Han River: Bikes and Fireworks

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Always, Katy. Always. Fun fact: the video for “Firework” was shot in Budapest.

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During the Chuseok holiday, a few coworkers – Samantha, Michael, Conor, Kevin – and I rented bikes and rode along the river. We started our journey at Yeouido Hangang Park and biked northwest for several kilometers. Renting a bike cost us each ‎₩5,000 ($4.26). Not bad, not bad!

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All I could think about was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

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We ended up stopping for lunch at a little hut-like structure that was surrounded by a field of flowers. It was such a perfect day: I blasted Super Junior, talked about Gundam Wing, and basked in the sunlight on a weekday. Sam and I were also appreciated by this creepy old biker who made the strangest cat call ever. Woof.

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National Assembly building.

Yesterday, a large group and I attended the Seoul International Fireworks Festival (서울세계불꽃축제), which was also at Yeouido. This year’s theme was: “the magical fireworks village, where you can find the fireworks in you.” The fireworks were developed by teams from the United States, the Philippines, and Korea. As a half-Filipino American living in Korea, my attendance was written in the stars. My friends and I nabbed a spot at 3PM even though the show did not start until 7:30PM. If you plan on going next year, GO EARLY. I heard that a million or so people come to watch the show each year. I am not sure if that number is totally accurate, but would not be surprised if it was true. The subway stop for Yeouido also closes before 5PM, so if you are bringing a bunch of stuff keep that in mind.

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iPhone action.

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My biggest blog fan, Conor.

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Although the fireworks were amazing, the playlist was even better. Classic hits like “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meatloaf and “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston blared. Being loud in public places stresses me out, but all the anxiety dissipates when a good tune comes on. I might or might not have yelled the words while doing very dramatic arm movements. The highlight for me was when a song by my Korean boyfriend, Cho Kyuhyun, came on. I had [not so] secretly hoped that Super Junior would play, but was pleasantly blind-sided when “Flying, Deep in the Night (깊은 밤을 날아서)” began. Dreams do come true. 27 years old in just a few days, folks.

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Now for a story about a failed language exchange attempt.

Back in Budapest, I took lessons at the Hungarian Language School and learned a lot. Unfortunately, my work schedule prevents me from taking classes during the week. Several people have mentioned that I should look into getting a language exchange partner. During the weekend, an app called “HelloTalk” was recommended to me. On it are people who are reported willing and eager to swap languages. I learned today that that isn’t all some want to swap.

I signed up on Saturday and got messages from a slew of dudes – no women. Red flag number one. I am overly cautious, but am trying to “open up and live a little.” One 27-year-old guy looked promising, so we decided to give it a try. Our messages were all business (we even talked about language books I could buy), so I was not expecting what happened this morning. He kept asking for my Kakao Talk name and number, but I lied about one and avoided the other. Red flag number two.

We agreed to meet at his metro stop because there is a lot in the area (I also did not want to meet a stranger near my home). On my way there, he asked for a “selfie” so he could recognize me in the crowd. My suggestion that he look for a girl with big, curly hair clearly did not suffice. It made sense, but I was still wary. I mean, I only take hideous ones for my sisters and best friends. With HelloTalk, you can see a tiny picture, but cannot click on it. The reasoning behind it is that the app is for language exchange, not dating/hooking up. I wrote “I don’t usually take selfies, but this is what I am wearing today” and sent him a really basic non-smiling photo of me standing in front of a public bathroom mirror.

I sat in a heavily populated area and demanded that my friend Carlyn talk to me on the phone until he arrived. While chatting away, I received this message from him: “Do you have big boobs?” How did my non-smiling, obviously not flirty picture elicit this response? I called him out and he immediately responded that he couldn’t meet because of a “sudden family emergency” (he had been overly eager and was on his way right before the picture incident). I deleted the app, but not before I got an incredibly long-winded “about me” from a guy. Thank you for your huge list of accomplishments, dude. If you online date, that’s cool. I’m not judging. Just spare me from your slick moves on language exchange sites/apps. IS NOTHING SACRED?! Kyuhyun, if you are reading this, you are the exception. Troll away.

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Dirty mirror / Facetiming my friend Laura after the incident.

In conclusion, it looks like I will be taking Saturday language lessons.

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