More Strange Food and Noraebanging

Sometimes the random and spontaneous weekday nights out on the town turn out to be some of the most memorable, and last Wednesday night provided me with a handful of Korean firsts.

On the way out after a long workday, another teacher asked if I was interested in meeting up with some people in Sinchon. I was game for sure. I had met some of these folks a few weeks ago in Hongdae, and since have been unable to attend other gatherings they’ve invited me to. And… even though I don’t start work until the afternoon, I usually don’t stay out too late on a school/work night, so I wanted to give it a shot and see how I would be the next day. Thankfully, I don’t officially work until 3:20pm on Thursday, even though I usually get there at 2:00pm to get all of my stuff done. Even still, this gives me plenty of time to sleep in and be well rested for the next day’s craziness at work.

My friend and I join the party already in progress, at their second bar after a dinner. As soon as we sit we are greeted with smiles and those giant plastic pitchers of Hite. I’ll make it a point to get a picture of one of these soon, they are enormous. And of course there are plenty of bottles of soju. We quickly meet everyone and it’s quite the international gathering with people representing America, Korea, Slovenia, Philippines and France.

In addition to the booz we order some food. My friend is usually looking out for me, wanting to order Korean cuisine that may be a little strange to the Western palate because he knows I’m in to it. What shows up is a plate full of cabbage and noodles in a spicy sauce… with snails. A few of the folks at the table ran screaming, I dove right in and found it delicious, like most everything I have eaten here. Pretty spicy stuff, also like most dishes here.

Then, most of us move on the next stop, which is also a first for me in Korea… the Noraebang. Translated, it is song room … it’s Korean karaoke. Those that know me well back home know that quite possibly my least favorite thing in the whole wide world has been karaoke. Perhaps it’s because of the half wasted burnouts found at most smoky karaoke bars on a Portland Sunday night, trying their best to perform Dust in the Wind, The Gambler or Kenny Chesney’s latest vomit inducing melody. Makes me ill, I can’t stand it. However, and this will be shocking again to those at home who know me well… this was pretty rad and I wouldn’t rule out going back.

But first, my friend and I are still hungry, so before joining the rest at the noraebang we hit up one of the street vendor carts found all over the place. This time, instead of my usual duk bokki with some sort of fried deliciousness added (I usually opt for squid), we get down and dirty. There is typically a heap of organ meat in a large metal container underneath some plastic at most of these places. This night I tried liver, blood sausage and some other mystery chewy tendony things, all mixed with the duk bokki in the extremely spicy red chili sauce. And we had a side of mandu, fried dumplings. And… it was all delicious and I would/will eat all of it another late night in the future. Again, many thanks to my friend for keeping my dining/munching local, traditional and odd.

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Mystery meats ingested, it’s time for some noraebanging. Of all nights for me not to bring the Flip Video camera. However I was able to get a few pictures, but that won’t really do it justice. There several rooms, all equipped with a good sound system, crazy lights, 3 mics, a few tambourines, two giant remotes that control everything from the music selection, volume, even the pitch of the song you are singing when someone like me is very unable to hit any kind of a high note, and a few huge notebooks containing the millions of song selections. Tonight we heard mostly American and Korean pop songs from the current decade and spanning back to the 80’s. Not my favorite music, but all appropriate selections for noraebanging. Everyone gets very in to it, nobody is modest or shy about singing in front of a group, and some of these people are very, very good.

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… and yes, I did actually participate and grace the group my seldom heard singing voice, mostly along side others because of the multiple mics available. I started with Here Comes the Sun and got a so so reaction from the crowd. Next, feeling bold, and in the evening’s only metal selection, I destroyed Welcome to the Jungle, earning rowdy applause and chanting from the peanut gallery. I was pretty much a short haired version of Axl, but with shoulders, and minus the plastic surgery, and was asked to follow up with another metal selection later in the night, which I never did, gotta keep them wanting more. However, 2 of us crushed Billy Jean to end the night. A muggy down poor welcomed us on our way out.

Why did I not hate this? I have a few theories. It was deluxe. Everything and everyone sounded good. The atmosphere is fun with the private room, lights, reverbing mics, tambourines, huge music selection and good company. Weird. Maybe I’m slowly becoming Asian.

I made it home by 4:00am, slept in until 12:00 noon, did my usually morning routine of checking emails, reading oregonlive.com, catching Anderson 360, stretching, banana and cereal, and was at work by 2:00pm. Besides the freaking non-stop hard raining all morning that had me soaked from the knee down by the time I got to work, it was a regular day. So no problemo, which might not be the best realization to have come to, because it will lead to more mayhem on a work/school night, especially in fun places like Sinchon.

Learn Korean with KoreanClass101.com

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on July 9, 2009.

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