This is the stuff of which memories are made:
While Sarah* was here, my swing club (스윙과 사람, Swing and People) went on an MT. MT is a Korean thing, but yes, it is an abbreviation for "membership training" (don't we love the Konglish-izing of this country?).
You see, Korean high school students are so burdened with studies that they usually don't have time to do the fun things that we get to do in America, like join clubs and go to proms and such things. As a result, your average Korean high school graduate is VERY REPRESSED and has lots of pent-up sexual and social energy that needs to be released. So college is very laid-back here and most people join lots of social clubs in college.
These clubs take full advantage of university-sponsored week-long holidays to go out to the mountains and drink and hook up. Or go to the beach--and drink and hook up. Or something like that. They call this "MT."
I'm being cynical here. The importance of group dynamics and bonding is actually something very important in Korean culture. Most Koreans will put the group before the individual, which leads to sometimes beautiful acts of friendship and sometimes nearly tragic moments of martyrdom. Americans have similar notions--taking a trip to Canada with your friends for spring break or renting a beach house for a week when you graduate--it's just more organized in Korea.
For our MT, we went "camping" (I put that in quotes because we stayed in a minbak, or cheap boarding house, with cooking facilities and functional plumbing) in Gampo, a small beach town east of Gyeongju. It was really like an adult field trip! The weather was rainy and miserable for most of the trip (at the beach on Sunday, more than one person had their umbrella turned inside out by the wind), but the company was mostly fun, and I had a fantastic time. Gong Bi cooked traditional Korean food for us (which was very exciting--Leah called him a "kitchen bitch" and then tried to translate that, which was just too bizarre to explain) and we danced and talked and drank until the wee hours of the morning.
However, the most exciting part of this trip was peeing.
Let me explain. Somehow, it took us almost 5 hours to drive to Gampo. It doesn't take 5 hours to drive the entire length of the country of South Korea, so how a city less than 60 km outside Daegu took that long to drive, I still have no idea. Along the way, we stopped frequently to pick up drinks and snacks. Stupidly, I forgot to also use the facilities.
So when Joey and Gong Bi were hunting for the "perfect" minbak (it took them about 20 tries and over an hour--but to their credit, they found an excellent one in the end), Leah, Sarah, and I really had to pee. We went into one of the minbaks Joey had decided against and asked to use their facilities, but like most minbaks, they only had bathrooms in the guest rooms. She motioned around back. We thought this meant we might find an outhouse there.
We were wrong. But man, did we have to pee.
Sarah, Leah, and I looked at each other. It was one of those epic moments in burgeoning friendships from which you know there is no turning back. If we did what we were all thinking, our relationships with each other would never be the same again. The hesitation was brief--the next second we had dropped trou and were peeing in a bush around the backside of the building.
Just as we were finishing, Sarah looks between her legs.
"Um... I think there's a guy in the field."
"Are you serious?" Sure enough Leah looks out and there is some 60 year old Korean farmer, jaw to the floor, staring at our bared, squatting bums.
It was difficult to pull up my pants, I was laughing so hard. "We can never tell anyone about this, ever," I say as we climb back into the car, still hysterical.
"Are you kidding," says Sarah. "We'll tell everyone by the end of the night."
"And I can't wait to read about it on your blog," Leah reminds me.
I loosen up a bit. By the end of the trip, I notice Sarah is right (with the aid of soju, of course) and that this is the stuff of memories. This is the kind of daily stupid adventure that I'm missing out on with Sarah by living in another country. And I realize that in Korea, I get to have them all the time, but back home I only ever had them with a few special people--the friends close enough to pull me out of myself for half a second and make me have fun in spite of my general fuddy-duddiness and prudery. And Sarah has always been one of the best at doing that.
* Please note for clarity that in this post that references to Sarah, as they usually are in this blog, mean my sister, not my friend here in Korea who is also a member of swing club and was on this trip.
To see more pictures of Sarah and I at random throughout Korea, I have uploaded them on a facebook album. I usually only post pictures through my blog that are more "artistic" or at least photojournalistic in nature. Facebook is for ridiculous photos of people, sometimes in various states of intoxication. So they exist for your amusement.