Monday, June 08, 2009

Curses, Gargoyled Again!

We woke up early-ish and headed off to Hongdae, which is the cool and artsy section of Seoul that surrounds Hongik University. This was both to check the place out and so I could pick up my new toy an ultra-wide Tamron 11-18 lens for my camera. Some guy was selling it for only 300,000 won, and a quick look online suggested that deal was too good to pass up. He included a UV polarizer and a nice bag. That’s a picture of the critter up there on the right.

The guy who sold it to me was very friendly and he also told me that there was an Apple shop just down the street – which makes sense for such a trendy and artsy neighborhood – as well as a Canon dealership just down at the next subway station. We headed over to the Apple Store, where I drooled over the new mac-book. Then, walking over to the Canon dealership we found a cool bookstore with English books, and magazines of many different languages. All this made us hungry, so we stopped in at a really nice restaurant for some Tuegi Galbi. At the Canon store I dropped about 50,000 won on a new 2-gig card for my camera to replace the faulty one I’d had to throw away, as well as a new card reader to replace the one I’d lost. The Compact Flash Card is “professional” so, you know, I feel pretty good (like a trendy tool) about that.

Then, of course, off to a bookstore – the smaller Pookyoung store by Cheongyecheon – which was good for Yvonne, but disappointing for me as it did not have the one book I was looking for.

Finally, we half walked and half subwayed down to the Hangnag to meet Jong Kyu. As I type this I am sitting in an outdoor café, with the potatoes eaten and the beer still on the table..


Jon Kyu took us to his friend Chong suk’s restaurant, where all the food was great in Jeollnamdo style, until they brought out the 홍아 (ammoniated fish). I had eaten this before, but Yvonne had not. There was no way to refuse it as the hostess came to our table and prepared us individual servings, with hot kimchi, garlic, pork, and sauce. Then she sat there and watched us. It was interesting to watch Yvonne try to choke it down. That's a picture of it below, one which, suprisingly, is not giving off sulfur or wearing horns.

She chewed ferociously, sweated prodigiously, and her nose ran, but eventually she swallowed it, washed down with torrents of coke. Mission accomplished, or so we thought.

Then it was off to the Han River, where we lolled, talked, drank beer, and set off fireworks. This was a lot of fun. At the last minute, Chong Suk decided we should play basketball, so it as off to a very dusty court to shoot around and play to games to 10. Yvonne messed around and got a triple double, and I didn’t die. So we count that as a success. At the end of the second game, however, Yvonne’s stomach began to get troublesome, and we had to quickly find a public toilet, then walk back to the restaurant. On the walk, Yvonne grew progressively grayer and more quiet. When we got to the restaurant Jong Kyu decided we needed to use a substitute driver. This is a cool way to avoid drunken driving charges in Korea; you call a service which drives your car home. The driver had difficulty finding us, and by the time we set off, Yvonne was holding the seatbelt off her stomach so that she wouldn’t puke.

The car rattled over a series of very small streets in an attempt to make a clockwise circle to the main road. We got there only to discover that a tour-bus had parked across the top of it. The driver was nowhere to be found, though the flashers of the bus were on, and wouldn’t initially answer the phone. Our driver got more and more angry, while Yvonne continued to grey up.

We tried to back out, but a car came up behind us.. it pulled parallel and our driver dropped to window to talk to the other guy who informed us that it was all a one-way street, and the it went the direction that ended up at the bus. So our driver pulled forward again, made several calls to the bus company, and finally got the driver. Our driver hopped out of our car so we wouldn’t hear him swearing. Still, 10 minutes later, the bus loomed over our hood, and our driver finally gave up backed out till a turn-around space, and drove us out, the wrong way down the one-way street.

Just as we got turned around, of course, the bus driver showed up, and as we sped the wrong way down the alley, in the rear-view mirrors you could see the way behind us come clear.

Oh well.

Then a long ride home, the driver did not know the Itaewon area and ended up in the left-turn lane into the US Yongsan military base. We ran a red light to get out of that one. Finally we got near home and the problem of parking arose. Finally we decided to risk parking in front of a villa right by my house.

Yvonne took my keys, ran up the pad, and performed the Famous Flying Gargoyle Act. Jong Kyu ran back down to the store to get two beers, while I nervously listened to the sounds emanating from the bathroom. They suggested that, simultaneously, the Pequod was being pulled to the bottom of the ocean by the world’s biggest whirlpool and Old Faithful was spitting out an unfriendly card game of incontinent devils.

The smells weren't good either.

After a moment, Yvonne opened the door and asked “is anyone planning to use the bathroom?” I peered inside and decided not.

She continued, “cause I have to clean this up. I puked.”

Thank god for Korean style bathrooms, in which you can pretty much sluice the entire bathroom clean, although Yvonne didn’t quite completely achieve that.

Still, better than what would have happened in a Western bathroom.

I pissed into an empty beer can, and need to remember that when I get home, so I don’t try to drink the stuff and start the evil Cycle of Gargoyle all over again.

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