Published: March 23rd 2009March 23rd 2009
Char, Heidi, and myself. It is impossible to tell my discomfort from my face..
I' haven't exactly been on the ball with my blog lately, and combined with my AWESOME memory this one will more than likely have a few gaps. However, I'm going to attempt to summarize an eventful four weeks in one blog. I'll start with my second weekend in Korea we made the journey to Nami Island. I was unfamiliar with Nami before I visited, but to anyone who is familiar with Korean drama's, specifically "Winter Sonata" will know it well. Nami, like almost everywhere else in Korea, is a couples scene, where lovers go to show off their relationship to the masses and reminisce over images from the original sappy-ass Korean mini series. We started the trip just walking around, taking in the sites, and at some point a camera crew spotting the "waygooks" and forced a camera in my face for an interview. Not that I have any sort of "on camera" skills what-so-ever, but I think the fact that one moment there was nothing in my peripheral and the next moment there was a TV crew might have had something to do with the epic fail that was my interview. After a bite to eat we decided to rent
Johanna and Pare serenading me.
bikes and cruise around the island for the rest of the day. The majority of it was spent looking for these mysterious ostriches that are, apparently, "wild" but were never to be found. I find this interesting considering we could ride around the island in about 45 minutes and didn't see one freaking bird, it's not like they had any place to hide! I think it's a game they like to play on the foreigners, make up some random animal and get them to chase it..it's actually kind of funny when you think about it from that perspective, however, I wish they would have let me in on the joke. I think I could have thought of a much more believable animal then an ostrich.
Over the next week I made numerous trips into Itaewon, but not to get completely shitfaced, but rather to pick up a phone. It's amazing how different the city looks during the day, and when you're not borderline blackout. It's not near as sketchy, therefor, I don't like it as much. On the subway coming home from one of my journeys I saw a young man, early 20's, wearing a shirt that said, "Gender
A picture of Seoul from the 63 Building
Bender." Not only am I pretty sure that he was, in fact, NOT a gender bender, but I'm even more positive that he had no idea what it meant. This makes it all the more hilarious, and the fact that I was without a doubt the ONLY person laughing about almost takes the bitter taste out of my mouth from the copious hours spent on the train obtaining a phone that I A) Don't really use, and B) Don't really even know how to use...
That next weekend I met up with friends in Gangnam to partake in one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. It goes my the name of Dr. Fish. I don't mean uncomfortable like "you are meeting your girlfriends family for the first time and you meet her sister who you've hooked up with before" kind of uncomfortable, but so ticklish that you want to scream. Basically Dr. Fish are these little fish that eat all the "shit" off your feet. It's supposed to be really good for them, but I didn't really notice anything. Which leaves me with one of two conclusions, either it doesn't really work and I suffered through 15
Me with North Korea in the background.
minutes of agony or my feet are way more foul than I previously thought. Those lil swimmers LOVED my size 12's though...SPEAKING OF SIZE 12'S...it turns out I'm a circus freak here in Korea, and not only will it be next to impossible to find shoes for my fucking clown feet, but clothes are a pain in the ass as well...
That night instead of going to "da cluuuuub" I went bowling and had my first nori bang (pronounced bong) experience. The nori bang, a Korean pastime, is a private karaoke room. I enjoy this much more than the America Karaoke scene because if you make an ass out of yourself, it's only in front of your friends. But you also miss out on everyone else making an ass out of themselves, so you have to weigh the pro's and con's. However, since I am almost guaranteed the pleasure of not hearing some dumb fuck redneck singing Kid Rock or Nickleback, I'll take the nori bang ANY DAY. While the party started out pretty jumping, it ended up just being three of us rocking each others socks off until 5AM. I learned two things from this experience, 1) Just
Lake Park Bike Ride
Jess, Heidi, and I at Lake Park.
how much screaming my voice can really take and 2) I can't rap near as well as I thought I could....However, I refuse to let "Ms. Jackson" get the best of me a second time, so I'll have to practice. My friends left me at the subway station to head home at 5 with two liters of beer in hand. As I strolled up to wait for the train I met some random Korean dudes who didn't speak a word of English, but were dancing around like Richard fucking Simmons to a bunch of techno music blasting from their cellphones. I don't speak a word of Korean either, but any fool knows that beer and techno is the international language for part-ay! So we proceeded to finish the booze and pop, drop, and lock it until the train came. Since we all got on the same train, I let one of my new friends pass out on my shoulder, I did my best to fight sleep, but passed out soon after. I woke up to realize that I, not only, overslept my transfer by 13 stops, but my "friend" had thrown up....all over me....and fled the scene. So I was
Silk worm larvae.
able to ride the remaining hour home covered in vom, and with everyone on the train thinking I was "that guy." It clearly didn't bother me as much as I thought it did however, because when I awoke in my room the next morning there was food everywhere, so I apparently made a bakery run on my way home...hope they didn't mind the smell...
The next week in school was pretty uneventful, I was giving speaking tests to all my classes. At first I was loving it, because I just had to read from this sheet of paper instead of actually teach a class. However, it got old REALLY fast after the 9,000 time of being asked "one more time please." My kindergartner's are still my favorite as we started a new book entitled, "I'm Going to the Library with my Caterpillar." The basic gist of the book is the girl is going to the library with all her various animal friends, and they all make some sort of unique noise, for example, the lion roars, the snake hisses, and the skunk farts. Yes farts. It gets even better when we play the "act like the animal" game and you have a room full of 6 year olds ripping shitters on each other. It's moments like those when I sit back and reflect on the reasons why I went into teaching, and have no regrets.
That weekend we hit up the Korean National Museum and the 63 Building, which you can get some awesome views of Seoul at night, and has a crappy ass aquarium in the basement, but it was still a fun trip. We ended up back in Itaewon at night, my first night back since my introduction weekend. Where, much to no ones surprise I'm sure, I got completely tore up and probably did something embarrassing, but couldn't care less. The next morning I fought a vicious hangover and went with one of my co-teachers to the Unification Observatory. Now, upon speaking with my co-teacher earlier in the week, she left me with the impression that there would be a little hiking involved. It may have been the words "we hike up a hill to get a view of North Korea" that led me to believe that, so naturally, I get all done up in my hiking gear and prepared for the worst. Only to find out that there was, in fact, no hiking involved. My first clue was when I noticed she was wearing heels, which side note, Korean women wear everyday, rain or shine, regardless of their destination. The hike up the hill was actually a shuttle bus up a hill, and I looked like a complete douche bag ready to climb Kilimanjaro, but was far too hungover to actually care. The observatory was alright though, it was one of those experiences that now that I've went it wasn't all that great, but if I hadn't I would regret it. It basically had a bunch of art and shit from the "North Side" and you could view NK across a river through a telescope.
This past week I had a serious wake up call, and I walked away from the experience bound and determined to learn Korean, if only the alphabet. I was cruising through my local grocer, browsing the promotion section like any cost-conscious shopper, or if you're just a cheap ass like myself, either way. When I stumbled across a mysterious/delicious looking juice. It was all in Korean, so I hadn't the slightest idea what it was, but I gave it a whirl. Only to find out when I got home and took a big swig that it was, in fact, not juice at all...but cooking oil...Now, before anyone starts to think "how dumb are you seriously, can't you tell the difference between cooking oil and juice?" Fuck you. No. It was in a glass bottle that was tinted green and not only had the consistency of a liquid beverage, but was on the promotion shelf with products that you could eat/drink right out of the package. I take no responsibility for the discomfort I experienced from this, and wish it upon no one, except for the stock boy who I am convinced put it on that particular shelf hoping someone would make the mistake. But considering I am the only "waygook" in my area, hence the only one who can't read Korean, that seems like a far stretch.
This past weekend we got all crunk in my hood, Ilsan. We spent the day riding bikes around the Lake Park, which is the largest man made lake in Asia. However, this was not our initial calling to visit the park, but rather the rumor that there was in fact, a toilet museum. Let's be realistic here, who WOULDN'T want to go to a toilet museum. IT'S A FUCKING TOILET MUSEUM! I think for any city without shit going on, you need to open up a toilet museum to boost tourism, just a suggestion. However, when we finally found it, it had already closed. To be continued...
I've decided instead of commenting on every individual food that I try (because to be honest I've tried a lot and most of it I haven't the slightest idea what it actually is) to just comment on foods that make an impact. I'll start this segment with a food that rocked my world. Two words: meat buffet. While this wasn't my first experience with the Korean barbecue here, it was without a doubt my favorite. For those of you curious to how Korean bbq differs from that in the West, the first thing you need to know that there is no sauce, but rather the way it's cooked and the atmosphere. There is basically a grill like instrument in the middle of the table, and you throw on raw meat and anything else available to you, drink copious amounts of soju, and completely gorge yourself. What makes the meat buffet, or goji bupae, different is that you are not limited to one type of meat, but a vast selection of various and all equally delicious meats and side dishes. I ate my fucking ass off and didn't think twice about it. And now for the food that was not so awesome, Beondaeggi. This traditional snack is actually silk worm larvae. I was so excited for the opportunity to try these things, and now that I have I'm glad, but there is little chance of me eating them again. First of all, they have a smell that would make your nose run to your butt for shelter. And they taste like they smell, except when you bite into them they explode with gutsy goodness inside your mouth. However, don't let my rantings discourage you. I strongly encourage everyone to try them, at least once. After that, you never have to think about them again. Until next time..