Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Seoul of Asia

Now that I've filed my Race Report like a good boy, on to the fun stuff.  There were four Americans on the start list in Seoul and as luck would have it they're all guys I'm pretty friendly with -- Ben Collins, Dave Messenheimer and Steve Sexton.  Ben and I were on the same flight out of Seattle and we ran into Steve at the airport -- he was connecting through to our flight.  Ben and I both identified him in the S terminal public restroom, much to his delight.  "Oh wow, it's STEVE SEXTON!!  Here!  I the flesh!"

Ben already gave a pretty thorough account of our flight over there.  The only clue that I'll give you is the "Crazy People" tag on this post.

Most of the international athletes were staying at the Hotel Lexington, a New York themed "Deluxe Business" hotel in Seoul's business district of Yeouido.  The buffet restaurant where we at most of our meals was called "Broadway" and sported West Side Story posters all over one wall.  There was a sports bar on the second floor called "Yanks and Mettz." 

The Korean folks were very kind and helpful to us throughout the weekend, despite the only Korean that we collectively knew being four phrases that Ben learned on the plane -- one of which he taught me: "Kum Sa Hahm Ni Da" means "Thank You."  I used that a lot, even when it wasn't necessarily grammatically correct.

The day after the race we went looking for a pool and after getting directions from a few people on the street we ended up at a gym with no pool.  But one of the gym guests offered to drive the four of us over to Yeouido Pool!  He even bought us each an aloe juice at the supermarket once we got there.  We exchanged email addresses and will probably be in touch -- he's studying English and was eager to get more practice.

Our culinary adventure of the weekend took place after the race when Dave, Ben and I went out to find some local Korean food.  We eventually found ourselves in an alley where about eight people gathered around an outdoor table enjoying some food out of three woks and a few beers.  It looked good from where we stood so made eye contact with the owner and he motioned us to an outdoor table.  As we sat there on plastic stools anticipating our meal the air was dripping with anticipation.  The cook finished up the entree and his wife set up a hot plate on our table to keep it warm.  It wasn't clear what the meat was so we each took a tentative sample... rather chewy... very chewy, in fact.  It could only be intestine!!  We tried to work our way through enough of the plate to be respectable, eating the vegetables and moving the tripe around ... I even suggested we hide a few pieces in our napkins...  the wife kept coming over and stirring up the contents of our wok to get us going but we couldn't turn the corner.  Eventually we had to throw in the proverbial towel.

Steve, on the other hand, had refused to even sit down at the restaurant as he instead scouted the neighborhood for a "MacDeux" or other American offerings.

Our final batch of shenanigans came together at the Seoul airport when I noticed three couples wearing matching shirts in a span of about ninety seconds.  The first time I just chuckled to myself... the second time I didn't want to interrupt whoever was talking... but the *third* time I had to say something.  So Ben, Steve and I spent the rest of our hour at the airport seeking out matched couples.  it was like shooting fish in a barrel -- I think we saw like 25 of them!  Some were completely matched from head to toe.  Some just had matching shirts.  Some had shirts that had the same patterns but inverted colors.  It was fantastic.  The excitement may have been enhanced by the free drinks that they were giving away in the Duty Free store...

That about does it, wraps 'er all up...  see you later on down the trail.

No comments:

Post a Comment