Tuesday, February 28, 2006

busy weekend

Friday night I stayed in. I was meeting Eun Gyung at 9:10 to visit her friend's gym. An affair I thought would only last an hour, 2 at most, lasted til almost 3pm. It involved a free lunch, a viewing of a tae kwon do dance, and an ivitation to a housewarming party of a man I had only said 'hello" to, so it was worth it.

I sent a text to Beard, informing him of the plan and took a nap. I woke up at 4 as Beard was getting home from riding his bike in a field. We asked Eun Gyung what to bring as a gift, as we knew one would be expected. She said we could bring tissues or soap. Why? Soap--the more bubbles, the more money the family will earn. Tissues--in the words of JinYoung, Eun Gyung's boyfriend, they need them! We brought tissues.

The new apartment was in Sangmo-dong, on the 13th floor. It was more spacious than ours, not surprising, as most are, and had a little girl in pig tails running around. We were given a traditional korean rice drink while waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive. I've had it before. I'm not sure how it's made but it has rice at the bottom of the glass. It is sweet and refreshing.

Most all the guests arrived at the same time, I knew someone important had entered when everyone jumped up from the floor to stand. I found out later that he is the man who taught probably everyone else in the room tae kwon do. Now, several of those people own gyms themselves. Everyone was seated again--we all sat in the living room at 3 korean tables on the floor. Then the food was brought out--bugogi (meat of some sort), chicken and potatoes in a broth, and several side dishes. Every one was given their own bowl rice, bowl of very delicious soup and a glass of beer. We waited to eat until the important man started eating--I also held off until the owner of the new apt started eating too. Beard was seated next to I.M. so he had to start eating sooner.

The food was absolutely delicious. Although I couldn't finish my rice so I handed it over to Beard. It is rude not to finish the food that is given to you--looks like it is not delicious enough to eat. That wasn't the case. I had eaten too much of the other things and had forgotten about the rice. Look at me defending myself...

At around 8, everyone left and we did too. We met up with Christa and Judy (she used to teach at my hogwan) for sangipsal in Bisan dong. I don't eat sangipsal. It's thick bacon cooked on a grill built into the table. I tried a few pieces once and spent several days in the bathroom afterwards. Apparently after 4 years of no red meat eating, my body couldn't handle it. So now I just stay away. I was more than stuffed from the housewarming.

Out came the raw meat to be cooked by Jinyoung and Eungyung and following the bowls of meat--the bottles of soju. It had been a while since I had drank the stuff. It always has an effect right away.

After a while, Christa, Eungyung and I went to find the restroom. Most places of business don't have their own bathroom, there is usually a bathroom somewhere outside around the corner, up some stairs through the hallway. We found one. We were a bit loud in there and soon an ajumma came in to tell us to be quiet. She came around the corner speaking Korean and as soon as she saw me said--ohmygod! hello! ilikeyou, iloveyou, thank you.--when christa came out of the stall there was more ohmygod! and Christa got a little ass pat while she was washing her hands.

We went back down to the restaurant and soon--there she was! Eungyung kept saying she's drunk, she's weird. And we said, yep. I don't think Eungyung realizes that this kind of stuff happens to us ALL THE TIME. We drink some soju with her. I share an orange that Judy brought for me since I don't eat meat. She made us promise that we would go to her nori bang sometime.

The waegooks left early--Beard and I were helping Christa, Greg and Bryan move the next day. I went over to Christas at 1030 and WAITED forever till something happened. Two men with white gloves showed up--these were the movers. The white gloves gave them away. However, they should be called walkers or talkers b/c that's what they did for about 45 mins. No moving was done. Then Mr. Oh came--Christa's director--and there was more walking and talking. Still no moving. They all left and Christa and I started making jokes about moving.

Teacher, what is moving? Moving is the present progressive form of the verb to move. Example: She is moving today.

What is she doing? She is moving.

Are they moving? No they're not.

That last one brought us to tears. Probably only funny to English teachers. Around 1 Oh came back and said that those movers would not move Christa. Apparently there was too much stuff and we needed to get a "ladder truck." The kind we encountered the first week here. A truck that lifts a platform to the balcony where everything is loaded onto it. The platform is then lowered at a remarkable speed and a man at the bottom puts everything into another truck. It is very quick.

After the first few loads went down--what was going to be in Christa's new apt--Oh informed us that EVERYTHING needed to go. We weren't prepared for that. Oh had owned the apt for 10 years. Ten years of English teachers' discarded crap needed to be moved. Wow. I called Beard for him to tell Bryan and Greg that this would be happening at their apt too.

It went much quicker than expected. Soon we were at Bryan and Greg's watching their stuff being lowered from the 15th floor. A MUCH better spectacle than Christa's 2nd floor apt. After hanging out for a while, Christa and I decided to go to her new apt to clean the floors before all the stuff was delivered.

What happened next was a little unexpected. The movers deposited all of the stuff on the street--next to the trash pile--outside of the new apt. Just left it there and disappeared. This set Christa off. We started lugging her stuff up from the street. Mr. Oh called and said the movers would return. We doubted it. However, after we had carried up several loads-they did indeed return. Just in time to carry up the fridge and the washing machine.

After witnessing that, I headed home. We met up wiht Eungyung and Jinyoung for bowling. Beard and I lost again and had to pay for the games. But they paid for chicken and beer after.

Tomorrow is a holiday. Tonight we're going to a jimjilpang with Beard's friend Meg and her husband. It'll be my first time spending the night at a jimjilpang. I'm still not sure why we're spending the night and not just going home but, I think it's just one of those things.

Friday, February 24, 2006

korean food

Jen found a great site that shows korean food videos. It's awesome. There is an English speaking Korean woman who explains what everything is and you can see it too! Much easier than me explaining. Just click here: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.pusanweb.com/food/guides/streetfood/Odang.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.pusanweb.com/food/guides/streetfood/streetmain.html&h=433&w=536&sz=37&tbnid=lpYs9OCM7py3cM:&tbnh=104&tbnw=129&hl=en&start=1&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dodang%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26sa%3DG
Happy watching. Let me know what you think. I realized the other day that my comments setting was not right...sorry if anyone has been trying to comment and couldn't.

english teachers' nightmare

Whenever I say or type a normal pleasantry or question, I get a song from the Let's Go series in my head. This morning so far the count is 2.

I woke up less than half an hour ago.

The songs are pretty catchy and I find myself humming them at random times. This morning I started singing What's Wrong, Andy? (one of my personal faves) and What are you doing? I'm playing a game.

It's fine for now, but what about when I'm not an English teacher anymore? When I introduce someone, This is my friend____. will I get the This is my Friend, Sarah song in my head?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

oh man that was good

we decided to order food from a different place tonight. not that we don't love our usual with's pizza, but we wanted to try pasta and the with's ad didn't show a picture of pasta...
we called figaro pizza and ordered the lovers home set. sets are combos here. for 12,000 won we got a medium supreme pizza, 6 hot wings, a baked spaghetti and a 500 ml of coke. pure bliss. did we need to eat the whole thing? noooo. did we? of course!

our helpful delivery man told us we've been saying our address wrong for 5 months--and we wondered why the cabbies dropped us off down the street! instead of 2 (ee) ju gong, we are 1 (ill) ju gong. anhonest mistake. and now we know. however, after pigging out like that the walk up the street is needed.

wow-new washing machine sounds like it's trying to kill something using a club of some sort. best NOT to see what's happening.

today was a great day at work. all of my classes seemed happy to be there and liked the activities i had planned. question tic tac toe is great. split the class into 2 teams; ask team one a question, they answer appropriately using a complete sentence. if correct--they get to put an X or an O on the board. when i run out of questions, it's time for spelling. i played a new game i pulled directly from where the sun doesn't shine today. we were reviewing numbers so i asked each student his/her telephone number and wrote them on the board under their name (playing dumb to get them to spell their names). then i told the kids if i called their phone number not to say anything and started calling out numbers. the kids then had to yell out whose number it was. after a few rounds, i changed the names to colors and again said the numbers and this time they had to yell out the color instead. after that--we still had 4 minutes left--i changed 3 random numbers in each phone number. i then called out the color and THEY had to say the number. it was fun for all.

bee--thanks for the card, i got it yesterday. did you get the postcard i sent?
mom--it was nice to chat today, hopefully we can do it more often.

Monday, February 20, 2006

weekend recount

Friday we went to Christa's and watched Maid in Manhattan. It was ok--definitely a chick flick with cracks at J.Los ass thrown in. Ha cracks. We got home in time to see Lindsey hot dog and miss the gold. I think silver is prettier anyway.
Saturday I went downtown with Christa to buy wallhangings for Dawn and Jen. They're pretty nice, I should have gotten one for myself. They'll still be there. Beard spent the day in Daegu with Paul and Greg looking at bikes and jackets.
I met up with everyone at the train staion at 4--in time to see them running to the train. i jumped on, without a ticket, and rode to dong daegu standing. I felt weird not having a ticket but it was absolutely fine. i walked through and no one said a thing. Not that I'd do it again, but it was good to know that in a pinch...
Got to the Ariana hotel in time for the buffet to start. We got the brewery buffet--i couldn't believe the hotel was also a brewery! How had we been here for so long and not have known! It cost 16,000 won for 4 hours of eating and drinking. There was sushi, smoked salmon, pizza, clams, shrimp, lots of good stuff on the buffet. Yum. The beer was good too. And to top it off, there was a band from Bulgaria playing. Good times.
We went to another bar after that and took the train home singing Disney songs. Got home around 5. Woke up with my clothes and the light on at 130. Whew.

Friday, February 17, 2006

it's been a while

I'm back! It's been a while, I know. We haven't been doing much this month so I don't have much to write about. I'm trying to get through this book--The Sun in my Eyes--and it's getting harder and harder to resist distraction. It's a decent book but the same things keep happening over and over.
Beard is riding his bike more. He just left to practice more, maybe on actual streets this time. Greg is with him so he'll be fine.
We have a fairly full weekend planned. Tonight Joan and I are headed to Christa's to watch a chick flick and then I'll meet Beard at home to see his friend in the Olympics. She's competing in the snowboarding bordercross. Her name is Lindsey Jacobellis. http://www.torino2006.org/ENG/IDF/ATH/606580.html If you want to check out her stats.
Saturday we might be going to a Korean wedding, Eun Gyung's aunt. She was going to see if it was ok if we tagged along. From what I hear of Korean weddings, they're short and sweet and all held in one room--wedding and reception. And there is a HUGE screen behind the couple that pans the crowd. I can't find a picture of that but above is Beard and I in traditional Korean wedding garb. I can't figure out how to make the picture be here. Any suggestions?
After the wedding, if we can go, we're going to Daegu for Joan's birthday. There's a tourist hotel that has an all you can drink and all you can eat buffet for 16 bucks!! 5pm-9pm. Whoa. We might spend the night in various clubs/bars in Daegu and take a morning train home, if we're not completely comatose.
Sunday will be a clean the apartment and maybe go grocery shopping day. Sunday night we have a bowling rematch with Eun Gyung and the tae kwon do teacher from her boyfriend's gym. Last time we lost at bowling so we paid and they paid for beer and chicken afterward.
February is the end of the public school year here. My kids all start a new grade in March. I ask them if they like the new teacher they will have and they all say they don't know. I found that odd because I knew who I was going to have the next year and knew that teacher's reputation. Here the teachers teach different grades every year. So this year you teach 6th grade and next year maybe 3rd. I like picking a grade and sticking with it, but maybe because that's just what I'm used to.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"I like to play computer games"

I read an article today about a man named Lim who is a professional gamer, and no it has nothing to do with killing animals, at least not REAL animals.
Every day I ask my students what they did last night. Ninety-nine percent of the time the answer is--"I played computer games." If not that, then-"I went to PC Bang." to play computer games. Boys and girls alike, same answer. Boys are more hardcore but girls are right up there. When I tell them I don't play computer games except maybe solitare or a word game every now and again, they don't believe me, or or completely awestruck. "Teacher, why?"
When I walk to work I see some kids playing outside, but I know there are more kids in my apartment than the few I see on the equipment. Where are they? A good deal of students have computers in their homes, but if not, they go to PC Bangs--computer rooms. When we didn't have internet we went here to check our email. They are dimly lit, smoke filled places. On weekends they are filled with kids, probably age 8-20 and up, and it's hard to find a spare computer. Besides smoke, the air is filled with sounds of guns firing, the dead groaning, and random hero speak. Most of the real people say nothing.
Here's the link to the article.
Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

nothing much

This weekend we stayed in Gumi. Friday night we met the new English teacher, Bryan. I think having him around may have our friends opting to call Beard, Beard. Bryan's from Canada and living with Greg. Seems like a nice guy. Ended up going to Psycho and later on to the SBar--our first time. We were the only people there and after one pitcher, the dude behind the counter was motioning toward the door so we left. We got in the cab and it was after 5--where does the time go?!
Saturday we woke up late--1:20. Sat around for a while and went to Home Plus with Christa while Beard had a lesson on his bike. I didn't want to be around for it. I would have to watch and it would just make me nervous. I needed new glasses but realizing how cheap they were--and how super she looked in a pair--Christa bought a pair too. She has "distorted vision" things are taller than they are. So when she puts on her glasses, everything shrinks. wow. And I thought seeing one and a half was weird. My new glasses are much more adult than my last ones and are half rim-less. I'm still getting used to them. They sit higher on my nose so when I look down, the lens isn't there.
Sunday we ran around town with Mr. Pak and ended up going out to eat with him, his wife, and Christa. We had "kitchen knife noodle soup" but this time it was Ghengis Khan style. First we were served pahjun (seafood pancake) and mandu (dumplings) and onions and kimchi (of course). Then a metal bowl with mushrooms, water and greens was set on the big burner in the middle. Then 2 large plates of thinly sliced uncooked meat and a bowl of rice and veggies and a bowl of kitchen knife noodles. The burner was turned on and the water was boiling in no time. Now comes the Khan style--the meat slices are held in the boiling water with chopsticks to cook--it cooks extremely fast--and are eaten right out of water. I opted out of the meat but ate the mushrooms and onions. When all the meat is cooked, the noodles are put in the broth and then served--delicious. When all of the soup is gone, the rice and veggies are cooked in the bowl for dessert. A very good meal.
Monday was typical except instead of my school feeling like the inside of a freezer for the first 2 classes, it felt like it all day b/c the heater was making weird noises and NOT pumping out heat. It had snowed the night before and in my first class a girl came in carrying a plastic bag full of snow balls and asking me--"teacher, what?" "Those are snowballs." "Oh. Snowman?" "You can make a snowman out of snowballs." Oh. Good!" She starts taking out the snow. "I think you should do that outside." "Oh, ok...Teacher, outside, what?" I point out the window. She runs out of the room.
Today is Tuesday and almost over. Beard and I are going to watch some newly acquired Family Guy and go to bed.
Happy birthday, Anita.
Mom, I hope to talk to you tomorrow morning (tonight to you).

Thursday, February 02, 2006

the hand in the sea Posted by Picasa

cutest little kid ever--he's trying to make the V sign Posted by Picasa

the palm Posted by Picasa

squatter on train--notice the "oh shit" handle Posted by Picasa


Beard, Joe and I went to Pohang last Saturday. We were craving the sea. It's so nice just to sit on the rocks or the pier and listen to the waves. Pohang is a nice town. It's a little bigger than Gumi--500,000 people vs. 350,000--and the downtown is almost triple the size.
After we arrived, we walked directly to the water and found a reasonable motel--the OK Motel--for 30,000 won. The rooms were big with round beds, unfortunately non-rotating, and a better bathroom than in our apt (but that's not saying much). After depositing our bags we head out in search of some waves and eventually fish. We walked thru a dead end area that at home would have had bums in it and found the East Sea. It as beautiful, even if the huge steel plant POSCO was taking up a great deal of the landscape/seascape. We walked along and picked up shells, watched fisherpeople and discovered a pier that had at LEAST five trash cans on it. Amazing. Usually when walking around anywhere in Korea, there are no trash cans. Where to deposit trash? Usually someone has started a trash pile and it appears to be ok to put your trash on it and eventually it gets picked up. Apt complexes have dumpsters, but around town...not so much.
Eventually we found seafood, but we were expecting more than our usually raw fish experience and that didn't happen. Probably b/c we stopped at the first place we came to--my fault, I was starving. It was still raw fish and still pretty tasty. We wandered downtown a bit more--it was quiet due to the holiday (Chinese New Year) and found Mr. Pizza for Joe to eat at. He abhors Korean food, though I've never seen him eat it...In Korea, tables share food. When you order something everyone is supposed to eat it. Joe ordered a sprite and Beard ordered us beers, I was in the bathroom playing with the loo loo. I guess there was some confusion that Joe only wanted a glass and not a pitcher for us all to share and the manager had to come over to witness this for himself. After several minutes Joe was brought a glass of sprite...with 3 straws! HA!
While sitting at Mr. Pizza, I noticed a sign for hof (bar) called the Up and Up. In Bellingham there is a bar with the same name meaning that immediately after eating we had to go there. And I'm glad we did. 5 dollar Leffes. Yummy.

Next morning we went to Sunrise Park--very long expensive taxi ride, but worth it. It was a beautiful place. Spent quite a few hours walking on rocks, staring at the sea. Came back into town by bus--(much cheaper) ate at TGIFridays,my first time ever, and took Joe to the station. Beard and I wandered a bit more, and went back to the room early. We hadn't decided exactly what were doing the next day--jim jil pang--aka naked bath--or hiking to waterfalls? Both were equally appealing.
Naked baths won! By the time we got out of the motel room it was near noon and would have taken an hour and a half to get to the waterfalls and our train left at 4:47. The baths were very nice. I like them more every time I go. Very relaxing. After showering and shaving--perfect place for this--I sat in the 46 degree bath. AHHH so nice. I glanced up and noticed this woman coming at me--uh oh, I thought, what did I do wrong? she sat down right next to me and started talking to me in almost perfect English. It was great. We talked for a long time about views on marriage, divorce, children, social issues. Then I went to get dressed and meet Beard in the common room. We ate at the restaurant, and went to separate saunas. He likes the hot hot ones and I like the not so hot ones. We met up again at 3:30 and headed for more bath time before catching a taxi to our train.
Train ride home was sllloooowww. We had to wait for every commuter train to pass and stopped at almost every station. We had books to pass the time. I'm reading The Sun in My Eyes by Josie Dew, a book about bicycling around Japan. Discovered there was a squatter instead of a toilet on the train--super, a work of genius.