I’m going to make a regular feature of these top tens – whether they be something simple like ‘Top Ten Foods’ or something as obscure as today’s – they’re bound to be informative and (I hope) entertaining.
So without further ado….
Number 10: Faux Irish
2005 found me in Newcastle with little going in my favour. I worked a casual gig at a supermarket, lived in a run-down hovel not too far from the beach, and was struggling to motivate myself to submit assignments for my aborted attempt at becoming a qualified teacher. I’d never really celebrated a St. Patrick’s Day, so I jumped at the chance when my good friends Mark and Randy suggested we go to the local Irish bar for a few beverages.
Randy, odd character that he is, delights in random challenges when drunk. One particularly embarassing night saw him pretend to be down syndrome, much to our embarrassment, for the duration of our late night visit to McDonalds.
On this night, though, he thought it would be a laugh if we pretended to be Irish. Bravely, he and I put on our accents and spent the night staggering around MJ Finegans and, later, The Lucky Country. I’ve told the story in my entry about my Top 10 Favourite Bars – but to summarize. I pretended, I wooed a girl and stole a kiss, and got the taste slapped out of my mouth the following day when she came through my register at work and realized I was as Aussie as she was.
Number 9: Farewell to Brodie
At the end of 2008, my first year in Korea, I had to say a lot of goodbyes to a lot of good friends. One of the first to leave was Brodie, a Canadian lad who I had met early on in my travels and spent a good many nights drinking with.
With a big goodbye of my own to say the next morning (my ex-girlfriend was leaving, and there was still some unfinished business there), I originally declined the invite but decided that I wouldn’t be much of a friend if I didn’t make an appearance.
We downed huge amounts of fruit soju and Cass Red (a potent, almost apple flavoured Korean beer) while munching on bibimbip, bocumbap, and whatever else we could find. After we’d eaten and drank our fill, we stumbled over to a set of betting cages and found a huge collection of arcade games there. Cue hours of abusive Tetris commentary from me, fights to see who could score the highest hit on the punching bag, and my attempts to wow girls with my one armed baseball batting.
Our final stop of the night, like all good Korean nights out, was a ‘service’ noraebang – where pretty Korean girls bring you food, sit in your lap, and flirt with you. With so many drunk men and only one drunk woman though, they refused to give us ‘service’. We contented ourselves with loud singing and an impromptu food fight with the fruit platter we’d bought. You can see me blowing a vocal gasket while attempting Backstreet Boys on Facebook.
Number 8: Insistent Friend (Lover?) to Be
While waiting for a cab to deliver the Kiwi girl I was seeing at the time, I was approached by a clearly inebriated Korean girl. Using some basic English she struck up a conversation with me that lasted the next forty minutes or so until the aforementioned girl showed up. One would think that this would have been the end of the conversation – but the enthusiastic Korean girl followed us both all the way back to the apartment asking questions like ‘Do you love?’
After saying goodbye to her and going up to my apartment, I assumed I’d seen the last of her. Not so. She returned not once but twice over the next two weeks – both times drunk and both times asking the same kinds of questions. On one night she even let herself in, lay on my bed while I cleaned the kitchen, and stumbled out while I was in the bathroom.
Number 7: Seoul or Bust
Early in 2009 I had the pleasure of finding a pair of neighboring waygookin (Korean for foreigner) who turned out to be damned good wingmen. It was a typical Friday night and I’d just knocked off work when the idea to head to Seoul re-entered my head. A few hours earlier I’d said no to the four hour journey north, but with an empty apartment and little else to do – it suddenly sounded pretty good.
Jamie, Paul, and I then embarked on a beer fueled rush to get from our end of town to the KTX (express train) terminal on the other side. The traffic driver first tried to drop us off at a KT (Korea Telecom) building before my frantic pantomiming made it clear where we want to be. We arrived two minutes before the train was due to depart, threw money at a terrified cashier, and then leapt onto the train literally seconds before the doors closed and it lurched into motion.
What followed was a random night. Getting in at midnight, we were already well buzzed off of expensive train beers – and immediately proceeded to bounce between Seoul night spots such as the Wolfhound and The Rocky Mountain Bar. We exchanged rounds of oddly named cocktails at the Wolfhound, discussed the Commonwealth with a remarkably well spoken Korean man at the Rocky Mountain, did shots of flavoured tequila at a hookah bar I can’t recall the name of, and finally wound up in an empty Russian owned club. A group of attractive Korean girls began to hit on us, and we thought maybe it was our lucky night until one of them coolly dropped this gem into conversation:
“How much would you pay me to suck your penis?”
Drunk though we were, we declined their gracious invitation and got out of dodge. Paul and I caught the 6am train back to Gwangju while Jamie spent the day in Seoul before racing back to meet up with us for another night of Gwangju drinking.
Number 6: A Fond Farewell
I made a lot of wonderful friends during my years in Korea, and at the end of my first year I held a farewell dinner with another departing friend, Angie. We dominated two huge tables at a popular shabu shabu restaurant before our two parties split. I’m not sure where here’s went, but we went to the oddly named Fish & Grill (which didn’t serve much fish) for pitchers of delicious fruit soju and some random dancing from the girls.
Then it was off to my two favourite haunts for hours of free drinks, drunken goodbyes, and karaoke. I remember finishing my night arm in arm with good friends as we sang Counting Crows’ ‘Round Here’ at the tops of our lungs.
As if that wasn’t enough of a goodbye, my mid-week ‘quiet dinner’ ended up seeing forty of us crammed into a local bar named Star Fox and drinking until the wee hours. We ran up a truly massive tab at that place, and then I got to sneak home for a more intimate farewell with the girl I was seeing at the time.
My first year in South Korea ended better than I could have imagined, and it was those last few nights out that convinced me to return less than two months down the track.
Number 5: Korean Buck’s Night
When my good friend Cody invited me to come along to his buck’s night in early 2009, I jumped at the opportunity. I’d only been to one buck’s night prior to it, and while it had been fun – it had been an alcohol free affair.
Cody’s best man had struck upon the idea to avoid the more common foreigner haunts in Mokpo (a small city about 50 minutes from Gwangju) and instead explore the Korean side of things. So, we stumbled from bar to bar visiting various ‘Korean only’ establishments and drinking what our fill before moving on. We terrified the patrons with our raucous karaoke at one bar; amused the crowd inside a soju and seafood tent (where I fell in love with a potato dish they made that I was never able to find again); and finally wound up like most Koreans end their evenings – drinking store bought soju out the front of a Mini Stop (similar to a 7-11), playing the claw game, and munching microwaved junk food.
If you’ve never experienced a soju hangover, you probably can’t appreciate just how sorry I felt the following morning.
Number 4: Sydney Pub Crawl
A few months ago I was lucky enough to take part in a pub crawl through Sydney’s historic Rocks district organized by my old friend, Dave. In celebration of our friend Chris’s marriage, we started the day of drinking at 10am and I didn’t stagger through the door until 2am. Rather than wax lyrical, here’s a run-down:
– Being asked by all and sundry why our shirts had transexuals on them.
– Drinking beers with ‘the regulars’ at St George Leagues Club
– Three hours of frenzied, slightly inebriated laser tag with a bunch of hyperactive kids
– Micro-brewed beers from some of Sydney’s oldest pubs
– Shoulder boxing underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge
– Conversing in Korean with a stripper at the Men’s Gallery
Number 3: Mudfest 2008
It’s all been said before here.
Number 2: A Korean Birthday
It was my first weekend in South Korea and I was turning 24. The sad part? I didn’t know a soul in Korea. Thankfully, an old high school acquaintance lived in Seoul and heard of my plight through the wonder of Facebook. Without letting me know, he brought a small posse down to my city and took me out for a night through which I can trace every single Korean friendship I formed.
A dinner of shabu shabu (at the very same place as #6) lead to the Abey Bar, where I was surprised at midnight by party poppers and some raucous ‘Happy Birthday’ singing. We eventually wound up at a surprisingly quiet Speakeasy, where I met Kirk and Liz – friends I have to this day.
I have vague memories of falling into a cab at the end of the night, shouting ‘G’day mate’ at the bemused taxi driver, and having my friends inform him of where to take me. I don’t remember much else.
Number 1-The Hobo’s Ball(s)
Not really a single night – but a string of wild, fun parties that my good friend Dave and I have hosted over the years.
Living together in 2003/04 and having a limited budget, the idea of having a homeless themed party suited our odd senses of humour and our lean wallets. The concept was simple – people dressed up as if they were a homeless person trying to attend a dinner party, we provided a vat of hot beans, and everybody brought their own alcohol.
Over the years the costumes have ranged from lazy (an old man suit from good will) to elaborate (Caitlin’s fantastic garbage bag dress) to just plain weird (my suit protector outfit). And while drinks at the original were limited to cheap beer and cask wine, the next incarnation will be a rather upscale cocktail party.
There’s been a lot of good times. Some nudity, too much vomiting, and very few tales of romance and intrigue. It’s hard to be dashing in a bathrobe.