Please note, this chapter of the Korean adventures contains language that may not be suitable for more impressionable/easily offended readers. We advise discretion.
Our friend Milan (formerly our friendly shop-keep at Mena’s Convenience Store on Salamanca Road) came to Korea mid-August and is teaching at a public school near Daegu. We were excited to be able to catch up with on our second weekend in Korea, so made our way to Ulsan to meet him and some of his new friends at an Indian Restaurant there for dinner. Following Milan’s exact directions, we ended up at an Indian Restaurant…but not the right one! Still not quite sure how that happened but we eventually arrived at the correct Indian Restaurant about 40 minutes late. By this time Soju bottles were open on the table and we were instructed that we better quickly catch up. Downing a couple of shots in quite rapid succession, I felt a pretty fast approaching sense of “well being”. Dan decided to have his sense of “well being” approach even faster and before long Soju bottles were being drunk and replaced in rapid succession and neither of us, to this day, have any idea of what the food tasted like.
After our dinner, more liquid than anything, our rowdy bunch of drunk, obnoxious English teachers took to the streets to find a bar to become even more drunk and obnoxious at, before heading to the ultimate destination: The noraebang. Or karaoke bar.
We arrived at the Royal Anchor and for some unknown reason continued to down copious shots of whatever the person closest to the bar ordered. Whiskey, Jaeger, Rusty Nails…I think I even drank some Korean beer which means I must have been loaded as the stuff is disgusting.
Not many memories exist from that night but we can piece together a bit. I have a random phone number and name in my diary which I think was from the young Korean man I met who was pouring his heart out to me about his love troubles. I vaguely remember having a heated argument with one of the other teachers about whether weed makes you stupid or not which he morphed into some attack on his homeland (?). I vaguely also remember chatting about gay rights with another couple of folk. The next thing in sequence I remember is the barman coming over to me and telling me that my ‘friend’ (Dan) was in a bit of bother. Now I can’t remember exactly where I found him; it was either in the women’s toilets, or else I wandered into the men’s toilets. It turned out he was drunk to the point of the barman being concerned and we took this as our queue to exit. The next bit is extremely fuzzy – I don’t remember saying goodbye to Milan, but vaguely remember saying goodbye to a couple of the others – including the teacher I’d been having a heated discussion with; we were definitely both drunk enough to know that it was just a stupid drunken conversation – and then, I think, Dan and I got into a taxi somehow.
I’m stuffed if I know what we said to the driver about where we needed to go but seeing as we didn’t really still know where we lived and that we were completely shit-faced and unintelligible in English, let alone Korean, it didn’t really come as a huge surprise when I realised that we were going a direction I totally didn’t recognise. I turned to Dan to try and elicit some kind of help to find him spewing out the window of the taxi…and kinda in it too. I punched him in the arm I think which then drew the driver’s attention to what was happening at which point he swerved to the side of the road and ejected us. Now I somehow lost a lot of cash that night which means potentially that I shoved a 50,000 won note (approx $50) at the taxi driver instead of a 5,000 won note (around $5!) as Dan fell out of the taxi to the ground. The taxi driver sped off and there we were, drunk, on the road and in the middle of who-the-fuck-knows-where unable to speak any kind of language and with no idea of how to get home.
I managed to yank Dan onto the sidewalk and looked up to see a sign saying Ulsan Museum. “Great”, I thought, “a reference point!”, at which stage I wrestled Dan’s cellphone off him to try and ring Lira. I can’t even work his phone when I’m stone cold sober so in the end I shoved it in Dan’s hand with the instructions to ring her. So 5 in the morning and ringing the boss, so drunk that you can’t speak at the end of the first work week in Korea. I’m sure it’s not a first for her though.
Remarkably, I managed to communicate to her where we were and a taxi arrived to whisk us home with her having given them the directions in advance. Stupidly, as soon as we got close to where we lived I told the taxi driver to stop, potentially wickedly overpaid him as well, and then navigated our way around the streets, half carrying Dan while we giggled and guffawed our way home. Not sure how we managed it but we did.
Upon arriving home Dan proceeded to throw up on the lounge floor. I left him in a puddle of purple and went to bed.
When I woke up the next morning Dan was lying next to me with his face (and therefore our pillows and sheets) covered in the same purple I’d left him lying in when we got home. Nice. I got up, with my head splitting, to discover that the trail also extended through pretty much each room of the house, including walls and cushions.
His punishment that night was cleaning it up with the worst hangover ever.
Naturally, this night and the ensueing hangovers (from the DEVIL) have prompted many proclamations of “I’m NEVER drinking Soju again.” Dan has even gone so far as to learn the Korean symbols for Soju so he can avoid it at every single establishment that sells it. Which is quite a few…