Friday, December 7, 2012

No Really, He's My OLDER Brother

And so the whirlwind tour of Korea continues.  After our adventure through Busan I thought i'd let Beau take it easy and give him another day to lounge around - although I did provide instructions and recommendations for him to do the hike conveniently located behind my apartment. I also told him that he should join me at school by 3pm for one of my favorite and highest level classes - but that never happened.... As it turns out I returned from school around 5 to find my brother lounging on his makeshift bed - mattress on the floor (which he hated by the way) explaining that after hiking and showering he just kind of crashed, therefor never making it to school. I wasn't too upset but I couldn't say the same for the students of class 1-1 who were expecting him.  

That night we made our way to Gumi to check out a talent show/open house which was put on by the orphanage I volunteer at. (Quick side note - the orphanage is currently raising money to fund furniture for their new home as well as Christmas presents for the children this year. It would mean a lot to me [and of course the kids] if you would consider making a donation.)  I completely underestimated the amount of people that would be in attendance so along with our late arrival we were stuck in the back corner with a less than optimal view of the stage. Still, it was a lot of fun and i'm glad I got to share another aspect of my life here with my brother. 

My three boys are front row
Friday came all too soon (wait that's not right isn't it supposed to be "can't come soon enough") which meant my brothers fast approaching departure.  I couldn't let him leave the country without making another appearance at school so back he went, although I did let him come in late.  The morning was spent with my English teachers discussion class and class 2-1 (another of my advanced classes) before being treated to lunch by my Principal. We went to the same beef place from when my Dad visited which was just as delicious as the first time.  During lunch my principal was pretty quite (strange for him, maybe he needed the liquid courage of Soju) but did explain that he felt bad he couldn't spend more time with us as he's very busy with the end of the school year, opening of our new dorm, and recruitment of students for next year. 

That afternoon at school I was scheduled to have my 3 hour discussion class. In the beginning of the year I thought this class was for advanced students or those interested in improving their speaking ability but i'm still not sure how some students wound up in this class as they have little to no interest in English. Anyway I made them all prepare some questions to ask my brother so that our 3 hours didn't drag on for too long, which worked, for the first hour at least.  We then fought through a game of catch phrase before it looked like the students were going to die of boredom (or more likely actual sleep deprivation) so I let them have the last hour as rest/study time as my brother and I roamed the halls. We came across other students aimlessly doing the same and spent the last hour talking and joking with them - now why aren't they in my discussion class??

김민도 - class clown, sweetheart and 'future husband'

장은영 awesome girl

Friday night there was little time to rest as we packed up our belongings, tried to put my apartment back into a bit of order and made our way to the bus terminal - next destination: back to Seoul! Unfortunately Seoul must hate my brother because the night was filled with you guessed it, more rain.  We met my friends Caitlin and Joonwoo at the hostel around 10pm (the bus took forever) went out for a drink but then decided to call it a night.  The next morning we were up early for our scheduled tour of the DMZ, it was a bit of a hectic morning as the tour was early to pick us up and Beau's friend Pete (met while traveling in New Zealand, but now in Korea small world) was running a bit late.  Thankfully they waited and we were all soon in the back of the bus going through introductions and probably losing my brother in our talk of Korean life. 

Since the bus had to wait for us we soon turned into our tour guide's favorite group (the back of the bus) and I knew it was going to be a good day.  The tour consisted of three different stops, all of which held their own excitement, intrigue and fun. First was the 3rd infiltration tunnel which is, as the name suggests, the 3rd tunnel dug by the North Korans with plans of invading South Korea. We got a wealth of information about the tunnel from our tour guide on the way there but i'm not going to reiterate it all for you - that's what google's for.  The tunnel was pretty cool and a bit eerie but the biggest takeaway was that North Korean's are short, I even hit my head multiple times on the low ceilings. Of course no stop in complete without a packed gift shop and loads of tourists. Our next stop was the Dora observatory which offers views of the actual DMZ and on into North Korea - but remember no photos beyond the yellow line! Finally we made our way to Dorasan Station, the last train station in South Korea which since 2008, when cargo trains were no longer permitted to enter North Korea, is solely a tourist destination.  The station was restored with future plans of connecting the line up through North Korea and eventually onward to China and Russia - that is if the countries every unify (keep your fingers crossed). 

The infamous yellow line

North Korea!

After the tour we were dropped off in Hongdae and all starving (no time for breakfast that morning) so we settled for one of the first restaurants we set eyes on, Chinese - 자장 and 짬뽕, yum. Next it was time to head North for our a tour of Gyeongbokgung, the largest and most notable palace in Seoul - same place I took my Dad.  Seeing as it had been a long day and the temperatures were starting to drop, along with the sun, I think our visit was a bit rushed but we were all okay with that.  We decided it was time to call it a day, head back to the hostel to rest and freshen up before heading out for the night, as well as meet back up with Caitlin and Joonwoo who opted out of the palace since they had both seen it numerous times (I would have done the same if I were them.)

Forced him to do the post to match my Dad's

After taking a minute to thaw out and collect ourselves we decided to venture out in hopes of finding a makegoli bar that Caitlin had heard about.  We were going to take a taxi but upon noticing they were all at a stand still in traffic decided it'd be a better (and possibly faster) idea to walk, even though we'd been doing that all day. It was a bit farther than expected but we eventually arrived and luckily got there just in time as the tables were soon full.  I was glad to have 존우 with us so that he could translate the menu, which was completely in Korean.  By the time we left I think we had sampled 6 or 7 different types of makegoli and feasted on paejeon, tofu and some crazy omelet type concoction. Upon leaving we opted instead for a taxi to take us back to Itaewon and were soon in search of a new bar, one that could accommodate our large group.  After a few failed attempts we found ourselves at 3 Alley Pub, drinks ordered and with a few extra friends (a previous student of Loudine's whom she taught English to in South Africa - again small world). 

Before long our night was coming to and end as we all split our separate ways, I was happy to have made some new friends and show my brother a good time in Seoul, but I was not looking forward to the early alarm I had set for taking my brother to the airport.  Of course, morning came too soon as I showered (possibly still drunk) and ventured out into daylight to get my brother off to the subway.  I didn't take him all the way to the airport but did make sure he got to the subway airport line, it's pretty idiot proof from there.  I was  a bit sad to see him go but it was a good week and there were promises made of a return visit...we'll see if he holds up to those, plus I was glad to have my apartment back in order. 

Blame it on the Makegoli 

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