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Archive for the ‘nightlife’ Category

I’ve been spending a lot of time in on the weekends, hiding out from the cold weather and trying to get things in order before we leave in less than a month (eek!), so I decided that I needed a night out with one of my best friends here in Korea, Chansong, and one of her friends from church!

We met in Cheonbukdae to chat and exercise our chopstick skills over a meal of shabu-shabu at a local Japanese food restaurant. Shabu-shabu refers to thinly sliced beef dipped briefly in boiling broth, then enjoyed with vegetables that also simmer in the same pot. The food trend, which began in Osaka, Japan has quickly caught on all around Asia and has taken on variations in each country.

In Korea, it is customary to serve the beef with a plate of vegetables (ours included three kinds of mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, squash, and a single mandu as well), with a tiny nest of fresh noodles to one side, and a small bowl filled with rice, nori and an egg to make jook at the end of the meal.

To begin, the girls and I dropped our veggies in our personal pots as soon as the broth began to simmer. While they bubbled, we dug into a complimentary salad of crisp cabbage, a ripe, juicy orange and tangy kiwi dressing. Yum! I practically licked the bowl clean. Once the vegetables began to soften, we began dunking our meat our pots and enjoying the combination of the produce and the beef.

I traded Chansong some of my mushrooms for her squash, since she isn’t a fan.

Once the meat was gobbled up (trust — it didn’t take long as I was starving after a long day of work), we plopped the fresh knife-cut noodles into the pot to make a mini version of kalguksu. After slurping up the noodles with the two delicious sauces (one was soy sauce based, the other a kind of gochujung) the broth had reduced quite a bit in the pot and it was time to drop in the rice.

The resulting dish was a creamy type of congee — a rice porridge called jook that combined diced vegetables, nori, rice and a single egg to produce a rich, satisfying bowl of comfort (especially on a night with temps in the 50s). I wasn’t able to finish all of the jook due to my bulging waistline at that point, but it was the perfect end to a perfect meal. My only regret is that I didn’t come to this restaurant sooner!

It was more than a steal at 9,000 won (under $9). I felt like I robbed the place blind!

Afterward we headed to Art and Travel for a night cap and more girl talk.

A few weekends ago, I was lucky enough to be around to celebrate Chansong’s 22nd (21st American age) birthday. Even though she has been able to drink legally in Korea for years now, I felt like this was a milestone that couldn’t go unnoticed. So, we spent a lively Saturday playing cards and drinking at Deepin.

She was a trooper and even accepted the shots of whiskey I bought her — the first ones she had! Happy times with a bestie who I will miss dearly when I go home…

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The adventures first… explanations take such a dreadful time.” –Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


And the adventures we shall share! To celebrate the (un)birthdays of my friends Elizabeth and Ashley, and the farewell of my friend Priscilla, Radio Star was transformed into an extraordinary Wonderland, and the characters of Lewis Carroll’s beloved books came together to drink, be merry… and maybe chop off a few heads.

In the bar, we marveled at Alice’s tear river, the White Rabbit’s house, hanging bulbs, cards, trippy artwork and endless amounts of decor that helped transform the beloved dungeon into the place where magic happens.

My friend Jenny Ryan and I (yes, I know, but if you go to a place where there are people who were born in the 80s, you’re bound to find a few Jennys) made jell-o shots to sell at the shebang. All of the proceeds from the sales and the cover charge at the door were donated to the Jeonju V-Day campaign, helping to raise money for the Jeonju Women’s Shelter. Overall, the team of hard-workers raised over 700,000 won! Epic success.

Jenny and I both donned “Alice” costumes to sell our creations — and they went fast!

Evan dressed as the always-smiling Cheshire Cat …

… who got considerably less smiley (one frowny feline) when I didn’t grab him a beer from the bar.

Everyone really went all-out with the dress-up aspect. It was so much fun to see everyone’s creations!

In fact, Jenny and I had so much fun, that we fell down the rabbit hole… and kept right on falling, down to the disgusting floor in an unfortunate accident involving too many feet in too little space. ICK! Luckily, we thought it was kind of hilarious.

Definitely a party for the Jeonju memory books.

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Last weekend, my girlfriends and I decided to escape to the big city for two whirlwind days of shopping, foreign food and live music.

I awoke early on Saturday morning to catch a bus to Seoul with my friends Rachel and Jenny Ryan. We headed straight for Hongdae upon our arrival, and dropped our bags at our crash pad for the night, Backpacker’s Space. The hostel, which was roughly 90% occupied by our posse, was adorable, clean and comfortable. It featured three rooms with bunks and fresh linen, one (western-style) bathroom with countless toiletries, and a vanity corner with a hair dryer and a straightener. I died, since I hadn’t straightened my hair in 10 months — I was waaaaay too excited.

The owner was pleasant and helpful, and a water cooler with cups was a welcome amenity during the wee, hungover hours of the morning. Plus, it was located in the heart of the bustling University district, so we were just a hop, skip and jump away from the clubs where we spent our night bobbing and dancing to jams.

So we ditched our packs and headed to Dos Tacos for some food. It was the same restaurant that we visited in Gangnam with my ‘cuz last summer, but the Hongdae location. Meat and avocado burrito, yummers. Just per-fec-tion.

Afterward, we took the train to Myeongdong to do some serious retail damage. I couldn’t get out of Forever 21 without a necessary top… or five. Oooops!

We also ran into a grungy, creepy Garfield in the midst of our shopping spree, nbd.

On our way home, we got wrapped up into a conversation and missed our subway transfer (whoops) but eventually made it back to the hostel! We grabbed some beer, dolled up and got ready for our night on the town. I chose one of my new tops from F21 and paired with with a black skirt, black tights, black boots and my Lady Gaga ring. Faboosh!

The crew, about 15 women deep, rolled to T Bell to grab some more Mexican grub before going out to Club FF. I ate a taco, and a burrito… and part of Sasia’s quesadilla… and Priscilla’s nachos. Yeah. Bad move leaving me around available food.

Club FF was awesome! The event was the 7 year anniversary of the hot spot, and had a bunch of great bands to celebrate the occasion. The first act we saw was Kingston Rudieska, an awesome ska band. At 11 PM, the bar started serving FREE cocktails that we enjoyed for an hour. Needless to say, I only bought one beer during our stay.

Later in the night, I decided to meet up with Alyssa at Shake! a mile-a-minute underground dance party. Alyssa popped into Club FF to tell me her location after her phone went missing, and we realized we were wearing the exact. same. outfit.

We had both purchased the same shirt that day without realizing it, and went on to dress ourselves in the same threads. It was hilariously mortifying — we looked like a Korean couple on their honeymoon.

We stayed at Shake for hours, went back to Club FF and shook it til the wee hours of morning.

I scraped myself out of bed in the morning, showered and enjoyed a picturesque cup of coffee while I waited for my ladies to get ready.

I also enjoyed the view of Hello Kitty cafe across the street. So cuuuuuute — where was Candace when I needed her? ^_-

After everyone was awake, we cabbed it to Itaewon to get some pub grub at Wolfhound. Rachel was sooo very excited to get her Bloody Mary. I skipped my own Mary for a pint of strong cider, and went crazy for their menu. In the end, I opted for a shepherd’s pie and a side salad with ranch. RANCH DRESSING! The second time I’ve enjoyed the creamy, fatty goodness in ten months. Yum!

Evan probably would have guessed that my eyes won a competition over my stomach during this meal, but I ate every last bite. Nom nom.

Being the wonderful girlfriends that we are, Rachel and I popped into Quizno’s on our way home to pick up sandwiches for us and boyfs to eat for dinner, which I enjoyed with Ev after a sleepy bus ride home.

Successful, wonderful weekend getaway!

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So after our successful Taco Bell stop in Seoul, Evan and I met up with my college friend, who lives in the city. One of her pals threw a soiree, so we grabbed some wine and headed out toward Hongdae.

Hongdae, for those of you non-Koreans readers, is a university area in central Seoul that goes off and has quite the reputation as a hoppin’ party spot for young locals and expats. After wining and dining with our new friends, we hopped on the subway and rode a classy little wine bar where we sipped on flavorful reds and reminisced. It turned out to be quite the late (and messy) evening, the typical sort when you meet up with University friends…

After recovering on Thursday and sightseeing on Friday and Saturday, we were ready to brave the town again. This time, Evan and I met up with our co-workers, Greg and Rachel, for an early Middle Eastern dinner. The company was delightful but the cuisine was simply too sub-par to, as I announced after our meal, make it into the blog. We left Itaewon after eating, grabbed brewskies and soju for the subway, and headed to Hongdae to get a bit more partying in.

We met up with Tim and his friend near Hongik University, and all headed to a fascinating little hot spot.

Vinyl in Hongdae, a hip hole-in-the-wall that was rocking a walk-thru window, a funky robot sign and Cold War Kids on the jukebox, was a dimly lit, bohemian closet nestled on the edge of the college town. The drinks were strong, cheap, and made to go! Who needs glasses when you can have your drink in a sturdy, plastic bag complete with a straw? On Rachel’s recommendation, I ordered two Woo Woo cocktails — a lethally delicious combination of vodka and various fruit juices. We loitered on the animal print seats, sipping and taking in the artsy decor, before getting a drink to go and heading to the next party stop.

After securing our zip-lock cocktails, we moseyed over to Oi in Hongdae, which was a bar that pulled you straight down the rabbit hole and into another dimension. Oi (pronounced oh eye) is a bar, lounge and hookah bar that my cousin’s friend told him about. It is quite literally hidden from view, with only a small sign indicating it was on the third floor of an unassuming building. There were no edibles labeled “eat me,” but we had definitely entered a complex labyrinth complete with mushroom-shaped caves, white wash, giant fringe hanging from the ceiling, glittering lights, and lots of tunnels and bridges to make us feel like we were tip-toeing around a maze all evening.

We grabbed ourselves a cave, grabbed some beers then hit the dance floor! The deejay played old school hip-hop mixed with modern electronic, and it was the perfect combination to get everyone moving on the multi-tiered floor. Expats and locals swarmed the club, swaying under the lights and grinding in the fringe “cages.” This inevitably led to a photo shoot (don’t they always?) and we had fun being silly with the camera and a few prop drums nearby.

I, of course, got overly excited running to the dance floor and have a lovely, purple and green souvenir on my knee to remind me of the sinuous (almost river-like) architecture Oi is so fond of. Ouch.

We stayed at the club so long that the bartender sent us over a few free drinks — we shut the place down!

It’s just how we roll.

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Last weekend, the Jeonju United Football Club hosted their annual dinner and award ceremony in an upstairs room in T.G.I. Fridays. The boys put on their Sunday best (WAGS too) and everyone toasted the players with the most as the certificates and trophies were handed out.

The formal evening began brilliantly with a phenomenally discounted meal, complete with plenty of beer, wine and wineade (which tasted like a Shirley Temple to me). Evan dressed to the nines in a shirt and tie, while I donned a black dress, shiny sparkling tights and ankle boots. I worried about braving the weather for hours beforehand, considering it got down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit outside… and I was wearing a DRESS! AHHHHH! Luckily we had a few drinks at the Beer Cave before dinner, where Rachel and I convinced everyone to take a cab, even though the restaurant is in our neighborhood.

Dinner was fabulous, except we ran into a group of our kindergarteners — one of which was celebrating her 8th (7th in American age) birthday. The children followed us around like puppies for awhile, bringing balloons to our table, charming our friends and asking for sips of mekchu (eek!). I obviously forbade it, telling them that it was “grown-up juice” until the birthday girl whispered loudly about it being beer. Still hoping that one doesn’t somehow bite me in the ass down the road.

After the ribs were picked clean and everyone’s cheeks flushed with the rise in our BAC, it was into cabs and onto Japanese soju, were we ordered pitchers of fruity cocktails and gossiped at multiple long tables chock full of foreigners and friends. The volume of our conversations increased with every strawberry and kiwi soju we put down, but the population in the University hot spot didn’t even notice. Our noisy mass fit right in :)

Finally, it was time to DANCE! The football lads and ladies made our way to M2, the favorite new spot for sick spinners, chic locals and disco lights until the wee hours of the morning.

Evan loves to throw down some hyphy moves on the floor with his pals — especially kitty cat Theo down there. One of his little-known and under-appreciated talents.

Inevitably, the dancing led to a high kick off, with bunches of alcohol-fueled friends tried to kick higher than each other, throwing up our feet to the beats.

I probably flashed a few innocent bystanders in the process, but I believe my kicks were high enough to deserve a shout out (from myself… whateva). It was another awesome night with awesome people that we paid dearly for the next day :)

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New Year’s marked the anniversaries of both Evan and me and Mimi and Matt, so this year we decided to attend one of the biggest parties in the world — the famous “full moon party” in Koh Phangan!

Technically, this wasn’t a full moon celebration since there wasn’t a full moon in the sky, but it had all of the fixings of one — everything from body paint, house music and booze buckets to happy shakes, twinkling lights and fire. Lots and LOTS of fire!

After a rocky, sick-inducing ferry ride and stint in a cab, we made it to Haad Rin Beach, where the party took place. We paid our minimal entrance fee before crossing through the gate and heading straight for the body paint.

I wanted space-themed pictures on my arms (suns, moons, stars) while I had free reign with Mimi’s arms. We didn’t go crazy with the paint, but did enough so that we could have fun pointing at it under black lights later.

We walked down an alley full of vendors before reaching the sandy beach — and little could prepare me for what we were about to experience.

We entered the beach alongside a huge club shaped and lit-up like a pirate ship, which was blasting music that spilled out onto the sand and floated toward the crashing waves. To the right, we saw a massive sandy dance floor with elevated “stages” for club goers to shake it on, and signs three stories tall, awaiting a kindle so they could burst into flames and impress the partiers with their various messages.

In the far distance, beyond rows of palm trees and nestled into a rocky cliff, was an area known as mellow mountain. It consisted of three or four different bars on various levels of the hill, all serving up drinks, loud beats and happy shakes.

We ventured up mellow mountain on a few occasions during the night. I particularly liked the few bars that offered over sized pillows to sit or lay on, surrounded by floor tables. It was a nice place to relax if you had too much trance for the time being.

The mountain was lit up by twinkling, spinning, sparkling lights of every color. The result of this rainbow was that it looked more like an attraction out of Disneyland than anything else. That was the first of many times I felt that way — it was like Vegas, a playground for adults where inhibitions dropped and craziness was rampant. The out-of-this-world experience reminded me of going to places like Coachella <3 — one night cut off from the world, where the only thing that mattered was music, friends, dancing and having a great time.

On the opposite side of the pirate ship (as the club was dubbed by our group), the beach was lined with clubs blasting out intense beats, vendors selling street food and alcohol buckets, and performers amazing crowds with various forms of fiery entertainment. Since we had noshed on delicious street grub before coming to Koh Phangan, we didn’t eat at the party until much later into the evening.

The “buckets” sold on the beach came with a flask of alcohol and a chaser, ranging from soda to red bull. I wasn’t too interested in drinking since I felt a bit nauseous during a portion of the party, but I did build a sand fort with the empty bucket once one was polished off in the group :) I have sand building skills, what can I say? A few people marveled at it as they walked by.

We got wrapped up in watching one man twirling fire batons for awhile (he was amazing) before heading to the far end of the beach to watch people jumping a blazing rope.

Little did we know, these weren’t professionals at all — they were common drunkards from the bash! To say we were shocked that inebriated people would willingly subject themselves to burns at the hands of the fire rope (and the idiots who kept dousing the rope with alcohol) is an understatement.

Another party favor that didn’t sit well with me were the giant fireworks that the vendors sold to stumbling party goers. These people would buy explosives the size of my arm, then fumble around for a few minutes before figuring out how to blast the thing into space! They were beautiful but being shot off waaaaay too close to crowds of people. Call me a stick in the mud, but having my arm blown off by a firework doesn’t sound like much fun.

Although, the firework display that the professionals shot off at midnight was absolutely stunning and mesmerizing.

The majority of the crowd at the party were a few years younger than us — maybe 22-23 or so. A lot of people traveled from Europe or Australia to attend, but we didn’t run into that many more Americans.

The beach provided a perfect place for an event like this — loud and crowded in front of the clubs where you wanted to groove and get sweaty with hoardes of people, but quiet and serene in other areas of the beach, where you just wanted to lay in the sand, look at the swaying palm trees and listen to the waves crash. The large scale of the venue made these contrasts possible, which I was grateful for.

There were moments I didn’t want to get off the dance floor…

…and moments where I wanted to plop down in the sand and just observe.

We abandoned the beach close to 4 AM, when the crowds broke up and the beach was littered with trash and bottles. We got back to the ferry station at 5, only to learn that the first boat didn’t head back to Koh Samui until 7. No matter — we set up shop in the station, rested a bit and were able to see a phenomenal sunrise as we headed home.

All in all, a fabulous experience — utter madness at times, one of the craziest nights ever, but I loved every bit of it. I am so happy that I finally got to see the shenanigans on Haad Rin up close, as I have wanted to for years. I have probably gotten my fill of the full moon party (gasp…getting old) but am so glad that this is one I can put in the memory books.

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After the serious shenanigans at the school Christmas party, I was really looking forward to a few song-and-dance free holiday celebrations with my good friends, cousin Tim and Evan. Ask and you shall receive!

On Friday, Evan and I put together a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner consisting of scrumptious fried chicken, cornbread stuffing and cranberry sauce sent from home and steamed broccoli.

I cooked the stuffing on the stove, then transferred it to the toaster oven to crisp up a bit. I also popped the chicken in the oven for a bit to warm it up, oh man was it good. We bought the bird from E-Mart and did not regret the decision to go precooked. It was spicy, seasoned perfectly and the crunchy texture was a nice contrast to the tender broccoli and soft stuffing.

Of course, there were holiday songs playing while I cooked, and the presents were stacked under the plant :) Tim arrived that night, and after we filled our bellies we met up with some friends for beers at the Beatles bar. There, we were able to see our friends play some live Christmas music, which was a nice treat.

The party continued into the wee hours of morning at Radio Star (with more live music and beer, obvi)

On Christmas morning (afternoon) when we rolled out of bed, I got to work mixing some delicious lemon-ginger scones sent by the Naylon family in an amazing care package full of yumminess (including gorgeous jewelry and the ingredients for some seriously delicious polenta cakes we made). What a wonderful Christmas treat — thank you!

Evan had to open one present early (coffee from Starbucks) so it could brew, and Tim showed us one of his gifts also — WIRELESS INTERNET! Best gift ever! No more being a slave to the cord.

We ate the scones with eggs and slurped coffee while we watched Home Alone. I forgot how awesome that movie was.

After a cat nap and a shower, we threw together mashed sweet potatoes and gravy, then hurried out of the apartment to Beatles, where we were meeting friends for a potluck holiday dinner.

We hit the street just in time to see a flurry of snow fall from the sky. A white Christmas! I whooped and hollered, taking lots of pictures and even a video. Snow is still novel to me, okay?

The spread at the potluck was insanely good. The star of the table was the turkey from Costco — a rare and expensive find here, so I was grateful for every tryptophan-laced bite.

The sides ranged from vegetables and stuffing, to potatoes and bread, to onion dip, bread and cheese! It was a delectable feast that I grazed at all night. It had been so long since I had onion dip, so I was majorly hooked on it, and only stopped trying to scrape up the last gobs from the bowl when it was, sadly, removed from the table.

I opted for red wine with my dinner, but was in for another treat when Eric brought homemade eggnog. Amazing. It was so good! Just like Lyndon’s mulled wine/brandy, a Scottish traditional drink.

The layout was perfect for a holiday meal, with comfortable couches littered around the place and cheery carols on the speakers.

At one point, Tim got into an amusing Go Stop marathon with a lovely girl we met their, Jasmine.

They were pretty evenly matched, but Jasmine took Tim in the end (and the 8,000 won that was at stake on the card game). You win some, you lose some.

I particularly enjoyed singing carols onstage at one point, crooning and laughing into the mic. Dave took care of the guitar!

All night the snow didn’t stop falling, and a few times I caught myself in a trance, hypnotized by the soft, slow flakes that glided gently to the ground. It was picturesque, simply stunning, and mesmerizing.

After our bellies were full and the food was put away, we decided to throw on our dancing shoes and head to M2, a relatively new club in Cheonbukdae.

We went with a few friends, and met up with a few at the club!

The place was seriously poppin’ — Christmas isn’t so much a family holiday in Korea, so the twenty-somethings had no qualms about hitting the dance floor on Jesus’ birthday. While we were there, three different deejays took the turntables, and they were all awesome.

Here’s clown face spinner — a little creepy but spins really well.

We stumbled out of the club into the snow after 4 AM, then headed straight for KFC for some fried chicken. nom nom nommm.

A very Merry, and certainly memorable, Christmas <3

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