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.