First night in South Korea was going to be special no matter what. I was reunited with Millwall Neil and ready to enjoy another adventure, in yet another new country…turned into a three country long all day pub crawl, in fact I’m pretty sure I fell asleep in the last pub. You’d have to ask Neil…
I was getting my fair share of bars in on this journey. Let’s document them. Bar 1 – Hong Kong Airport. My own bar – brought a cold tin of Murphy’s with me while I read my travel book. It counts. The bar in the airport was shut at 5am so I had to “bring my own booze.”
I had a stop over in Beijing on route (just the way cheaper flights worked out), it would be my first time in Beijing since 2007. But I didn’t leave the airport this time, so…
I popped into the bar in the airport which surprisingly had Guinness on tap! Bar 2 – Pasta Cafe, Beijing, China. Beer – Guinness.
Does the bar onboard my next flight count? Hell yeah! Flights are dear so I’m claiming it – it included my free beer and I had a window view. Bar 3 – Air China Airbus, somewhere in the sky. Beer – Yan Jing Beer.
I met Neil just outside Bar 4 – Rianmania. Drink – Cass (Korean beer). After arriving at Incheon, finding Neil in Konkuk area of Seoul and leaving my bags back at his place, we headed out via the local markets for some local grub.
The walk through the local markets. The food had to be indoors as it was about minus 10 degrees and cold outside, so what better than an indoor barbecue – within walking distance.
We passed this stall selling some kind of random red and black bean porridge (or something). I didn’t try it – Neil and Christina didn’t like it too much, and I reckoned I had tried something similar in the Kong and thought not much of it.
Swiftly enough we were inside the cosy Korean Barbecue Restaurant! This counts for Bar 5 – Dduk Samgyupsal (probably spelt wrong). The beer I had in there was “Hite” – Neil and I shared 2 large bottles over the duration of the excellent authentic barbecue.
The barbecue sits in the middle of the table and is permanently lit – cook your own – add whatever you like. Eat to your hearts content. Order more if you like. That above is kimchi – a spiced cabbage type of side dish – this is a Korean speciality and basically comes with every meal in Korea. It varies in colour and spicyness – I preferred the spicy ones – and wasn’t keen on those that “tasted of fish.” There are also beansprouts in the background of that photo.
The sauces and extras alone in Korea are in vast quantities and the cost is included – you can eat as much of these as you like with your main course. We had pork – which we cooked ourselves on the barbecue – for once I forgot to take a photo of the pork, and of the “Dduk”, the rice noodle type accompaniment with the meal. All went down a treat. However some of them can be seen on one of the videos below.
This is Sojo – Korea’s trademark “spirit” if you like. I’m prone to try most alcohol types to be honest, but always try to avoid vodka if I can as it makes me sick (unless it’s dressed up and mixed into a cocktail). Christina loves Sojo and of course I had to try it. BUT, I didn’t like it at all – it’s only about 20% alcohol and reminded me of vodka. We had a shot each straight – just revolting in my opinion. This left Neil and I to enjoy the rest of our beers to water down the taste of the Sojo. Christina finished off the bottle mixing it with Sprite.
Aside from the gorgeous food and drink, there were some Korean culture experiences to be shared. You don’t pour your own drink – the others will pour it for you. Other things such as positioning of chop sticks were also taught to me by Neil and Christina.
This was me mixing pork, Dduk, sauces, kimchi and beansprouts in 2 leaves – one I think was lettuce, the other one may have been mint – but I actually cannot remember. It tasted good. After that which was bar 5 we went on a wee pub crawl of the Konkuk University area.
The pretty streets around midnight – still busy enough even as the temperature reached -15.
Bar 6 – Beatles Record Bar. Drink – Guinness x 2. What a great idea by Neil. This bar is downstairs in a basement and like a step back in time. You feel warped. “They have every song ever released in here” says Neil, confidently. I doubt him of course, but against a background of uncountable vinyl LPs I’m excited at the quest to find a song they don’t have. I fail. Neil wins.
A Guinness, a Northern Ireland shirt and a Bournemouth scarf. Sums me up quite a lot really. But this was during the playing of Pulp song – Common People. Yes the bar had it of course – on vinyl. Though I’m convinced they probably play everything through iTunes these days. Neil and I fired up a few more classics, including Back In The USSR by The Beatles (for no reason other than I was sure they wouldn’t have it – or it’s B-side), Whiskey In The Jar also got an airing. This pub was just cosy and amazing. From there, Christina headed back to Neils, while I headed to another bar where Neil would meet up with me after walking Christina back home.
One last shot of me inside the records bar. Step back in time. Check out the vinyl. Bars like this just don’t exist in the last 3 countries I’ve lived in. A real novelty.
The next bar of choice felt like we were warped back into Piccadilly Circus in the West End of London – however the London Underground lights were as deceiving as the actual entrance. What I thought was an upstairs bar looking down over the streets, turned out to be another dingy basement pub moulded into a cellar reminiscent of one if Lessys Q (a nickname I always gave Leicester Square – a party square in days gone by). The underground sign read “Underlounge” in English – even I should have spotted that…Doh! Anyway we were soon drinking bargain beers inside egg shells.
Bar 7 – The Underlounge. Beers – Cafri and Cass. I believe I was working my way through the Korean Beer catalogue aided by Neil and the copious amounts of beer available, right through until whatever time we wanted. South Korea’s capital city, it seems could steal New York’s “never sleeps” title. I was happy and Neil and I had a catch up and reminiscing over years of nights out together. It was great. We’d been to a hell of a lot of places!
From a fake British Bar, it was time for a fake Irish bar for bar 8. It had to be “Ireland Yuki”, being a Northern Irishman I kind of laughed at this title, as a gimmick to the “yucky south” of Ireland, which merits the “Ireland” moniker more than Northern Ireland due to its size and population.
Menu and logo of Ireland Yuki.
Free seaweed in Ireland Yuki. It wasn’t dulse from Groomsport beach.
Ireland Yuki is a great wee bar, despite it probably being the most fake Irish pub of all time. Nothing in there even resembled anything remotely Irish (nor was there anything “Albert Square” about The Underlounge), but that wasn’t the point. Neil and I were having a catch up and lots of fun. We played darts in there – they have loads of darts games including “Bomb Japan” which we played!
I moved on to another local beer there – Max – not quite as good as Cass, but refreshing and another one for the list.
Neil and I hit the cocktails soon as they were about the same price as a beer. Think a Mojito and Margarita were on the list!
We had a quick beer in Ho Bar. This became – Bar 9, though I think I may have been asked to leave as I was almost asleep, maybe Neil will remember!
Bar 10 ended up being back to Ireland Yuki, so really only 9 bars then, but we stayed in there late to watch Chelsea v. Tottenham live from the UK. Funny that as Neil and I hate both teams, yet any port in a storm! ONe more Pina Colada and I was ready for bed…it was probably about 6am!
Not before we popped into Neil’s local shop.
Where I found Guinness in a tin, with a free packet of nuts! A first for me and a novel end to my catch up with Millwall Neil and my first ever night in South Korea! Success!!
Bars Visited – 9 (HK Airport, Air China Flight, Beijing Airport, Rianmania, Barbecue Restaurant, Beatles Record Bar, Underlounge, Ireland Yuki, Ho Bar)