Monday, December 14, 2009

Alcohol

Hello all! Times have been very busy here in Korea. I am working a part-time job as well as my full-time job and I am tutoring a woman. So...very busy -thank God, I love teaching English! When Thanksgiving hit, I did become very homesick. I missed the craziness of the holiday season; the baked goods, the food...oh God the FOOD, the gazillion Christmas parties, the Christmas lights, the mounds of snow (no snow here yet), the football game, and the 5:00 a.m. crazy American Black Friday shopping(which I hardly ever attended), the fun "night out" with my girlfriends the day before Thanksgiving....all of these thoughts came tumbling down and caused me much grief. Trust me, Americans know how to do the holidays up! I understand that now and realized that I took for granted all of these things and used to think most of them were quite annoying--not anymore my friends! I long for them and miss them dearly. But with that being said, I am better now and have a special Christmas present arriving on December 25th. I will save that story for January!

So, these Koreans (like any other country) like their alcohol. I am adding this section because it is a big part of their lives just as red wine is to Italians. More so, for Korean men. Koreans drink of the day is "Soju". Which is a Korean rice liquor (a rice vodka w/a hint of ginseng). I am attaching a picture (it is an advertisement). It is served in bottles similar to wine cooler bottles. The drink is to be poured in a pretty shot glass and sipped. (One person per bottle is normal--remember the alcohol content is vodka content...so VERY potent stuff!) And trust me, they drink this stuff by the BOTTLES. Ewww...I drank two bottles one night and well, let's just say I won't touch the stuff again.

Their beer here is nothing special. It is called Cass or Hite and is very similar to Miller Lite. Most restaurants/bars only serve beer and Soju. Beer is about $2.00 USD a bottle and Soju is about $1.50 USD a bottle. You cannot get a mixed drink or a glass of wine at most places. Woes me because I prefer red wine or a martini. I am beginning to think that the whole martini and mixed drink thing--is definitely an American tradition. I have found two places where I can get a mixed drink but it depends on who is waitressing because most of the bartenders do not know how to make the drinks that are on their OWN menu. Now; with that being said...you can buy liquor at most bars/restaurant but you have to buy the ENTIRE bottle. For example, Jack Daniels is $140 USD and Johnny Walker Black Label is $70 USD. You can by wine too at about $80 USD a bottle. Oh and what I did find interesting is that if you buy a bottle and don't finish it, you can give it to the bartender and they will put your name on it and "save" it for you for next time. I thought this was very cool, it gives the place a small town feel which can't be helped as the population in my little village is only 100,000.

If you are with a bunch of Koreans on a Saturday night, it is typical to see a bottle of Jack Daniels, Soju and beer at their table. A Korean teacher, Mr.Sung, told me that he and two others went to America for two weeks to visit and when they were at the bar they asked the bartender for a "bottle of Jack Daniels" (As this is how they drink it)they couldn't believe the bartender's reaction when she said, "Excuse me, the entire bottle? How the hell do you think you are getting home?" They told her by taxi --of course! They got served a bottle with the managers approval!

There is a "how you drink your drink" tradition as well. You are NEVER suppose to pour your own drink. You have a friend watch over your drink and he/she keeps it filled and you keep theirs filled in return.

Unfortunately, you see many Korean men out late or early morning vomiting on the street from too much alcohol. Beware of your step! This is very common and they are not in their 20's...most of these men vomiting are in their late 40's early 50's.

I am attaching photos of my hike up a beautiful mountain (10 minutes from my apartment) called Maroon Valley. The woman with me is the woman I tutor, Peyoung Chi. We have become good friends! Well folks...that is it for now, if you are still reading....stayed tuned next month will be about the schools and the student life and my Christmas present!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays...America is very much missed!