Friday, 28 May 2010

Ken’s Birthday!

My plans for Ken’s birthday were cancelled. Thanks to Seoul for being a hotspot for a North Korean attack, all weekend events that I had scheduled were turned to mush. I was trying to make the best of this ridiculous situation, so after school, I went shopping for some festivities.

As I was lugging home one bottle of red wine, one bottle of sparkling wine, nine large beers, a 2-litre jug of milk, and other groceries, I received a text from Ilana on my cell phone. Sounding ecstatic, she asked if Ken and I wanted to celebrate a birthday in Andong.

Completely oblivious about the text’s real meaning, I replied, ‘But, it’s Ken’s birthday today’. I was carrying litres and litres of liquid goodness…give me a break.

She soon texted back, ‘Of course I mean Ken’s birthday!’. So, through a series of texts and phone calls, Ken and I were on our way to the city of Andong to celebrate this glorious day that was Ken’s birthday.


A little uneasy from the bus ride, Ken and I opted for some kimbap for supper. To jump start our evening, a drunken man walked up to Ken, swaying from side to side, and asked for the rest of Ken’s kimbap. Trying to butter him up, the man exclaimed how honoured he felt to talk with a foreigner. After minutes of smelling the beer and soju waft off of the man’s breath and dirt-ridden clothes, Ken gave the man his kimbap, just smiling and nodding as he refused the man’s blackened, grimy hands.

We finally met up with Corey and Ilana, who had just finished doing a write-up on jjimdak (a popular Andong chicken dish). Tagging along were two of their friends, one who had befriended Corey after giving him a ride in his car, and the other, a newly made friend who was a random traveler from the Czech Republic.

All of us started towards our first event – bowling. It was going to be mine and Ken’s first time bowling in Andong. Our scores reflected our lack of practice at the sport, but we had a ton of laughs, nevertheless. Sometimes we were lacking bowling pins and at other times, bowling pins were blocking other ones from being renewed. Calling upon the bowling manager at every occurrence, we watched as he was eaten countless times by the bowling-pin-gobbler, climbing over and through the machines to reset our pins. Not to worry, he made it out alive, every time :).

After our series of gutterballs, and random spares and strikes, we headed downtown towards a fancy bar owned by the brother-in-law of Corey and Ilana’s friend. Downing enormous pitchers of Cass beer, macqueli (Korean rice wine) and bucheemgae (Korean pancake), the night was almost over.

What would a birthday be without a cake? Luckily, Ilana was able to whisk away into the night and return with a delectable chocolate chiffon cake from a Korean bakery. After firing the birthday poppers from the cake, we all sang Happy Birthday to the 23-year-old birthday boy, and dove into the delectable, creamy cake.

However, the night wasn’t over. Stopping by a 7 Eleven for some munchies, Corey, Ilana, their Czech friend, Ken and I bought an array of beer, from Hite, Cass, to Hoegarden. Situating ourselves on the top level of a beautiful pagoda, encasing an old, oxidized-green bell, we discussed the different views people had on the rising tensions between North Korea and South Korea, from the opinions of South Korean natives, to all foreigners alike, residing in South Korea. We put forth ideas for evacuation strategies and suggested possible travel routes across Korea for our Czech friend during these delicate times. It was a discussion topic that fueled itself, although not very fitting for the last couple hours of Ken’s birthday :). However, the night ended on such a good note, with all of us gazing out into the black abyss of the night, calmly taking in the cool breeze, sedated by the cool, crisp beer we had just consumed.

On behalf of me and Ken, I would like to thank Corey and Ilana for turning Ken’s day into an actual birthday celebration. You guys are the best :).

- Jess

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