Published: July 10th 2012July 10th 2012
The morning was full of blue skies and sunny but as I watched the thick fog roll off the harbor and between the mountains I could hardly see the blinking lights on top of the bridge. It was only three o'clock but the site from my third floor classroom window made me a little worried that it would delay our flight. The previous winter I'd heard about a few delayed flights from Yeosu so I had a little reason to be nervous. That and we were heading up for Sea's wedding and Joe and I were hoping to have a good night out with our friend before he was wedded.
Joe had headed back to Seoul from India on his way through to Portland. Thursday night I picked up the weary traveler at the train station and we spent the night at the local watching Korean men try and roll their own cigarettes from Joe's supply. They never did really get the hang of it once they figured out what the strange bag and papers were. As we sat and shared a couple of pitchers the business men soon got up the courage to ask Joe, Jen, and myself over to their table. What followed next was a long conversation filled with broken languages. I'd like to think we all came away understanding one another but we'll just have to go on never really knowing. Eventually we made our way out of there. Much later than we'd planned but that's how these things go, homecomings and catching up can't be relegated by time.
So there we were at the airport. Tickets in hand, and stupidly talking about a t.v. show I'd watched about airplane crashes. Why were we talking about this, I dunno, I really don't. At 6:20 our flight was off the ground and pushed crazy thoughts from our mind. By 7:30 we were on the busy subway of Seoul.
Sea had decided he wanted to end his stint as an unmarried man in Korea in the same spot we started it in 2008. Our old neighborhood of Cheolsan, is a place I've never been able to really say correctly, just ask any taxi driver in the Seoul Metro Area. So rather than hail a cab and get the usual, Chosun? No, Cheolsan. Chosun? No Cheolsan. Jasan? No Cheolsan. Ah! Cheol! San! we stuck with the subway.
When we arrived we found the well groomed Irish groom to be in a local bar with a pint of cold beer. We went through our greetings and sat down at the table. Seamus was in the midst of a crisis. His family had come in two days ago and all but one of them were somewhere in Seoul without a phone and no way to get in touch with him. They were supposed to meet up for dinner but by 8:30 nobody had heard from them since they left the apartment that morning. Sea made many frantic trips back and forth to the apartment and eventually found the Donovan clan looking tired and wet in the heavy rain that had started up. We all then shuffled to a galbi (Korean BBQ) for dinner and more drinks.
We'd had plans of taking Sea out and having him good and drunk on his final night but as these things tend to go it didn't really happen that way. As the ones responsible for persuading him to stay our longer and risk the potential hangover on his big day, the beer got the better of us and we were soon the ones that would be nursing the hangover. Sea won out and we left him at a respectable time to take a taxi to the center of Seoul where we would be staying with some friends for the night. When we arrived at their place we called up and asked if we should bring anything. They told us to grab some makoli and we stopped by the 7-11 on the way up to their apartment to find them arguing over the rules of P&A. We sat down, put our two cents in and joined the game. Many ours later their was a wrestling match on the floor, spilt beer, and a lot of laughing. I woke up the next morning amongst a bunch of shuffling feet.
Jen had come up the previous night on the bus, while Joe and I took our flight to meet with Sea. I'd called her the next morning and found that she got into a hotel just fine, a little wet from the rain but fine. She'd planned to do some shopping around Seoul so I told her we'd meet up later. Joe and I had errands to run as well. Fist we headed to Insadong to get a ring exchanged for Joe. Michelle, Joe's fiancee had had skinnier fingers than he had thought and her bamboo engagement ring refused to sit tight. After replacing the ring we headed off to the outdoor market in search of a camera. I'd been wanting to get a 35mm slr camera for a while and decided this was the weekend to do it. We ended up find my new toy, a Canon A-1 really easily. I put my new toy, film, and case in my backpack and we headed out the door. I've since been using it during the week in an attempt to develop the first roll of film before we head on honeymoon. Once I see the pictures I'll throw another roll of film in and take it to Malaysia with us where I can hopefully get some good shots on film so the photo's don't just sit on a computer but rather end up in a photo album for people to look through.
Once that was done we went and picked up some clothes for Joe to wear at the wedding. T-shirts and cargo shorts weren't really the type of thing you wear to a formal event.
By 6:00 we were in the wedding hall meeting with friends and guests of the bride and groom. Sea's family had made it and we shared a few laughs over the previous night. Everyone was in good spirits and just waiting for it to officially start. I was a bit groggy from the night before and glad that I hadn't been asked to give a speech. Those that had looked nervous and sweaty and I didn't need the extra aggrivation.
As the wedding started I watched it closely. Having our wedding coming up next year I was curious to see how Sea handled it. He looked nervous but he did really well actually. None of the nerves were from the actual marriage just the stuff that comes with a Korean wedding. If you haven't been to one they're really an experience. First comes the speeches and after that the bride and groom do their vows. There is an MC during all of this hosting the occasion a bit like a game show. Jokes are told and people laugh. Then comes the singing. Sea and Stacy did a duet of an old Korean love song and then two friends of the bride and groom performed a song they'd written for the occasion. If you think it's strange that the bride and groom sing and that guests get up to sing about the couples love let me tell you that you couldn't be more off. It'd be strange if nobody sang at the wedding. That's how they are. You have lots of soju, you sing, and then you watch the bride and groom dress up into about 3 or 4 traditional costumes and bow to their parents and offer up food to the dead. Like I said, they're interesting.
When all the clothes were put back in the closet and the singing finally stopped we left the wedding hall and headed back to the brides, Stacy, families apartment. There we were treated to a feast of Korean foods and what seemed to be like endless alcohol. Everytime I thought it was time to go and buy more beer somebody was pulling huge bottles of it from the fridge and refiling all the drinks. Whiskey was passed around as was vodka, makoli, soju and probably a few things I can't remember. All in all it was a great night and probably the last time all of the same friends will be together a the same funtion for a long time, if ever again.
The next day we had a lazy afternoon at Jon and Christina's apartment. The friends that opened their extra room to Joe and I, along with another friend Sam. They had a different wedding to attend on the same day as Seamus' and we compared notes about what happened at each one.
After an afternooon of delicious food cooked by Jon and many heated games of Fifa onthe playstation Jen and I made the bus ride back and were thrilled that we made it back in 3 1/2 hours which is a record coming from Seoul. The weekend had left us exhausted and happy to get home. We talked about the wedding and were both happy for Sea and Stacy. Hopefully they'll make it over to England for ours. Just don't expect any singing.