Our weekend in Seoul was great, and a large part of that was due to the mistakes we made. By we I’m referring to the American athletes, Steve Sexton, Dave Massenheimer Chris Tremonte and myself – though the mistakes can all be traced back to me alone.
After the race we headed off to a America Town. The actual name escapes me, but it was exactly like China town, only in Asia, and instead of selling Chinese trinkets they sold American trinkets that had been manufactured in Asia. There was a ton of American clothing, toys (probably containing lead), and US food chains like Subway, Outback, Starbucks, and McDonalds. The last of which made Sexton quite happy, as he had been hoping to find a McDeoux the entire weekend. We probably would have skipped the McDeoux, but I was in desperate need of a urinal. Going in was a mistake. There was a woman that looked like a character out of Saturday Night Live (huge granny sunglasses, frilly skirt and stockings, crazy hair that looked like a wig….), and she was staring straight at us. At first I thought she was just waiting for someone. Maybe she was surprised to see Americans in America town. Wrong. She left, we sat down to share some fries, she came back and found us and stood and stared. It was not even remotely subtle. When we left, he followed for a few blocks before Steve made our intentions quite clear by yelling "RUN!!!" and bolting into a crosswalk. She followed us onto the opposite sidewalk, but left us several minutes later. Unfortunately I hadn’t yet gotten over feeling bad about taking random pictures of people, so I have no photo to help my description. (read this as foreshadowing for later photos).
Later that night we found ourselves in a back alley in the northern part of Seoul. We were pretty hungry, and decided to try a small restaurant with a half dozen well-dressed people sitting outside looking and sounding merry. Ok, I may have made the initial suggestion, but the other guys did go along with it. We ordered whatever they were having, using the pointing method. It was a large wok with fire under it that sat right on the table. What we pointed to looked like a bunch of vegetables all stir fried with some kind of meat. What we got was some kind of meat that none of us could identify – at first. I took a bite and started chewing. It didn’t seem to work. This meat was like one of my dogs chew toys, no matter how hard I bit it would resume its original shape. I tried and tried, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Chris – also trying to chew – proposed an answer as to the type of meat: "I think it’s tripe" – more chewing – "What’s tripe?" – "it’s intestine." "oh…" Finally the taste of the meat in my mouth got to me and I gave up, lifted a napkin when the store owner wasn’t looking and spit it out. Dave and Chris both swallowed theirs, Steve had gone looking for more American food – I was beginning to think Steve was smarter than the rest of us.
Monday morning the four of us agreed that finding a pool to swim in would be a great idea. I had talked to the Aussies earlier and found out that there was an indoor pool about 2km from the hotel. We decided to jog there, but it wasn’t until we were too far to turn back (across the street) that we all realized a) a pool asks for money, and b) "about 2km" is not a very specific set of direction. basically, we were jogging into the unknown with no intention of paying for our mistakes.
After several wrong turns asking twice for directions we ended up at the Worlds Gym, where there was no pool. Luckily, a man in the lobby knew where it was and offered to drive us there. He was an actor in what he described as Seoul’s version of Broadway. He seemed very excited to test out his English, and we were excited not to be lost. It was perfect. We exchanged emails, and he agreed to email us, which has yet to do. Hopefully he does, so I can have a Korean pen pal. 🙂
We showed up at the airport early and Steve, Chris and I had about 90 minutes to wait before boarding. Chris made a couple of comments about matching couples that I ignored, but the third time we saw a matching couple I couldn’t deny that this was in fact a strange trend. With 60 minutes left I started photographing all the matching-outfit couples, and there were TONS. I’ve had to set up a photo album online to show this. It’s amazing.