Monday, 15 August 2011

An Alcohol-Free Friday NIght In Rained Out Gangnam

 Most people in Seoul would rather be in Hongdae or Gangnam on a Friday night. Why? Because these are places most popular for clubs, bars and restaurants, where you can meet up with friends to dine, drink, chat and...drink some more!

In Korea, going out at night will last until the next morning. There's the dinner (1-cha), then the norae-bang, or videoke (2-cha), then transfer to a bar (3-cha), and if everyone's still walking upright, there's another eating (4-cha)!  

                           (At the pedestrian crossing)

When I first arrived in Seoul, I didn't know about this cultural drinking spree, until I was in one!  We had a Friday night dinner at 8PM, transferred to a videoke at 10PM, and somewhere that I lost track until it was time to go home at 4AM!  And everyone was still walking upright! Ha-ha-ha!  I told my Korean friends I had to wake up early the next morning because I had my Korean classes at 9...while they continued on until 6AM!  I was impressed!

But this Friday night, there wasn't going to be so many drinking cha's as it was raining and I had to get up early the next day for my volunteer work. (I was spending a day with the orphans and they don't need an alcoholic role model. Ha-ha-ha!).
                                          (An empty outdoor coffee shop)

I was meeting up with my friends Woong-Jae and Jee-Ho whom I haven't seen in about two years. They since have changed jobs. One is now in the oil and gas industry, while the other is in investment banking. We needed to meet and catch up!

We decided to meet near the Gangnam Station, which is just less than 15 minutes away from Hannam-dong, where I live. That is if it's a normal, traffic-free road.

But it was a Friday night, where most people flock to Gangnam, and most vehicles pass through that area going south of the city. And the fact that it was raining hard added perhaps 30 minutes into my travel time.

I tried to get there the fastest way I know: a 241 Blue Bus from Hannam-dong to cross the Hannam Bridge, get off at Sinsa Station bus stop, walk a block to Kyobo Building, and I was almost there!

I got wet with all other pedestrians all right. But I made it!
 (This Hanskin Building reminds me of a cheese full of holes)

     (We tried checking out these restaurants but didn't find the one we wanted.)

We tried to look for a good Korean restaurant behind the Kyobo Building, and found a favorite! A buddae-jiggae restaurant!
While chatting and munching down the giant dumplings on the buddae-jiggae stew, we all forgot it was raining outside and that we all get wet coming over. But we all got together finally, after all these years!
                                                     (The pot is full.)
                               (Now, it's empty!)
Dinner from 8 till 10 for the 1-cha, then we decided to get some coffee after (and not soju!) or dessert, and to continue our catching up!

Most cafes we checked out were full and we ended up at a coffee shop which served patpingsu, the Korean version of the Philippine halu-halo but with lesser number of ingredients ice shavings topped with sweetened beans, flakes, sweet tteok and other boring toppings.

It was great to see these great friends again after a long time. And we promised to meet up again soon. Perhaps, under a drier weather and perhaps, the next time, we just don't end the night on the 2-cha

Soju, anyone?

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