The Life of Berwick…

It’s been an interesting 48 hours in Seoul.

I started off with the intention to play in the Main Event at the Asian Poker Tour in Seoul (http://www.appt.com/tournaments/seoul/) with a buy-in of $2,500 USD and about 200 competitors, for a grand prize of $150,000 approx.

But, I slept in and missed it!

They had a secondary tournament starting at 8pm that night, however, with a buy-in of $500 and about 50 players, which I managed to make it down there for.

The tourney planned to play down to a final 5 players, and then break for the night and return at 1pm for the final table.

Well, I made it down to the final 5, but by that time it was already 2am. I was a bit irritated by this as it was a Friday night and it had been quiet all week in Seoul so I was looking forward to a good weekend evening out.

I ran out of the casino, jumped in a cab and headed straight for JJ’s, a club at the Grand Hyatt in Itaewon. I arrived just after 2am, threw down 3 shots of tequila in short order along with a few other drinks and very quickly caught up with everyone else.

By 4am I was back at my hotel with, oddly, 2 Thai girls (are they everywhere??). I don’t remember getting much sleep although I may have dozed off for a few hours and awoke to my alarm at 12pm. I put the 1 Thai girl who ended up staying the night in a cab and I grabbed another taxi to the casino.

A lot of poker players wear sunglasses at the table to disguise their eyes but I never do… except that day… and it wasn’t to disguise my eyes, it was because the light in the room was irritating me, having a bit of a hangover and having not really slept since the previous night.

I ended up playing perfectly, however. In fact, I’d have to say, that was the most perfect tourney I have ever played. Every one of my calls was dead on… it didn’t seem like I could do wrong. After a few hours I ended up finishing first… I’d post the amount I won here, but Rev Canada pro’ly scours the internet looking for more money to steal, so I won’t, but it was well into the multi-thousands… which was nice.

I actually commented to a guy there that it would take a wheelbarrow full of Korean Won to carry it out, since their largest bill is 10,000 Won, which is the equivalent of about $10 USD! But he noted that for large ‘bills’ they actually use these cashier check type things which everywhere seems to accept… it’s weird that the government won’t just print larger bills but it is something to do with them disliking material wealth and so they try not to encourage it because they don’t want to encourage materialism… but as usual the free market finds a way around everything governments try to do… it’s a good thing too, because the millions in Won I won would have been a suitcase full of cash!

And so continues the life of Berwick…

I have never really commented on my blog before about Seoul since the last time I was here was in 2002, so I will do so now.

I like Seoul quite a bit… it seems to have a mix of everything… at times it can feel like Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong and Taipei all rolled into one.

There are tons of nightlife areas but unless you have some Korean friends with you, most of them are difficult to engage into as most people don’t speak much English at all… and many of their clubs are very strange… not normal by western standards. For example, I went into one that had a $40 cover charge… they then sat me down at a table, brought over a huge plate of fruit and 4 beers, which they opened all at once… I can never drink more than 1 beer (it makes me feel so full) so I was a bit irritated as I basically spent $40 for one beer… this place was apparently quite normal in that you kind of just pick out people you like at other tables and then the waiter brings them over… it’s kind of a cool idea, but speaking no Korean, it was kinda useless for me.

The main foreigner area, where you meet a lot of people who can speak English, is Itaewon. It is apparently near the American military base and has grown because of that… Interestingly, the military guys usually have a 12pm curfew, so the mood of the night changes dramatically before and after midnight.

There are a ton of clubs there but one of the better ones is Spy Club.

Also in Itaewon, just up the hill, is the Grand Hyatt. The bar there is called JJ’s… it is also a good place to go to meet people who can speak some English but the style is totally different than in the rest of Itaewon. The rest of Itaewon is pretty down market but JJ’s is one of the more “upper class� style clubs I have been to… It is pretty obvious that most people there are quite well-off… there are tons of tables outside and inside that people reserve and all buy bottles etc… the drinks are really, ludicrously, expensive… a shot of tequila and a glass of gin on the rocks cost me over $30!

The only other area I found that was okay was an area called Gangnam which has a lot of different places.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am staying in Myeong-Dong, which is a fabulous area to stay as it is block upon block of walking streets full of restaurants and shopping… it’s a great vibe.

I ended up going to a number of different areas to check them out, including Apgujeong-Dong and Sinchon, but all it made me realize is that Seoul is SUPER spread out… everywhere is a good 10-40 minute taxi ride away. The subway is an excellent way to get around as it is quite easy to figure out and is very cheap, but the taxis aren’t too expensive so it wasn’t too bad.

But now that I have checked them all out, I realized that the main areas I want to be are Myeong-Dong, Itaewon and maybe Gangnam a bit, and those 3 areas are all fairly close to each other, so it’s not too bad.

The last time I was in Seoul I was here with some friends who were Korean and spoke the language and knew the area and they took me to some really cool clubs… I didn’t see too many really cool clubs this time, so it is possible I just missed them because I wasn’t in the know… this is a huge city though, so I wouldn’t doubt it if I missed quite a lot on my short one week stay this time around.

Hopefully I get back soon, I’d love to spend more time here.

I have booked a flight to Vancouver on Monday, and so will end my Asian leg of this tour and commence my America’s leg, which will likely last at least a few months and take me through most of the Caribbean, Central America and parts of South America.

Or so goes the plan…