And who knew that massive alcohol consumption was a good way to be a cultural ambassador? No, I’m serious. Like, this one time, we went to a makkeoli bar that was recommended by some random dude at a movie theatre. When we went in every head turned. People imitated the things that I said in Korean, took our picture. We befriended and outlasted the first neighboring table, befriended the next group, made such a good impression, that they picked up the check. They were like, ‘You can drink Korean alcohol? You can use chopsticks?? And you’ve only been here for six months?’ The unfortunate downside is that they also wanted to order more kettles of rice wine than was good for us and we ended up falling all over the sidewalk near the bus terminal, thus undoing our good cultural deeds for a different set of bystanders. The bruises on my left knee tell the story.
To sum up however long it’s been–I’ve climbed some mountains, gone to many museums, and seen a bunch of temples. I spent $60 on the Lotus Sutra and a book about Korean temple motifs, because I’m a nerd. Ok, so we took cable cars to the top of the high mountains. But I have sort of been to the four corners of Korea. We’re currently in Busan. We had some reputedly homemade makkeoli on top of the mountain today and some grilled goat meat, which is fucking expensive. The bathroom up there was my favorite hwajangshil experience. The TP was stored in the hole of a cinder block. Our yeogwan is only $25 a night, has a round bed, but is very very cold. Also, we stayed in a love motel the other night that had porn on every floor, plus two of The Crow movies, and a vending machine of vibrators and butt plugs.
The other best thing that you can do as a cultural ambassador is always order seconds of kimchi.