thing exists? When I was a kid I remember asking my parents why there wasn't a kids' day. There's a mother's day and father's day, after all. 'Every day is kids' day,' was the standard reply from them. Well here the kids really do deserve a day off. They work really hard and go to way too much school. It ain't bad that the teachers get a nice midweek holiday as well.

I went out with my friend Taylor to Seoul to meet a Korean friend, Tae Eun. We drank soju and ate pig intestines and had a nice lively time. I learned a Korean term that is awesome. I actually first heard it last weekend at Pine Tree Club when Taylor was sitting next to Tae Eun at a bench table at a bar. Evidently Taylor's legs were spread too wide apart as to interfere with Tae Eun's comfort. 'Juk bul nham! Juk bul nham!' Tae Eun started yelling, then miming explained that it's when you sit with your legs too far apart. 'Like on metro train - juk bul nham!'

On Wednesday I was up early. I skyped with the folks in the morning, then headed out too see whether it was possible to rent a bike from one of the Goyang shared bike stands. I wanted to ride to Lake Park in Ilsan and Taylor wanted to join me, but doesn't have a bike. Bad luck - the user interface is all in Korean. So I rode alone and met him and a few friends who got their by bus in Lake Park. We had some beers in the park, then went out for Indian, then decided to hit the shooting range.

Yes, there is a shooting range in Ilsan. I asked the boys whether or not I could get a picture shooting there. My Irish friend Jude said, 'Well, it's quite serious when you get there so I don't know.' He was right. You walk into this joint that looks like a dentist office, but with a massive airbrushed picture of D'Angelo packing heat on the wall. You look through menus to choose your gun. I think I went with a Beretta. Then you're led into a room where they put a bullet proof vest on you, then to the range where the gun is supported by a bicycle chain so you can's ice yourself. You've got a Korean guy next to you who loads the gun and hands it to you, then grabs it from you immediately when your last shell is spent.

It was fun and kind of scary shooting. It turns out I'm a decent shot though. I got all ten shots on the target and one through the bullseye. I think I'd do better if I went again because I was quite nervous and shaky. Anyhow, here's the one picture I got, with the D'Angelo gun poster outside the joint. Till next time: