Saturday, June 21, 2008
maybe i'm getting older, or maybe it's just not my scene, but i've never really been into going clubbing. i've always leaned towards a nice meal at a restaurant, or a few drinks at a lounge. and most of my friends know that i'm always the boring one who stops drinking after one or two drinks. however, the seoul nightlife is pretty amazing, and even though i'm past that phase, i might as well enjoy it a little bit while i'm here.
'nightlife' is not even the right word here- the night goes on all night, until the sun comes up. most bars stay open until 8 or 9 am, as well as most restaurants. the koreans love to party around the clock: when i go get food for dinner, i see businessmen having drinks at local restaurants (and i mean, getting hammered). on a typical weekday, when i walk to the coffee bean to get my espresso at 7am, i see people sitting on the 7-eleven patio, having some beer (probably finishing the night).
you can party anywhere in seoul: restaurants, convenience stores (which encourage people to drink there by setting up tables on the patio and opening your beer for you), karaoke rooms... and um, the sidewalk. the drinking laws seem pretty flexible (or perhaps nonexistent). alcohol is dirt cheap: a bottle of soju (which is a strong as vodka, made from rice) is only 1$, and believe me, most people don't need more than half a bottle. local beers such as Hite and Cass are quite cheap as well (in that case, the taste is proportional to the price).
you can find bars everywhere, and i mean EVERYWHERE here in seoul. there are like, 30 bars within 5 min walking distance of my apartment. most of them are very nice looking, and also quite empty since there are so many to choose from. a typical korean party night starts with a meal at a BBQ restaurant, where you drink shots of soju along the way. it then continues with a night of bar and club hopping, and perhaps a last stop at a noraebang (karaoke room) to show your singing skills and do a few last shots of soju.
thankfully taxis here are quite, quite cheap. you can go from one end of seoul to another for under 20$. after a long night of partying, it's nice to hop into a taxi without worrying too much about the cost. or for the partyers on a budget, you can party until 5 am and wait for the first subway or bus, which is the best option. that's what we did last night, we went for aaron's birthday. started out with a meal of chicken and beer on a terrasse, then we headed to hongdae for some nightlife: a cool bar reminescent of 'clockwork orange', and some sheesha-smoking and dancing until the wee hours. we then had another meal to replenish, at a packed BBQ restaurant. nothing beats kimchi at 4 am. we saw the sun rise and decided to take a rather shaky 40 min bus ride back home... then sleep until 3pm. it was all worth it though. i mean, when else am i going to do stuff like that?!
now i can see why so many people decide to stay in korea for many years: the work situation is great, no rent to pay, and endless, cheap partying. it's not really my cup of tea (don't want to do that every weekend, seoul has so much more to offer), but it's fun while it lasts!