My brain is too wandery.
|Vishal:||(7:07) Why are you up so early?|
|Me:||(7:30) I rolled over and Koji was trying to get my attention. Knocking over bottles on my desk. Plop. Plop. Then I rolled over again and groaned and he ran up and jumped on my face and tore the map above my head. And I thought god dammit cat I will never succumb to your selfish ways to give you food when I need sleep. But then he curled up into my knee crease and it made me feel all warm inside so I hopped up and filled his bowl. When i went to the kitchen I thought frig I forgot to wash my dishes last night. And darn I also have to clean my floors! Then I remembered today is my short work day and I promised Jack i would make red curry for him to try. And I decided I wanted to surprise him by making some dessert. So then I looked at my phone to find a no bake dessert and then remembered your message and replied. After that I started to clean and make little notes on a post it for my grocery trip later. I gotta stay up because my friend wants to go on a hike this morning and his boyfriend is visiting and I wanna do everything but never give myself enough time for it all.|
Well I have been in Itaewon, Seoul for a couple of days now! I definitely know I won’t be able to post every day on here so I am not going to make any promises to do so, but I am going to try to write a bit every now and then (but just for you, Mom and Danielle!) just kidding, hehe.
Anyways, The last few days (Friday and Saturday) have been full of mainly exploring in the immediate area, and studying / doing pre-test material for our upcoming training. On Friday, Stuart, Scott and I had breakfast at a Western style breakfast place that Scott recommended, called The Hungry Dog. It has tasty breakfast that we would be able to experience back home, but definitely won’t find easily once we get to Gumi! (Itaewon is foreigner district, so there is a variety of food and choices). I am kind of glad to be going to a small city with few foreigners though, because it will force me to be more immersed into the Korean culture. It’s almost too easy to get comfortable here in Itaewon, because you can get by without learning or experiencing too much Korean language and culture.
After breakfast, we walked across the street to Scott’s bar, Phillies. They were varnishing the basement so everyone was just kind of hanging out and seeming a little silly from the fumes… Haha. Scott was to stay to do some prep to have everything ready to open that night, and Stu and I decided we would walk around and do some shopping. We didn’t get to leave without doing a “Flock of Pheasants” first, though! These are a set of 5 shots that is the running joke at Phillies… I think the shot has spiced rum, red bull and something else in it. A girl they know named Tracey walked by just in time for a shot, what a way to begin a morning on the side of the street! Haha. Tracey is really interesting, she is a British writer who is working for AP covering stories in Seoul!
Stuart and I walked around all the little shops in the area. We walked by the Korean War Memorial, which is really nice. We didn’t have much in mind for shopping except I wanted to find a hairdryer and straightener for my hair if possible (I came without because of course, they have different plugs in Asia). It was pretty funny to walk by tons of shops and guessing what they might contain because we can’t read Korean yet. In the end, I found what I was looking for! But there were no normal colours, so I wound up with a hot pink flat iron and a purple hairdryer. I got both for 40, 000 won (A little less than $40 Canadian altogether). Awesome! My flat iron cost me $170 dollars in Canada… And the one I just got is much better quality!
ANYWAYS, no one really cares about hair products, so I will move on… My blog though, I don’t really care. After shopping and sightseeing, Stuart and I went back to the apartment to study some English grammar. For dinner, we went to dinner with Scott and his friend Courtney for traditional Korean food. We went to a little restaurant and ordered Dakbokkeumtang. This is a spicy stew with chicken and potatoes. It was soooo good! It is served in a big pot which is put right into a fitted burner on top of the table, so it continues to cook before us. There are a variety of side dishes: The things we had served with the Dakbokkeumtang were Kimchi (a spicy, fermented cabbage which is the staple of almost every meal!) as well as pickled radish (Ggakdugi), soybean jelly squares (not sure the Korean name), baked egg, and raw, pickled minnow! I tried everything except the minnow, which Scott said tastes awful. I promise to be more adventurous next time… Haha. Korean eating is best described as a big, family type meal. The side dishes are shared among the participants as well as the main course. It is interactive, with each person taking what they choose to their own plate, and serving themselves from the main course in the center. We had Kass beers to accompany the meal. It was very nice! Also, Courtney is an interesting and nice girl who has been living in Korea many years. She is an artist, and she teaches as well. She actually married her husband who she met here, who works as a tattoo artist.
Anyways, I won’t go into too much detail about everything else! Today we mostly just did a lot of studying and completed our pretests. Nothing too crazy happened, the Korean girl clerk giggled at my foreign-ness in the convenience store. I can’t wait to learn Korean! Tomorrow we are going to our hotel in Gangnam for sometime after 2pm. This is where we will be Sun-Fri, studying and training with other new Chungdahm teachers throughout the week! I will be sure to update soon.
One more thing, I am sorry to say I absolutely suck with pictures! This is surprising to my friends and family because they know how obsessed I am with my Nikon… Honestly, I have just been too overwhelmed to actually pull out my camera! But I have my battery pack charging now and I promise to take a few tomorrow. Maybe I will upload the few I have taken, just from the plane ride here.
Time for bed! Goodnight :)
Day 1 in Seoul
Stuart and I arrived in Seoul yesterday at 4:30 pm local time, which is only 1:30 am where we were prior, in Winnipeg. Needless to say, we were feeling pretty wonky after 18 hours of traveling. We got lucky with our flights though, we flew from Winnipeg to Vancouver and after only about 3 hours of layover, flew directly into Incheon. (Which is an 11 hour flight).
The plane to Incheon was not bad at all. It was very comfortable, and huge. We got pretty decent meals and even “traditional Korean” plane food (Glass Noodles and Korean Style Pork). It was even spicy! We flew up beside Alaska and Russia, the view is truly remarkable from so high above… I was so lucky to have a window seat! Flying over Korea was surreal. So mountainous and gorgeous, I could hardly believe it was happening after dreaming about it for so long!
When we got into the airport, it was a very fast and efficient service through immigrations and customs. I was very impressed, and Koreans are so polite and friendly. When we got out into the general area, we thought it was pretty funny / lame / ridiculous that a live band was playing Gangnam Style… Ohhh my! Stuarts brother met us at the airport, and we took the Subway to his place in Seoul.
After getting off the Subway (which is extremely easy to navigate and very efficient) Stu’s brother (Scott) walked into a 7-Eleven and bought us beers! So great. We drank them on the sidewalk walking downtown Seoul, right by police officers directing traffic. But it is allowed! We also drank them in the cab, which is also totally okay! I felt so strange haha.
We got to Scott’s apartment, and he is very lucky to have a 3 bedroom to himself. So Stuart and I each have our own room staying here. The apartment is tiny but really nice. I especially like the hand carved ceilings - so pretty. His deck is shared with others in the building and wraps completely around, overlooking Seoul. Also, he has a little kitty named Dave, which makes me miss Andy a lot!
After settling in, I got cleaned up and we went out for Korean barbeque. Just a 3 minute walk down the street. Immediately I was wishing I knew Korean already, even though many people speak English it would be really, really helpful to know. Scott ordered for us because he is fluent. The food was AMAZING, and the service was extremely fast and friendly. However I felt like such a foreigner - I thought I was good with chopsticks living in Halifax! But the ones here are very heavy metal and flat, and I felt completely ridiculous operating them haha. Must get a pair and practice before embarrassing myself… Anyways, other interesting things to see: people smoking in the restaurant! We had a great meal, and drank beer and rice wine (sooo good!).
After that, I was pretty sure we would go back to his apartment and crash (we were so tired) but Scott was convincing us that the best way to fight jet lag is to stay up as late as we possibly could! So… we stopped by his friend’s bar, called CraftWorks. They had locally brewed beer which was surprisingly awesome. I had a pale ale and it was really citrusy and hoppy. There were so many people there, it was packed, and a great mix of Koreans, Americans, Canadians, South Africans, and more all speaking a mix of Korean / English / other languages! Also, smoking was allowed in the bar.
Next stop: Phillie’s Pub, the bar that Scott owns. We were really impressed! It was very packed, also with a wide variety of people / cultures. Scott started working behind the bar, as it was so busy. But we got to meet a lot of people, and we had too many beers and shots brought to us! It was a great time, I got drunk for the first time pretty much in months, since leaving Halifax haha. The people we met were really friendly and excited for us being here for our first time, and told us about their first teaching experiences, which many of them had before.
Stuart and I left the bar close to midnight, which is just down the hill (about 30 metres!) from Scott’s apartment. One more thing I want to mention is how awesome all the little streets and shops are. It was neat to see tanks of seafood outside the shops and even sting rays hanging on a clothes line. So surreal!
I love it already, I woke up this morning at 9am and I think it is safe to say I have avoided being jet lagged! Time to start the day :)