I love arriving in new cities. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. I feel like I’ve got a party of amphetamined eight years shackled within me. They’re dancing, jumping, screaming, they have so much energy their cute little hearts are going to pop. Every bit of my body can feel it but I just can’t let it all out. There’s too much.
I’ve been in love with Korean culture for years. I would like to say it’s been a long and lusty affair but in reality it was solely masturbatertion – enjoyable definitely but it’s far from the real deal. The affection has always been one way Korea hasn’t been able to love me, the distance is too far.
Not any more. Now I’m in Korea and everything is so Korean I feel saturated. My eyes, my ears, my tongue are revelling in the affections of the city.
I’m staying near the local university. The area is run for, and in some parts, by students. Every street is cramped by a dense maze of neon spruikers. Endless numbers of restaurants, bars and arcades shouldering each other to get to the front line of the student’s attention.
This was my lunch.
Turns out this rainbow is pretty long.
Last night I was walking around downtown looking for dinner. My usual radar* was wavering like a thistle in the wind – everywhere was full and all the patrons local. I took a stab at random. I sat down and a waiter immediately spilled an eager queue of Korean. I looked at her flat faced. Just as we were engaging in a fencing arena of pointing we were interrupted by the patron table right. He said something I didn’t understand to the waitress and turned to me.
“Do you want to join us?”
Joshua, Nate and Yunnie. Three young architecture graduates. immediately after sitting down I was met by a glass of somaek (a beer and soju blend), a sizzling plate of crispy fish and a hill of tofu capped with grilled pork and kimchi. Nice to meet you, you’re all delicious.
Usually when I meet strangers, particular those from cultures very different to mine, there’s an initial period of posturing. Small talk and niceties are bandied around and the conversation is explorative rather than relaxed or exciting. Joshua, Nate and Yunnie didn’t care for this. As soon as I was sipping somaek and munching on bugs (there was a side dish of marinated and fried maggots) I had a new name* and three old friends – no time wasted – we were joking, high fiving* and talking about love.
They took me on a quick tour of the beach side and we went to a bar where Joshua’s brother worked for Sangria, sausages and crispy fried lotus roots. We played darts and dared each to jump into the ocean.
Fucking excellent night.
Hopefully I’m going to meet them today.
*They named my Wombin after a famous and handsome movie star. I said I would feel awkward introducing myself as ‘famous, handsome guy’ but they waived my concerns away. I have no idea how to spell my name.
*I’ve always thought high fives are a good sign of comfort. I only ever high five complete strangers or people I felt completely comfortable.