Last night - casino night

September 27, 2011 - Seoul, South Korea

This being my last day and with Ray back home this was to be Aunt/nephew day.  Thinking back on it I believe he was probably about 10 years old the last time we had spent any alone time together.  Funny how life can take you down a completely different road than you ever imagined.  But here was this grown man with 3 children of his own, a military career going strong and a major decision weighing heavy on his mind. Yet he was able to take time out to hang with me for the day and I was happy about that.

He had to fly in the morning so we didn't get headed out until the afternoon.  As we headed out I overhead Jayme telling Ray we needed gas.  Having gone out with Jayme & the kids for the last two weeks I had gotten a general idea of the lay of the land around the base but with Ray I instantly found myself wondering where the heck we were.  He didn't take any of the familiar roads out to the freeway.  In fact he took some very interesting side roads; back roads and even one 'are you sure this is a road' road.  As if I really needed to see more rice paddies!

But before long we were on the highway headed toward Seoul.  It wasn't until we were well into Seoul that he remembered that we needed gas.  I hadn't thought to remind him of this myself so I guess we were both guilty of forgetting this.  And if we had run out of gas it wouldn't have been the first time that had happened to us - I'm sure Ray might remember that time it happened to us just inside of Austin.  Fun times!

Anyway, we didn't have enough gas to get us to Yongsan so we got off the highway to look for a Korean gas station.  Now here is a difference between Korea and the U.S.  In most larger U.S. cities there are gas stations on just about every corner.  In Korea it's like finding a needle in a haystack.  We drove through a whole section of Seoul before finding one.  But what they lack in gas stations they certainly made up for with coffee shops.  If you have a coffee addiction then Seoul is where you need to be.  I didn't think to count them but I'd be safe saying I saw well over 2 dozen of them if not more.  And what is coffee without donuts?  I saw more Dunkin Donuts in S. Korea than I have seen in a long, long time.  Are there any in Arlington anymore?

From Yongsan we took the subway over to Namdaemun.  You may remember that we visited Namdaemun briefly on Saturday evening.  While I was waiting for the kids to have a treat (crap-on-a-stick in it's soup form) I went over to check out one of several shops that sold eyeware.  Before my vacation I had read that Korea is the 3rd largest exporter of eyewear.  I needed new glasses badly but never seemed to have the time and/or money to get them at home so why not when on vacation?  Besides, I figured they'd be cheapeer here.  I found the frames I liked, got my eyes checked for my perscription and got the lenses with bifocals all for 75,000 won (approx. $65.00 USD).  The only drawback is they don't have 1 hour service so my glasses weren't ready till Tuesday evening after 5.  I had my old pair of glasses for at least 7 years and new ones were way overdue.  These new ones were so clear that I had trouble walking around at first because I kept seeing stairs everywhere I went.  Damn, more stairs!  Thankfully these 'stairs' went away after awhile but it made taking the real stairs of the subway rather interesting!  By the way, I didn't notice until after I picked up the glasses that the frames were from New York.  Oh well, what can you do?

We hung around the marketplace briefly while Ray used his phone to try and find out how to get to one of the few casinos in Seoul.  Jayme & I had seen a Seven Luck Casino when we took the taxi down from the N. Seoul Tower but I wasn't sure how to tell him to get there so using his phone he found the Seven Luck Casino at the COEX Mall.  Before we headed that way he reminded me that I had wanted to visit the Cathedral which was not that far from Namdaemun Market but I decided to forgo that in favor of the casino.  Anyone surprised by that?

The COEX Mall is a gaint megamall; home to over 250 stores and hundreds of eating places as well as movie theaters, a nightclub, banks and a post office.  We saw the casino from the street but once we got parked on the roof of the parking garage we had to walk from one end of one of the buildings to the other to get out to the street to find the entrance of the casino.  According to my travel guide book casinos in S. Korea are only open to foreigners so a passport is required.  I find that interesting because most of the people there looked to be Koreans and I'm not talking about the casino staff.  Anyway, the casino is small compared to any of the other ones I've been to but was pleasant enough.  After walking from one end of the casino to the other and back again I decided to try roulette at a table with a minimum I could afford.  I like roulette although I have never actually won at the game.  Ray decided not to lose his money as he said he always does so he just watched me.  I had 60,000 won on me so I started off with just 20,000 won in chips.  Gone!  So then I used the other 40,000 and decided to use the ATM if these chips went as fast.  At first it looked as if they would until I decided that when all else fails turn to good ol' mom for help.  I played the number 20, which is her birthday and it hit.  In fact it hit 3 times in a row.  Now I had some chips to play with.  Awhile later I won enough chips to get a 100,000 won black & white chip.  Since that was more than I started with I put it aside and if I lost all of my other chips at least I'd still come out ahead.  Fast forward and when I had 8 of the black & white chips I told Ray we'd leave when I had 10 of them.  Just a little fib.  Later I was telling him I'd leave as soon as I got rid of all my pink chips.  He didn't really mind much as he became fascinated with this one man who kept putting a pile of chips on the number 29.  Ray wanted it to hit because he wanted to see how much money he would have won.  The number never came up.  For that matter never did number 33 and I had been playing it all night.  At least the other numbers I was picking were hitting.  Anyway, the number 29 man finally gave up and left.  A few spins later and I turned to Ray and said "this is the last one & I'm gonna play number 29 because the guy left and it's gonna hit now".  And it did!  And on that note, it was time to cash in and call it a night!  Total winnings:  1.68 million won = just over $1400 USD.  SCORE!

I'm guessing the number 33 hit just shortly after I walked away from the table.

Coming soon - the last post:  The return trip home and random thoughts and comments.


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