Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Actually, Buenos Aires is the Safest City On Earth

Tuesday. This is the third post about Korea and we're only at Tuesday. Concision is not my strong suit, apparently. Well, less talk more rock! Ok, but before we get to Tuesday, we have to check back in on Monday. I know, I know, but just bear (bare?) with me here. I made a mistake in reporting my drinking on Monday night. We went to the rice wine place (I'm too lazy to look up how it's spelled) and then we went to a bar called Western Village. It was at this bar where we had the bulk of the beer. Western Village was an American style bar, and as such it was completely empty except for our group of Americans and Greg's Korean friends. Still, pretty fun and pretty cheap! It was there that I first encountered those awesome Korean pitchers filled with the not-so-awesome Korean beers. The only funny story I can remember from this night that is worth telling is in Tongyeong, you can smoke in bars and they put wet napkins in their ashtrays. One of Greg's co-teachers who had literally arrived in Korea a week before us started dipping the bar snacks in this wet napkin, thinking they had just brought out some dipping sauce. What a n00b! And what a story! Concision! As you can tell based on my glaring omission of this bar, my notes were, uh, not so good. Liz kept a pretty good journal of what we did during the day. My journalistic diligence was not on par with hers. On to Tuesday!

On Tuesday we did some Korea stuff during the day. It was very fun and very Korean. Ok. So Tuesday night we went to our first Hof, Base Camp. I'm still not entirely sure what a Hof is. All I know is that they are sort of like bars, but they have a theme and the theme is pretty much restricted to the outside of the bar. For instance, in Tongyeong there is a Beatles Hof and an ABBA Hof, pictured here:

While the outside is decorated with the theme, the insides are pretty much all the same. And Base Camp didn't exactly have an elaborate outside decor. The only other thing I know about Hofs is that you're supposed to order food at them. So we did. We ordered some Korean salad and attempted (and eventually succeeded in) ordering fries. Side note: The one thing that I think annoyed me about Korea was that people seemed to go out of their way to not understand what we were saying to them. I noticed this first in cabs when we'd try to get back to Greg and Britney's place, which is in Miso-dong and the building ends in Tower. We'd tell the cab driver Miso-dong (Something) Tower, and pronounce "tower" "tow-wah" like they are wont to do in Korea. The cab drivers would perfectly understand the first three words we would say, but get really hung up on the "tower" part. We'd really emphasize "tow-wah" and they'd be super confused and finally understand only when I would shout, really slowly, "TOW----WAH." This wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't for the fact that that "tower" is by far the least important part of their address. To make an inexact comparison, it would be like if I gave a cab driver in the states the correct address to an apartment building, but they wouldn't start driving until they perfectly understood the apartment number. It was weird. So back to the Hof and the fries. We knew they had fries there, because someone in our group had had them there before. None of us knew the Korean word for fries, but Britney is pretty proficient in Korean. She was doing everything in her power to describe fries in Korean, going so far as to, quite deftly, pantomime fries. Still, it took about ten minutes for the person taking our order to understand what we wanted. I want to emphasize that we didn't just go into this Korean Hof and starting shouting "FRIES!!!" Britney described them, pretty well from what she was telling me, in Korean. She pantomimed them so well that if no words were spoken, the person should have picked it up. Frustrating to say the least. Well, we got our fries, and got our pitcher of beer.

While we're drinking our pitcher, a group of Korean men beckon one of Greg's American friends over to their table, apparently wanting to talk about the won/dollar exchange rate. Anyway, he's gone maybe about five minutes, returns, and we all finish the pitcher and get ready to leave. Not so fast. These Korean doods buy our table a giant pitcher of beer. Apparently, trying to get Americans drunk is a favorite past time of Korean men. I described the public soju consumption earlier. Greg told me that he is quite often offered some soju by random Korean guys when he is out and about. While I didn't experience that, I did get to reap the benefits here. Most people in our group went home, so Greg, Liz, Britney, and I, had to split the pitcher amongst ourselves. I know that doesn't sound so bad, but it was a giant pitcher, and we had tiny glasses. I'll put my total number of beers at Base Camp at 6, and again I want to emphasize that this is both under inclusive (as I'm sure I had more than 6 glasses poured) and over inclusive (as the glasses were super tiny). Bad for a law in the face of an Equal Protection Clause challenge, but good for keeping track of beers! And that, my friends, is the last law school joke I make here.

After the Hof we went back to the apartment where Liz went to sleep and Greg and I had a Paulaner Salvator and a Weihenstephaner Hefe Dunkel (2 beers) and then passed out.

Ok, Wednesday. I know this is long already, but unless you want Korea extended into five posts, we gotta do this. Wednesday was pretty low key. We had planned on going to an island, but it rained that day. So during the day, Liz and I hung around the apartment and drank a giant OB Blue beer we had purchased for our island trip (this was essentially splitting a 40, which I am counting as 1 beer). The OB Blue was super gross. By far my least favorite Korean beer. Later I will describe a gross dunkel I had but 1) it wasn't my beer and 2) at least it tried to be something. At night, we met up with Greg and Britney at another westernized bar, No Smoking, which oddly enough allowed smoking. And again, the place was deserted except for us. At No Smoking, I had a Black Stout Beer. I'm not entirely sure this was actually a stout, but it was perfectly serviceable and by far my favorite Korean beer. In Korea, menus that listed beers in English seemed to divide the beers into two categories, Beer and Black Beer. From what I could tell, black beer was any beer that wasn't urine-colored. So while Black Stout Beer was not urine-colored, I cannot swear to its stout-ness. But I can swear to the fact that if you're in Korea and facing a choice between your 10,000th Hite or a Black Stout Beer, you won't regret going with the Black Stout Beer.

After No Smoking we were all pretty tired, but I needed to check out Wa Bar. Wa Bar is a western bar. It's also a chain, meaning there are a bunch of identical Wa Bars all across Korea. The concept of a chain bar I thought was pretty interesting. The only chain bar I could think of in the U.S. is Coyote Ugly. Yeah, there are a lot of chain restaurant/bars and chain brewpub/restaurants, but Coyote Ugly is the only chain bar I can think of. If you can think of any others, please, let me know.

Anyway, at Wa Bar, Greg, Britney, and Liz order a Wa Dunkel, the house dark beer, while I order the Wa Bar, the urine colored house beer. Another side note: I'm pretty sure all food in Korea that isn't Korean food is based on someone looking at a picture of that food and not actually tasting that food. For instance, pizza. The pizza in Korea is disgusting. I'm pretty sure a Korean chef saw a picture of a pizza onetime and thought to herself, "Yeah, I can make that." Well, I'm pretty sure the good people of Wa Bar saw a picture of a Dunkel and, having never tasted one, thought to themselves, "Yeah, we could make that." Spoiler alert: They can't! It was gross. Super gross. Really syrupy, really sweet, but neither of those things in a good way. It's like they thought a dunkel was supposed to taste like a spoiled bottle of maple syrup. My Wa Beer, on the other hand, just tasted like any ol' macrobeer. While it wasn't "interesting," at least it wasn't super gross, so I think that's a win for me.

Well, that's Tuesday and Wednesday. Tune in tomorrow for Thursday/Friday/Saturday (plus a list of the beers I've drank since coming home. They'll get short changed, but whatcha gonna do?) and most importantly, the numbers!

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