Used to be that Saturday was the night to go out. Head to the pub, grab a pint, and have a talk with friends or family about the business of the day. The places we used to haunt all had great names, too... Paddy's, or Von Trier's, or Hooligans. We'd sit in the crowd, everything raucous, and make our own little corner of fun. Since we've moved to Korea, there's been less of that. We still go out occasionally, but it's more staid. We don't paint the town so much as amble through it politely. Maybe that's inevitable. We are getting older after all. And most of our best friends are on the other side of the planet. But every once in a while, I miss it. I miss being surrounded by happy drunks, all sharing their day. I miss just getting out and having a party.
So the other night, we decided to partake in that most Korean of traditions: we went out for beer and chicken.
Ask any of Erin's coworkers what they're going to do that night (and it doesn't have to just be a weekend). They'll almost always answer the same way. Dinner at 6 or so, and then between 8 and 9, they get a bucket of fried chicken and head for the nearest pub. It's just what happens, natural as breathing, even if they have to get up at six the next morning for their job in the office.
I suppose it makes sense. Dinner here is kimchi, rice, and soup. It's healthy, sure, but not much for sticking to your bones. Maybe that's why everyone does it.
Anyway, last night we joined them.
We texted one of Erin's work friends, but she couldn't come. Still, we were determined to have our own good time. We went out, got a big pile of chicken.
And then we settled into a Korean bar. There are a couple types of pubs over here. One is semi-recognizable to westerners: you find a table where a waiter/waitress takes your order. You order bar snacks to go with your drinks, because it's actually mandatory here (so that part isn't as recognizable, I guess) and then you and your friends sit and chat until you need another round.
That's not the kind we went to.
We ended up in the other kind. It's more of a self-service venture. When you walk in, a wall of coolers greets you filled with beers from all over the world. We found Belgian ale, Victoria Bitters, Samuel Adams, San Miguel Pale Pilsner, and Asahi. They even had Red Dog, from the Milwaukee Brewery.
Etiquette is to walk up, grab what you want, and drink. You pay at the end. When you're ready to leave, you bring your empties up to the bored clerk by the front, who charges you based on how much you had.
We settled in at a table with a pair of Victoria Bitters. Our chicken was delicious. The atmosphere was familiar, and we just sat and talked and had a good time. Another group took the table next to us, filling the room with happy voices and laughter. It felt familiar, like something I missed from back home.
We polished off the chicken, did ourselves proud on beer, and then stumbled up to the front to settle up. Then we headed home, walking through the foggy night air, still reveling in the glow of a good night out.
We'll have to do this again.