I just added two new albums to the photo site. The first:
1) A few weeks ago, my friend Dylan finally graduated from university. He called me on a Sunday night at about 8 pm and asked if I was free. I was just sitting around the house, so I took a bus downtown to meet him. He was with two of his friends, and we all hung around at various restaurants and bars until about 2AM. Then we went to gyung-sik's house, since he lives close to downtown, where we continued chilling, listening to music, and chatting until about 5. Then we all crashed on the floor (gyung-sik doesn't even have a bed, he just sleeps on a blanket), woke up at 9:30, and headed out to school. Some random guy gave Dylan a suit to put on, and someone else gave him his diploma. There were no deans or shakings of hands or any other official ceremonious stuff. Just guys in suits, girls in dresses, and people carrying around flowers, mortar boards, and diplomae. After taking some photos, Dylan's parents took us out for lunch. Then I grabbed a bus home, caught up a little on sleep, and went to work.
2) About a month ago, my good friend Yuk-gi moved to Seoul. Back in March, he started taking some conversation classes at our academy, and, along with two girl students, grew to be good friends with me and George. He was in between jobs for a long time, so when he finally got a job (as a "Life Consultant" for Samsung, a pretty estimable job), we were all quite happy for him. After giving him a while to settle in to his new apartment and job and such, 3 of us (me, George, Ella) decided to go visit.
We took the train up to Seoul on Saturday afternoon, met Yuk-gi at a subway stop, and then went to dinner at the Lotte Department Store. Lotte is a huge chain in Korea, which dabbles in everything from Choco-pie snack cakes to amusement parks. Lotte, Samsung, and Hyundai combined probably account for about 60 percent of Korea's GDP. We had an awesome reunion dinner at a Bulgogi restaurant up in the department store, complete with purple rice served in golden bowls.
Next, we headed downstairs, outside, walked for 3 minutes, and found ourselves at the Lotte World Adventure Park. I had yet to visit a Korean amusement park, so I didn't know what to expect, but given that it was indoors, I imagined there wouldn't be any rollercoasters. Contrary to my expectations, it was totally gigantic. There were about 6 levels - starting with a food court and ice-skating rink at the bottom, then the entrance level, then 4 levels of rides and games and such.
We went in a bit late - about 7:30 or so - so admission was only 13 bucks. We wandered around a bit, played stupid dress up in a hat shop, and then made our way to the "French Revolution" rollercoaster. I have no idea why that was the name, but it was - again, contrary to my expectations - a decent ride. It was still disappointing, as it was much shorter and more compact than a typical american coaster, and there were some pretty cool parts where you're in a dark tunnel with no idea that a surprise drop is about to unsettle your stomach.
After that, we rode the "conquistador," one of those coasters where a viking-style ship swings back and forth, never quite going upside-down, but still freaking you out a fair bit. With all due respect, Koreans are apparently total sissies when it comes to this kind of ride. Aside from me and George, only about 5 of the 50 people on the ride took their hands of the safety bar.
Next was bumper-cars, where we split into teams and talked a bit of trash. Naturally, George and I crushed Yuk-gi and Ella, executing some super entrapment moves and just generally embarrassing them in front of their kinsfolk. Then off to "desperado," a game where about 30 people sit on mechanical horses, grab nintendo-style guns, and shoot at bad guys in the screen. The computers track your hits and score, and I wound up getting 3rd place after 4 or 5 rounds, due to the fact that I shot several rascal-varmint-scallywags in the face. We then went on one more ride, but it was pretty lame, so I'll spare you the details.
We made our way out of the amusement park, drove back to Yuk-gi's apartment, then went out for the entirely typical bar-songroom-earlymorningstroll routine, finally turning in for the night at about 4 AM. The 4 of us managed to sleep for a few hours in Yuk-gi's one-room studio apartment, then we woke up and headed over to the Hyundai department store, where Ella helped Yuk-gi shop for ties while George and I tried on 500 dollar Paul Stuart suede and velvet jackets. They also had 300 dollar umbrellas and 400 dollar suspenders. I never knew it was possible to spend 1 month's salary on a single outfit. 2 months' salary, if you want cufflinks...
After lunch at the department store Italian restaurant (extremely disappointing), we drove home. It was about a 3.5 hour drive, and I got to see lots of the Korean countryside, which I hadn't seen too much of before. It mostly consisted of mountains covered with thick, green forests. I taught the word game Ghost to the others, which we played in the car for a good while. I of course rocked everyone. Perhaps one could chalk that up to the fact that, of the other 3 players, only 1 was a native speaker, and he had never heard of the game before. Or one could chalk it up to exceeding cleverness on my part. I'll leave that for you to decide.