My Night Out with the Korean Nursing Home

[pullquote align=”left”]Katie and I embark on all-day dates every Saturday afternoon to explore our surroundings. This Saturday, Katie discovered a microbrewery that was far away but not nearly far enough to discourage us from going. [/pullquote]We would have to head far out into the country where it smelled like cow pies. Near the brewery was a temple. The plan was to hit up the temple to pay our respects to our Buddha Bear (…if you will) and then continue on the path to beer bliss.

The temple was beautiful as all temples seem to be here. There were stone bridges everywhere and bright flower pots lining the paved walkways.  Situated inside this fairyland-like park was the Tongdae Temple. It is said to be one of the largest temples in Korea. Inside the park, there was also a building that held ancient Korean artifacts and Buddha paintings. It has the largest Buddhist canvas painting draping from the ceiling to the floor. In order to gain access into the building, you have to take off your shoes, check your bags, and leave all cameras and cell phones at the admission counter. Katie and I followed instructions carefully as reverence and respect was of upmost importance.  After our best attempts at respect and reverence in the temple museum (much harder than you think, when faced with a “sharting” middle-aged Korean man), it was clearly time for a brewski.

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Katie told me she had printed directions off the internet and that the microbrewery was within walking distance. We started to make the hike to our own version of a holy temple. The directions were from some girl’s blog that included instructions like, “Cross the gravel parking lot and head towards the farm fields with houses in the distance. Look around for a sign that has a cartoon ginger man on it.”
To Katie’s credit, she did get us there. There were two tour buses in the driveway when we approached the brewery. We walked into the log cabin they were calling a microbrewery.  This house happens to brew its own beer. It’s not like the breweries back home where you can see the process take place. It is literally a house that serves food to people who wander in off the street. They just happen to also brew beer.
[frame align=”left”][/frame]The first floor was packed with elderly Korean people. It was obvious that there was some kind of group event going, and so the waitress showed us to the vacant top floor. It was not an open space with tables spread out; rather, the floor had been divided up into little cozy rooms. Katie and I ordered beers and chatted. The sun started to set, and we knew we had to get going. We would have to climb down a massive hill, and we had no idea how to get back to the bus station from where we were. Finding this place in daylight was hard enough, we couldn’t imagine finding our way back at night. So, we headed downstairs to pay and hit the road.

As soon as our feet hit the bottom step, there were elderly Koreans in our faces greeting us. They were pouring us drinks, feeding us food, and insisting we come to their tables to sit and talk to them. Of course, we took them up on these offers. Katie and I happen to have real soft spots for wrinkly geezers, especially ones throwing down drinks, collegiate style. They were making us drink a beer in one shot. Their hips were moving like they’d never been replaced, and they were singing songs with tremendous passion and commitment.

[heading style=”1″]Before we knew it, they were shoving Katie and I up to Karaoke. (Norae Bang, as they call it.) Our song: “Livin’ on a Prayer”. Our performance: Rock solid. Our air guitar solos: Flawless. [/heading]We stayed and partied with the fogies for a good two hours. Suddenly, it was 9pm, and it was time to get lost in the farm fields of Korea. That is, until the three old ladies that were obsessed with Katie and I asked us where we were from. We told them, “Busan.”  They said, “Oh, we from Busan. You ride bus home with us. Sit. Drink. We go together soon.” Crisis averted. Entertainment with the elderly, back on.

Around 9:30 or so, we climbed on the tour bus with our new Korean grandparents and made our way back to Busan. The three grandmothers that couldn’t keep their wrinkly hands off of us begged us for our numbers. I don’t have a cell phone yet. Katie took one for the team and exchanged numbers with our newest gal pals.

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The next morning, I woke up to Katie calling to tell me to get up and get my shit together.  We were to have “tea” with one of the grannies from last night. She had been calling Katie since 8am trying to meet up with us again. For some reason, Katie and I agreed, and I got up, showered,  put on my Sunday best, and headed to Granny’s house to meet her grandkids and go out to lunch. Granny paid for us and insisted we do it again next Sunday. 

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