Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taking a Stand

Last weekend was another good one. Friday afternoon I made arrangements to meet some of my friends the next day near Seoul. The plan was to grab lunch and then go to what is called the Cherry Blossoms Festival. As you might be able to guess by the name it is an event where you get to see Cherry Blossom trees. As far as lunch goes Chelsea was in the mood for Mexican and had heard of a good place that she wanted to try out. It is called Dos Tacos but she had me at Mexican. The next day I took the trains down to the designated station and waited as people from the group started to filter in. Before we left I found out that no one actually knew where Dos Tacos was so they had just decided to go to On the Boarder. I admit I was curious about the other place but I was certainly not complaining about getting to go to On the Boarder. I had one of their burritos and of course a coke. But as we waited for our lunches the table went through 5 or 6 bowls of chips and several bowls of salsa. I really never stopped eating the chips and going after the salsa.

During lunch Chelsea told us that the Cherry Blossom festival had been cancelled or more accurately it had been put on hold until a later time. Many of us were sad but I was ready to do whatever the group wanted to. The problem was we had eight people sitting there and most of us were too timid to actually give suggestions and the ones who had suggestions were quickly shot down by someone at the table. For a minute it seemed like going to a movie would be the final decision. Many of us wanted to see Clash of the Titans. I liked that idea but I had also made plans with Jong Woo to see it the next day. But I did not want to be the reason everyone else did not go so I thought I would just watch it twice. But someone else was just fine being the person who kept everyone from going. He had seen the movie already and did not like it that much apparently he did not feel like there was enough “clashing.” We must have sat there for at least 15 minutes just batting around ideas and then someone said they were going to meet a friend at a baseball game and we were all welcome to come. I admit I was not too psyched about the idea but everyone seemed to go for it or at least accepted it as the best option that had been given. So we headed over to the baseball stadium. It took around 45 minutes to get there and when we came up the train station was swamped with people.

Now after having Mexican food for lunch, drinking four cokes and going on a 45 minute train ride I had need to go to the restroom. I found the closest bathroom in the station. The first stall I looked into was just a hole in the ground. Imagine a urinal lying flat on the ground even the part you flush sticks out like a urinals, which means that it is sticking strait up into the air. You just squat and go for it. I had seen these in multiple bathrooms here but there were always “normal” stalls with toilets so I assumed there would be one here too. But as I looked each and every stall was just another horizontal urinal. I really did not know what to do I just could not really imagine trying to squat while supporting my own weight. But it became quickly apparent to me that I did not have much of a choice. Once I tried to get into position I also found out that not only was it difficult to hold yourself up but you had to figure out a way to position yourself so you did not just go into your pants. First I tried pushing against the walls of the stall to take some of the weight but the walls were to far apart. Then I tried grabbing the flusher and almost fell backwards into the less then clean opening. Really I can only guess what I must have looked like trying to push my butt backwards far enough to avoid an unfortunate clothing stain while having my legs spread far enough apart so as to not be standing in the hole and maintain my balance to prevent smacking my head on the wonderfully placed flushing device; funny to think about horrible to experience. Finally it was over and I ran back to the group.

The stadium was right next to the train station so there was no long walk involved, which was nice since I had been standing for the entire 45 minute train ride. The ticket lines were quite long and like so many Korean lines completely jumbled with seemingly little organization until right at the front. Now we had to wait for Shenae’s friend. Once her friend got there we grabbed our tickets and tried to figure out how to get into the stadium. Apparently it is not as easy as going inside and walking around in the big circle until you find you section. Rather everyone had to enter specific entrances based upon their sections. It took us four tries to find the right door. The game started during our long search for the way inside. Needless to say after waiting in line four times to enter a stadium only to be sent to a different entrance was rather annoying and some of us were losing our interest in being there. Now our tickets were in the cheaper section of the stadium in the outfield and as we came up into the stadium I began asking were our seats were. I was told that there was no assigned seating in this part of the stadium. Rather like a movie theater in America it is simply first come first serve. We began walking up and down staircase after staircase each of which had people sitting on them looking for any available seats. During this process I looked behind me and Tony was gone. I asked what happened to Tony and one of the other guys Andrew told me he had reached his limit and went home. I laughed partially to hide the fact that I would like to follow right after him. After at least another 10 minutes we gave up and just stood at the top of the upper deck behind all the seats. Even here there were lots of people all cramming forward to see the field. We were behind 2 or 3 rows of people just standing in front of us. I truly did not care about the game at all and was ready to call it quits but everyone else seemed content to stay so I quelled my annoyance and just hung out. I end up chatting with Shenae and Chelsea more than watching the game. Now it was the bottom of the second inning by the time we got to the place where we ended up watching the game from and it was already 2 to nothing. That was kind of amazing to me since the game had not even started when we first tried to get into the stadium. I could not help but wonder if we really going to stay there for the entire game I mean this is baseball we are talking about.

During the fifth inning Andrew and Bobby decided to leave. I was going to leave with them but I had been enjoying my conversations with Shenae and Chelsea so I just stayed. We ended up staying at the baseball stadium until the bottom of the eighth. We then decided to leave mostly because we wanted to get out of the stadium and onto a train before everyone in the stadium was fighting to get out. In all we had been standing there for 2 and a half hours not including the 45 minute train ride to get there, my bathroom stretch and the entire failed journey to find a seat. Let’s just say my feet hurt. But we got out and onto the train fairly quickly. There were only four members of the original eight left and one new person Shenae’s friend Sean. It was around 8:30pm by now and I was pretty much ready to call it a night. I shared my intent to head home and of course the others desired to go out and wanted me to come. Shenae was the most adamant. Shenae and I had only first met at lunch but I already liked her. Like me she was a history major and she seemed genuinely curious about my religious studies. She wants to go to grad school and focus on African American studies. As the train got close to the stop where everyone was getting off to go to a bar I was pretty sure I was not going. I told them I was tired and wanted to head home, in part because I knew it was going to take over an hour to get home. They all kept telling me to come and as the train doors open Sean, who I still did not really know, grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the door telling me to come. I finally just gave up and went, in part because I really do like spending time with these guys, or I should say girls.

We ended up at some type of small Korean bar. Its specialties are mixed soju drinks. Soju is the main alcoholic drink here in Korea. It is a clear liquid, like vodka. I have never had any. Some of the native English speakers like it and some really do not. The group ordered some drinks. The way it worked was they picked a flavor in this case strawberry mango and the servers brought out a pitcher of strawberry mango soju for everyone to share. Soon they were playing all sorts of drinking games. I of course did not know any and I did not participate but just hung out and talked. In my effort to be a little more adventurous I did end up taking a shot of the drink. It basically tasted like an odd strawberry mango juice. Not bad but certainly nothing I would pay for. I finally was ready to call it a night and told everyone I was going to take off. This time they all let me go without much of a fight. I ended up leaving just after 10:30pm. The ride home was long but I enjoyed it because I have a large number of lectures on philosophy that I can listen to on my I-pod. I ended up getting home right at midnight. It was a fun day. The only problem was as I laid down to sleep I had to set the alarm for far too early because Jong Woo and his family were coming by in the morning so we could go see Clash of the Titans but that is a different story.

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