Last Friday night we went and saw Michael (and Barry, the other guy from his Toastmasters Club) perform in the area speech competition near Seoul National University of Education. Once again we were the largest, cheering squad...you know how we do. Chrissy made great signs that we weren't allowed to use during the speeches lest they effect the judge's perception of the speeches, but we did get a chance to take photos with them at the end. Overall the speeches were good. Barry (rightfully) won first place, with a speech that was new and better than the one he won with at the club level. Second place went (undeserved, in my opinion) to the man who MCed the club level competition named Irving. I find him odd and off putting, and I did not enjoy his speech. A Korean named Pil Soo won third place, and I really liked his speech (in my ranking he got second). I felt that (objectively) Michael should have gotten third place. But it was not to be. The three who placed will now head down to the national level competition in Busan. After the speeches there was a small reception with wine and food. Unfortunately the room was REALLY hot, so we had to alternate being in the room and outside in the rain. We headed out a bit early and met up at a bar called All That Beer (sadly Amanda Bynes was no where to be found) where we had some drinks and talked for a bit. We also got nachos and ONCE AGAIN we were served whipped cream instead of sour cream. Really, Korea? Do just the tiniest bit of research, please. Carin, Joseph, Feeny and I decided to leave early-ish, but it was still too late for the subway, so we went outside to hail a cab. Nearly 40 minutes of on-and-off torrential downpours, heavy lightning and thunder, and multiple cabs (that slowed down, saw we were foreigners, and kept driving) we finally successfully piled into a cab and came home. Kind of a downer ending to the evening. However, I perked up a bit after looking at some photos of Kate Middleton looking all regal in her lovely gown and I went to bed.
Barry + Michael Whyte obviously = Barry Whyte.
Can't get enough of your love baaaabe.
Joke's on you, Korea. That whipped cream tasted delicious on the little puffed rice snacks that were also served on the table.
Cheers to good friends!
All weekend the weather was gross. I blame myself...I made an offhanded comment about being glad I was leaving Korea before the rainy season, which obviously caused Korea to prove me wrong. It has been yellow dusty and rainy for like a week now. During the brief breaks of sun we are treated to a gross grayish yellow haze everywhere, compliments of Mongolia. Le sigh.
Saturday's weather was especially gross: dark skies, heavy rain, cool temperatures. It was just the perfect weather to stay in bed all day. Which is what I did most of the day. It took SUPREME effort to drag myself out of bed and go meet Feeny, Carin, Julia and Jin in Myeongdong to go to Party Princess. But man was I glad that I did! Plans to go to this dress-up cafe have been in the works for a while, through various people. Diana, Lee-Rae and I had planned to go, but it got postponed quite a few times, so I succumbed to peer pressure and went with the other four girls. We met around 5:30pm and went and ate at Outback Steakhouse first (mmmm cheese fries...) and then made our way over to Party Princess. (DIRECTIONS: Euljiro 1ga Station (Line 2, green) exit 6. Walk straight until you see a KB Bank on your left. Just after the bank, take a left down the small road/alley. Party Princess will be just down the road on your right.)
The "concept" of this cafe is getting dressed up in frilly dresses (many of them are of the wedding variety, but there are also some that are party dresses, and traditional Korean hanboks) and taking an ass-ton of photos. What a totally bizarre, uniquely Asian place. I chose not to dress up (I am poor and too big for any sort of Korean made clothing) but I had a fantastic time taking photos of the other girls in their finery. When we first got there we sat down and enjoyed some tasty beverages, ranging from teas to lattes (generally between 4,000 and 8,000won), and waited for the couple currently taking photos to finish their session. When the time came we were escorted back to the big closet where you could pick your dress (there are also dress up clothes like suits and tuxes for boys...but they are obviously just supposed to be props, not the center of attention). I would say there were about 40 wedding dresses of varying styles and lengths, in addition to the other dresses. Rentals (for one hour) range from 10,000-35,000won, depending on style. After the girls chose and donned their dresses, we had an hour to roam about the cafe, taking photos in their wide variety of settings. It ranged from simple walls, to doll house decor, to a fake tiger pelt on the wall. SO RANDOM...but an excellent time.
The outside of Party Princess.
View of entrance from inside the mall.
Our seat under the "trees".
Menu detailing the dress deals. All in Korean.
English drink menu!
Very tasty (and cute) mint hot chocolate.
Cute, girly decor.
Overview of the cafe from one of the top spots.
Julia and Carin made their picks!
You can take the girl out of the South, but not the South of of the girl?
This hat was hilarious, and her dress was GIGANTIC!
Feeny looking so pretty!
The beautiful "couple," Julia and Jin.
Princess Feeny and her lady-in-waiting, Carin.
Hahaha, I love this.
Mouseketeer role call!
I swear Carin is wearing clothes in this photo, regardless of what it looks like.
Not simply one Party Princess, but a Pack of Party Princesses.
Bringing new meaning to "wedding photography."
Attack of the Jin!
Tuckered out after their big day.
Robot eyes! SHE'S A CYLON!*
*Potentially the nerdiest thing I've ever said on this blog.
Old timey beautiful.
Beautiful in her veil.
Party Princess: an absolutely fun way to spend an evening.
Our "service" (free) Polaroid group photo and the cute napkins from the cafe.
Needless to say, I was very glad I dragged myself out of my bed. Sunday, however, I spent the WHOLE day in my apartment, haha. I did some laundry, but spent most of the day watching chick flicks (The Prince & Me, Princess Diaries, Love Actually, and 10 Thing I Hate About You). It felt right.
Last night I had a hell of a time falling asleep, leaving me very tired this morning, but thankfully Mondays go pretty fast. I made it through the first four periods (thanks in great part to the grande chai latte I got at Starbucks this morning) and went down to lunch. Just as I was getting ready to leave, my co-teacher, Hae Jung, got a text on her phone. She looked up at me and said "Osama was dead." After cocking my head to the side like the RCA dog (baroo?) I said "What?" and she responded "Yes, Bin Laden is died." I came back upstairs and checked the news to make sure that it was, indeed, true. I logged online just in time to hear Obama speak, and I think that regardless of your politics, it was a powerful moment. I sit here on the other side of the world this afternoon jealously soaking up status updates and photos from friends joining in the celebrations in front of the White House and in Times Square. It is days like this that I miss DC the most.
A friend posted the following sentiment on Facebook, which I promptly stole and reposted: In 2001, Americans called their families, saying "Are you seeing watching this?" Ten years later, they finally get to do the same thing. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I had a discussion with some other expats here about September 11th, and what a defining moment it was in our lives. When I ask my mom about the things that have happened in her lifetime that were jarring enough to immediately invoke memories of exactly where she was at the time, she has a few answers: President Kennedy's assassination in 1963, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, etcetera. For me, September 11th is really the one specific event in my lifetime where I can pinpoint exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. September of my junior year, I stepped out of Dr. Goldberg's physics class at Roosevelt, only to overhear kids in the hallway animatedly talking about someone bombing the Pentagon. "Really? The PENTAGON? Arguably one of the most guarded and protected buildings in the world? Not likely," we scoffed, as we headed off to second period. It was there, in Herr Schnieder's German class, that a TV was wheeled out and we sat silently, crying as we saw footage of the impact on the Twin Towers and Pentagon. Together we watched the South Tower fall. The rest of the day is kind of a blur. I remember leaving school early, getting picked up from the library. I remember a constant barrage of news. But I think those moments as it was actually happening will forever be burned into the collective consciousness of my generation.
Today, nearly ten years later, as we found out Bin Laden was killed, Carin sent me a message on Gmail that said simply "It feels weird. I kind of thought we'd be chasing him forever." I totally agree...he almost seemed like a ghost; someone who had done terrible things that would never really get justice for them. And I know that this doesn't mean the war is over, in fact it might actually mean even more severe retaliation from Al-Qaeda, but it does, at least, feel like a small step in the right direction. A small victory on a road fraught with so many losses.
"Let us remember that we can do these things not because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God. Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."