Friday, May 1, 2009

Still here~

This is the longest I've ever gone without updating--even longer than when I broke my leg. It isn't for a lack of things to say: au contraire, it is because of an excessive number of minute facets of the past week I wish to document but end up punking out.

Last weekend was my big weekend in Seoul with Hannah and Mark. Hannah and I headed up on Friday taking the super fast train. When I say super fast, I mean over 300 km/h fast. I had a little pre-birthday celebratory bottle of soju while the rest of the crew got smashed and celebrated Jeff's fake birthday in Daegu.

When we got to Seoul, it was pre-rain muggy. By the time we got out of the station, it was no longer pre-rain. After a few dead-ends finding a hotel for the weekend, we stumbled across the "Forced Smile Motel," one of Korea's fantastically cheap, fantastically pervy love motels. After stealing random supplies from the completely unmonitored linen shelves (so what if I want four pillows?), we tested out the Beer Factory, finding some of the best chicken tenders I've had.

The next morning (Saturday) was supposed to be an early rise, but it turns out I twisted my bad ankle in the station the previous night and was not thrilled by the idea of shining. After some prodding (and an alarm that sounded like a bird was in the room), we made it out the door and onto the subway in time for Hannah to see part of Mark's first hockey game.

What I didn't realize (my ignorance seems to know no bounds) is that Seoul hosted the 1988 Olympic games. So Mark was playing in some tournament on the grounds, so I got to see my first Olympic stadium. It was really quite amazing, and I felt in awe of just being there. After the game, Hannah and I went for a huge, Western-style breakfast (with coffee!!) at Gecko's. Yum.

From there we hopped on the hop-on-hop-off Seoul City Tour bus. For $10, we got driven around the entire city and could get off to see any one of 30 destinations. Because someone was a little slow that morning (oops), we did get to see the whole tour, but we only got to get off at two stops: the Seoul Tower and Deoksu Palace. Because it was cold and rainy, visiting the Seoul Tower strongly reminded me of Seattle. It was cool seeing out across the city, though, and they had little markers to tell you how far you are from certain places. It turns out Seoul is 9927 kilometers from Denver. I thought it was interesting that I'm closer to Moscow than home. Deoksu Palace is one of four palaces in Seoul. The admission is well worth it ($1), and we got to traipse around soaked in the rain and splashing in puddles while running up to ancient buildings and snapping their pictures.

This was my favorite picture of the palace. I like that you can see the restored outside and the un-restored inside in the same picture. The government is working on restoring all of the palaces, which is a serious haul after what the Japanese did to them, and I find the progress interesting.

To dry off, Hannah and I saddled up to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, and it was delicious. It also opened up the night to drinking, and well, you all know what happens when Tequila enters the picture.

Something ironic about the day is I spent the day in the shadow of Luke's footsteps. He's a guy I met in my Korean class who also cut class to come see the wettest city in Korea. The next morning as we were headed to leave our stuff at the subway station, we ran into Luke and his friend! In a city of 24,500,000 people, I ran into one of the few people I know--from Daegu. Then twenty minutes later, I ran into other people from my Korean class! It was so crazy. In a five minute period I gave a blurry English lesson, ran into all of these people, and got a subway pass for Itaewon. Whew!

After another megabreakfast at Gecko's, the three of us (Hannah, Mark, myself) went for some shopping at Insadong, where I finally procured postcards. Expect mail, people! (Although not too soon; I did postpone blogging for a week, hehe.) After buying some interesting things to send to my grandparents, we set off for the main palace but got waylaid by the Lotus Blossom Festival.

It was a big festival for Buddha's birthday, May 2, and it was really impressive to see all of the lanterns. As I went through the news on Monday morning, I was pleased to see that I was finally somewhere that was in international news. Pretty cool! The incense got to me, though, and by that time I was starting to feel the cold that I'm still fighting. Fortunately for me, Hannah and Mark were okay with leaving Seoul after we consumed a massive (lethal, really) amount of ice cream. We got to the station with 15 minutes to spare before the next train for Daegu, and it was a pleasant, uneventful return journey.

Monday was (dun dun dun!) my birthday. I actually held off on opening my presents! My mom and grandma sent me more shirts, yay! The day was an average Monday, except I got four cakes. And Phil, the new male teacher, gave me nun chucks with a Jesus emblem. Then he wondered why I called him the strangest person of my acquaintance.

This week was week two of taekwondo training, and it went really well. I went, skipping only Tuesday due to illness, and I actually feel stronger. I feel more capable. I feel all of those good things I had hoped I'd feel. And tonight I learned the groin punch. Today, Daegu. Tomorrow, the world!

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