A Surprising Series of Unexpectedly Eventful Events

The past few weekends I’ve been going, going, going.  Geoje Island Extreme Adventure, Ultra Music Festival, Pool Party, Korea Burn.  And this next weekend promises just as much Ultra-Extreme-Party-Adventure-Burn, as it will be the first weekend of the Boryeong Mud Festival (which attracts about 3 million people in the course of 2 weeks).  However, the last weekend (July 11-13) was supposed to be a weekend dedicated to relaxing and staying home in our nice, cool, home.  That didn’t exactly happen…

On Friday night (July 11th) Steve, Jon, and I decided we would go out in the Sinjang-dong Mall area.  We never made it there.  We left the apartment (having been drinking for a few hours) and were walking toward Sinjang when we noticed a large, stone building with pillars that probably magically appeared just that night as we’ve never seen it before.  We approached the front door where men in black suits were standing.  Steve asked if we could come in and how much it was…he had an idea of what the building was.  We entered the building and found that it was a Korean booking club.  A booking club, even though the name sounds and the idea seems like it, is NOT a whore house or a prostitution ring (at least, this one wasn’t, I can’t speak for all booking clubs since this is the only one I’ve visited).  In a booking club you pay 10,000 won for each person to get in to the club and for every extra 10,000 won you pay the escort man, you are brought a new “friend”.  What these escorts do is grab random people (usually girls) and have them sit at a new table of people.  It’s a very interesting idea and I can’t say I’m opposed to it.  I think it would be a great way to meet new people.  As it is in Korea, it’s a little more difficult for foreigners (at least at this club) because few Korean people speak more than minimal English and most foreigners (myself included) speak even less or no Korean.  We only had one new friend come to our table since it was really only Jon who could potentially have a romantic encounter (the workers new Steve and I were a couple). There was a live Korean band which was refreshing since most music here is electronic DJs.  In the end we left fairly early because watching thirty something Koreans dance wasn’t entertaining for too long.  However, our Friday night adventure didn’t end there.

After the booking club we ventured all the way across the street to a restaurant with ample outdoor seating (a rarity in Korea) and since we hadn’t eaten yet we decided to check it out.  We saw that there were two tables in a pool of water that was about 1/2 a foot deep.  We decided to sit there instead of one of the many tables on dry land (Steve’s idea).  As we approached the water and began to take our shoes off, many Koreans turned their heads to stare and made several alarming noises and gestures, but we decided to disregard them.  After we had been sitting for about 1 minute I saw Jon jump and scream like a little girl.  I looked down at the water and saw a medium sized fish.  It didn’t seem exceptionally special, but then a table of young Korean men started telling us it was a type of baby shark.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I guess that would explain why the Koreans made such funny gestures and faces when we chose to sit in the water, but come on!  Who wouldn’t want to put their feet in the water on a hot, summer day?!

On Saturday, July 12th Steve and I went for a bike ride down along a river.  We eventually discovered a Korean “camp” ground.  It was very interesting seeing as the camp site was along a river that had no trees, no grass (only pavement), and people had tents that could withstand a category 4 hurricane…BUT it was a nice area with a large (by Korean standards) grassy field where it seemed everyone was playing soccer.  There was also a pool area that had water with the deepest part being about 5 feet.  Even though the pool wasn’t that great, there were so many people!  I don’t understand why Korea doesn’t have more, bigger, better pools since people obviously love them!  Either way, Steve and I had an enjoyable bike ride and afternoon at this campsite.

Steve at the campsite area on the river.  We love soju…

That brings us to Sunday, when Steve and I went for a bike ride in the opposite direction of the same river that the campsite was on.  We were getting off the main road and riding down a hill and under a bridge when a group of three, old Korean men waved us over.  The men were very worn down and had been doing manual labor their whole lives.  They grew up in the years after the Korean War and probably knew more than most what true hardship was.  They had dirt under their fingernails, skin as tough and brown as leather, and the teeth they did have were far and few in between.  The men were kind enough to invite Steve and I to have lunch with them despite the huge language barrier; they spoke hardly any English and Steve and I speak little Korean.  They shared watermelon, mandu (dumplings), seaweed soup, and chicken.

At one point they offered Steve a Virginia Slim and shots of soju.  We had taken our shoes off and were sitting on their mat when Steve pointed at a dish on the mat and asked “Dog? Woof. Woof.”  And the men shyly nodded, afraid of what we might do, say, or think.  I truly don’t mind if other people eat dog, but all I could think after they confirmed it was dog was “Please, don’t ask me to have some.  Please, don’t ask me to have some.”  Sure enough, the kind gentlemen offer me some and me, not wanting to be rude, agree.  They gave me some pieces of seaweed to go along with it, but I have to be honest, I could barely keep from vomiting just thinking about eating dog.  I couldn’t tell you whether it tasted good, bad, horrible, fantastic.  All I could think was “Emily, don’t gag, don’t barf; that would be so rude.  Chew quickly, but not too quickly.  Can you swallow it whole?  No. Ok…keep chewing.”

This is about 10 minutes before I ate dog.  Look Mom, I wear a helmet!  Even if I eat strange food from strangers.

 BUT I did it.  I didn’t puke, but I will NEVER (please, let this be a true statement) eat dog again.    Moral of the story, I ate dog and I hated it.  Alright, that’s not the moral of the story, it’s just the end.