Monday, June 28, 2010

Last pictures

For many reasons Korea can be called “The Land of the Morning Calm” I have a few different ideas. On the weekends it can be called this because every Korean has just gone to bed after a long fun night. Korea really has not been a free democracy for long, most will say it happened in 1988, and it happened for one reason, they held the Olympics that year and they wanted to show the world who they were. When I first got here I noticed a lot of older men getting really drunk from the Korean alcohol called Soju. I thought it was unbelievable. ( I do not mean just buzzed, I mean passed out in the streets, or throwing up in public, being carried home drunk) After six months I think I figured out why; they may be old man, but the country is a 20 year old kid experiencing freedom for the first time and they are not letting any second of freedom pass. I say good for them, it is really hard for a USA citizen to realize this because our freedom dates back a couple hundred years, it doesn’t for them. The weekdays are quite different. The morning is calm, it is very calm, but once business is open the calm disappears. When I walk to the gym at 6:30AM ( I do this in the morning because I do not start work until 9:30 and I hate sleeping in.) it is like being at the beach, it is so peaceful, the only difference is this haze is smog from China. ( another reason why China sucks) When I leave the gym the whole city seems to have woken up and it is hustle and bustle. That is what makes the morning so nice here, it really is the only peaceful time of the day.

Korea is the worlds little secret, nobody knows about Korea, everyone knows about Japan, China, Vietnam, India, etc. Korea is a cool place, there problem is there turbulent history. Sometimes I wonder if Koreans know who they are, and most will admit after a few drinks of soju that they do not know who they are. Korea has been occupied by just about everyone it seems. China, Japan, Russia and the USA had a major hold on them after the Korean war, of course Russia took the North, hence the communism. China is the only reason why the South didn’t win the Korean war. The USA is the reason why the South did not lose the Korean war.
I feel like I did not talk about my job much in this blog because I did not feel it was too important to talk about, it’s a job, no one wants to read about someone else working, we all want to escape from work. Teaching really is rewarding, it is cool to see kids progress in the English language which I taught them. Teaching is also not for me, I do not know how people devote their whole lives to teaching kids, I would go crazy. ( I am grateful for those who do) I am talking about preschool, kindergarten; the really young ages. Teaching older kids are fun because you can actually talk to them. There is no way I can talk to a 6 year old Korean when I am teaching them English for the first time, it is quite the interesting situation, but laughter does go a long way. What amazed me the most was how jealous the Korean teachers were of me because the kids liked me so much. There was one glowing reason, I had a lot of fun with the kids and they like to yell at them. They could never figure out why they did not like them as much. It just the Korean way vs. the USA way of teaching; In the morning right as I walk in the school it seems just about every kid stops whatever they are doing and comes to say hello to me or jump on my legs and slide down them like they are telephone poles.
As we all know the World Cup is going on, Koreans love this. There was a huge party to watch the opening round in Seoul. (there actually is for every game) They put huge projection tv’s on buildings at city hall and abour 200,000 people go to this. One thing stopped me from going, the rain. I do not know exactly how many people went this year but I imagine the rain did not stop many people from going. However, The USA-England match is Saturday tonight and it should be a fun time. It is at 3:30 AM, just a little late; I went to Itaewon to watch South Korea play and watch the USA-England match, the atmosphere was rocking, the games were boring as hell. It was a lot of fun to see the huge crowds, there really in nothing like an international crowd watching their home countries. The Korea game was obviously wild, as we walked up the street to the sports bar you could hear the crowd. Every major bar in Itaewon has open windows in the summer and they are large windows, basically giving them no walls and over looking the street, it is a cool scene. Every bar was jammed, the sports bar I went to you could not move. As it crept to about 3 AM the crowd started buzzing again, half hour away from the big match. USA chants started going wild and England then had their dumb chants. It was a fun time and it was funny to see how disappointed the England crowd was when it ended in a draw because most USA fans could of cared less.
I have never seen so much smog in my life, it is absolutely disgusting, it all comes from china, “yellow dust” they call it. I currently have a sore throat from it and I have had it for about two weeks. When I wake up it feels like I ate dust. This really affects the weather, when it is not cloudy the air is filled with pollution, it really kills the effect of the sun. Most days I can not see it, some times it is just in a haze, it is amazing how this smog just blocks the sun.
Another great thing about South Korea, a GPS just does not cut it. You need to have a tv on your windshield; it is amazing how careless they are when it comes to driving; hence the mind blowing traffic death rate.
I got one more day in Korea, it has been a great time. At times it felt like I just got here, but more often than not it felt like I was here for a decade. It has been a great experience; getting dropped off at the opposite end of the world to teach English; Five years ago I would’ve said anyone that did that would be crazy, why would they do it? As my international awareness expanded I thought I would be crazy not to do it. It was great, Koreans are awesome; just think of a country a quarter the size of California; Being here has really made me realize how big the USA is, it is mind blowing compared to just about every other country in the world. I can not say one bad thing about South Koreans, they welcomed me into their country; I can’t count the times they helped me out with directions, what to eat, etc; they really do love Americans and are grateful for all the help the USA has given them. Not many people know much about Korea; I wish more did because it is a great country, and I would tell anyone that is thinking of Teaching English abroad to go for it and do it in South Korea. You will not find a more respective culture with traditions so deeply rooted in everyday life it still baffles me. Monday was the first day of finishing classes and it was pretty unreal. Most of my kids asked for autographs, email and my phone number. They did not believe me they could not call me from Korea when I was back home and I just told them I do not have an email. It was pretty cool that these students have so much respect for a teacher and I realized that I actually helped them out in life; not just with English but I think the biggest thing is they can understand the freedom of thought American’s have, of course this is understood for my older classes only.
Thank you everyone for following my blog

“He travels best that knows when to return” - Thomas More
‘I have found adventure in flying, in world travel, in business, and even close at hand... Adventure is a state of mind - and spirit.”
Jacqueline Cochran

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I put up some new pics....

I have been in need of a haircut but after the last time I went to the barber shop there was no way I would return to the barber; I was going to a hair salon. As I was walking to the area where the hair salon’s are I passed the barber shop, for a second I thought I might as well go in. I look through the glass door see the same barber and walked away; no way was I going in there. I went to the hair salon. I think it might have cost a dollar more. On Saturday it was Teacher’s Day which meant on Friday I got a bunch of presents from my students, it ended up being a pretty good day of work. I got a nice Nike hat, a gift certificate, some cologne, a bunch of muffins and fruits and various other gifts.

Saturday I went up to Itaewon to watch the Boston Bruins play, this was a disaster from the start. I got in a little early so I was walking around the City. I had a Boston shirt on and some old lady (she was not really old, maybe mid 40’s) but I am saying old because she told me the score of the hockey game, I wanted to throw something at her. I was pissed, there is nothing worse then traveling over an hour to watch a taped delayed game 7 and be told the score 5 minutes before watching the game. I told myself she must have been talking about game 6, what does this lady know and if anyone reading this saw her you would have no reason to believe her. All of a sudden the Bruin’s go up 3-0, now I am convinced she was wrong and had no clue what she was talking about, just a crazy lady. About two hours later I realized she was right and it made a long train ride home. At the end of the game there was a wedding party, and who doesn’t like a random wedding party in a sports bar in South Korea, it took my mind off the game. It was a Korean girl marrying a British man; it was a fun time, there always seems to be something going on in this country, probably because it is so small and there are a lot of people all jammed in.

I am guessing most people have heard about the recent run in South Korea had with the North. There is one big problem here, the North is the South’s enemy and the South wants to be friends. In order to have a relationship you need both sides to be on the same page; these two countries aren’t even in the same book. The South is a free country, with everything a developed country could want, it is not up to western standards but you have to remember they have been on their own for only around 60 years. Of course the North denies the bombing of the South’s ship; they have been doing these small things for the past decade. The only problem is, this time it actually upset the south and they may do something about it, they also may not. They will go to the UN council for this, there is only one problem. CHINA loves North Korea. For anyone believing China is a humane society follow this current episode, they are not. China will most likely veto anything that will hurt the North because they are allies and they border each other. They will say they do not want to be in a war zone with a bordering country, but that is not the case, they just like North Korea. The South does not want war because they are a developed country and the war will be on both countries soil, now that does not mean much for the North because they are so poor and essentially the residents live in the Stone Age. The south has everything to lose, the North has nothing to lose; eventually the North (government) will eat themselves to death, it is going to happen and this is what the South is waiting for. This may take 20 years, which is the problem, it could be shorter, it could be longer. This is why the South wanted to end the war back in 1953, but that didn’t happen, technically the war is still going on. They knew these problems would only keep occurring. There has been a lot of buzz about this, even our Korean teachers are talking about this episode and I have never heard them talk about the North before. Koreans seem to treat the North as its spoiled brother and just let it complain because in the end they will not do anything. It seems they do not feel this way anymore, plus everyone, in this case ever country has a breaking point and when will the South hit it with the North and was this it?

Anyways, Buddha’s birthday was Friday and we went out Thursday night with a co worker and a few Korean friends to celebrate. Six of us went out; we had about a 2 hour dinner and drinks, it costs $64, absolutely unbelievable, The meat is awesome and the beer is always good and it costs so little, this will be the biggest culture shock coming back into the USA. On Buddha’s birthday I went up to the Han River again, this time I went to the N63 (63 floors) building, it overlooks the Han; the building looks like it is made of gold and it overlooks the city of Seoul from the south side; it’s a shame the windows were so dirty looking out on the city but it was a great view. The Han River is a cool place to spend a day, Koreans everywhere are walking around with beers and having picnics in public areas; absolutely unheard of in the USA. After walking around for about two hours I rented a bike and I realized I should’ve done that 2 hours ago. I have now found the cheapest way to get into Seoul; it cost me 90 cents to get to Seoul from my apartment. It is about 30 miles. I hop on the bus to get to the station and take the train into Seoul. The best part about the bus is after you swipe your card you have 30 minutes to get to the metro and it is free to get one. It is unbelievable how cheap the transportation is here. Of course the one problem with public transportation is all the variables that go along with it. On the bus ride home I saw firsthand. I got on the bus and the driver and a man were talking rather loudly and the paced just kept picking up (Korean language remember) and all of a sudden the driver slammed the brakes, stopped the bus and got out of his seat and opened his glass door and started screaming at this guy. It got heated for a while and of course you have the old lady (70 yrs, guessing and maybe 5 feet tall) steps in the middle of both of them, I thought she was going to get trampled on; while this is going on about five people got off the bus, I just enjoyed the show. At one point I thought there was actually going to be a fight. It did not come to that point, the bus driver then stopped and went to his seat grabbed his wallet and stormed off the bus. Everyone is now wondering what the hell to do, he then rampages back on ( I think he realized he was the driver, not the passenger) and started screaming again, all of a sudden they came to some sort of an agreement and stopped yelling. The passenger then apologized in Korean to everyone and did the customary Korean bow; then the funny part came, he noticed a six foot 3 white person, you should have seen his eyes light up, it was like all of a sudden they were not slanted. He then apologized to me in English and gave me a bow and the bus ride went on.

Rained all day Saturday and is supposed to rain Sunday, that ruins my plan to go to the beach. 39 days until I come home, I realized on Thursday that the countdown has begun in my mind, I have really enjoyed my time here, learned a lot of things, but it is time to go home

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It is less then two months until I come home; June 30th . It is a weird feeling. I feel like an immigrant ready to make the great jump to the land of opportunity. Except I will be doing it legally, unlike most immigrants these days. Recently I have been asking my Korean friends what they think they will do if they had the opportunity to come to the USA. All the girls have said they absolutely want to go to the USA or Canada. There parents have giving them the blessings to do so. The girls say yes because Korea is absolutely a men’s world, there is no denying that; It does not matter how much you believe in equal rights, that is not how it works here. This is why Korean girls want to leave, of course some time (I think in the near future there will be a women’s movement, It has to happen, Korea wants to be America and this would be a step.) Just witnessing this, not just through travel but living through it is quite the experience. I left the USA knowing it was the greatest country in the world, but now….It is like the Michael Jordan of countries…It is amazing how cool the USA is and how Koreans (just because I know from living here) want to be a part of it. Most Koreans I hang out with know more about USA pop culture then I do, but most Americans know more then me also, but they keep up with all that stuff. They are obsessed, it really is interesting seeing this first hand. These Korean girls love hanging out with Americans, they really do. Some to improve their English, some to get to USA, marriage or just ideas on what to do there, and some just to simply tell someone they spent time with an American. It is a really incredible experience, I hope everyone reading this can understand what I just wrote, it really is special to be an American. I went to an Indian restaurant the other night and the owner (spoke English) had Indian news on and everything that was on the news had something to do with the USA. I would not change this experience I had for anything, I will not stay for the whole year, but I have no regrets on what I have done, it has been awesome.

Last Friday night I was out and I turned around and saw a Korean who was easily 7’ 3”; he stuck out like a sore thumb and man was it funny. I started talking to him and he ended up being a professional basketball player in Korea. You never see Koreans over 5’10”, never mind 7’. It was pretty funny, especially when he tried dancing (not to say I am a good dancer, I’m not, but this was pretty funny. I mean, what do you say to a 7’ Korean man. The next day I finally ventured to the Han River and did a boat cruise up the river at night. This was awesome, it was finally a nice enough day to go for a boat ride and be warm enough to actually enjoy it. Going up the river was pretty cool seeing the huge city lights, the tall skyscrapers, and busy city life. The Han River runs right through the heart of Seoul, creating a south part of Seoul and the north part of Seoul, it is an impressive river. The boat ride was pretty impressive, they have themed nights on these boats and somehow I ran into a flowered theme river cruise, anyone could’ve easily mistaken it for a wedding cruise up the Han River and of course a Korean family came up to me and another teacher I was with to take pictures and ask questions about the USA. The best part about the river cruise is that it is byob. I could not believe it was, just for the fact that they could make a killing. This was not much of a drinking cruise for me because I wanted to enjoy the views and just be able to enjoy being back on the water for a night.

Sunday May 2nd was a fun day of watching sports in Itaewon. This day started at about 11am. The time differences makes watching sports next to impossible. Sunday morning we were able to catch the boxing match live on tv, it is pretty entertaining watching a boxing match with an international audience. I got to the sports bar around 11 and enjoyed a big breakfast and relaxed for a while. Some patrons there I believe stayed up from the night before, it was funny. Three guys got thrown out after the second under card match and created a nice scene. It is always amusing to watch these events when it is someone you do not know that is involved. There is also nothing like a bunch of idiots at 11 am on a Sunday; I think it is safe to say they are not the church going type. After the boxing match I was set to watch the Bruins after they finished up another hockey game that was on, as this game was in the third period ( remember I have been waiting all weekend to watch these playoff games, Celtics and Bruins and making sure I would not see the score on the internet.) So everyone is watching the game and on the ticker the score of the Bruins game comes on; Bruins won, day is almost wasted by now. It just is not fun watching a game when you know the results when it is just a regular playoff games. Luckily it was a sunny day out so I just enjoyed the sun and waited for the Celtics play game one against the Cavs; as we all know that went great until the second half and really ruined my day. So a Celtics loss and a Bruins win but a loss for me because the score gets shown right before the game comes on tape delayed. I did win the bet for how long the boxing match would go, that won a round of beers for everyone.

Saturday May 8- 75 Degrees and I am heading back to Jebu island, this time with another English teacher and two Korean friends. What a day it was to be on the beach, there is nothing better then escaping the hot city for a cool, sunny beach day. I already wrote about Jebu island so I will not go into much detail about the place. The seafood was still absolutely delicious and really reasonable. Four of us ate and had some drinks and it was 15,000 won a person; It only got better as we arrived back to Suwon and went to a Galbi restaurant and it cost each person 10,000 won ($10) to eat and drink for dinner and Galbi is absolutely awesome. Galbi is BBQ beef that Suwon is known for because of its great quality. I was explaining to my two Korean friends the differences in restaurants from Korea to the USA. They could not believe it. Basically whenever you are ready to order in Korea the customer just yells out “yogi” which means “here” If you ask me it is pretty rude but that is the culture and of course you do not tip in Korea. When you order beer they bring a large bottle and everyone drinks from the bottle with their own cup; and of course Soju is always involved when you go out to eat with a Korean. Soju is even cheaper then the food.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I am reading a book on Koreans and I have read a very interesting chapter relating to why Korean’s stare blatantly at white people and I am left too wonder why the hell do they keep on staring at me. We all know the answer to that, it is because they never see white people. The interesting thing is when I see another white person in Korea I basically become a Korean and stare at them and they draw the same blank stare back at me. It becomes quite amusing; I am just not used to seeing a white person randomly on the street. This happened tonight when a Korean man at the gym brought me over to see two other white girls who were signing up. I probably stared at them for five seconds before realizing what was going on and that they were white. It is a really weird situation and quite amusing. This is never the case in a place like Itaewon because you are expected to see white people. Korans love the game rock, paper, scissors. I am still trying to figure out why. I mean they live and die buy this. They decide just about everything by it. When we play basketball this is how we decide teams and who gets the ball. My students play it all day it seems, they always want to play against the teachers. I see old man play it on the streets and shouts of victory erupt from them. This blog is getting harder and harder to write, it seems that is has run its course. On Saturday I will head to the DMZ (weather depending) I have had to postpone it twice already. I have put my 60 day notice in to head home. I am ready to go home, Korea has been a good time, I finally found a good way to explain my reason to go home. Most people will think that I do not like korea, it is not the case; I am having a good time and that results in the problem. Is a good time worth living half way around the world? I do not think so, if I loved it here I would finish my year off, but I do not love it, I like it. Also if this was my first time traveling I would definitely stay but I have been traveling for a few years now and after a while just like most things, it gets old. I really enjoyed my time here and I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking of going; I would also recommend living in Seoul. Seoul is an absolutely amazing city, about the size of New York and it has so many things to do. I am lucky and live 45 minutes away from Seoul so I can make easy day trips into the big city. Seoul and Busan are really the only true great cities Korea has, (think of how many great cities USA has) Korea is really small; about the quarter the size of California. Of course with the small size it makes the train system so efficient just like in Japan (although not up to par with Japan) A lot of people have asked why the USA train system is not as efficient as Japans and it has simply to do with the size. Imagine how inefficient it would be to travel across the USA by train instead of flying. It really is tough to understand how big the USA is and how many natural resources it has which has helped in making the USA so great. People in Japan do not fly for the same reason the people in the USA do not use trains as often, it all has to do with efficiency of time and money.,

When Korean’s meet up with a white person they say “nice to meet you” no matter how long you have known them. It is just one of those misunderstandings in the language translation I am guessing. I was also told it is a Korean joke, it just does not seem to be too funny, just confusing when you hear it for the first time. One of the guys I play basketball with is from Japan and he flew in the exact same day as me and he is also leaving the same day as me, I found it pretty interesting and I really do not have much else to write about.

As of now the weather is suppose to be nice next Saturday so the DMZ trip is looking good, but we all know how wrong the weather man are.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter! Funny story about this Easter, it completely slipped my mind that today was Easter. I did not realize it until a Korean girl and her mom came up to me in the park while I was playing basketball and handed me eggs. I was shocked that I forgot it was Easter, but that is the oblivious life an expat lives in Korea. After handing me the eggs the Korean lady asked me for my phone number, I had to get a little help to explain to her that I did not have a phone; it gets funnier each passing day I do not have a cell phone, but it is awesome. This blog update is not too interesting to me; maybe next Saturday I will head to the DMZ, all depends on the weather. I was very happy I finally got to play a basketball game today; there were finally enough people to play. The talent level was not too great but it was fun. Nothing good to read about this week, Saturday I went to insa dong, the markets there are awesome. I love seeing the huge crowds in such a small area, the insane amounts of items that are for sale and of course the awesome street food.

It is amazing how Koreans can be afraid of foreigners. Maybe because Korea is probably the most homogenous country on earth, I mean you know who is Korean and who is not. In the USA you got no clue, which is awesome. There is not more then one race here, I wish I could see the percentage. It must be 99% Korean. I got a few ideas why they are so afraid of foreigners. Number one, look at their past; the country has been treated like shit. They have been bullied around for so long they are probably happy it is mostly if not all Koreans in Korea. Japan tortured them, China tortured them, (they both at one point in the not so distant past controlled the country) When I first got to Korea I was told you will always be “an insider looking in from the outside” no matter how long I stay, and I believe it. Now with Korea holding the 11th largest economy in the world they are no longer pushed around; they went to rice patty workers to industrial leaders in one generation; there success story is pretty impressive. One major thing is left to happen and that is the future of North Korea. From what I can see the South is just waiting for them to eat them selves away. They are doing a pretty good job at it. At some point the North will fall, everyone hopes it is not war because that will just set the South back because of the damage to the infrastructure, I really think they are just waiting for the North to implode, and it could happen, not tomorrow but maybe in a decade? In the newspaper they wrote about civil unrest occurring in the North which was unheard of because of the brutality the North Korean government treats their civilians. The North’s citizens are tortured, hungry, all those things. I wonder how long it will go on for, will the South some day step in or just wait for the implosion of the North? The North’s government is dumb enough and powerful enough to do it. The citizens have no internet, government run media, tv, newspaper, a small private market which the government is forcibly eliminating. It is absolute hell to be in North Korea right now. This weekend in Insa dong was the first time I have seen a awareness group for the suffering of the north. They were not even Korea which was quite amazing. They were white; I got no clue what country they were from. Koreans are really passive so maybe it is harder to find a group of Koreans doing a public showing like this but North Korea is a very interesting country in the world today. Last Week a S. Korean nave ship sunk of the coast, they are now saying it might have been a torpedo, not a mine; they are still not entirely sure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jebu Island pics link

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Last night I got a haircut and I am still trying to figure out what happened at the barbershop. I have a Korean Culture book and it mentioned a Korean barbershop and it is a unique experience. I tried it out last night, the first time I got a haircut in Korea it was more of a hairdresser then a barbershop; it was the first thing I could find. The haircutting part of this trip went as expected. ( I use trip because it was anything but normal) The barber put on these huge yellow gloves and shampoos my hair. The yellow gloves are like the industrial ones one would use to do some cleaning with. He massaged the hell out of my head, it was rather uncomfortable; this was just the beginning. Then came the clean shave part, around your neck, sideburns, and FOREHEAD, I did not know what was going on but I figured it would not kill me. Most young Koreans have really hairy foreheads, I figured he could tell my forehead does not have any hair. Some of my students literally have hair all the way down to there eyebrows; it is really weird. As they get older I guess they start shaving it. I remember when I first noticed this, it freaked the hell out of me. I told my co workers about this discovery and they were also in shock. Back to the trip, after the shave the barber put more cream or whatever in my hair and (this is when it got awkward) had these huge brushes that he held tightly to my head and he hit a button and these things started going crazy on my head. It hurt, it was uncomfortable and I could not stop laughing because of the situation I was in. (If I was in the USA I would of told the person to stop but since my culture book told me I would be in for a surprise I let it continue) I could only imagine what this guy was thinking about me. I was literally laughing out loud and my face showed many signs of pain, I almost asked him to stop again but I couldn’t, it was too funny. That ended and I was hoping I was out of the woods; I was not. I tried standing up and in English he said “sit down” I was surprised he knew those words, but it is basic for a barber to know these words. The same procedure happened again, this time it was a little more then the last, which means more faces of agony while laughing. Then it was all over; costing me 8,000 won; not bad at all. $8 to wonder what the hell just happened to me and a nice looking haircut

In class Friday one of my students forgot his book, so as I was about to leave class I told my super hyper student to draw on the board so he would not be running around when I came back. This idea went wrong when I got back. He drew a picture of me, he is a hell of a drawer. My other teacher told me he was a good drawer so I wanted to find out. He drew me as an alien because I always show him my alien registration card because he is in awe of it. The alien drawing was awesome. As I look down he decided to add a penis. It was pretty funny, actually it was really funny. I held my laughter in because I am supposed to be the teacher. They could tell I thought it was funny, and they all start laughing. I quickly erased it and on went the class.

Friday night another teacher and I was going to meet up with some Korean girls and bring them to a bar we have not been to in quite a while, the Korean girls have never gone there. We love this bar, they did not. We did not even have the time to sit down and they told us they wanted to go to a different bar. It turns out it was to traditional for them so we had to go to a more modern bar. It was pretty funny because I love that bar. I have written about this bar before, it is always empty and you can go on stage and sing with the workers, it is really a fun place; there is just no customers. We went to a different bar and none of these girls speak good English so it made for a interesting time. I went to bed early because of my trip to Jebu Island the next morning.

I Got directions to Jebu island from the internet and they instructed which buses to go on, the only hard part was after about an hour fifteen minute bus ride I needed to switch and this trip ended in a dirt parking lot. I had no clue where I was supposed to go. I walked to the nearest bus station, got some water and a powerade because I figured I would be lost for a while. Luckily I walked for about five minutes and found a little bus stop and two minutes later the bus came. As I got to Jebu Island the weather was bad but it did not put a damper on the day, this was actually my favorite day since I have been in Korea. I saw the ocean for the first time in what seems to be years. Jebu Island is on the yellow sea across from it is China (which you cannot see) There are tons of mountains around the area. The coolest part it getting out to the island. You can only go at certain times of the day depending on the tide. The paved road is covered in about five feet of water at high tide and remains high for 6 hours. It is pretty cool. I walked around the island, I was the only white person there and it had one nice beach, the rest was all mud. It had some really cool views of mountains in the oceans, cliffs, and of course the ocean. The size of the mountain is about a half square mile. As I got to one side which seemed to have all the excitement there was a row of restaurants and each restaurant had someone dressed in a cartoon costume trying to wave people into there restaurant. It was a pretty funny site. I stopped to get lunch, ( had every kind of clam you could think of, man was it good) During lunch I got invited to join two older Korean couples and I spent the rest of the day with them, they asked me to walk around with them and what not. They were about 7 bottles deep in soju, it was pretty funny because they were super drunk. Each couple left for about 30 minutes at a time, one couple told me they went to throw up, which I thought was pretty funny. It was around 2 PM. They basically rented me for the entire day, at one point another Korean couple asked to take a picture with me and I thought there was going to be a brawl. The other group seemed to get really mad. We went back to the beach and a group was playing soccer and for some reason we ended up playing with them. The one guy told me it was for exercise. Now, if I am in this guys position; after drinking, eating, and throwing up the last thing I am doing is playing soccer but he wanted to so I did it. After that we went to another restaurant where the owner invited us in, they were having a party in memory of the former South Korean President who committed suicide. I stayed there for about an hour, I wanted to stay over night but the weather was not good and it would’ve been a waste. I walked the road back to the bus and headed home. My day was complete and it was easily the best day I had in Korea so far basically because I got to see the beach. I hope to go back soon when the weather is nice and spend a night, they have ocean front hotel rooms for $70 a night, not bad. Jebu island was a cool place, there are no ATM’s on the island, I was told the population is around 1,000, and there are no stores other then restaurants.

Something funny about the culture of Korea and me; in Korea no one does anything alone, it is against every culture rule. Everything is based on doing things together. This is when I step in and break this culture rule. I always get asked why are you alone, why do you not have a girlfriend, are you married, you should be married, where are you friends, etc….I travel alone because it is easy, I can go where I want and when I want and do not have to wait for anyone, plus no one else gets up early on a Saturday morning. Korean’s still do not understand why I travel alone, but it definitely works our better traveling alone because it is just so much easier.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The grocery store always seems to have something exciting, Tuesday night was no exception. I went in to get some milk and toothpaste and when I was in Homeplus the song “when you happy and you know, clap your hands” came on. All the females that do the marketing, by looking good and standing in front of the products did the dance, the whole place was dancing. Imagine about 20 Koreans doing this dance in a crowded grocery store (in just about no clothes.) It was funny because they all came out one by one to do this dance and you could tell none of them wanted to do this and it was the “Happy when you know it” song.
Two students I had today cried, that was a lot of fun. One cried because she tried attacking another student and I made her apologize and the other girl bit a page in her book and ripped it. She them blamed it on me and cried for the next 30 minutes until class ended. It was a lot of fun, especially when she whacked me with a coat hanger when I was putting her jacket on. I am hoping she has a memory like a goldfish and will forget about this tomorrow, crying 6 year olds are always a treat. It is Tuesday night and I am getting excited about this weekend of March Madness. It will be awesome, going in early Saturday and getting myself a huge Western breakfast at the bar. ( Remember western breakfast hardly exists in Korea.) and then watching basketball from about 10 AM till 10 PM, life does not get much better then that.
Sunday March 21, 2010
The western breakfast was everything I dreamed of. Man was it good; it’s funny I am 24 years old and I am writing about eating pancakes, bacon, and toast. This should be an ordinary thing for someone to eat, but not in Korea. It absolutely takes it toll after a while. I want to talk about the setup of restaurants in South Korea. They could not be any different from Western standards, unless of course you go to Itaewon. Korean restaurants are small, very small, you do not tip, and most you take your shoes off and sit on the floor. I absolutely hate because I am so tall and a knee surgery also does not help. It just is not comfortable, the heated floors are nice; that’s about it. The restaurants are really small, probably no more then 15 customers in a traditional Korean Restaurant and that is a high number. You really notice how small they are when you go to Outback or TGI Fridays because they are up to western standards. Some restaurants have you pay right after you order, some will bring you the bill right after you order, and you do not pay at your table, you have to bring it to the hostess. It is pretty unique. The part I find really odd is when you are ready to order you do not wait for the waiter to come to the table, rather you yell out “yogi yo” that is definitely spelt wrong but that is how it sounds. It means here, telling the waiter to come here because I am ready to order. I find it rude, but that’s the culture.
Saturday turned out to be a fun day and night. I went to Itaewon to watch March Madness and man was this frustrating. The Canadian bartender was not in, so it was up to the Korean staff to run the TV. All the games are from the internet and are streamed to the tv. To put it nicely, they had no clue what was going on. Then some boob ( a customer) decided he was going to randomly change the game and the tv went out for about 30 minutes. Everyone heckled him and he left about 15 minutes later. It was nice to see some games and then later in the day one of my English Teachers came to visit and she brought me to an Irish pub for a Saint Patrick’s Day party and man was that bar fun. Too bad the trains stop running at 11.
Another English teacher and I bought a badmitton set today and man is that game difficult. Koreans love it, and they are really good at it. I made an ass out of myself playing that for a while but got my revenge later in the day playing basketball. Later in the day we were sitting in the park and I ran into one of my students, it was pretty funny. She took the role of the teacher and was teaching me Korean. When a student sees a teacher outside of class they go absolutely crazy, it is pretty funny. A little later in the day I saw another student of mine as we were walking to get some food; it took us a moment to realize it was a student and we already walked passed him so we only got to wave to him. I am guessing his mother is wondering why we did not stop and say hello.
Weather is still rather cold here, which makes for not the best of times. Hopefully it will warm up soon!