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Showing posts from August, 2006

What Beds?I Don't See No Stinking Beds?

Some of you who have known me for a long time (and even those who have could probably guess I would have had some sort of neurosis) know that I'm a bit precious when it comes to sleep.

As a young child, I would wake up in the middle of the night, disoriented and sleepy, launch myself into a full fledge panic-anxiety attack and wake up my hardworking parents, who, through sleepy eyes, always tried to comfort me and let me know it was okay to just 'go back to sleep'.

I have been through bouts of insomnia, which always resulted in me eventually becoming so exhausted that I just fell a asleep after a couple of weeks or so. In my twenties, a bottle of Chardonnay usually did the trick.

I remember distinctly when my sleeping patterns became 'abnormal'. It was on a New Year's Eve, sitting in the tv room, doing the traditional V new year's party - movies and more food than you could eat in a month - and I begged to stay up with my parents to watch their movie, Purple R…

Happy Birthday Mr. D

As many of you remember, my 30th birthday was spectacular.

When D and I made the decision to come to Korea, we realised that I may be limited in creating the type of magic he did.

Although I think our weekend away in Busan was a good touch of magical, I figured the only other thing I could do was write to him about why I'm glad he's having his 30th birthday.

I'm glad you're 30 because it means that you were born and if you weren't born we would have never met and I would probably be a much more neurotic mess that I usually am.

I'm glad you're 30 because now I am no longer a cradle robber.

I'm glad you're 30 because this means we have passed the decade birthday mark together and that just seems so much more significant then when we both turned 20, were broke and probably drinking watered down pitchers of beer in a student bar. Funny as this sounds, I'm so glad we have those memories together too.

I'm glad it's your birthday because I'm exci…

This is the Life

If I told you that as I type I was sitting in a bathrobe that I got from my five star hotel room, overlooking the beach, with a late checkout so that I could take advantage of the most amazing spa I have ever been to, would you believe me?

And if I told you yesterday afternoon I sat by the pool, reading my book, waiting for 5pm to go for one of the best massages I've ever had in my life, would you call me a liar?

And that after our massages, we were treated to a Korean 'happy hour' in the executive lounge, overlooking the beach from the 15th floor, that included not only a wide variety of snackies and things including sandwiches, fruit, mini battered fish but ALSO your free choice of drinks and finally FINALLY some real gin and real tonic? Would you think I was having a hallucination?

Go ahead, I'm too chilled to care what you say.

D's 30th birthday celebrations have kicked themselves off right.

More later. I think I may fall alseep from all this relaxing.

Picture Friday (otherwise known as 'I'm a lazy ass blogger'

Figured this will give you a bit of a taste of what we're seeing

In Seoul, a replica of an old village. I didn't get the best shot of the two old men but I wish we had stayed here longer.
Traditional kimchi pots. Keeps it at the correct temperature. Nowadays, they actually have kimchee fridges. Talk about modernizing.
A rare shot of the two of us together on holiday. Looking hot and sweaty and I think generaly in quite a state of bliss.Until Monday...

Letter to the Kid#...#...oh I can't I drunk?+

Tyeger - did you think I would forget your birthday? You're a big boy of two today. I can't believe it. So much of your little life I have missed. There are so many littler people than you now too and that makes it even crazier to think I've been away so long!

I'm sure you're talking up a storm and being cuter than ever. This year your birthday might be a little easier on your mom, as the first year is always tough (er, so I hear, what do I know?)

Another bell beckons me (seriously kid, I'm becoming Pavlov's dog) so I must go but not before I do a little singing. Hell, that's what I do all morning, what's one other song?

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Tyeger
Happy Birthday to you

Hugs across many oceans, your crazy, mostly sober Aunt A

Lunchy Lunchy 1 2 3

One of my favourite times of the day is when I get to go for lunch, or as they say it in Korean, lunchy. See? All you doubters that thought I wasn't going to make an effort to learn the language. I'm already able to say specifc words such as lunch in Korean. It was a hard translation.

It's not because I get to stop teaching but more because I know the food is going to be good. I know that I'm going to get a home cooked meal by an authentic Korean woman who uses fresh ingredients to feed the minds of the future.

Back home, cafeteria food is, well, nothing usually to write home about. Maybe the Koreans feel the same way about the lunch they get at school. For me, it's like the best food I get to eat.

The soups are always good - in Belfast I was a soup lover and had it every day for lunch. With some oat cakes and cheese. So I suppose it's kinda the same here in Korea, except instead of oat cakes it's rice and instead of cheese it's kimchi and many other thing…

Down Came the Rain..

Simple pleasures, people. The typhoon off the coast on Saturday created enough rain and wind for us to open all the windows and let the fresh air in!

It didn't last long but at least it was nice to get rid of some of the stale air. I'm still not happy with the living room floor sleeping arrangments but just a few more weeks D keeps saying.

I'm definitely in a bit of the culture-shock-slump stage, where your excitement and exhilaration begin to wane a bit and you begin to settle into life.

I'm a social person and I love to be around people but it makes it difficult when you not only have to meet people but also learn the proper way to socialise.

It's all about who invites who and who pays and who goes and who the hell knows. But I can tell you coupled with the usual culture shock paranoia of (sing it now) 'nobody likes me everybdy hates me I'll just go eat worms', it can become a bit trying.

At least I have D. And also the American couple, who we tend to hang…

You Stink

There are many types of smells that tend to begin festering in a home when the weather will not drop below 30C degrees.

There are bound to be any smells anyway when you are a culture that decides to compost.

Especially when that culture lives in 1000 sq foot apartment buildings. In high buildings. So high that going downstairs 10 flights to throw your apple core out doesn't seem like an easy option, especially since you have to leave the 'trifecta of cold' that is your apartment in the air conditioning.

So there are buckets. Buckets that you empty all that food garbage in - egg shells, vegetable scraps, rice. This seems like an easy way to contain the composting smells that would begin in your house except once you've got MORE food, you have to open the bucket.

Smell stank ass number one. Do you know what egg yolks smell like after A DAY of festering in the heat? I can't say that I'm glad that I know.

And it's not just the food. Hot air rises and being at the t…

Just Read the Sign

In the elevator to our apartment building, there are always paper signs posted up listing various bits of information that I knew eventually would become relevant but never really paid that much attention to.

D and I continually joke about the information and occasionally sit in a panic wondering when the kind security guards will come baning on our door again.

'Again' because the first day of our week holiday our apartment phone rang. The apartment phone is a security phone and even has a video that lights up when someone rings the doorbell.

Going from a place in Belfast with no peephole to a full fledged video security system was quite a treat. But hearing the phone ringing and NOT seeing the video light up meant only one thing - okay two things. One, it was the security desk and two we were not going to have a clue what they were saying.

I picked up the phone anyway and after a brief conversation (consisting as usual of me 'ahhh...I don't know' and lots of Korean ra…

Baby Steps

Life is getting busier here in Korea and I have been quite tardy - not posting for almost a week! So to make it better, I thought I'd post a picture. This is a little area I walk towards when I'm going to the gym. I find it so peaceful and calming.

A few things before I rush off to another class:

Class: We have had another class added to our schedule, twice a month as we will rotate, so not that bad but this does mean less preparation time for classes. I will be happy when the schedule is just SET but perhaps this is what I'm learning about teaching - it is never really set.

Triumph 1: I had a mini triumph on the weekend. We went to the large grocery store which has a food court at the top on Saturday. We needed lunch, so armed with my handy list of food in English and Korean (c/o good ole mom and Lonely Planet) I spent a good 10 minutes looking for bibimbap - in Korean. I had the hangul symbols memorised (don't ask me them now, but I had them then) and guess what??? I SP…

Taxi Ettiquette is Universal

This is a lesson in 'jumping to conclusions'.

My Gemini impatient self on many occasion has reacted too quickly and not allowed myself to actually THINK about what the situation is.

I'm not sure if I make a good first impression but I know that I'm bad at getting them. Thank goodness for my D-o-meter, which is mostly always right about people, sometimes to my annoyance.

(As a side note, there have been people I have continued to try and think differently of FOR YEARS, stubborning insisting that he is not right. And yet, he always is)

So it comes as no surprise that when I got out of a cabby last week, indignant and annoyed at his lack of helpfullness.

Here is a little how it went

A: Anyong-haseyo

Cabbie: (grunt)

A: (in my best non-Korean accent say my building name) Aparta, (then my area name)

Cabbie: (lots of Korean)

A: uhh (see above)

Cabbie (lots more Korean)

A: (finally give in and bust out the small piece of paper that has our Korean address written on it or perhaps it just s…

Finally a Millionaire

I got my first paycheque yesterday. I'm a millionaire. Just after 30, not bad. (although D kindly pointed out that he became a millionaire BEFORE he was 30 and I gave him a good glare to thank him for reminding me)

The Korean won is roughly 1000 to 1 US dollar. It's not exact but easy to translate how much money you are spending this way. I'm not one to go into salary ever but you'd have to be an idiot to do not be able to do the math and figure I'd need at least 1 million won to survive on a monthly basis.

Anyway, so it feels kinda cool to say that. And I suppose it's a right of passage joke for any new foreigner working in Korea - for those of you reading that have been doing this for awhile, I apologize for the cliche.

What was even crazier was the fact that I was handed a stack of bills. So not only am I a millionaire but I'm also a mobster hustler.

Amazing how Korea is managing to make dreams come true I never imagined even having.

Eventually we will be giv…

Back to the Beach

At school and amazed how it doesn't even feel like I've left. I definitely have more energy for the little guys in the classroom and there is nothing like little faces looking up at you as if they haven't seen you in a year and wondered where you went.

Little smiling faces.

Seoul was a fantastic trip, filled with culture, shopping, great food and too much booze.

It was a bit of a bummer when we found out our train on Friday was set to land at the wrong station back from Seoul. We wanted to go to Gupo, near Gimhae but were forced to go to the large city, Busan, further away.

To make matters a bit more complicated, we had planned to go to Busan for the weekend anyway to head to the beach.

And so the karma gods stepped in, forced us (gasp) to find a cheap hotel near the beach and STAY THERE FOR TWO NIGHTS.

This what it must be like to live in the OC. To have the option to buy some alcohol (yes, more Soju) and sit with the rest of the locals in the sand looking up at the night sky a…

Soju on the Street

Seoul has turned out to be the vacation we needed.

Our hostel is quietly located, smack dab in the middle of the fashion district, Bangan Market. As we walk to the subway each morning, we have the choice of paint thinner or floor tile to purchase. And we certainly don:t have any trouble sleeping in AC rooms - or should I say mini fridges.

We have been proper tourists.

Bus tour. Check.

Palace tour. Check.

Visit to reconstruction of ancient village with tacky tourist shop paraphanilla.Check.

Eating local street meat that was more like a fair than the streets of Asia - think Pogo Stick with french fries deep fried around it. Check.

Soju on the street. Double Check.

Soju is a popular drink among the Koreans. You can shoot it or sip it and depending on the mood, I do either. It tastes a bit like Vodka and Zambuca put together. And goes down great with spicy food like Kimchi.

There is no real way to describe the street our hostel is on other than your typcial Asian market street. Tiny alley way with…