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Oh, no – not the soju

Wednesday was our last day at work until Monday – because of the end of term. It was also Jon, our senior foreign teacher’s last day at E-Castle. He’s starting a new job soon and has a part-time post lined up for the intervening time – which he had to start on Thursday while his erstwhile oeguk colleagues were enjoying a day off. Well, I didn’t enjoy it much – but we’ll come to that in a moment.

People from work went for a meal once they’d finished. I had taekwondo, so I joined them a bit later. And that brought the total of foreign teachers up to two – Todd was getting an early start on some travel and Bo, I think, was meeting his Hungarian friend. Jon and I looked at each other as the rest of the company nattered away in Korean. Being Korean women it didn’t sound like a very intelligent conversation (or is that too racist and sexist a comment?).

Once the food was eaten (it was the quintessentially Korean barbecue kind of thing), we went to the nearby WA Bar (pronounced by everyone ‘Wah Bar’) which is an American-style chain of bars (it may even be American). Here we had tequila and beer, and Jon and I talked about TV programmes.

After that it was off to another place for more food and drink. In Korea there is often no sharp distinction between drinking establishments and eating establishments. Peter Ghazarian described it thus – if it has bright lighting, it’s a food restaurant; if it has dim lighting, it’s a drink restaurant. Well, this new place was at the latter end of the spectrum, but its lights weren’t as tenebrous as some, and it had more of the feel of a food restaurant – but we were really there for the drink – specifically, the soju.

The dreaded soju. I have a dim idea that I must have drunk about a bottle’s worth. Jon avoided the Korean liquor and he and his wife (our senior teacher – I’m sure this has a lot to do with Jon’s decision to quit the hagwon) made an early exit. This meant I didn’t have the safe option of just talking to the only other westerner. It seemed to surprise some of the other teacher that I was actually talking to them for a change. Lindsey Teacher – Eun-yeong – was sitting next to me, so we chatted for a fair while. Which was nice – she’s one of the nicest teachers at our place.

When we were all loaded up on soju apparently it was time for noraebang (‘singing room’). I’m sure I had a go at two or three songs, but my memory of the latter part of the evening is incredibly hazy. I think Wednesday night must have been the drunkest I’ve ever experienced – my recall of such nights is usually pretty good. I do have one recollection of standing up singing and not being able to read the lyrics quickly enough. I also remember heading to the toilets a couple of times to be sick.

Before I knew it (I fell asleep for a while … I think) our hour was up and we made tracks (S-shaped ones, probably) for home. At the main junction – the eponymous Eunhaeng Sageori – I couldn’t tell which side of the road I was on and needlessly crossed over, then had to wait for the crossing further down the street.

Thursday was a washout. I felt pretty terrible most of the day. I kept making trips to the bathroom to throw up – even deliberatly spasming my trachea to encourage the process. Often there was nothing coming up but the few sips of water or tea I’d just drunk. Once I’d been sick and drunk a little, I went back to bed, then woke up a couple of hours later to repeat the process.

Eventually I recovered enough to keep down some liquids, and then some food. To give me something to do (and partly on the theory that laughter is the best medicine) I spent a few hours watching Fawlty Towers and also 24: Redemption. Some time fairly late in the evening I shaved and showered and went out for a walk in the rain.

My walk took me first to the KEB branch at Nowon Station to check my balance. I hadn’t been paid. (When I checked again later on Friday, I had been.) Then I came back to Eunhaeng Sageori and got something to eat at the 24-hour McDonalds. Whilst writing up my account of the Jeju trip a very pretty young woman sitting at the next table attracted my attention (I was also listening to Death Magnetic (I’m going to finish my review of that some time)). She wanted to meet me another time to practise her English conversation. I couldn’t possibly say No to an attractive female person … and indeed I didn’t.

Yet another unusual Thursday.

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