The Legionnaire’s Lament

31 08 2008

Hello again friends, rough week around the den of kindness, unfortunately. I was pretty sick with some kind of freak cold that made me want to die while teaching kindergarten. Add that to some misunderstanding/miscommunication with my Korean co-teacher (which has since been resolved with some much needed sit down time), and it wasn’t my favorite week in Seoul.

However, I did visit the zoo last weekend in Seoul Grand Park and it was wonderful! Daniel and I were wondering about the quality of the zoo in Seoul, but we were pleasantly surprised by the size of the zoo and the variety of animals. The zoo-goers could have been better, though. I noticed more than a few people throwing food into the animal cages, mostly monkeys and bears. Gahhh what a horrible idea!

Anyway, the zoo was great. Here are some photos!

meerkat manor ruined us

meerkat manor ruined us

ostriches are funny looking

ostriches are funny looking

Oh how I love zoos. We spent 5+ hours wandering around the zoo followed by hurrying home to join friends to go out. Nights out in Seoul are deadly. Two things I learned from this particular night: 1) do not mix 1 bottle of soju into 2 pitchers of beer and 2) when singing noraebang (karaoke) do not allow anyone to film it. I think these are life lessons every person should know before stepping out in Seoul.

My final passing thought: listen to The Decemberists. I change my favorite song pretty much all the time, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for ‘The Legionnaire’s Lament”. Enjoy.

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Where for art thou?

17 08 2008

‘pologies, interwebs. Sometimes life gets busy and then sometimes you feel more like losing your mind in a book, movie, tv show…. not thinking and writing. But then your head comes out your ass and you realize SO MUCH LIFE! MUST DOCUMENT! And then we return.

And by ‘you’ I mean ‘me’, but no worries, I’m back. And fabulous.

I’m a little nervous for the coming week, I can’t lie. I have three-ish weeks of teaching kindergarten under my belt, and I have parent/teacher conferences. Cue the “impending doom” music. Apparently our mommies are a little terrifying, and have a tendency to use mind games to get us to dish about the other kids in class. To which I ask: WTF Korean mommies?!?! The kids are already under enough pressure without someone else’s mom trying to get into their bizness. To me, these kids are amazing. Some of them are scarcely 5 years old and already practically fluent in a language they were not born into, and some of their parents don’t even understand. They attend a school where they AREN’T ALLOWED to speak their native tongue. How cool, right? Now if more cultures made an effort to learn other languages… ahem.

In other, happier, better and awesome-er news, the BOYFRIEND has arrived! I could not be more ecstatic. He’s with me for a week before being sequestered into orientation with the public school people. Korea, while already amazing, just got a little brighter.





Costco

8 08 2008

In an evening at Costco, I got married, had a honeymoon and realized I’d be able to survive in Korea, food-wise.

Let me explain.

I obviously didn’t actually get married. In fact, the boyfriend who is arriving SO SOON might have a problem with that. In actuality, all I got was a spouse membership to Costco with my friend Jen. Which kind of feels like getting married since we are financially tied together, at least for food. Our honeymoon consisted of eating amazing chocolate truffles in the cab on the way back to my neighborhood. They were phenomenal. And surviving? I bought olive oil, pasta, feta cheese and those phenomenal truffles. I am not banished to a life of kimchi.

Don’t get me wrong, Korean food isn’t all bad. But I don’t like kimchi. Or mystery meat. Or seafood with eyeballs still attached. These preferences severely limit my options here. But thanks to Costco, I will survive.

Three big cheers for Costco!





Getting There

8 08 2008

After a 4.5 hour bus trip, I finally arrived in Busan on Friday night, only to find a 1.5 hour subway ride ahead of me. It turns out Dadaepo Beach is seriously on the outskirts. I passed the subway ride easily enough by reading the rest of the book I had brought with me. After the subway it was time for a quick taxi ride to the beach. Unfortunately my cabbie was not all that cooperative, although I can appreciate where he was coming from. We had some communication issues.  I wanted to be dropped off at the beach, and he didn’t want to leave me there all alone.

The cabbie would not relent until we had stopped at the police station to speak to an officer who was slightly better at English, and finally allowed me to be taken to the beach when I gestured TENT to them. Ohhh, he says, TENT. Gotcha. Because you know all I need for night beach safety is a tent. Obviously. Whatever his reasoning, I was happy he finally took me there.

Upon arriving at Dadaepo Beach, I realized this might be more of an ordeal than I had originally imagined. The ultimate teams were not the only folks staying at the beach. There were probably over a thousand people all sleeping in tents or on long low tables, or just walking around. Booths featuring simple carnival games were mixed in with food booths. I wandered around the beach for probably a half hour, texting the two people I knew on the team, and hoping one of them wasn’t too drunk or already sleeping. My desperation point came when I was approached by two separate groups of guys trying to pick me up using their limited English. “Where you goiingggg?!? Come with us!” Umm, no thanks.

Just as I was trying to decide which family looked nice enough to let me stay in their tent (it was 1:30am at this point, I wanted SLEEP!) I saw a guy throwing a disc up in the air. He led me to the matching tents that belonged to the ultimate kids, and I could not have been happier.

After that bumpy start, the weekend sailed by. I made fast friends with the players and we played a lot of disc, had some beer and food, and had a great time. My team almost won the tournament, losing to a team in the finals that we had beaten the day before. It felt great to get away from Seoul and fall back into a familiar tournament routine.

On Sunday after the tournament, I decided to take my first trip to a ginjabong, or Korean sauna. After the games I was dirty, sore and tired, and the other players assured me nothing felt better than the sauna. I mustered up some courage to get naked in front of a bunch of Koreans, and made my way in. The sauna had 5 or so pools of differing temperatures, a row of sinks for cleaning up, one wet and one dry heat sauna and a fragrant cedar-lined hot tub (my favorite!)

At first I was a bit shy about walking around in all my nude glory, but everyone else seemed to be comfortable, so I shook it off. Until I noticed a group of young girls very obviously staring at me. Turns out they were just curious about me and anxious to try out the English skills they practice at their private school. The girls took turns asking questions about how old I am, where I live, what I do here, how long had I been in Korea… etc. I welcomed the distraction from my other anxieties, and chatted away.

Turns out I had nothing to be nervous about, after all.





Dadaepo Beach

4 08 2008

Stories coming soon… 🙂