I love Texas Street. Texas Street is pretty quiet and full of Russian tourists and the occasional group of American sailors on shore leave during the day time. At night it opens like a noisy, neon flower.
Today being Saturday I was being especially lazy. I just puttered around my apartment, tidied up, downloaded a pile of movies to watch later. Nothing interesting. So around 9 pm I decided I'd go out and take a stroll around my neighbourhood. I needed to pick up some tofu to make some doenjang gu (bean paste soup), and I was craving a homemade cheeseburger, too. This cute Filipina always calls to me from her restaurant at the bottom of Texas Street, so I figured I'd stop there and try a couple of her burgers. I live at the southern end of the strip and it's about a 20 minute walk to the north end, long enough to be and adventure.
I took a walk down Texas Street to my bank to get some cash from the bank machine. On my way down Texas Street I saw the riot of vice and culture that is Saturday night on Texas Street. A pair of Russian guys holding hands (open homosexuality is taboo in Korea), the usual assortment of familiar heavyset, bleached-blonde Russian ladies calling to me from the doors of Russian "cafes", some attractive Russian girls heading to the "juicy bars" (places where nice-looking Russian girls get you to buy them expensive watered-down drinks in hopes of taking them home), and the clothing and trinket shops that are mixed in with the Chinese restaurants and liquor stores.
On my way back, a Korean guy, middle-aged business type stopped me, the conversation went like this (I'll just refer to the Anonymous Korean as AK):
AK: "Excuse me."
AK: "Are you Russian?"
Monk: "Anio, Kanadae. (No, Canadian)"
AK: "Hangookmal haseyo? (Can you speak Korean)"
Monk: "Hangookmal jokum. (Only a little)"
AK: "I want to buy a handgun."
Monk: "Sorry, I can't help you."
AK: "Kamsa hamnida. (thanks very much)"
After this strange encounter (although not so very strange for Texas Street, I guess) I stopped in the Filipina's place and got two of the most delicious home-style cheeseburgers. Just like the ones from Ches's Fish'n'Chips back home but with fresh cucumber instead of pickles. And when I said that I wanted them with everything they were about to put fried egg on them. No dice, when I want some comfort food I don't want anyone to mess with my head. I'll try the burger with egg another time when I'm in my usual "anything goes" mood.
I stopped at a neighbourhood store on the way home and realised that I can now speak enough Korean to ask for garbage bags (garbage bags have to be bought in your district, they're kinda pricey, about 50 cents each, but they subsidize the cost of trash collection.)
I'm going to lie back now and have a big drink, watch a movie and maybe look up how to become an arms merchant in Korea. Or maybe I'll just keep teaching English and enjoying the freak show that is my neighbourhood (and possibly my life.)