Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's getting near dawn

Saturday was the last night of my extended Chuseok holiday. Autumn and I took a walk on the beach (as usual… I was so spoiled by this whole thing.)
It was like the last day of summer. When I got back to work on Monday the students had all switched to their Fall uniforms, adding sweater vests and switching from gray to black. But Autumn and I made the most of this, and she showed me this great Indian restaurant with little curtained-off tables surrounded by pillows on the floor.

They offered these appetizery things that resemble cheetos, but with caramel instead of cheese. They’re fantastic.

Autumn thought so too.

It was a great Saturday, with dancing and live music and pool and more dancing. When Autumn and I got back to her apartment, I gasped at the sky “is that the DAWN?” Yes, Emily. That’s the dawn.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

we'll be singing when we're winning

One of the best things in Korea is the noraebang. A noraebang is a karaoke place with small private karaoke rooms for you and your friends to wail into a microphone without disturbing strangers. Autumn and I visited one and paid our 10,000 won for one session. The timer in the room said an hour, but as it got near 20 minutes, the time started going up. This may have been because of our mad karaoke skills. Or maybe it always does that. After two not-really-an-hour sessions, we emerged from our room and realized that FIVE HOURS had passed. No wonder I sounded like Bob Dylan near the end.

And the next day… we did it again.

This was an experiment to help the people around us, as we tried out lots and lots of songs in order to determine what to sing when it wasn’t just us.

Also a reason to rock a lilac wig.

What do you eat after hours of singing? A balanced meal of circle cheese, square brownie and triangle kimbap!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Autumn moon lights my way.

Chuseok is the Korean Thanksgiving. I got four days off of school and spent the week with Autumn in Busan.

I worked just the Monday of Chuseok week, and the principal and head teacher gave me presents for the holiday. This was my Chuseok haul:


That’s six cans of tuna packed in oil, two bottles of canola oil, some hand cream and body wash. Most people spent Chuseok visiting family in rural parts of Korea, but I left on Tuesday to go make sandcastles on the beach.

Sometimes there’s a pirate ship.

The moon was full and Le Pot was magnificent.

Autumn and I took an evening walk to the fitness area at the end of the beach. Two of the giant hula hoops had mated, forming the biggest hula hoop ever seen ‘round these parts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

splish splash

Autumn took me to the biggest jimjilbang in Busan at the end of August. It has a feel much like this picture.
The women's area also had frolicking children and it was a very happy place.

Last weekend we visited what might be the *fanciest* jimjilbang in Busan. The inside of the pajama area looks eerily like this:
(This is actually the set of Dollhouse. They zap your brain upstairs.)

It's located inside this:
The world's largest department store (with a Cartier department and a Bvlgari department) also has the fanciest food court I've ever seen. When your meal is ready, the number comes up on the screen.
My $7 soup was FANTASTIC and yeah, that's a little abalone in there. There were FIVE abalones, and I kinda kept the shells.
Best food court food ever.

After eating, we went to the jimjilbang and enjoyed the many casino-themed sauna rooms (there's a Roman room and a Pyramid room and a vibrating room and a "liquid dreams" room with a greenish light shining through a pool of water, making interesting designs on the walls and ceiling. Jimjilbangs are kind of amazing.

Korea seems to love rainbow lights, so this happened also.

Monday, September 20, 2010

heavy metal thunder

Autumn and I went out last Friday, and were told by enthusiastic foreigners outside the Family Mart that the Best Drummer in the World was playing at a bar down the road. So we went, because you can't miss an opportunity to see the Best Drummer in the World.


He started with what I thought was going to be an enthusiastic sound check, but no. It was a song.

Here he is in action. It's only a fifteen-second video, but that's all you need. Note the enthusiasm of the crowd.

(It didn't sound any better than that in real life.)

So that was fun.

Friday, September 17, 2010

apartment in the sky

This is Jangyu.


It's where I live. It's still really hot here (actually this is the first afternoon I've been comfortably able to leave the windows open and the aircon off.) I like that it's all highrises and mountains. This is why it's a small town with 100,000 people.

It's difficult to see in the picture, but there's a big retaining wall on the right. That wall retains another big hill. This picture is part of my walk to/from my second school, where I teach Thursdays and Fridays.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

mushroom mushroom

Sorry guys! It's not that stuff isn't happening that's worth blogging about; it's that it's all "I went to Busan this weekend and spent a whole day talking to Autumn about boys and clothes and traveling."

But I'm not lesson planning right now, so let's talk about how crap I am at basic human functions like feeding myself.

I partly went to Thailand as an exercise in being a grown-up. I had never lived by myself or relied on myself to feed myself. It's different when you live with someone, because you can share those burdens. Or something.

Anyway, Thailand proved to be the land of $1 Pad Thai and housekeeping cleaning my room once a week and taking my laundry all the way across the street to be done every week. It was a challenge, I tell you. It made me laugh, because I was far less capable than I had been in the States. At least there I cooked for myself. Sometimes.

Now in Korea I realize that I am rubbish at feeding myself. I keep running out of food. Like, usually I have breakfast cereal with fruit and yogurt for breakfast…and dinner. But this morning, I didn’t have any fruit or cereal. Instead, I had leftover corn on the cob and blueberry yogurt, and now have no food again! This keeps happening! On the bright side, there is a once-every-five-days market near my house. I discovered this while on the way to the grocery store (I had run out of breakfast cereal again.) The sidewalk surrounding the grocery store was full of produce stalls, and the funny usually-vacant area behind the grocery store was now a bustling market!


In a way I'm spoiled (this time of year) because when I run out of food I can walk two blocks and buy overpriced nectarines or tangerines. Or other fruit but why would I buy other fruit when I can buy nectarines and tangerines? And the mushrooms—there are so many different kinds of mushrooms! Cooking real food is difficult because it’s hard to buy small quantities of produce, so my stir-fry is usually limited to two vegetables, which are always broccoli and oyster mushrooms. This is because, when told to choose two vegetables among all the choices at market, why would anyone not choose broccoli and oyster mushrooms?

Unfortunately, the market only happens every five days, so the rest of the time I have to go to the actual grocery store, which isn’t so bad because they do sell those corn flakes with the cranberries and almonds.

(I should note that I eat a hearty Korean lunch at school every day. The teachers are regularly impressed with my tolerance for spicy food--dudes, I lived in Thailand.)

This is my exciting life in Korea!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

shiny and new

Monday morning, I taught my first five classes. My main (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) school is co-ed, but the classes are gender segregated. I taught three classes of boys and two classes of girls. My first week of lessons is just an “about me” introduction, a brief speaking exercise, and a game. I opened the floor for questions after the introduction, and every class asked my age (which is totally normal in Korean culture) and my height. And every class gasped when I said 178 cm.

Halfway through the day, a couple of girls giggled into the office and I received a really sweet letter/request to be teacher's pet(?)


I'm not sure if she's questioning her spelling or my hair color. Anyway, I survived.