Fun and Games – Birthday weekend and a little more

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November 17th 2008
Published: November 17th 2008
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R&B - Halloween PartyR&B - Halloween PartyR&B - Halloween Party

You may think its his Halloween costume but I think he was just lucky this very night he wasn't getting side ways glances...and yes it is a man we had to take this shot to verify!
I wasn’t joking in my last insert that the past couple of weeks have flown I can’t believe that this insert will have to encapsulate three weekends worth of antics…let me see ah yeh Halloween weekend….

I think Halloween is one of the most random celebrations ever but since there are 100’s of Canadians and Americand this side of the world and since the Koreans are osessed with anything western (AKA American) there were plenty of Halloween events on the go and we had no real option but to entertained the whole vibe. After a very yummy dinner of dak galbi, spicy chicken stir fry) we found ourselves at a Halloween party at Rhythm and Blues in Bucheon, thankfully a social event on my side of town for a change. The party was very overrated, it was like being at one giant American frat party, and completely not my vibe but we made the most of it by entering Mike into the mini fear factor contest they were having at R&B that night. Prize money was W100 000, for that kind of money there is no way I would ever have considered entering given what they ended up having
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Mike was so eager to try on his halloween outfit...he's only missing the matching pink pants we found to match the shirt, hat and jacket!
to eat! It was basically a 4 round eating challenges which started out with a cup of beudaegi AKA mopanie worms that have been boiled, totally honks. Then a big chilli (think this was probably the easiest thing, then they had to eat nakji (think that’s the name for the raw octopus, a real Korean delicacy which is usually eaten live) then finally they had to end off with this huge huge raw cows liver. Oh my word it was so so so horrid! Thankfully Mike pulled out before the live cause had he eaten it I think he may have been ill for a week the smell was horrific and not only did it stink but it was such a huge quantity and lets face it South Korea isn’t really renowned for their beef so who knows the state of that cow’s liver! This American due Ryan that I met when I 1st arrived won the competition but I don’t think he even managed to finish it he just managed all 4 rounds of what he had eaten down. You would have to had to have paid me one hell of a lot more than W100 000 to indulge
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The boys getting stuck in.
in that kind of grossness! I thankfully ended this long night in my own apartment rather than sleeping in a DVD bang of on someone else’s floor, what a pleasure!

Saturday was a pretty chilled day Mike and I headed out to Wolmido which is the port side of Incheon. They have a big theme park there and China Town is also in Wolmido (we didn’t make it to China Town though so I’ll have to go back again). We did however go all that way for a rather horrid samie, sandwich spread on white bread not quite what I had in mind. Lucky we were sitting in a lovely spot overlooking the port of the yellow sea, this made up for the very average food! After lunch we arbbed around trying to find some Halloween dress up kit for yet another Halloween party that we were supposed to attend that night (but never actually went). We found Mike some classically typical Ajumma kit for the event, It was very funny shopping at the Aji stores for a guy! The day was rather random walking around Wolmido and subway markets and we did seem to spend a lot of
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Steve and Dave giving it horns to Queens Under pressure :-)
time on public transport but its nice to be out nonetheless. After a stop off at home to get ready we got back on the subway heading to Seoul for yet another birthday party. Man alive what a mission I think it took us over two hours to get to Seoul on the tube it was just absolute madness leaving home at 7:30 and arriving in Seoul at 10:10 (after only half an hour dinner stop) is not such fun! Truly felt as though we had done nothing but spend the day hopping on and off of trains, I won’t be doing that again in a hurry! Again I emphasis the importance of working out what busses leave to Seoul from your area if you are planning a trip to the outskirts of Seoul cause the tube can be a joke!

The birthday party was fairly average and we lost interest in heading to the Halloween party which was apparently so packed that it wasn’t worth the trip across town any how…however a highlight of the night was finally visiting a Noraebang (a karaoke room). What random fun, you go into this room with a bunch of your mates
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Mike trying is luck at a sing off agains Dave and Ben!
and sing Karaoke songs against each other. It’s kind of like playing play station sing star at a house party cause you get a score after you have each finished singing! Classic fun but sadly they were missing our favorite ABBA song so I will definitely have to try a more comprehensive Noraebang next time cause its just not karaoke without a little bah bah bah bah bah, take a chance on me ;-) is it girls!

Luckily I finally found a bus heading to my side of town in fact the bus goes directly to my subway stop, what a pleasure!

After making it home on the bus I ended my weekend off with a very yummy Bibim Bap dinner (Bibim bap is basically a bed of rice with a whole bunch of stuff on top very yummy). I have the best Korean kitchen just round the corner from my house only trouble is, as with everything in Korea, all menus etc are written in Korean characters so up until this specific Sunday I hadn’t been able to order anything even though the food I’ve seen in there looks so yum. On rout back home I had
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Cath, Liz, Justine, the Kiwis'a and I
a brain wave, EMart has a food court on the ground floor just where I walk past on my way home and they have these random plastic displays of wall the meals they serve and each plastic meal display is labeled, you cant do take always from the EMart food court so I purely popped had a little look at the plastic food display picked out what I felt like, got the lady behind the teller to tell me what it was called and I then proceeded next door to the Korean kitchen to place my order, the little Korean lady who took my order was laughing at me cause I think she sensed how happy I was at having finally found a way to order food! Didn’t ever think I would find anything useful about plastic food displays turns out I was wring hey! I have subsequently discovered that my very cool book on South Korea (which I now have back thanks to the speedy order service) had a whole appendix with the names and descriptions of all kinds of common Korean food so now I can order all kinds of things from the Korean kitchen, what a
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Us posing with the random Korean guy who wouldn;t leave us along all night, he was intent on lurking around us, strange chap good laugh!
win. Korean food is so yum, so far though my most favorite discovery is yookgyejang, a very good very spicy beef soup that you eat with rice! Week 6 down and my birthday was fast approaching.

The week leading up to my birthday flew by. I was a little worried at the start of the week that my birthday would be spent on my own and so I was planning all kinds of getaways to the mountains as a back up plan but I didn’t need plan B after all. I spent Friday night in Hongdae with Liz and the girls. We had a brilliant night dancing and driving the Koreans mad cause we were stealing their hats and glasses so that we could pose for random photos. It was good fun.

Liz left early the next morning cause she had a trip planned so I spent the morning out and about doing my own thing. I started off by checking out Myeongdong (THE shopping area in Seoul) and then I spotted a cable car on the hill so I made my way towards it only to find out it was the Namsan cable car. Namsan is this
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Koreans love hats and glasses - photo one the hat shot :-D
lovely park in the middle of Seoul where you can do stunning walks and runs and at the top of the hill is the famous N Seoul tower. I stood in the crazy line for the cable car, being jostled by a very annoying Korean kid but I finally made my way onto a cable car and the annoying Korean kid was worth enduring cause the ride up was lovely. The Koreans go on and on about autumn and I can see why, the autumn leaves here in make the city look so lovely.

The view from the platform underneath the tower is really great. I didn’t bother to pay the extra money to go all the way to the top of the tower cause it was a bit of a misty day even though the sky was blue and its not worth the trip up if you can’t see all the way to the sea, it would be like going to the Sacra Cur and not being able to see the Eiffel Tower. There was a lot going on, on the viewing platform including a traditional Korean fighting display. The one very cool thing on the viewing platform
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Photo two the glasses shot...these black frame 60s syle glasses are so big here at the mo we couldn't help but seeing how we would look in them!
that you can’t imagine until you see it is the 1000’s of locks that surround all the bars and safety fences around the viewing platform. You can buy a lock or bring your own and you can leave your mark at the base of the N Seoul tower. I think I’m definitely going to leave my mark before I depart from SK.

After spending enough time on the viewing platform I attempted to get on a Seoul city tour bus but the Ajummas were pushing and shoving everyone to get to the front of the bus queue that I lost interest and will save that idea for another time. Luckily Justine had arisen and I met up with her and Andrea for a Palace visit. We went through to Doeksugung Palace one of Seoul’s smaller palaces. It was a nice trip, in fact we even got involved at the story telling Museum and answered the educational questionnaire cause they promised if we completed it we would get a souvenir…if only we had known the Korean souvenir was going to be a mouse pad hahah.

After the palace visit we made our way to another shopping district and then
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The back side of Namsan park. For those who want a bit of a hike take this route!
sat down for a great Indian birthday dinner. After dinner we made a quick stop in at Liz’s to freshen up (she gratefully let us stay at her house while she was away) and then off for a little birthday celebration! We started out at the Irish pub where I met another classically funny and friendly Irish guy who convinced us we needed to go through to this place called Rompa Stompers to watch the battle of the bands. I think the name of the spot speaks for itself though. The bands were bad and not only do you have to pass through the red light district of Seoul but the place is such a dive with a bunch of the weirdest dodgiest people you have ever seen. We lasted about 30mins and decided that perhaps heading back to the Wolf Hound was a better option. On our way back down we felt the need to stop for a snack. There is nothing better than sitting at a Korean sidewalk food stall at 2am for a bite. After spending some time at the food stall we made our way back to the Wolf Hound for a bit and finally home
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The namsan Cable Car arriving to pick us up
after a very busy birthday.

The Sunday of my birthday weekend was somewhat arbitrary. The morning started off really nice, Justine and Andrea needed to head home and I was only meeting up with Justine again later that afternoon for a hike so I got in touch with my Irish mate and we spent the morning visiting a Korean tea house in Insadong which was lovely, I had the most amazing 5 spices tea (Insadong is a lovely area packed with tea houses, which is what it is most famous for, as well as hundreds of traditional Korean souvenir stalls and other gallery type shops). After tea we found ourselves in a Buddhist temple after which we visited a Buddhist museum where we found ourselves inadvertently getting invited to some Koreans 50th anniversary…luckily we managed to get out of that before it started cause I think it may have resulted in us spending the rest of the afternoon in the function room in the basement of the Buddhist museum. After escaping the anniversary celebration we went to the top of the Samsung tower this mad building that has what can only be described as a floating top level. The
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I sadly haven't done it too much justice in this pic but you can see Seoul and the the "fall" leaves.
building is 32 floors but there is a gap in the building between the top level and level the next level, level 24, pretty amazing building.

After a pretty cool morning I went back to Liz’s, packed my masses of luggage up and began my treck to the other side of Seoul to the yellow line (which is far, is all I can say) to meet Justine and Cath for a hike at Namhangsanseong park. Sadly the two hours on the tube were fruitless cause the girls got off at the wrong stop and ended up getting themselves lost on route, I made it to the park with the help of some cool Canadians that I met on the tube but the girls had no idea where they were and Cath had to head home at 5:30 (Cath also lives my side of town and it’s a good close on two hours by tube home and she had to make a 8pm movie) so we didn’t do any hiking after all that traveling all we did was successfully meet up at the tube station to make the long trip home together! The end of yet another eventful weekend and
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This it the Bonghwadae or beacon mound. They were used in years gone by to send signals from the outskirts of Seoul to the Korean intellagance in the city centre
a really fantastic birthday all in all!

This finally brings me to this weekend! Again another weekend pent in Seoul. We spent two good nights on the Town. Aside from the usual socializing Liz and I made the trip back up to Namhangsanseong Park for a hike on Saturday morning. This time we found our way and had a lovely hike. I’ve told you before about all the exercise equipment that is randomly placed in my area along the sidewalks, well on every hill or mountain here in SK it is the norm to find outdoor “gyms”, its crazy how well used the equipment is specially by all the elderly Koreans, the older Korean generation are an amazingly fit and active bunch of people and are incredible to watch. There are woman in their 60’s and 70’s exercising like demon but I think the most fascinating thing for me was the hula hoop work out these outdoor “gyms” offer. There is a whole array of weighted hula-hoops and these Ajummas stand there for ages hula hoping, they must have abs of steel is all I can say. Liz and I had a go and let me just say we
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The N Seoul tower.
found it a challenging to keep the hoop up that wasn’t weighted, it was a tad embarrassing the a lady some 30+ years older than us could hula hoop with a 2kg hoop around her waist for a good 20mins and we were pretty abysmal at keeping the 0kg hoop moving around our waists for even 1 minute!

Sadly the weather was a little miserable so we were forced back down the mountain after only about an hour and a half but it was a lovely but rather strenuous hike, we were expecting a gentle hike, judging by our hula-hopping though I think the hike was necessary cause we couldn’t be outdone by the Ajummas on all accounts! Here in Korea they always tell you that hiking is the unofficial national sport of Korea and they aren’t lying, the park was packed with avid Korean Hikers despite the weather and I’d say the average age of the hikers is about 50+.

After making our way back down the mountain we spent some time at the bottom of the hill checking out the reflexology paths and watching the harabõji (grandfathers) play Paduk a traditional board game. Just like the
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Just some of the locks along one of the fences and this is a sparcly "locked" area....
old French men play Pétanque and chess so the old Korean men spend their afternoons under pagodas in the park playing Paduk its very cool to watch them! After leaving the park and picking up a yummy Korean flap jack which has cinnamon and sugar in the middle that oozes out all over your face and jeans when you bite into it we made it back to Liz’s for a little down time before the SA vs Scotland rugby.

Yet another late night out and all four of us girls found our weary bodies crashing stayed at our weekend house, AKA Liz’s. On Sunday we desided we could do with a walk since it was the moist beautiful day outside so we took a trip back to Namsan park for a little Sunday stroll. We got to the top but again it wasn’t quite a clear enough day to warrant the fair to the top of the tower, I think its worth waiting till spring to go to the top but apparently its also amazing at the top of the tower at night so I’m sure I will be reporting on that experience one of these days cause I
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A classic sign.
don’t need to wait till spring to do a night visit!

After a nice chilled walk back down the hill, playing in the autumn leaves, I said goodbye to Cath and Just did a quick squiz around Namdaemun market again (if you need some kitsch Christmas décor for your tree this year I will be happy to send some back for you). Christmas marketing is in full force in Namdaemun already. Don’t think I’ve ever seen stalls quite that crammed with 100’s of Christmas lights, Korean Jingle bells singing father Christmases and other Christmas décor paraphernalia! I can only imagine what it’s going to be like in Namdaemun in a week or two when we really start the Christmas count down!

Yet another lovely weekend out and about and it seems seven weeks have gone by in a flash and weekend eight is fast approaching. Hope you all had a lovely week and I hope to hear more news from you all soon and best the Spring Boks pick up their game this weekend cause I won’t hear the end of it if we lose or only scrape a victory against England!!!

Bye for now

Additional photos below
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Namsan Park

We are yet t work this one out but had to try it anyway!
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A pic just to prove that I was actually there and not just posting picks off google image search :-)
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More locks...I think they are brilliant!
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A close up so you can see what I'm talking about. and to think on the amazing race they had to scusesfully find the keys and open three of these locks!
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Some Beodaegi stewing away waiting for a Korean to buy a cup fool to snack on eeew!!

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