Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And So This Is Christmas

In Korea, Christmas is pretty different from NZ - it's a couples holiday, so the boyfriends and girlfriends of the country get together, eat dinner somewhere swanky and pay double the price to stay in a Love Motel on Christmas Eve. This wasn't my first Northern Hemisphere Christmas but it was certainly the coldest - we went to Seoul, and it was a bitter minus 15 degrees.

On Christmas Eve we decided to partake in the sacred Kiwi tradition of getting drunk so we went to Hongdae. Hongdae is the entertainment area and clubbing district surrounding Hongik University. It's jam packed full of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and shopping stalls, and it's one of my favourite places to visit in Seoul. Amongst other things, Hongdae is host to:

The Tigerabbit
A super cute Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine) bar


Random dance-offs at 3am.

On the Eve we went to the excellent Dos Tacos for margaritas and burritos (mm, Potato!) and then moved on to our favourite bar - Vinyl. Tom and I are total Lonely Planet tourists and when we read about a tiny bar that serves cheap cocktails in IV bags, we were hooked.

Vinyl is super small, with seating space for about 10 people and a window for takeout orders. When we first realised that drinking on the street is legal here in Korea, we ordered a few bags and wandered around exclaiming 'We are drinking! Alcohol! On the street!' for about an hour. You know what they say about small things.

Along with our $5 peach crushes, woo-woos, Midori Sours and Gin and Tonics, the lovely staff supplied a small cup of candy canes and snacks, and some delicious cake! Our drinking companions were all antipodean - Lauren, Kristen and Andrew from NZ, and a travelling couple from Australia who told us that the best thing about Beijing was Mao Zedong's cadaver and watching a woman vomit in Tienanmen Square. We'll keep that in mind when we visit next month.

The actual day was spent in a hungover fug as we ran from warm spot to warm spot trying to avoid the aforementioned bitter coldness. Tom tried Taco Bell for the first time, I had an awful peppermint mocha at Starbucks, we attempted to go to an aquarium only to discover that EVERYONE in SEOUL was there too. At 5pm on Christmas Day we went to a bar in Itaewon, ate cold mashed potatoes, Turkey and cranberry sauce and then bought salt and vinegar chips from an international store before hopping in bed by 8:30pm.

Although Korea is the only East Asian country to put Christmas on it's National Holiday list, because this year it's on a Saturday we were back at work by Monday. 'Work' for me is sitting at my desk for three hours a day, reading things on the internet, 'work' for Tom is sitting at home all day, reading things on the internet. We're off to the Philippines on Friday for a much-needed break from all this work.

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