Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sinchon - (Korea) Day 29

A photo of our dinner that we cooked at our table in Sinchon

Today I got to work on time, but I was the last one there. I have to make sure I get there 10 minutes early, which is when they expect you to show up…I was only 3 minutes early. I went straight to work in the "secret" conference room today. I've been in this room before doing some minor stuff, but today I was actually in charge of the computers running the slide shows. Not a big deal, but I was flying solo and there are a bunch of generals on the other side of the screen so I was hoping nothing went wrong. There are actually two computers I worked off of. One is unclassified and one is "secret". The secret computer is on an entirely secure network. Every computer item in the army is labeled with a green sticker that says unclassified or a red sticker if it's secret. Helps remind everyone what is what. The conference went off without a hitch.

I took off and met the rest of my crew in the office. Our other big plans for the day were to remove all the Christmas decorations from the common areas around the building. These guys don't waste any time. Most people leave their decorations up through the new years and I've seen some that leave them up through January and longer. Here though we take it down right away!

Special K was walking around like a robot all day. He hurt his back skiing or snowboarding I believe. He's on pain medication, but it didn't seem to be helping him too much. Hopefully he'll feel better after the holiday break. He's 40 so I keep an eye on how he manages because I'll be there soon.

After work our sergeant was feeling a little tired and with Special K hurt they decided not to have PT at the gym. I went anyway and did a little work on my abs and chest. I'll have to get down to business in January so I can make sure I pass my next PT test which I was told will probably be in February.

When I got back to the room I could barely keep my eyes open for some reason. I was so tired. After a brief video chat with my wife I took a much needed nap. I awoke to SPC Roy calling and asking if I wanted to go out tonight. I had told him earlier that I wanted to get off post whenever possible and check out what Korea has to offer. Looks like we'll be seeing more than just Itaewon (the district right outside the gates of Yongsan).

As I was getting ready there was a knock on my door. To my surprise SPC Short was outside the door. He had done a mail run for the offices and I had a box and a letter at the post office. He delivered it to my door which was very cool of him. I got a letter from my grandma and a box from my wife filled with all kinds of goodies. Looking forward to drinking the chocolate macadamia nut Kona Coffee! I had some samples of some of the stuff, but I don't want to ruin my appetite for dinner tonight on the town.

SPC Roy came and picked me up at the barracks. We took off to an area of Seoul called Sinchon. It has a number of restaurants and bars and a lot of people on the street. It's far enough away from the base that it's not full of army personnel. We went to a little hole in the wall restaurant. There were a number of tables very close together and people were smoking inside. We sat down and we were offered a bag to put clothes in. I was told the smell of the place can stick to your clothes after you leave, so they offer the bag to protect your clothes from the smell. lol. I wasn't sure what was going to go on because my co-worker was speaking Korean to the waiter, then all of a sudden he brings a bunch of food to our table and fires up this little cooking device. We cooked our own food at the table which was pretty cool. We also shared a bottle of soju (a popular Korean drink made from rice that has 20% alcohol). The food was like very thick pieces of bacon. We also threw on some onions and some kimchi to cook as well. When the food was cooked we grabbed pieces of each, dipped the pork in some sauce and put it all in a lettuce wrap and ate it. It was very tasty. The soju was pretty good too. It goes down pretty smooth. I didn't put any of my clothes in the special bag and I didn't put on the apron that was at our table either, but I did enjoy the whole experience.

Our next stop was going to be a bar across the street, but it was full. We found this was the case with a number of bars there until we came across a place called "The Beer Zone". We got a pitcher of beer and fries. We talked about life in the army. Korea is SPC Roy's first assignment too, but he's been here for almost 4 years because of a number of circumstances which is very uncommon for a junior enlisted person. We had a good time and a lot of good conversation. As with any good time out drinking there comes a point when you have to go pee. I searched out the bathroom and found it was located outside the bar down some stairs. To my surprise it was just a urinal and it had a window on the door to the outside stairs. I was able to go pee and watch people come and go from the bar…and I guess they could watch me go pee too. Sometimes it can feel strange going pee in another country.

When we were about to leave SPC Roy called a special number for a service person to come give us a ride back to the base. He made a call and a guy came about 5 minutes later and drove SPC Roy's car with us in it to the base. This is similar to a taxi service, but for people who have been drinking so they do not get tickets. When we arrived at the base, we paid him and he hopped out of the car and walked away. Not sure where he went or how exactly the service works, but it sure seems like a great idea. We didn't have to worry about any DUI which is the important thing.

My roommate is gone for the weekend…so now it's time to sleep in.

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