Namsan Tower

Sunday I met up with Ophelia and we went to Namsan Tower.  There are three ways to get to the tower.  1) Walk.  The walk is pretty long and winds up the mountain.  2) Cable car from the base of the mountain.   3) Bus (and then a short 5-10 minute walk up).  We opted for the bus for a few reasons.   First, it was cheaper.  The bus would be free for us since we were both transferring from the subway. Second, it was pretty hot so we didn’t want to walk and be all sweaty and gross.  The bus ride was crazy.  The bus driver was speeding around all the turns, those of us who were standing on the bus were getting flung in every direction.  We were so happy to get off of the bus!

We walked up the short distance to the tower.  There is an overview that is free to go to and I highly recommend it.  If you don’t want to pay to go up to the top of the tower, please at least go here!  This spot is very popular for couples.  They bring locks which they write about their love for each other on (*pukes*) and then lock them there so their love will be forever.  The couples even throw away the keys over the railing…which is dangerous to those climbing up the mountain.  There’s a sign that is hardly visible now asking people to not throw away their keys.

Warning: This post is heavy on the pictures!

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노래방 Karaoke Room

Last night Nayoung asked me if I wanted to get dinner with her.  I didn’t think we were going anywhere really interesting last night so I didn’t bring my camera. AH!  I’m really sad 😦

We went to Sinchon to eat 갈비 kalbi, I don’t remember what the name of the place was.  You sit at a table with the circular grill in the middle.  As soon as we sat down they brought over a container of hot coals and put it into the grill.  Then they give you a menu with different types of meat you can choose from.  No idea what Nayoung chose, it looked like thick bacon.  (Wow…this is turning out to be a great blog!)  They bring over side dishes which consists of kimchi, bean sprouts, garlic, onions, some red sauce, some brown liquid, and a bowl of vegetables in red sauce, and lettuce leaves.  Then they bring the meat with tongs and a pair of scissors.

You have to cook the meat yourself.  Cook the meat until it’s soft enough that you can cut it with the scissors into smaller pieces.  When the meat is done cooking you move it to the edge of the pan so it wont get burnt.  Hold a lettuce leaf in your hand, take a piece of kalbi (using your chopsticks of course) and put it on the lettuce.  Add some of the red sauce and some of the other side dishes onto the lettuce as well.  Wrap it all up in the lettuce and shove it in your mouth.  I was having issues with the last part. My mouth doesn’t open wide enough for me to cleanly eat the entire thing at once.  I had to take a bite off the extra lettuce first if I didn’t want to make a mess of myself.  It was really tasty though!

In total we ordered two servings of the first bacon looking meat, 1 serving of some other kind of meat that didn’t look like bacon, and 1 egg bowl.  The egg bowl was amazing!  The last and only other time I had eggs in Korea was the first week of school when Nayoung and I had breakfast and the cafeteria in my building.  The eggs were not cooked enough so they were really watery and not enjoyable to eat.  This however was cooked, so it was delicious.  It looked like they just cracked a ton of eggs into a  hot stone bowl and let the bowl cook the egg.  I miss eggs.

In total our dinner was just over 17,000won.  So that’s about 8,500won for each of us.  In USA dollars that is $7.45.  I’m pretty sure that’s really cheap.

After dinner Nayoung said that she didn’t want to go back to the dorm yet.  So we walked around Sinchon for a minute until she spotted a Karaoke place and dragged me in.  Karaoke in Korea is much different than in America.  In America, you go to a bar or restaurant to do karaoke.  There’s  usually a host that stands on the stage and get people to get up and sing in front of the entire place.

In Korea you go to a place called  노래방 no-lae-bangNo-lae means ‘song’ and bang means ‘room’.  You get your own private room. You can go alone or you can go with a huge group of people.  It was just Nayoung and I so we were going to get the smallest room.  However, the only room left was the biggest one so we really lucked out!  You pay 15,000won for 1 hour.  I don’t think it matters how many people there are or how big the room is.

The room was painted black and was decorated with some interesting graffiti.  A LED television was on the front wall.  There was a small stage in the center.  On the back wall was a huge couch and in front of the couch was a table.  On the table were two microphones, a HUGE book containing all the songs they had (including the MOST recent songs), two tambourines, and a giant square controller.

You search through the book for the songs you want.  They have everything!  They have Korean music (pop and the oldies), every famous and well known english song, chinese songs, and japanese songs.   The songs in the back of the book are the most recent (I think…at least that’s the way it seemed).  Each song has a number.  You type the number into the controller and hit the “request” button.  The song starts, the lights dim, and the lasers and disco balls start to dance.

While you’re singing the songs they obviously show the words on the TV screen, but they also show the most random drama and movie clips in the background that have nothinggg to do with the songs.  It was pretty funny.

Nayoung and I sang all the newest Korean pop songs and then we sang some of our favorites.  Nayoung has a really good voice, unlike me.  I sounds like a dieing animal of some kind.  However, Nayoung said that I was the first foreigner that she was able to enjoy 노래방 with because I liked to sing the Korean songs too.  yay!

We ended up staying there for almost two hours and didn’t have to pay any extra money!  Apparently it is normal for the owner to give you extra time.  They kept adding a lot of extra time to ours.  I don’t know how they determine if they should give you extra time or not.

When we finally left and were outside putting our shoes on (oh yea, they make you take off your shoes and wear sandals…that’s normal for Korea too) we could hear the other rooms singing.  Omg, the rooms are not that thick!!! >.<  So embarrassing!   That’s OK.  I really had a lot of fun!!  I hope I can go to 노래방 again soon with my other friends.