Asia | Korea, Republic of – Birthday fun
Twas the night before my birthday. I had stayed in with a couple of beers and the ever bewildering joys of Korean TV, and was still merrily chilling out at 1.40 am…..when the phone rang. It was Yu Kyoung. She said, ‘Andy, what are you doing?’ ‘Nothing much’ I replied. ‘I told the Director it is your birthday’ (which by now it was) ‘and he wants to have a party with you. Can you come out now?’ ‘Er…yeah, ok.’ And so it was that I found myself speeding through the chill Uijeongbu night towards the ‘Continental Nights’ club. Upon arrival I was met by the Director himself who threw his arms around me and shouted ‘Aahh! Andy!!’ This took me a little by surprise, because he is usually a rather sober and respectable man. I didn’t take long to realise that sober was an adjective
which had no place being anywhere near this evening’s (sorry, this morning’s) proceedings. Inside the club I found a live band, Russian dancing girls on balconies (I kid you not) and the entire Korean staff of the institute, most of whom were already blind drunk. I was welcomed enthusiastically and my glass was filled. In fact at no point during the celebrations was my glass allowed to be empty for more than about 15 seconds before someone re-filled it. The Director, as drunken men the world over do, kept saying, ‘We all love you’, and offered me a five year contract! He also informed me that he intended to buy me some socks for my birthday, and assured me repeatedly that, ‘I understand your mind’ (?!) Sometime later I was frankly astonished to witness the arrival of a bottle of Champagne at the table, which the Director and I shared, due to the fact that his birthday transpired to be two days after mine. A little later I was even more flabbergasted to hear the lead singer of the band mention my name, and to hear them break into a rendition of Happy birthday, for my benefit! The Director occupied himself with the worthy and respectable task of getting progressively more paralytic to the point where he knocked bottles and glasses off the table everytime he leant forward and eventually attempted to mount the stage, resulting in him being sprawled face down upon it, much to the consternation of the DJ.
We left shortly afterwards and repaired to a nearby restaurant (it’s 3.50am by this time) where we ate, and drank Soju until pretty much nobody could stand, talk or stay awake. In all seriousness I was quite moved by the display of hospitality, generosity and kindness shown to me. It was totally unexpected and really lovely. I was made to feel completely welcome, and recieved invitations to everyone’s homes during the course of things.
The next night I went out with Greg, Yu kyoung and Shanna. We hit a bar in Uijeongbu and Shanna had bought me a birthday cake, which was most delicious. The bar staff took a couple of polaroids which was a very nice gesture, and also played what can only be described as the ‘dance-remix’ of Happy Birthday on the sound system. All in all, a cracking birthday, although I failed miserably to get it together to see The Two Towers, because I didn’t get to bed until about 6am both nights. I’ll do it next weekend.
In other news, my workload has increased (bloody dispicable – do they think I’m here to work or something?!) to six classes a day. I am pleased to report that I seem to be a major hit with ‘the kids’, even the five year olds I started teaching today. The key seems to be to liberally pepper your lesson with strange noises and odd facial expressions, they’re easily pleased.
Anyway, that’s me for now, except to say that if I thought it was cold before, I was…well…wrong. The last two days have been minus 12 and minus 14 respectively. What do they think this is? Winter?!