Today the plan was to climb with Perry at Ace and then go to his house afterwards to meet his wife and have dinner.
I stopped by the school I always walk by on the way, to see if my little friends were there, but instead there was a big Middle School soccer game going on. The black team had players who were much smaller, but they were very quick and played well as a team. From what I could see they were winning.
I did meet a couple of other young boys who came up and talked to me. "Hello. Where are you from? ... I am from Korea." That's a pretty standard set of phrases around a hagwon in Korea. These boys were much less... wild than my other friends, but from what I could glean the boy on the right side of the picture likes basketball while his friend on the left is the big soccer fan of the duo.
I tried to take it easy at climbing today since I planned on climbing the next two days as well. Instead of my normal hard bouldering I just worked on some of the longer endurance routes. Someone brought in some delicious home made bread again, and here you can see Choi helping himself (he had to get some before I came in and ate the rest). Ji-Hyeun is in the background giving the "Victory" sign. Everyone in Korea thinks that Korea won the war by driving out the Japanese, while everyone in Japan thinks that they won the war by conquering the Koreans in the first place, so... V signs all around!
Everyone was rather impressed when Perry told them I had eaten hungeo the other night, and as a reward (or just because he's Choi) Choi gave me a special ShamWow type towel with a picture of him climbing on it (I had expressed interest in the picture earlier). There was also a climber who had to have been in his fifties at the youngest, but still had a six pack. I love Korea. I love this gym.
Perry's wife made us a lovely meal consisting of food sent from Perry's parents who are farmers. There was some rice, four different kinds of kimchi, two different kinds of pork (they tell me it was pork, but it flaked off the bone and tasted like lamb if you ask me), and some tofu. "Sadly," there were no fish heads, but none-the-less it was delicious. For desert we had strawberries and pear slices. I made a real pig of myself and ate at least 75% of the fruit tray. (Did I mention that I love fruit?) Of special note was that for the first time I had some wine that wasn't made from rice. Perry's 15-year-old daughter is living and studying in China, and she sent back a bottle of the best Chinese wine - made from grapes!
I mentioned in my last post that Perry was multi-talented and well traveled. I found out today that he's been to China, Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia, England, and France, and those are just the countries I can remember. He says that one day he hopes his youngest daughter can go to high school in Canada.
After our meal, Perry took me for a stroll down a traditional Korean marketplace near his home. Perry told me that this is a place foreigners never visit. One of his friends worked at an Oriental health store. His name is Kil Min Soo, and here he is holding up one of his favourite products - top of the line Korean Ginseng. Mr. Kil heard from Perry that I had eaten a lot at his house and thought I might need some help with my digestion. He prepared for me a special Korean tea called ssanghwacha (cha is tea in Korean) that was made from pine cones and actually tasted quite good. I'm not sure if it is working, but I sure don't feel like I just ate half of Perry's home anymore. In fact I think I need to eat again. My Korean film maker friend from last night is going to have to make a film about a foreigner who ate all the food in Korea. They can call it The Host 3 (apparently there is already a sequel to this Korean blockbuster about a foreign made monster that rises out of the Han river and starts eating Koreans).
On the subway ride home, some man came over and sat by me and started telling me that he had written over 1000 books, and that in Canada he has his own Medical College at a Canadian University, and that he developed a bus for traveling on ice, because ice is a big problem in Canada. I couldn't understand half of what he was saying, but I think he needed a shave and a change of clothes.
Tomorrow Perry will let me know if his wife will let me stay. He said I made a good impression (I even brought a gift!) but that his wife was very worried about her poor English skills. That's the thing about Koreans, and especially Korean women: They are forever appologizing for their English, even if it's perfect. Keeping the ol' fingers crossed... and not just because I jammed them in a tiny crack whilst climbing.