Today I did something I haven’t done since my university days – came to work not much more than 4 hours after getting home from a night out.
Urgh. Last time I did this, I was working in the Glasgow Tourist Information Office’s bureau de change, and ended up sleeping under my desk. Nobody noticed, which tells you how significant a role I played there. Unfortunately, sleeping under one’s desk is not an option when one is a respectable kindergarten teacher surrounded by squealing, high-pitched children. Oh, the squealing.
You see, this is what happens when you start going out with an Irish crowd.
I did have a fun night, though, much needed after the week of stress that the new semester has been so far. We bitched happily about the hagwon system (nothing like a bit of complaining to make you feel better!) over the most amazing dinner at Ali Baba’s Treasure. This is probably the best restaurant I’ve been to in Korea. It’s an international cuisine place, which is quite rare in Daejeon, a small, non-touristy city where “international cuisine” means overpriced burgers and chicken nuggets. Ali Baba’s has a menu that is much, much closer to the Westerner’s idea of a decent menu. Their dishes include Italian, French, Indian, and Arabian. With such a mish-mash of different meals, we didn’t have high hopes for the quality, but we were very pleasantly surprised.
Everything is made from scratch and to order, meaning it’s not the kind of place you could go for a quick bite, but it was perfect for the leisurely evening we wanted. The staff are incredibly friendly, and (being foreigners themselves) fluent in English. The owner treated us in a way that made us feel as if we were eating at the home of a much beloved, jovial uncle. He made us some hummus, which wasn’t on the menu, and it was too good for words. And the hour-long wait for my perfectly cooked lamb was more than worth it. I don’t think any of us spoke for the duration of the meal! Definitely worth the extra money and the wait. And very simple yet cosy surroundings in which to enjoy it.
After dinner (by which stage it was about 11pm!) we headed over to Santa Claus. This is not a fat, jolly man who lives in Daejeon, but a bar designed to be a kind of home from home for foreigners. No idea why it’s called that. I hadn’t been there before despite hearing it mentioned so often, because I pictured it as a packed, noisy bar-come-club. Apparently it’s that way at the weekend, but on a Wednesday night we found ourselves with pretty much the whole place to ourselves. It’s great. You can pick your own background music playlist from a vast selection on the computer on the bar; there’s a pool table, a foozball table, and a dartboard; bookshelves are well-stocked with English language novels and travel books; and there’s a great selection of board and card games to play.
We happily whiled away the evening in there, playing and drinking beer. Jenga, trivia games, pool… I felt like I was a student again. And then it was off to the Shisha House to wind the night down with a few cocktails and a bit of hookah* – including a Fanta Orange flavoured one, which really did taste just like Fanta Orange! I suddenly realised at around 4am that I was still sitting there drinking cocktails and for some reason sucking on a ChupaChups lollipop, when I had to get up for work in a few hours. I think I got about 2 hours of sleep in the end. Today has been… interesting.
And next week it’s St. Patrick’s Day, you know. I really feel as if I should be too old for all this, but I’m quite enjoying rediscovering my studenthood!
*doesn’t count as smoking. It was Fanta Orange flavoured, for goodness sake!