We managed to only be a little late picking Ali and Byrun up at the airport (they got through customs much faster than anyone could have anticipated). We were able to find them despite Matt's great communication skills- you know, not asking them where they were in the giant airport and then mishearing and thinking they were on the 4th floor. Oh yeah, and then getting the stellar "they're by the Paris Baguette" as directions. Anyone that's ever been to Korea knows that Paris Baguette is NOT a landmark. There's one of these suckers every other store or so. It's a bit like saying, "Oh we're just waiting here by the Korean man."
They stored the bulk of their luggage at the airport and then we bought tickets and piled on the airport bus. It seemed to take forever and about a quarter of the trip in Matt somehow developed the black lung and was coughing like crazy for over an hour. We all made it off the bus alive and then walked to our apartment. We were all hungry at this point but since it was getting late (and Ali and Byrun were pretty tired) we didn't want to take them anywhere too heavy or fancy. We ended up showing them how real Koreans eat at a tiny little restaurant (they are called shik dangs). We ordered a variety of classic dishes: chamchi gimbap, gogi mandu, bibimbap and gimchi chigae. Of course they came with the regular side dishes- all the gimchi, small fish, Korean radish and greens you can eat! I have to say they are much more adventurous than me since they were popping things in their mouth pretty casually. After we were stuffed to the gills we headed back to the apartment and called it a night. Ali and Byrun took our room and Matt and I set up the sweet (and by sweet I mean free) air mattress that Dana and Curtis found for us (on the street).
It was a successful night since our air mattress lost air but not ALL of its air and so I slept really well. Matt complained bitterly, which I found bizarre considering his hobo powers (he can nestle in a glass shard filled gutter and go to sleep) and also that we have slept on the floor before and this was much better. We used the mattress for the whole visit and it served its purpose. Now I think we'll look for a new one so we can have friends over.
Sunday everyone was up bright and early. Since Koreans don't really do breakfast but they do have lots of Western fast food places we ended up going to Dunkin Donuts. It wasn't totally Western though since the menu consists of green tea everything and glutinous rice sticks (which we tried and were actually pretty good). We wandered around the neighbourhood a bit and actually ran into one of my students!! Ali has that picture though. I was really proud of Annie since usually when I see kids outside of school they say hello and then totally clam up and refuse to say anything in English. However, Annie was unfazed and even answered questions.
Next we introduced them to the glorious Seoul subway. We decided to take them to Insadong and to Jogyesa Temple. We'd been there recently since that's where the Lotus Festival was held last weekend but we knew they would enjoy seeing it.
We had a lunch at a little place in Insadong and shared some traditional chicken soup- the kind where they stuff the chicken with rice and ginseng and add elderberries. Yum! Then we headed back to our apartment where everyone took a nap. Hahah!
Later on we got ourselves together and headed out again. On the way we stopped at a glasses place and both Ali and Byrun got eye exams (free) and chose some new glasses. Matt and I got Ali hers as a Mother's Day present and I can't stress enough how much cheaper glasses are here. I think I might get a couple more pairs while I'm out here. I saw the really cheap frame section and they had some frames for $7-15 and lens cost about $35-40 so yeah, you do the math. Super cheap.
We had dinner at another of our favorite restaurants and then wandered around in the neon nightlife area before finding a DVD bang (room) that didn't look too seedy (aka walls filled with porn) and would allow the 4 of us in one room to see a movie. We chose The Invasion and it was pretty decent.
Monday was Buddha's Birthday which meant that a lot of stuff was closed. We toyed with the idea of going to see a palace but basically all of them listed that they were closed on Monday or holidays or both. So we settled on taking them downtown to Namdaemun so they could see how people really shop. We didn't buy anything (other than snacks) but we still had a good time. On the way back to the apartment we stopped and picked up Ali and Byrun's new glasses!!!
Ali and Byrun took a nap and Matt and I did some serious marking. I also managed to finish reading my awesome book, Middlesex. Then Dana and Curtis came over and we all went out for their last dinner in Korea. Of course we had to have galbi (Korean BBQ). We hadn't found a great galbi place in our area yet so we tried somewhere new and it was pretty good. From looking at my pictures it appears that all we did on the visit was eat! Hahah!
After dinner we dragged them to the main event- Norae bang! When we'd asked them what they wanted to do and see in Korea they had told us they just wanted to see how we live. Well, then obviously that includes norae.
I was disappointed that Ali didn't sing but Byrun got right in there. They left about halfway through since it was too loud and I think jetlag was still bothering them. So we equipped them with our cell phone and address in English and Korean and they went off on their own. The four of us finished the rest of the session. The highlight? Curtis singing a Rage Against the Machine song and getting in his year's quota of swear words.
Our friends are hardcore. Those are their sexy faces.
We called it an early night though and managed to get home by 10:30pm. Ali and Byrun were already fast asleep.
All too soon Tuesday was here. Ali got some acupuncture because she'd hurt her back in Canada (and I learned the Korean word for acupuncture and realized that they are EVERYWHERE) and it cost her a whopping $15. Plus it was twice as much as the regular cost since it was a first time consultation. Wow! Then we had sushi at another favorite restaurant and wandered around Lotte World for awhile before saying goodbye and putting them on the airport bus. The weekend went by so fast! Now they are in Thailand and we miss them already but we'll have to get out there so they can show us around! If you want to see all of my pictures you can look here.