Sunday, March 19, 2006

Drinks at the Lotte Hotel

A student took me and the class out for drinks this week. I was expecting some generic Korean beer hof. Where you drink cheap Korean beer and eat fried chicken or squid as side dishes. The kind of place that's common as rain in Jongno.

Nah. My student led us on foot to the banking center of Seoul, about a 10 minute's walk away, and into the lobby of Lotte Hotel, where we found an ultra-nice Irish pub of the sort you'd find in a really nice hotel in the U.S. It wasn't just that the place had billiards tables (not a common sight in Korean bars; you'd normally have to go to specialized pool halls that don't offer drinks). It was also that they offered $350 bottles of whisky. And - I hate to say it but this really made an impression on me - there were a LOT of white foreigners around, and many of them looked like high-powered businessmen in suits.

I had just one beer (I had to wake up at 5:30 the next morning!) and snacked on some of the bar food we were offered, but more than anything I took in the atmosphere. I can honestly say I have not been to a place like that in the 1 1/2 years I've spent in this country.

But honestly, I think if I had the choice, I'd rather return to a humble ordinary Korean hof. Where I could drink Cass beer and snack on octopus and chicken.

But I have to say, I never imagined that the guy who took us to this place was so well connected. I swear the greeter at the door knew him.

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