Since I'm a Brit and not Iranian, it was my first visa-run and I'm not a particularly dodgy-looking guy I knew I wouldn't have much of a problem getting back into Japan, so I booked myself on a tour holiday to Seoul, Korea - being as my preferred choice, Hong Kong, was a little costly - and besides I'd heard that Korean birds were hotter than Honkies.
So, it was off to Korea's capital Seoul by Korean Airlines, a company infamous for having one of the highest rates of plane-crash incidents in the world, but what the hell, it was cheap.
On being seated comfortably the food came round but on first look I couldn't have guessed what it was that was on my plate, it looked like some kind of..rotten fish or something, chopped up in old vegetables. Then I though "No come on, this is Asia all the food is great, looks can be deceiving.", and with that thought in mind, I tucked into the dish with relish.
Actually it turned out I was right in the first place, it was tasteless rotten fish in old vegetables.
Maybe that was an early prediction of the cuisine standard I thought at the time but I needn't have worried, as I was to find out later.
After we touched down the tour guide greeted me. I thought she looked Japanese - she wasn't, but she spoke much better Japanese than I did, so I didn't comprehend much of the tour talk later on when she was going on about the history of Seoul and its inhabitants. I'm sure that during the tour she was giving us a fascinating and educational low-down on the fine architectural masterpieces around Seoul, the great historical struggles of Koreans against their antagonists in the past, but as you've probably guessed by now, I was more interested in the masterpieces that walk around on two-legs and you can shag.
All said and done though, I was drawn to beautiful, lush fauna that encompasses Seoul, and the mystery that surrounds the place. I mean, how much really does anyone know about Korea? and what about North Korea? Korea's a huge, beautiful country full of beautiful people that haven't really made enough of a mark on the rest of us for us to get up and take notice, which is a shame really as the place really does have as much to offer as Japan or China. Actually I was probably more impressed with the design and colour of Korean temples than of those I'd seen in Japan, mind you, I've only lived in Sapporo, which was never a place celebrated for it's scenery, and I never had the opportunity to visit Kyoto, the place everybody keeps telling me is the big daddy of aesthetic Japan.
There were a few Japanese on the tour, and luckily one guy could speak communicable English and helped me out understanding pick-up points and such, and then we were all dropped off at the hotel. I got settled into the room they gave me, and turned on the TV hoping to get a glimpse of some hot new reporter or something, but all that was on was some televised concert featuring Korean guys dressed like they were black, and some shite cookery show. I looked out the window and saw a 7-11 and before you can say "cholesterol junkie" I was in there scoping the products. Apart from a few minor disparities, the Korean 7-11's were identical to those found in Japan. The good news was that food is cheaper in Korea, but unfortunately they stock the same kind of horrible confectionary as seen in the States , and I don't care what anybody says Hershey bars suck big time, and cheese popcorn has just got to be some kind of sick joke. But something that I discovered to my delight was that Korea still has Raffaelos, which were a kind of after-dinner treat of praline/white chocolate and hazelnut in a wafer shell covered in desiccated coconut, which become non-existent in the UK in the mid 80's. I couldn't believe my luck to find them in such an out-of-the-obvious place. But anyway, anything beats the shit out of green-tea flavoured ice cream. Who eats green tea flavoured ice-cream?
One thing I noticed while having a ponder around Korea is that Korean 'English' was pretty well much, well, perfect.. all the text on the sweet wrappers and everything seemed to be grammatically correct, with no spelling errors or anything....man, it was kind of disappointing to tell the truth, I was hoping to have a chuckle at some pathetic "we not speaking the good very England" like the English you find in Japan, but instead all I got was perfect car slogans and impressive menus looking as if they'd been written by native speakers of English. Another thing that bugged me was the way shop-owners sort of blank you as you walk in, in Korea. I was almost sad not to hear "Irrashaimase" which was instead replaced with something like, "Anaseiyo" which sounded way too much like "Hey asshole" for my liking. One thing that really bugged me with the tour I went on was that at every merchandise shop on route, the staff wouldn't stop following you around as you walk about, and get the feeling they're all looking at you like "Oi wanker you better by something or else".
Anyway, after returning to the hotel and munching the goodies I bought, I chucked on my leather jacket to go on the hunt for some dinner and scope some of the local talent.
The good thing about Korea is that it's one of those countries that surprises you in a nice way when you get there, and you don't expect it to be as cool a place as it is. Going there, for me, was an unforgettable experience and I feel that it really will escalate in popularity once people clock on that it's actually a fabulous holiday destination which has much to offer with its unflaunting, yet attractive subtleties and those neon-lit streets. Koreans are taller and slightly nobler looking than the Japanese, but they don't dye their hair as much, and fashion-wise they're not as dynamic. The guys definitely look a lot harder than Japanese blokes, and I didn't see many smiles from them. Tough bunch. Names are funny though, I met one bloke called Bong earlier and that name made me laugh. What do you call a Korean child molester? Sa Kim Yung. I caught a couple of glimpses from people looking at me through the corner of their eyes, as I was one of the few foreigners there, and as for catching gaijin/Korean couples walking hand-in-hand through the streets like you might in Japan, forget about it. Seoul isn't really a classy-looking place, but it's not as much as shithole as certain parts of China or Thailand according to some friends of mine. The roads are in a bit of disrepair in places and you do get a lot of dodgy-looking guys on the streets trying to stop you and sell you puppies and tacky goods. It doesn't have the same, safe atmosphere of Sapporo or the Tokyo suburbs, and I often felt the urge to make sure my wallet was in one of my tighter pockets when in crowded places. As for ladies, I didn't see much fine ass until later on when I went into some big indoor clothes market, like an indoor market. All the staff were female, and by God some of the Korean birds there were bloody knock-outs in there, let me tell you!. In comparison with Japanese girls , I'd have to say that Koreans are more 'pretty', in comparison to the Japanese who are 'cute'. Korean girls have high-cheekbones and slanted eyes, and definitely look more exotic, or 'oriental' than the Japanese with their rounded faces and bigger eyes. Both races are good-looking in their own way, but Koreans tend to make-themselves up in a more western style using red-lipstick for fuller lips and dark eye shadow. I hate to admit it, but I love dark skin and as I walked around and scoped the babes thoughts like 'Korean birds are kinda better looking than the Japanese sometimes,eh?' often popped into my head. But whereas in Japan, it's not so common to see a damn ugly bird, you can certainly find more than a handful of Medusas over in Korea. God, one thing I should mention is the streets of Korea stink to shit of garlic, I actually had to cover my nose in some places it was so overpowering. Mind you, compared to natto, anything smells like rose-blossoms. It makes me wonder, what fool invented natto, smelled it and decided he'd actually try and put it in his mouth? How can anyone put something that smells like your socks after P.E. class in their mouth? That stuff really roasts.
Despite the reek, some of the food on display at food-stalls looked bloody delicious. Most of the restaurants were outside affairs like those you get in Mediterranean tourist spots - you know the score, order yourself a plate of meat and spices and grill it yourself on the table barbecue, and whistle to the waitress for the bill afterwards. It's a nice idea eating a great meal outside as the sun goes down, but it's something you don't really get in the UK due to shitty weather. I felt my stomach pang so I opted to go and get some munch in a nice-looking restaurant that had a joint Korean/English menu, and didn't look as though they'd kill me for being foreign inside. I bowled it in there, and noticed half the room turn their heads to see me - this weird blonde gaijin with the sad Hawaiian shirt, and the moment was kind of like one of those movies were the
dude walks into the room and suddenly you hear the music screech to a halt (I could almost hear the BVOOOOP sound), and everybody stops what they're
doing to look at you. I just smiled right back at them. Now, Koreans are cool characters, and
they don't freak out like the Japanese when they see a foreigner, so most of them just continued their conversations and their eating without further ado, but I swear,
the guy at the counter of this place was grinning like a monkey with a banana when he saw me,
and I wondered if it was a smile of happiness from having a foreign face in his establishment, or a sardonic smile in the
knowledge that he could rip me off as much as he pleased because I didn't know my Won from my Dollar, and he knew it. Anyway, I sat down and twenty minutes along came the food I chose, something I think called kalbi, (carubi?kambi?) and bloody hell..2 words..FUCKING DELICIOUS!! I never thought that
anything could top yakiniku until I got a mouthful of that, but the fantastic spice sauce and choice side dishes totally blew me away. It's weird how you eat it too,
similar to having a Doner Kebab, but replacing pita bread is some sort of lettuce leaf, and you use some stuff called Kim chi as your chilli sauce. You get a huge melon as desert too, which turned out to be cheap although I panicked when they first gave it to me, thinking it would cost me a mortgage like the ones in Japan do.
Man, just thinking about that meal makes me hungry. I just don't understand why the hell we Brits are stuck with bloody Indian (the poor mans Thai) on Friday nights after a club when there's food like that in the world that's probably got fewer calories and is twice as delicious. Now I was the one grinning like a monkey, not only at the food but also at the foxy waitress who was bending in front of me rather eagerly as she chopped the melon into thin slices. As they piled on the food I was getting worried about how much the bill was going to cost but as it turned out it was only a tenner or something for what was arguably the greatest bit of tucker I'd ever had. If you don't go to Korea for the women, go there for the food. It won't be the last time I go, that's for sure.
So, one happy stomach later I said goodbye to my new monkian friend, and headed off into the heart of Seoul. The tube was the cheapest tube I'd ever been on, it literally cost about 40p to get all around Seoul. I can't remember where it was I got off, as I had just picked the place in the middle of the map and hoped that it was popular. It seemed like a good guess as I soon found myself in-between crowds of people and market stalls that led me up some street that had some awkwardly placed temple smack bang in the middle of the road. I followed the crowd, which grew thicker and thicker as I progressed into what was probably the Korean version of Leicester Square. I went to a few shops and after buying another very sexy Hawaiian shirt to add to my collection, it was late and I was tired so I headed off back to the hotel and got some shut-eye.
The next day, I headed off to some place called Itaewon that I'd heard was more foreigner friendly due to it being in close proximity to an American Army Camp, and when I got there I found there to be a lot of shops for foreigners, but also a breeding ground for beggars and rip-off artists who stop you and try to sell you junk. There were a lot of USA soldiers hanging about, which made me feel better as they would've probably backed me up if I got into a scrap with any of the dodgy looking Korean gangs hanging around with their puffer jackets and baseball caps looking like they were ready to rumble. On the TV I'd notice that Korean celebrities acted like rap-artists and gangsters and tried to look tough rather than cute, the complete opposite of Japan.
Anyway, I got hungry and I headed off to Burger King. As I lined up I looked around and saw some girl I'd bang for a dollar. She was one of the foxiest mammas I'd seen in Korea, and was chowing down on a burger across the room from me. She must have been half-Black, half-Korean I thought at first glance, and she had a lovely, soft face that I just couldn't take my eyes off of. She looked like Alliyah. Beautiful curly hair that was obviously bottle-blonde but really matched her coffee brown eyes and a voluptuous wide, lip-glossed mouth. She looked up at me for a second, and I knew I just had to go and attempt to pull her. So after grabbing a cheeseburger I sat near her and tried to get her attention. Eventually I caught her eyes and said "Hey, do you speak English?" she smiled and told me in a Californian accent that her dad was an American G.I. That explained the mixed-blood anyway. Sometimes those interracial are just the best lookers, aren't they?! Well anyway, I continued chatting her up, and she commented on my accent and there was definitely chemistry. She even said that she'd hang out with me the next day if I was still in Korea and then show me the town and clubs, but she was on her lunch-break now, and was just about to go back to work. The problem was, it was my last day in Korea, and she had some plans or something later on that day, so we basically had to say goodbye to each other then and there. Oh man, that was that, the vision of perfection walked out those Burger King doors and out of my life forever 20 minutes later. She didn't have an e-mail and I didn't see a point in getting her number. Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways as they say. I mean, actually I'm fairly Jean Paul Satre on religion and all that bollucks, but you gotta agree, things do happen for a reason and everything seems related in some synchronistic way. Take Latin music for example, who listens to that shit? But put it another way, if it weren't for Latin music, then there'd by no Latin music clubs where you could go to chat up strictly Latino chicks. You'd have to bungle around the town going to any and every club with your fingers crossed that there would be some fine Hispanics there, and you'd probably end up going to a club full of ugly white chicks, and go home without a shag. So there you go. And so say all of us.
Anyway, I wonder if I'll ever meet a girl as foxy as that again, talk about love at first sight (lust?)..Take my word for it, Korean girls are some of the nicest looking Asians around, if not THE nicest.
Anyway, I was still hungry so I got another burger and sat down. I noticed the manager and all his mates were sitting down munching their own burgers in front of the public and thought they'd get the sack if they did that in any other country, but anyway, 5 minutes later in walks this chubby American lady in her 50's, scoffing down a cheeseburger like she hadn't eaten in a week and I felt inclined to talk to her since we were the only foreigners there and she'd sat near me. Pretty soon we were chatting about Korea, and the reasons we were there and the like. She must've had the vilest table manners of anyone I'd ever met and was talking to me through all the food in her mouth, with bits falling out and crap, when she told me she was a teaching English in Korea and said she loved it, but living there wasn't easy and safe, she'd been robbed twice. The pay was good relevant to the economy though. I asked her what she thought about Korean girls and she said exactly this, I remember "Those Korean girls are beautiful aren't they? Even their mental attitude is to be beautiful in the way they talk and walk, the way they attract men. This used to be a backward society where girls were arranged for marriage, but nowadays they have a lot more choice in the men they date, usually wealthy guys, but I don't see many going for the foreign guys as this isn't quite a racially harmonic society yet. But you do see a lot of these girls running off with G.I's they fall in love with. One things for sure, the girls here in Korea are better than the USA born ones, who I often met while I was teaching in the States. Those Korea/Usa ones are obsessed with money. But over here they have a lot more class.."
So there you go. Not my opinion, but an opinion. It struck me she was hardly the person to be commenting on class with the way she ate.
So that's what I did for the rest of my holiday, I spent it wandering the streets of Seoul, thinking about the beautiful girl I'd met. I found an interesting nightclub where the sign read 'Come here for drinks/cocktails, music AND GIRLS!', which sounded mighty appealing, but the truth was I'd been walking for something like 8 hours solid and was just so buggered from it I went back to the hotel for a nap and ended up not waking till the next morning, and I've regretted it ever since, bloody idiot! I've put going back to Seoul one day to go clubbing on my future wish-list of things to do, and you can be sure to read about it all here until it happens.