Thursday, June 11, 2009

Birthday 2.0

Day 1
My birthday officially started on Friday, June 5th when Sara and I, coupled with our friends Peter and Katie, hopped a bus to Seoul to meet our other friend Andrew for the weekend. On the ride up, we played "20 Questions" to two bottles of soju. (Did you ever realize you can turn any childhood game into a drinking game?) Eventually, we had covered all the simple topics (people, places, things), and when I became stumped with one of Peter's words, I asked him "is it in my mouth?" I was shocked when he answered "yes." I then asked, "Is it delicious?" This time, he replied, "Not particularly." When we discovered that the answer was 'light,' I felt compelled to text Andrew and tell him that "light is not particularly delicious."

Once we were in Seoul, we trekked out to find Andrew, eat some delicious Mexican food for dinner (a very special treat for us), and hit up a bar or two. But first, we thought it wise to find a motel for the night, before we became too inebriated to stumble through a conversation in Korean with a front desk clerk. Parents--you'll be happy to know that this hotel did not have any vacancies:
After eventually booking some rooms at the Hotel Nobelesse for 50,000 won a night, we headed out into the Seoul nightlife. Where we were, Shincheon and Hong Dae (Hongik University), the bars were mostly filled with foreigners, which was actually more of a culture shock for me than bars packed with Koreans. I've become so used to Korean bars that being in western bar filled with westerners was a little uncomfortable. Still, it was fun. Our haunt for the night was:

Normally, Andrew is a little more handsome than that. (but only a little)

After a day of work, a 3 hour bus ride, and several hours of nightlife and nore-bang, we ended night one by passing out in our hotel.

Day 2
On day 2, we all woke up and had lunch at a nearby Pizza Hut. This wasn't particularly special for us, since we have a Pizza Hut in Andong. After lunch, the girls went to shop and the men went off to sauna. I will let you use your imagination or ask me later about what sauna entails, but I will tell you that the women's and men's are on different floors. I can say that it is the most refreshing experience a person can have and the best cure for a hangover.

After that, we walked about a mile or two uptown to visit the cryptically named "Doctor Fish Cafe." I assume many of you know what this is. I knew about it, but didn't know the name. It's a cafe, like any other, with one important difference. Instead of resting your feet on the floor, you put them...well:

I think the video speaks for itself, but for those who are wondering: yes, it tickles like crazy. To be specific, the fish (from China or Turkey) eat the dead skin off of your feet. But since they are scavengers, they only eat dead tissue. They never nip at you, and it never hurts. They are simply a very natural (and manly!) pedicure.

After that, we met up with the girls and went out to a delicious (if expensive) Indian restaurant. While there, Sara presented me with the first of 4 cakes I would get over the next several days.After dinner, we went up near Hongik University and bar hopped for a few hours before getting a few more hotel rooms for the night some time around 5:00 AM. The next morning, we hopped back on the bus and headed back for Andong. When we got there, Katie, Sara and I were all a little shocked to realize that Andong felt like home for us.

Day 4 (after a day of rest)

On Monday, the students were mortified by the prospect that I would be at my 2nd school for my actual birthday. So at the end of the day, a few of them ran across the street to get me some cake and a small gift. For all of those looking for pictures of the poo stick mentioned in Sara's blog a few months ago, look at my left hand.
After a day of teaching, the foreigners went out for one final night of birthday fun. We went to Woodstock, one of our local regular places, and had a few drinks and another cake (number 2).
Unfortunately, since Sara's birthday was a week earlier, I was a little tired of cake by this point.

I also had a little too much to drink, which made the beginning of my actual birthday a bit slow and groggy. Still, I tried to make up for the morning with a positive attitude during:

Day 5 (June 9th)

At Youngnam that day, the teacher's bought me cake number 3 (not pictured), and some of the students gave me cards and presents. It was a great way to get over the rough morning and feel really good at Youngnam for the first time. I finally feel like I fit in there.

After school, I went to my bi-weekly teaching course, where the teachers/students had bought me cake number 4:After that class, Sara surprised me with a a picnic in one of Andong's most scenic spots, above the Nakdong River looking over downtown. We watched the sunset, ate sandwiches and watermelon (and drank a Dr. Pepper that she had hidden from me just for my birthday), and I opened my gifts. She got me the most perfect thing I could think of: a shirt. I'm not being sarcastic, I have been dying for a short sleeve, button-up shirt that I can wear to work, and she found one that fits me perfectly and looks great. I hadn't bought any shirts for myself because clothes are actually quite expensive here. She also bought me a very old, leather-bound, Korean Bible. I may not be able to read it, but my affinity for old books and Sara's tradition of giving them to me made this a birthday for the ages.

And that's the whole story. I have to say that there's nothing like spending your birthday in another country. I'm already awed on a daily basis by everything around me. To have attention shoveled on me at the same time was fantastic, memorable, and at times a little overwhelming--but I wouldn't trade it for anything.


  1. Sounds like the best birthday you could have.

  2. What a way to spend your birthday - very extraordinary!

    I think it would be funny to have clips of Jaws playing on big screens at Dr. Fish.

    Glad you had fun! See you in a few weeks :-)


  3. there a glowing rod protruding from Spiderman's pants?

    Omg..the toes are wiggling for yours!

    Yummy, I want four cakes for my birthday too. Ok, that's a lie! :)

    Dude!! Sounds like you had an awesome birthday. Great and thoughtful presents too. Glad you had fun.

    Happy (belated) Birthday!!

  4. We had a great birthday marathon, didn't we? So much to talk about! And that we celebrated yours in Seoul, because it was a nice change of scenery. We need to go back- I need to check out Doctor Fish now, you have me very intrigued. Great video, I love the big guy toward the end just going to town on your right foot.

    I'm delighted that we both ended up with 4 cakes, completely unplanned! Though I think the best moment is where you laid your face down in the cake at Woodstock.

  5. Scott,
    I am glad your birthday sounded like it was as much fun as Sara's. I also see that you apparently like OLDER women! LOL From whaat I gather, you and Sara are great for each other. Hope to meet you some day.

    Crazy Cora (aka A.H.)