20 February, 2006

Park English gathering in Seoul

Friday night after work, Liz and I headed out armed with coats, purses and a piece of paper that said something like ‘Taxi driver, please take these girls to the express bus station!’ I'm not really sure why it needed to be an exclamation, but it got us there. We found the express bus window, purchased tickets, and had a bite to eat at Lotteria—Korea’s contribution to the fast food world—while we waited for our departure time.

We nearly missed the bus, although I didn’t realize how close we had cut it (not my fault!) until I sat down and looked at the digital clock in the front of the bus: 7:29 for a 7:30 departure, and they don’t mess around. We pulled out at exactly 7:30. Two hours and forty-five minutes later, we arrived at Gangnam Station in Seoul. We got Niki from Park English on the phone, got in a taxi, and gave the phone to the driver. When he pulled over and motioned for us to get out a few minutes later, we crossed our fingers that our convoluted method of communicating had not failed us. We scoured the signs up and down the street for the name of the restaurant, and, not finding it, called Niki again who pointed us in the right direction. Only one wrong turn later and we were there!

There was no mistaking our party by the large horde of foreigners. Since I’d never actually met Niki, though, I hung back uncertainly for a moment looking for a likely suspect. Then I heard ‘Margie!’ and it was Niki jumping up to hug me as though we were long lost friends. We hit it off instantly. I also finally got to meet Cessilia Park of Park English, a gorgeous young woman of 25. Niki, if you’re wondering, is the lovely girl responsible for getting me to Korea. We spent a good deal of time talking on the phone and emailing each other, so it really did feel like we were already good friends.

We stayed there long enough for me to make the rounds and start a few conversations (everyone else had already been there for quite awhile), but then, in good Korean tradition, it was off to the next place. Everyone voted, and, as majority rules, a place called Polly’s Kettle House became our next destination. It was loud, dark, and smoky. As if I really expected anything else. I managed to talk to a few more people a little more in depth even though it meant yelling at full volume. This went on for quite awhile. It turns out that my sweater/shirt combo was a big hit—it got me three email addresses, and my nice teeth got me an email address AND a phone number. Too bad they didn’t get mine *evil laugh*. To be fair, though, all the guys I met were very nice.

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Niki and Liz and I headed out, and Niki got me and Liz a hotel room that was basically big enough for a double bed and a little walking space. We crashed immediately, and when the phone rang for check-out time, I remember wondering why they had such an early check-out time (it felt no later than 7am). Turns out that it was 11am! We splashed the sleep out of our eyes and headed out to try to find out just where we were. We found a map of Itaewon
in a little gift shop, so we figured that’s where we were. Itaewon is a section of Seoul known for its high concentration of foreigners, and indeed, we saw a lot of us. After a little window shopping and a quick brunch, we grabbed a taxi and once again produced the paper with the request for the driver to get us to the express bus station. Miraculously we found the right ticket window for our city and boarded our bus. First trip to Seoul—a complete success!

Here’s what’s up for this week: finding the post office, figuring out the ATM, continuing my quest for cheese. Oh yeah, new guy arrives on Friday.

Picture 1: A guy I didn't meet, Cessilia, Hera (in front), Sean (in the back), me, Niki, Steve, Damon's profile
Picture 2: Damon, Hera (barely), Niki, Sean, Cessilia, Liz (not sure what the pose is about)
Picture 3: Hera, Chris, me, Sean, Cessilia


Rebekah and Jake Young said...

Holy smokes, you look like you are having an AWESOME time, Margie! Let the goood times roll onward...keep on groooving...

Margie said...

no pics of the 'carnage', unfortunately, but i do try to keep my camera handy at all times. this weekend is festival, so i should get some good shots there. and ME having a good time--you're the ones meeting katie couric at the olympics!