Blood full moon for Friday the 13th

Facebook & other social media erupted with meme’s about Friday the 13th’s full moon being the last one until 2049.  After some brief research (aka google) I realized that really depends where in the world you live.  Even if it isn’t THAT rare it was still pretty cool; especially since here in Seoul we had a blood red full moon for the first few hours!

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Friday the 13th Full Moon in Seoul

Luckily my coworkers and I enjoyed it from our balcony while christening our newly purchased BBQ.  I enjoyed the best cheeseburger in almost 10 months (yikes, I’ve been here almost a year already!?!?) and we grilled up some steaks, chicken, eggplant, peppers and potatoes while dancing away.

Bacon and bugs

Have you ever eaten bugs?  I had a couple termites in Costa Rica but never anything like last Friday night.  The evening started after work when we walked to a barbeque joint near some of my coworkers’ apartment.  It was picked because of their hanging trays out front and since they served giant slabs of bacon!

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The meal began with the usual banchan (sides) coming out; we had a sprout salad, red paste, salt and a miso style soup.  The grill lay in the middle of the table with a giant bronze tube above it.  Around the rim of the grill they cracked a few eggs, roasted some garlic and onions & peppers in a red sauce.

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The waiter prepped the grill with a slab of bacon fat which brought a deliciuos smell to the table as we cracked open the first few beers.  It had been a rough week at school with paychecks being delayed and worries about the school’s longevity rising every day.  All this and its only my second Friday here; it was past time for some brews when suddenly a miracle happened.  No, bacon didn’t shoot out of the bronze tube like my coworker insisted, but it did arrive on our grill giving some sizzle to the tantalizing aroma erupting from our meal.

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Before long our server had flipped and cut the bacon, scrmbled the eggs and told us (in Korean of course) that we could dig in!  Using chopsticks to procure our greatest desire we made bacon, egg & veggie wraps with the lettuce.  It was fantastic and just what we needed.  Another round of beer and a few more slabs later we were ready to figure out the rest of our evening.

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After a brief discussion we decided to hang out at the Han River; I was assured there was a great view of the city and we could have an inexpensive evening with beers from a nearby convenience store.  We wandered past a Korean market before embarking on my second public transit trip.  This time I got to use my own Popcard and transfer from the bus.  The public transit here is quite extensive and usually very efficient; except when your popcard doesn’t scan because its too close to a credit card.

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A few stops later we were within sight of the Han.  The lights of Seoul on the far bank provided a beautiful backdrop while we set up a few blankets and got some music going on my tablet.  A few friends join us as our group grew, now including 2 Koreans.  The beers were flowing as we discussed food, music and more when someone asked if I’d ever eaten bugs.

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When in Rome, right?  I told them about the termites I shared with a tour guide in Costa Rica and found myself walking back to the market with Sejun where we grabbed a few more beers and a cup of silk worm larvae.  He ordered the brown ones . They looked like poop and I quickly learned that while Koreans don’t have the same sense of humor as us and rarely get our sarcasm, they have a huge comedy culture surrounding poop.  We all laughed; I stabbed my first bug and crunched away.

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Sejun and I were alone with this challenge, the rest of the foreigners thought they tasted terrible and smelled worse.  Spearing a few more, we ate them one by one.  They had a strange taste but were meatier than I expected.  The texture reminded me of a crunchy protein shake mixed with something that came out of the wrong end of a hot dog plant.  Se Jun informed me that Koreans will often “drink” them out of the cup. I took a few gulps and chewed before admitting defeat.  They were alright, if I’m ever starving in a post-apoclyptic Seoul I know where to get some solid nutrition.  But, seeing as how North Korea hasn’t invaded again, I think I’ll stick to meals without baby bugs for now.

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A heated seat, a bidet and my first night out

My little studio apartment is full of surprises, most notably in the bathroom.  I’ve been assured that I live in a pristine location only 25 seconds from the subway with a washing machine, microwave, fridge, “stove” (its really just a built in hot plate), TV, DVD player and plenty of storage.  But, apparently the best feature of my apartment is not my plethora of appliances but rather the heated toilet seat.  Thats right, my bum is being warmed as I write this and will stay toasty even in the coldest of winter nights!  Oh, and I have my very own bidet. Haven’t quite figured out how to use my “robot toilet” yet but it  which made one coworker seriously jealous because he doesn’t even have enough water pressure to take a shower while my toilet can shoot a stream across the room.

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My shower is attached to my bathroom sink.  Moving on.  Plenty of storage and not too messy of a room.  Sleeping in my sleeping bag until I find a good place to buy sheets.  I’m told they’ll rip me off locally but was given a few suggestions.  Clothes washer but no drier so I’ve got this nifty drying rack too. A big shout out to Megan (the teacher I’m replacing and taking the apartment from) for leaving me all these gadgets, along with some kitchenware so I didn’t walk into a bare apartment.

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Megan leaves tonight for Taiwan and a month of backpacking before heading back to the States.  We all went out for Korean BBQ, a fantastic little restaurant where we have a grill in the middle of our table and cook our own meal.  This was amazing and will be a regular occurrence!  There was plenty of beer, beef, kim chi and some soju among a soups and salads.  After dinner we all went back to my apartment so Megan could get her things.  With some more beer we said our farewells and the rest of us went to the Beer Garten.

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One of my favorite discoveries of the the night was the lack of open container law!  Obviously we grabbed “road beers” at 7-11 and walked to the bar.   Walking down busy streets it felt a lot like NYC; except that the 6 of us were the only white people in sight.  Lots of traffic, bright lights and colorful advertising everywhere; too bad I can’t read any of it.

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We arrived at the beer hall and quickly found our seats.  They bought us massive glasses and I got the hot seat.  New guy got to answer tons of questions, I was a willing participant and shared my story although I’m not sure they realized they didn’t have to loosen my tongue with more beer.  I didn’t mind.

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The jet lag hits me in waves.  By the afternoon my body keeps thinking its the middle of the night but I get a second wind and am great for a few hours.  Well, by midnight the second winds stopped failed me.  Brian, one of my coworkers lives across the street from me and helped make sure I didn’t get lost on the way home.  A successful evening but for now its bedtime; I’m told I’ll regret the soju tomorrow.