Dinners in downtown Gangneung.

Many days the first week, we have been finished and back to the condos around 7pm ish. On two of those nights, we walked to the downtown area. Much of this area seems to have been built for the Olympics, but will remain after we are all gone. It’s almost like they wanted to build up the town–and now have the perfect opportunity. The new condo complex that is our homes here is about 5200 units! Mostly all sold. Many of the restaurant strip seems fairly new. On our first night, one of our crew found a craft beer place. Since I’m a big fan of craft, awesome for me! This place was small and very Westernized. Most everything in English. The music playing was all 70’s and 80’s pop music. Decent beer. Was interesting just how much it could’ve been any bar in America. They even served buffalo wings and Cajun chicken sandwiches. We were reminded we were still in Korea as we paid the bill. First, our bill was 44,500 won ($44.50). Second, you don’t tip here. For anything. Third, when paying in cash, you shouldn’t put the money on the table then leave. We did that, and were saying goodbye to our waitress, whose eyes widened wondering what the hell we were doing! I tried to explain that in America we sometimes do it this way. She seemed to understand. Then she took our money and counted it. We knew we left 1000 won ($1.00) as a tip. She made change and handed it to me. Another cultural lesson learned!

Later in the week, a few of us went out again into town. Was harder finding a place we could get into on this Sunday night. Most places pretty small. We were turned down in a lot of places–too full. We finally found a place with a short wait. A chicken place. Also very crowded. When we were able to be seated, we were short one table length. There was a group next to us whose table stretched to the wall. To fit the extra space in, two of us, along with half of our neighboring table, were locked in with the table! We all found it amusing. Food was really good, albeit a lengthy wait for service. I had what they called “Chicken with cheese.” Just a drizzle of melted cheeses really. But it was very good—and spicy hot! It was mixed with pineapple slices, which were perfect for cooling the mouth from the spicy chicken. Really enjoyed this dish.

Chicken and cheese.

One of our crew, Brian told us that we need to try “soju.” It’s a Korean liquor made from rice or barley. We thought it was coming like a shot. We did get shot glasses, and each of us a full bottle of the stuff! I’m not normally into liquors, but this was fairly mild in taste. Was wondering what the ABV was on this, since it was out of a bottle. Well, it varies from 16.5%…..to 53%?! Yikes! Googling the brand we had, it was about 17.8%. Still a lot, but not 53! We can attest to this because we all survived the night unscathed! I liked it, and I’m sure will have again while out here. Can’t get it anywhere else! And it’s only 4,000won. ($4).

We struck up a conversation with our neighbors, who all had Olympic credentials. They were from CCTV: China Central Television. They understood English pretty well. We talked about our trucks here and showed some pics, and talked where we were from. Now to explain the last pic below. Earlier this same day, the main truck engineer Marc gives me 5 pins from our company (NEP). These are to give out to whomever we wish. Many people use them to trade for other pins. So, during this dinner conversation with our Chinese neighbors, they show me a pin. So I show them ours. And I gave them 2 for 1. It’s a start!

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