AT the risk of sounding totally unP.C., my father always told me that he thought “Koreans were the Latins of the Asian world.”  But before you judge my family for making this statement, keep in mind that we are both Asian and Latin, and thus are somewhat entitled to make these kinds of jokes (plus we are from Hawaii and as most people know Hawaiians and local people from Hawaii are certainly not afraid of ethnic jokes, in fact they are always encouraged, unless you are telling a big Samoan or Hawaiian a joke about themselves, which is probably not the best idea…just for your own safety…I hope you people who plan to travel to Hawaii are taking notes.)  Anyway, I never really understood what he meant by this statement until now,  having actually been to Korea for Golden Week. 

Koreans are…how should we say this, uninhibited, dramatic, and expressive, in other words HONEYBADGER* don’t care. *If you do not understand this expression, I highly suggest watching this video. Very different from the more reserved and polite Japanese culture I am continuously immersed in.  Although, I actually find these characteristics very entertaining and sometimes funny.

For example on the subway, Princess No1 and I watched a fight happen. Now despite having watched multiple Korean dramas, we were kind of surprised to see such antics displayed in public, BTW this fight consisted of the girlfriend smacking her boyfriend on the face and then giving him the EVIL eye, she seriously looked like she wanted to murder him.  Also the old ladiess who are called Ajimas, will push you out of the way, or run into you when they are walking.  I had one lady grab my waist and move me so she could get off the subway. PrincessNo1 likes to call this the spirit of the Ajima.

I am convinced these characteristics are why Koreans make the BEST dramas out of the Asian world.  Everyone who watches Asian dramas knows that Korean dramas have the best fight and romance scenes and  now I know the reason why, its because these dramas are an actual reflection of their lives as I have observed while being there.

Koreans also make the best food, but unfortunately because their food is so good, everyone smells.  Smells are EVERYWHERE in Korea…so you are certain to either smell one or more combinations of the following: kimchee, garlic and garbage.  I combated this by happily joining into the feasting…of course not feasting on garbage I mean, just the other two.  Ever since I watched the Korean drama Jewel of the Palace, I wanted to go there and eat my head off.  I finally got my chance since PrincessNo1 moved out of the Blue Forest last year to be with her OneTrueRabu who is now living in Korea.

But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s tell this tale in chronological order.

So I arrive in Korea amongst a group of Japanese tourists, almost everyone has black or dark brown hair and dark eyes, so I figure that PrincessNo1, who has blonde hair and green eyes will stick out.  I scanned the crowd for her at the arrivals area but I didn’t see any blonde hair anywhere.  Suddenly, however I heard a distinct clomping noise, and I for some reason knew it was her.  So basically, I heard PrincessNo1 before I saw her, my eyes moved into the direction of the pattering feet and I finally saw a figure behind the crowd jumping up and down like a fish out of water.  We both started cracking up, before we ran to hug each other.  Her hair had been up in a bun, so I that’s why I couldn’t find her at first.

We went back to her apartment via the underground, which interestingly had all of these gas masks in glass cases, in case of an invasion from North Korea.  From that stop, we took a cab who drove us the rest of the way, but not before having to stop before turning into the road to her apartment, where a girl with her dogs had stopped walking to turn around and GLARE at the cab driver daring him to run her and her dogs over. 

The foreign area where I stayed, actually kind of reminded me of Camden, where I used to live in London, smelly with a bunch of coffee and clothing shops and foreigners scattered throughout.   Anyhow, we stayed up pretty late watching FRIENDS episodes, since everything was basically closed and she had to work the next day.

The next day I explored the area alone, and walked around town.  One thing about Seoul, is that there are freaking hills everywhere, oh my gosh–my feet hurt and I was winded when I got back to the apartment.  PrincessNo1 returned and we went out to a traditional Korean dinner at CPK (yes, I mean California Pizza Kitchen) with her OneTrueRabu- who by the way, is a total gentleman and he paid for my meal since I was their guest-better hang on to that one PrincessNo1!  We caught a cab to the restaurant and when we got in the cab driver went in Korean, HURRY UP and tell me where you wanna go. Hurry, hurry!!

On Saturday, which happened to also be Children’s Day, we went to the Palace where they filmed Jangeum and Goong (two of my most favorite Korean dramas ever!!).  I was so excited and it was an absolutely beautiful, sunny, and cloudless day.  But before going to the Palace we met up with one of my Korean friends, Minhee, from college, who was working for the Danish Embassy in Korea.  We went to a traditional Korean restaurant where I ordered bulgogi in an earthen pot (so good) and ate Minhee’s soybean paste with rice dish. 

Before walking to the Palace, we decided to walk around the area, a shopping district where this ice cream vendor guy hit on me.  We were buying our cones and this dude shouts out to me, “Where are you from?”

“Hawaii.”

“Aloooha. Aloha. Aloooha!…I love you.”

So then, I laughed, of course and went to take my ice cream from him.  But when I went to grab the cone, he like grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go of me.  At this point, there is a small crowd of people cracking up watching this.  I tried to let go, but he kept pulling at my hand, then after he finally let me have my ice cream, and hid behind Minhee while everyone was laughing.

We went to the Palace and on our way out of one of the Exhibition Halls, this pretty Korean reporter, who ended up actually being from Texas and who strangely happened to be wearing the same pants as I was, grabbed PrincessNo1 and her OneTrueRabu and asked to do an interview with them about Korean politics. 

Minhee and I waited in the grass but then this old man came up with a camera and asked to take a picture of me.  It was kind of weird, but I let him, since I figured his chances of habitually stalking me were slim to none as I live in the Blue Forest of Japan anyway and at least he asked me without secretly taking pictures. 

The reported then grabbed me and Minhee as well and asked to do an interview with us about Korean food.  She happened to ask me if I had ever tried soybean paste, which was so weird, since I had just had it like a few hours earlier.  I said it had a strong taste, but I love trying new things and am used to Asian food since I grew up in Hawaii.  So, I guess we will be on some random television program in Korea like a month from now or something that I will probably never end up seeing.  

Not only was it Childrens Day in Korea, it was also Cinco de Mayo, so we headed back to the foreigner area and went to a party on the rooftop of one of PrincessNo1s friends.  We ate tacos and margaritas under the Supermoon, and Seoul Tower which was also visible from the rooftop.

Afterward the dinner, the Cinco de Mayo partygoers went to American Western style bar.  I didnt drink much, well, I never really do, but I did learn how to dance the Two-Step from a guy named John from Virginia.   Then a couple of us went to salsa dance in true Cinco de Mayo fashion.  I dont think I have mentioned this before in my blog, but I am a big salsa dancer, when I lived in Seattle, I used to go out once or twice a week.  I love salsa dancing so much!! I was so excited that I was able to go, because there is no salsa dancing in the Blue Forest, and I hadnt expected to go salsa dancing in Korea, so I was a happy camper.

The next day we went to eat the most favorite food of the BlueForestPrincess, Kalbi.  I was so excited and kept eating and eating, haha even when almost everyone else stopped.  After that we went to see the Avengers in 3D at a shopping center in Myeongdong.  I had made it my goal to see this movie while I was in Korea, because I knew that it wouldnt be out in Japan for a long while.  Waiting in the ticketing area, I felt like I was in the future.  There was a robot that moved around the room and sold tickets. PrincessNo1 kept jumping in front of it, though she wasnt buying any tickets because when you stepped in front of it, it would stop moving. Also there were these screens that would change if you stood right in front of them which told you more about the movie. In the bathrooms there were tvs and strangely mirrors, so you could see yourself sitting on the toilet.  I wasnt sure of the reason for this, but I did notice that Korean girls LOVE to primp, they love any kind of reflection and are constantly fixing themselves in the mirror so that must have been it.

PrincessNo1 and I then went back to her apartment and watched GOONG before falling asleep.  I took the plane early the next morning and watched a beautiful sunrise over the bridge in the cab on the way to the airport.  OneTrueRabus cab driver, whose name is JK, but not like just kidding, he said, drove me to the airport and tried to convince me to move to Seoul.

So all in all the trip was a success, filled with friends, food and fun! Thanks PrincessNo1!! Tanoshikata!!

Advertisements