3:40 am ET
Recap of the last few days.
Friday, Youthlarge and I flew to Tokyo. I've never flown for 13 straight hours. It was tough. I could not sleep so I was going nuts. I watched some amazing footage of The Tom Snyder show from the late 70's/early 80's on DVD on Youthlarge's laptop. It is a new Dvd compliation of bands on the show. I watched four episodes and they all were amazing - Elvis Costello, Paul Weller, Joan Jett, The Plazmatics (one of the best performances ever on television!), and Iggy Pop with a bloody nose. Incredible. I read 100 pages of the book Mooney lent to me for the trip American Tabloid (also quite great) by James Ellroy. I also was very excited to get a chance to hear Bob Dylan's show on XM Radio on the flight. It was so damn good, it makes me want to get XM.
After arriving in Tokyo, we had a 3 hour layover. Plenty of time to check the Internet and make a fantasy baseball move. Too bad that I guessed wrong on who would take over as the closer for the Brewers. I love picking up Milwaukee middle relievers while in Tokyo. That sounds much more exotic than it really was, trust me.
After the layover, it was just a two or so hour flight to Seoul. Fortunately, I was able to get a little sleep on that leg of the journey. It wasn't until we reached Seoul at 9 pm on Saturday that it was finally dark. From the time, we left New York, it had been light out the entire time. Very disconcerting.
On Sunday, we ate lunch at Youthlarge's family's apartment in Seoul. It was a great time - quite a few characters. Then ended up at Seoul Station picking up some train tickets and then walked back to the hotel. While at the station, we had a green tea donut at Dunkin' Donuts. Not as good as I had hoped it would be.
We're staying in some trendy neighborhood that is always extremely well lit. The name of the neighborhood escapes me but it is very Blade Runner-like in a Tokyo kind of way. Seoul is not the city to go to if you want to escape the specter of Starbucks. Or Outback Steakhouse for that matter.
Youthlarge was last in Korea in '98. She says that it seems that the youth are much less repressed that they used to be. Hell, the whole city seems like one big party. Plus, I've never been to a place with so many girls/ young women walking around holding each other's hands. For Youthlarge's take, read her food blog, where else? The only downside has been that we've been ripped off a few times by unscrupulous cabbies and katsu cashiers. Interestingly, they only rip us off about fifty cents or so each time. Even when they screw you, Koreans are polite.
We were asleep by 10 pm, this jet lag thing is a bitch. Unfortunately, that meant we were up at 4 am this morning. No matter, we had an early train to Gyeongju, a town in the southeastern part of the country, recommended by Youthlarge's dad. The train trip was fun - about four and a half hours. We passed many, many high rise apartments and an insane amount of driving ranges.
Apparently, there are quaint things to see in Gyeongju but it has been a strange experience thus far. We've been here for about four hours. The hotel we are staying at is humongous but completely empty for the most part when we arrived. It has at least three restaurants, two of which had nobody in it (and I mean nobody) at lunch time. We ended up at one packed restaurant that was empty within ten minutes of us sitting down. They saw one whitey and they all left? Who knows? Youthlarge commented how ornate everything is but yet it seems a little dusty for a place so fancy. This place must have been something else in 1976. In the lobby, it is like a Cracker Barrel for Korean folk art. All sorts of chairs and wooden tigers for sale.
There is an amusement park right around the bend. Closed, of course. Youthlarge likens the whole place to North Korea - all for show but yet completely empty. Right now, she is napping (no bed in the room, Korean style) while I'm in the lobby. And things are hopping now. Everyone must be back from their day tours. Tomorrow, we'll have to get in on that action. Today, all I can think about is that the karaoke bar is only a few hours away. This place also has an indoor and outdoor pool but it didn't look like it was opened. Maybe Youthlarge will get a foot massage. I can't express how strange this place is. There's also some sort of youth convention going on here this week so I expect lots of running around in the hallways tonight.
3 days ago