Published: August 28th 2012August 26th 2012
I did indeed. Though it's not as trampy as it sounds. With some other people from the hostel I had a night out in Itaewon, Seoul's expat district, which, on a Saturday night, was teeming with Westerners. There are a huge number of bars and restaurants catering for the expat community including the obligatory Irish pub and, my personal favourite, 'Foreigner's Restaurant'. They obviously didn't worry themselves thinking up a name.
After a lovely Thai meal we wandered around the main streets looking for somewhere to go for the rest of the evening. At night Itaewon's streets come alive with roadside bars usually operating from someone's converted vehicle. One couple had converted their rather nice looking black van in to a roadside diner/bar- he grilling sausages in the back while she served drinks from the converted passenger seat. There was even a little disco ball dangling from the side panel/canopy. This is where we stumbled across a roadside bar selling drinks in clear plastic bags, a sort of cross between a Caprisun and a sandwich bag in to which your drink of choice was poured. For the novelty we had one and so for the first time in my life I drank a gin and tonic from something that felt and looked like an IV bag.
The rest of the night was spent in a hideous bar called 'Hollywood'. If you avoid anything in Seoul avoid this place. It was one of those bars where the name far outdoes the venue itself. The inside was decorated with football paraphernalia- framed signed shirts, Liverpool scarves, a York City flag (who?) and, much to my joy, I was able to keep up with the Man U Fulham game. The girls I was with are teaching English in smaller towns in Korea so for them the place was heaven... perhaps you need to be away from home longer than a week to appreciate these things. Smoking indoors is still legal in South Korea so the next day my hair had that slight eau-de-ashtray smell I haven't had the pleasure to inhale for years. It took my right back to waking up after a night out in 1999.
That said it was a good night and we didn't roll home until 4am. Somehow, on 3 hours sleep and feeling about 100, I managed to get up at 7.30, shower, pack and make my way to Seoul Station for my train to Busan. I'd like to tell you about the journey and romantic views of the South Korean countryside but as I slept for most of the journey I can't. Though I didn't open my eyes a few times and it looked very green. I'll let you know more when I travel back up North with a peaceful 8 hours sleep behind me.
From what I've seen of Busan so far it seems like a really lovely city. The weather continues to be hot and sunny (about 32 today). The hostel I'm staying in is really nice. Actually so far Korean hostels have been really good. Today, along with my key, I was given two towels, slippers and there's free shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, laundry...everything! The hostel offers a free traditional Korean breakfast so looking forward to finding out what that is tomorrow morning.
The most exciting bit is that it's really quiet here so I have a 6 bed room all to myself! Will be back tomorrow to let you know about my Korean breakfast.