Monday, December 04, 2006

The communication barrier...

Last week one of my best hometown buddies, Matt, arrived in Seoul to begin his career as a fellow English teacher. We went out on the town Friday and Saturday night and learned a few things.

First off, I've reinforced the notion that fish and booze don't mix for me. After a night of drinking beer we closed up the Woodstock Bar and headed out to drink some soju with a few Koreans we met earlier in the night. We ordered some soju, a delicious soup, and some type of fish.

The fish was good but booze and fish just don't mix for me. We weren't even through the second bottle of soju and I felt that watery-mouth feeling and headed to the bathroom. I threw up the fish in the sink and knew it was time to stop drinking, even though I wasn't overly drunk (honestly, I wasn't, I'm serious).

When I got back to the table "Dave," one of the Korean dudes, was passed out hard on the table. His friend "Simon" was hitting him on the head and giving him swivels tryna wake him up. For those of you who never went to St. Francis Xavier in Deer Lake I'll enlighten you about the sqivel. It's simply a hard-ass slap on the back of the neck and they hurt like hell.

Well, they didn't hurt "Dave" and he just remained passed out until "Simon" literally yanked him up and dragged him outta the bar.

Saturday night was even more eventful and also a great learning experience.

We went to Sincheon and went to a bar. We left that bar and while we were walking up the street two dudes came up to us tryna get us to go to some bar. One guy had full camouflage on so we just said alright. These guys get paid to yank people off the street and get them to go to their bar and drink.

The bar was a nice relaxing loungey place with some nice girls working there. After a few we left and hit the road again.

We didn't take more than 20 steps and another dude was tryna get us to go to some bar. The last bar worked out so again we said "sure" and followed him to a back alley where he told us his nickname was Superman.

We walk in the door to a place called Hackers and go down the stairs. There's a man in a suit behind a desk and I show him the card Superman gave me and he presses a button and the door opens. Immediately inside the door was this round spinning, lit-up circle spinning below our feet and it looked cool, but hard to explain.

Anyway, this place was big and full of people. It has big gold statues of Greek looking gods and a huge dance floor. Strangely enough, the dance floor was empty.

So a server comes and leads us to a table and I ask for a beer and he says "no beer just whiskey and rum." Matt and I are like "okay whatever man" and the dude takes off and show up at our table a few minutes later with a big ass plate of fruit, a bottle of liquor, a few cans of mix, a bottle of water, half a dozen shot glasses and half a dozen regular glasses.

He then says "ten" and by now I was totally confused. I took out 10,000 Won ($10) and he say "TEN." I then realized he wanted ten 10,000 Won bills and I looked at Matt and again, we said "To hell with it, we're here." So the dude takes off and we start to drink our $100 bottle of liquor.

Then about five minutes later our server comes back with two girl in tow and sits them at out table. It was at this instant that I realized what was going on.

We had been dragged into what is known here as a "booking club." I read about these things online before I came to Korea but kinda forgot all about them until that instant.

Okay, here's the deal. You pay the money not only for the liquor, but for the convenient setup of having girls brought to your table for you to chat with, dance with, and then who knows what... Maybe end up marrying one. These girls aren't hookers or anything like that. They just go to these places to, presumably, drink for free and try to meet a guy. All of the girls were quite pretty and I would say most of them are university aged.

So here we are, the only two white guys in the place (that I saw at least), at this place by chance tryna talk to strange Korean girls who know zero English, and we knew zero Korean. It was a strange interesting experience.

So the first girls are gone from our table in about three minutes because we couldn't talk to them and they were probably afraid of us. After those girls disappeared we introduced ourselves to the guys sitting at the table next to us and thankfully one of them spoke English. He explained how the place worked at told us that all we had to do was hold up the lamp on our table and they'd bring more girls to us. Then he grabbed our lamp and held it up in the air laughing.

And sure enough, within five minutes two more girls were led to our table. Once again, no English and I was kinda tryna say "just get up and go if you want because we don't even know what were doing here."

So there we were, sitting in some booking club with no chance in hell of "booking," drinking a $100 bottle of cheap whiskey laughing at ourselves for getting into this situation in the first place. Once the liquor was gone, so were we.

All I gotta say is I really have to learn how to speak Korean...

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