G-Star Journal: Day 2, Part 3 – Korean BBQ and the Kindness of Strangers

Today’s events were as exhausting as they were interesting, so when I got back to the hotel, I immediately passed out. Seriously, I could have slept through the night until tomorrow morning, and I tried to tide myself over with absurdly overpriced cookies from the honor bar in my room:

At least the water was free.

…but I figured I should get up for dinner so I dragged myself out to the street around 8 pm. There’s a lot of stuff near my hotel, neon lights lining narrow alley-like streets full of cheap eateries, conveniences stores and crazy drivers. (Btw, driving here must be nuts. People are extremely aggressive and basically use their bumpers to elbow you out of the way, whether you’re in a car or not.)

The signage here is great. My shitty photos don’t show it, but there’s so much color and I love the verbiage. I gotta take another picture of this with my phone instead of my iTouch because it needs documenting – right near my hotel is the Hive bar from Deus Ex.

Wonder if I go in, if I'll run into JC Denton?

I walked around a while, looking for a restaurant where my khaki jacket and wrinkled pants wouldn’t cause an uproar, and ended up following my nose to a Korean barbecue joint. I wish I’d photographed the outside b/c now I couldn’t find it again, but there were a lot of locals in there, casually dressed so I figured it had to be good.

This was the non-smoking section.

Amid tables chock-full of groups of diners, I sat by myself at a table and tried not to look pathetic. With lots of smiling and gesturing, I managed to order some pork belly and they fired up my in-table grill. Not having the vocabulary to ask what they had to drink, I pointed at a bottle of beer a young woman at the next table was drinking, and asked for one of those. She smiled and helped me order one, and before I knew it, she’d seated herself at my table and was cooking my food.

Nick, you're missin' out!

A friendly member of the Busan welcome wagon.

She spoke some English and insisted on keeping me company while teaching me how to eat the many dishes they brought to the table. (Funny enough, in teaching me, she actually took a bite of my food.) Anyway, she told me a lot about working for a Korean game company and her aspirations of working in the ‘States. I found out eventually that her bosses at the next table had put her up to the whole thing but it didn’t matter – she was very charming and performed her role as hostess with good grace. I didn’t realize how hospitable she really was until I got ready to leave.

I picked up my check and made for the door, and she shocked me by following me and insisting on paying for my dinner. I suspect her bosses considered me a networking opportunity since we’d talked so much about games and about their company cracking the US market, but still, that was kind of amazing. Wherever you end up Averlyn – good luck, and thank you!

After a surprisingly social meal, I wound up the evening with a little more strolling around and a cold ready-made latte from a corner store. Koreans seem to enjoy coffee more cold than hot ( as evidenced by the $4 cup of coffee I bought this morning, that didn’t even come with access to cream. Milk in general – or ice – is a dollar more).

Whoa. Would you look at the time! It’s 11:20. I best get to bed so I’ll have the energy to once again do battle with the shower head.

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