Friday, September 26, 2008

Mari's Korea Adventure -- Day 5

So this would be Monday. And it was quite an adventure!
Read it now before my better judgement takes over and I edit it.

After a day of blister-making sight seeing around Seoul, we stayed close to the base. Went and walked through the entertainment district in the daytime - when the clubs are closed and the shops are open. Saw things familiar and strange, scary and fun.

If I told you I saw Red Hot Chili Peppers in the street I would totally not be lying...

Met Mrs. Kim, Tony's tour guide boss, for lunch at an authentic Korean restaurant where we sat at a table with a rocket-hot grill to make our own pork spare ribs with more condiments and side dishes than we could fit on the table. Tony asked that Mrs. Kim choose a restaurant that was not too adventurous as my tastes are not that diverse; this was a perfect place. The kimchi even hit the spot. We talked and bonded over having two kids... she shared that she didn't feel as connected to her daughter (3 months old) as she did to her son (3 years old) which I totally related to as I felt the same way when Lauren was born. She is a great lady and I know Tony will miss working with her when he leaves.

What was left after an AMAZING lunch!

Tony with Mrs. Kim

After lunch, we traveled a few subway stops away to get to the nearby E-mart (Korean Wal-Mart) and took pictures of the sushi (individually wrapped bon bons) and frozen fish.

We tried to avoid the extremly overly-helpful sales people and took a picture of the Korean McDonald's sign:

We passed rice paddies and ginko trees, two ubiquitous sights in this part of Korea if my time here is any indication.

Oh and did I mention the ridiculously huge spiders!?

Went back to the base and enjoyed leftover chili and American TV for a bit before going out for our last big night out. Started at the Lion's Den for drinks & darts, met up with some friends, including Shawn, who Tony joined the Air Force with 20 years ago (he got to Korea about a month ago). Left there and went to the Playboy Club so I can really see GI life in Songtan. It's a club with "girls for hire" (they call them "juice bars" because you pay the fee in drinks for your "date") and for a constantly negotiated fee, they will be your date at the bar. Something I had heard of but never seen. On the plus side, this bar served "slushies," basically a liter of alcoholic slush for $10, made with fresh fruit (I had kiwi). Very tasty! The group of us (5 or 6 in total) played quarters and endured the too-loud music while we drank our tasty beverages and we went on to the next place.

This is a place I will never forget; called "Chicago," it was another juice bar and I wasn't really thrilled to go there. We got a front-row seat. Yes, there was a stage and a pole, yes there were girls dancing (well; not so much dancing as swaying back & forth), and there was a DJ spinning righteous tunes. I ordered my drink and went to the ladies' room; the sink was non-functional and you could wash your hands from a hose on a spigot in the wall (how festive). Came back out and sat down, we all laughed when a girl danced to (are you ready for this?) "9-to-5" by Dolly Parton. Oh, the irony almost made me gag, I was laughing so hard. Then they started a "slow jam" so the girls could dance with their dates while the soft strains of (sit down for this one) "Mandy" by Barry Manilow ... which just reminded Tony & I of the Simpsons and the episode where Homer sings "... oh Margie ... oh you came and you brought me a turkey ... on my weekend away from work-ie..." The "mama" who is the boss of the dancers asked Tony's friend to dance, and invited Tony and I to dance. Soon Tony's friend demanded a dance (yes, there was alcohol involved), so I obliged and danced with the mama. After we went to sit down, the mama pointed out that I have very large breasts; I believe she is brilliant.

After that adventure what could we do? We called it a night and headed home. I saw a totally different side of Korea, a bit of the dirty underbelly, but Tony felt it was important for me to have a well-rounded experience and see it all.

I had my own preconceptions of exactly what life was like, what it meant to be a "juice girl," something I equated to indentured servitude, but in fact I see now that it's women making a choice--maybe not a great choice, but a choice nonetheless.

I saw the cameraderie again that holds these service members together, the support systems they use to propel them through to the end of this tough time apart from loved ones. I respect my husband for not keeping secrets and offering up all that Korea has to offer, ugly parts and all.

Wrapping it up on day 6 is next.

1 comment:

  1. GAH! I'm just reading through these now. I had no idea these entries existed. I suck and for that, I'm sorry.

    What wonderful pictures!

    I must say, that individually wrapped sushi at the store makes me so very jealous.