Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Probably the shortest post ever!!!

I wanted to blog about this because it made my day.
I received a msg at work from Chubbs aka Jay and his message said that while he realized he really missed Me and Elodie. If you're reading this Elle, I just wanted to pass the message on. and If u're reading this Chubbs, I'm sorry I'm making it public but I just wanted to remember your kind words especially later on when I'm back in Toronto reliving my adventure in Korea or when I'm feeling down. I was very touched by it.
ok.. sappy moment over!

Monday, October 23, 2006

One night stand

It lasted an hour and a half and it was incredible. A bit awkward initially but it was downright satisfying.... let me start from the beginning...

I had the hardest time waking up this morning. After last nights' rainstorm my apartment had gotten chilly overnight and I woke up to an igloo. I would've loved to stay in my cozy bed the entire day alas the snooze button was working overtime and it got to a point where I knew I had to get up. It also didn't help that my body was aching and sore from a day of vball and a night of limboing (all because of Mike B.)

I went to this jimjilbong today on my colleagues recommendation. She's a first grade teacher and she told me about how she had this amazing massage for only 25,000 won which immediately attracted my attention. My body was aching everywhere and a massage was definitely something I'd have killed for. So I asked her more about it and before long she volunteered to drive me there. It turned out to be quite far and I had not realized what this massage really was until after I'd paid for it.

Basically it was more like a jimjilbong scrubbing session.. except.. I wasn't scrubbing myself, they were scrubbing me. I did get a massage tho it wasn't what you'd have thought it was. The massage was part of the rub down she did as she oiled me up, then washed me with milk. I got the royal scrub treatment. I was scrubbed raw to the point where I had to tell her to ease it a bit. I was scrubbed.. ahem... EVERYWHERE. Although the sensitive areas were more just in passing. The head massage was SPECTACULAR! i got a cucumber face mask and the oil rub down was incredible. My hair was washed and washed and conditioned my face was rewashed with milk after the mask removal. I didn't so much like the scrubbing part but I did enjoy the oil and milk treatment. I only wished my massage was an actual deep tissue massage. But at least, I now have the cleanest skin and the softest skin ever, and the softest hair too.

O I forgot to mention... hehe the women giving the massages, are naked or at least half naked. They wear see through bras. The only thing is.. they're all kinda old. The youngest had to be in her mid 40s if not older.

I'd do it again, except I need to find a real masseuse first.
So maybe it's not really a one night stand. But it sure feels as good as sex.

Saturday Oct 21st: English Plaza

I don't know why it's called a plaza. Basically its just English camp where the kids come participate in activities run in english two saturdays every month. Linda, the head of English department in the Nam-Gu district (my district) for elementary schools, (phew thats a long ass title) asked me to come to one. I was sort of pressured into volunteering myself, the cincher being that I was gonna get paid to participate. Heck, I'm down for a little extra cash especially with my hefty student loan towering over me.

So I head off to English Plaza with no idea what its gonna be like. I mean, I had an activity planned and everything revolved around Halloween. We also talked about everyone getting dressed up as part of the activity. It was scheduled to run from 2-6 at least that was the time I was given. Unfortunately that meant that I was missing out on one of my colleagues wedding. =(

HaeKyong drew me a map of where the english plaza was held, but on the bus I recognized one of my students... hehe actually one of my favorite students.. I know I shouldn't have favorites but Yong Jin (that's his name) is SOO adorable. He's a bit chubby and everybody makes fun of him even tho really they're his friends. He always comes up to me and talks to me in between classes. He was apparently really too shy to speak english but to me he's my favorite because he tries so hard to get a concept across and he uses it each and every time so that it's drilled in. O AND HIS CHEEKS!! HEHE his chubby cheeks are soo pinchable!!!
ne ways back to the story. So I met his mom and his sister and they ended up taking me to the place because they were so afraid I was gonna get lost..

So I get there and I'm really early in terms of Korean time, which translates to me being 10 mins earlier. I go in search of a washroom to put on my outfit. I had bought a witch's costume from EMART and had bought some facepaint. I painted my eyebrows black and arched it more, giving it a bit more slant, I made my eyes a bit more angular, and painted my lips black. When I got outside (the plaza was held outside) all the other teachers that I recognized (namely the koreans) were NOT in costume. I stood there looking a little lost and the 2 foreign teachers I met were also not in costume. But thank god it turned out they had it on them and were gonna change into it. Sai Vang (I SO did NOT get her name right) was gonna be a mummy and needed my help wrapping her in tissue paper. Jason had a legit excuse, he was there as an emergency backup to replace Cara who couldn't make it. BTW these are all foreign teachers teaching elementary in the Nam-Gu district and so they aren't part of the whole Canadian Connection group. But they're all nice and fun too. Which is another reason I volunteered to do this Plaza thing: to meet new ppl.

I'm getting way to sidetracked. Basically I did end up being the most dressed up well, Sai was pretty dressed up too.. hehe in her toilet paper. I think its a great costume and its very useful in public washrooms here in Korea.

The entire thing ended a lot faster than I thought and it was relatively easy. I also got a free meal out of it and befriended, Sai and Jason.

One funny thing. So my activity was really a pictionary thing and then a race to put on costume and to say trick or treat. So.. my banner said.. Halloween story - Mimi ... There was no story involved. I don't get it.
On the way home, I hopped on the 41 bus without thinking about where I was boarding the bus so for the entire way I was a bit worried if I was heading the wrong direction. At one point I asked this woman and she told me that I was on the wrong bus and going the wrong direction. So she went off the bus with me and told me to board this other bus I was more familiar with. The funny thing.. it wasn't the wrong bus. The bus I was on, after I got off made the same turn on the right street. So I ended up paying extra to board another bus that was going the same direction. *sigh.. She meant well and plus it was only 80 cents really.

I rushed home to change because Anne was heading over soon so that we could meet up with the gang for some movie time at Mikes' place. Mike and Andrew live in the same apartment complex and let me just say. Their apartment is spectacular. It's got a separate shower (soo jealous) and its HUGE WITH 12 FT CEILINGS.. That being said I do love my apartment too. I just love their kitchen and their bathroom.

We spent the night watching Exorcist and somehow we ended up having a limbo competition. Natasha and I made the last round but we agreed that it was a tie game because Tash and I were the shortest so it really was unfair. The prize was a sore back for all of us.

By the time we left Mike's apartment, it was 2:00 in the morning and Lindsay, Tash, Eric, Anne and I took a cab back to the Art Center. Once there, Anne and I boarded another cab because Eric was going a different direction from us. Big mistake. The cabby was creepy and gross. Once in the cab and once we told him where we were going he tried to speak to us in Korean. We tried to explain to him we had no idea what he was saying. Initially we thought he was just curious as to where we came from and what we did. But we realized soon enough that he was questioning us as to why we were out this late. He kept peering over at us thru the rearview mirror and at some point we made the connection that he was asking all these questions because he thought we were hookers. He would laugh this weird laugh after we told him we were teachers and he kept going.. 2 am? and laughing. then he would look into the mirror and I stared back at him giving him the dirtiest look ever because he would shift to try to look down thru the mirror. It wasn't like we were dressed scandalously. We were dressed warmly and conservatively. It got to the point where had we not been so close to home I would've gotten out of the cab right there and then. Also when it came time to dropping us off. We got out of the car at the intersection and he stopped the cab in the middle of the street and didn't move even tho it was green light for him. He waited until we were crossing the street on our green and moved as if to hit us. WEIRD. We decided to stand there talking until he was gone before we parted to go to our apartment. Thank god we lived in a University district so there were people out and about.
UGH creepiness...I had never felt so violated just from a stare.
This would constitute as my first creepy experience from Korea

Monday, October 16, 2006

VOLLEYBALL AT LAST!! Oct 14th-15th

I'm sooo happy!!! The best thing about the weekend that just passed was that Anne and I have found a place we can play volleyball!!! But first things first...

Saturday, Oct 14th
My coteacher HaeKyong took us (Lindsay, Natasha, Anne and I) to see the show Nanta. The best thing was that we got good seats for 30% off because we were donating books. The original price was 50,000 won for the seats but would've ended up costing us around 35,000. The problem was that I am very forgetful and I forgot to bring my book with me for the discount. HaeKyong was providing the other 4 books. I felt like such an idiot. I was willing to pay the full price if need be but the girls were nice enough to offer to chip in. I would've just paid the difference myself. Anyway, Haekyong said that there might be a bookstore around there that we could buy some book and donate it. But once we got into that area there were absolutely no bookstores around. I resigned to the fact that I would've had to pay extra. But for some reason I felt hopeful. As we walked to the entrance I noticed this street vendor that had all her goods laid out. She was selling used items such as suits, hats, bags, shoes, fur scarves. I approached it thinking maybe she sells books and LO AND BEHOLD!! THERE WAS A BOOK! I reached for it and asked how much.. 1000won.. for those back home, thats equivalent to a little more than $1!!! SCORE!! honestly I am soo lucky!! So we ended up paying the discounted amount yay! and the show was incredible! It REALLY WAS!
The show is a drumming show about 4 cooks and one restaurant manager. There were only 5 ppl on the cast. It was very good because they involved the audience, the performers were incredible. They knew how to sing, to dance, to drum and they were hilarious. They even made soup as they drummed out the beat with knives on vegetables. IS THAT NOT INCREDIBLE.. altho only 2 ppl (from the audience) got to drink the soup. It really was incredible. I loved everything about it. they had very little talking but there were english parts. I could not stop laughing throught the entire show. O did I mention two of the actors were soo good looking and very very built. haha there was one guy who's role was "sexy guy" hahah.. (ladies, isn't he sexy) . LOL... and if you don't think they're good looking.. you should've seen them without their clothes.. phew.. (sorry Nem)
From my last posting about volleyball we were told that we should come into the gym on sunday and that we would be able to play. We tried hard not to have any expectations because with the language barrier that could mean a lot of things. We showed up about 20 minutes earlier than 3pm which was what time we were told to come and it turned out that there were a bunch of other people playing a scrimmage. A second glance at the game unveiled that there were a lot more ppl on the court than normal. It turns out the women on the court were playing 9 womens!

When we first went in we had no idea if this was pick-up or what-not. We didn't spot the coach of the Inha University vball team so we just randomly asked the guy approaching us if we were allowed to play. He smiled as if he anticipated our arrival. He led us to this other girl and told us to stretch with her. Thank god I was flexible enough because he went over to Anne and started pushing her down on various stretches to make her reach further and truth be told, it looked very painful. But that would turn out to be the least painful thing we had to do. For about 2 hours we were made to volley, then bump to the wall and everytime we would pause to watch the intense game going on behind our backs the guy (Mr. Chong) would come and tell us to go back to doing the same thing.

This may have sounded very tedious but I was very appreciative because they were giving us individual attention and giving us pointers along the way. I knew that I was doing something wrong and I know I have a lot of bad habits. But if u can imagine, volleying to the wall for an hr is a very long time even with breaks in btwn and my arms were sooo sore. It was back to the basics which I liked but that being said.. I was dying to play.... Every INCH OF MY body was dying to just pepper and the touch of the ball, who knew it could feel soo satisfying. After the initial volleying and bumping we spotted the original guy who had told us about this place.
If I didn't mention this to you I should do so now, this guy would stand out in a crowd ANYWHERE he is A GIANT! he has huge broad shoulders too! He was also very good looking (hehe Hi Nem). Well we started talking to him, he's the head coach which we knew already but more than that he's 197 cms tall.. the dude is almost 2 ms!! YIKES! AND HE WAS AN EX-NATIONAL VBALL PLAYER.. after watching us bump and volley to the wall he came over and started to give us more pointers.. he showed us a different drill to bump the balls.. and to volley the ball.. and he just stood around to watch to make sure we were doing it right. Every once in a while he would stop us and give us little pointers.. I was IN HEAVEN!!
Then right around 4:30ish.. they started to put up the men's height and I realized that the ex-national vball player (Mr. choi cheon sik (I googled him)) was going to play. We asked if we could watch him play and he nodded. Our arms felt like lead at this point. The game was incredible, it was basically 6s vs 9 men(1 woman). It was amazing! and I couldn't believe this was a sort of pick-up... after a watching for a while..I was itching to play or even just to pepper the ball so I asked anne if she would like to pepper.. she didn't want to so I approached one of the guys to see if they wanted to pepper. the only dude that agreed to ended up subbing someone else in and the other guy declined bc he was tired and they asked this girl if she would be willing.. She was about to when she said that it might not be a good idea to pepper now bc it may distract the game. Feeling rather rejected I went back to sit down, but when the game finally ended Anne agreed to go pepper with me. As we were heading to the court we were approached by the guy who was subbing in and he asked me where we were from and eventually I asked him if I could try to hit one.
The embarassing thing was that because it was men's height they all stopped to watch me. Thank god I hit it well enough and so from then on they were sort of cheering us on. I LOVE KOREANS! THEY ARE SOOOO CUTE!
Afterwards they started to play a game of pick-up and we were put on separate teams. I was soo hyped up by this point and I was soo glad that I was playing well. You know when you really just feel like u're having an on game? That was me. The odd thing was that they were playing sixes... 9men style. i.e. no rotation, 4 ppl up front 2 back court, and we just rotated serving.. I started off back court and after the first set THEY PUT ME IN FRONT COURT!! AHHH!! haha MIDDLE!! middle seemed more appropriate bc A) the setter can block for me, and B) i got to play both defense and offense..at one point I got soo into the game that I accidentally went up for a fake, and ended up faking my own team.. haha the power hitter actually thought I was going to hit the ball that was way too high.. and he caught the ball!! we had a good laugh about it.

I love that feeling when you feel like u've earned their respect! They asked us out for soju afterwards but we weren't prepared for that since we had been planning to head home to finish our lesson plans. The funny thing was that after the pickup we were introduced to the general manager of the team and the coach and they made us sit down in the circle as if we were part of the team.. i have no idea whats going on at this point. But HOPEFULLY WE MADE SOME SORT OF TEAM!!

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Since Busan, I've been overwhelmed with phlegm. I cough constantly and I've even lost my voice. The first day back to school was hell. I barely had any sleep since my incessant hacking cough starts in the middle of the night. The worse part of it is that usually when I cough, it at least provides temporary relief from the itch in the back of my throat. This time however, I could die coughing and that itch would still itch. This week I'm teaching grades 6 and 3. I find it much easier to teach grade 3s because they are still eager to learn. They will try to understand me and would ask me if they don't understand me, rather than sit there and stare like some of the grade 6s. As a teacher, I'm noticing that the kids that peeve me the most aren't the ones that taught out of turn, or are loud-mouths because I can actually use their energy, but rather the ones that are shy or refuse to speak. They ruin my plans all the time! It is SOOO frustrating especially when you are trying to play a game and it requires that you speak at the very least ONE SENTENCE... omg.. ONE WORD pleeaassee.. and yet.. he refuses to say ne thing.. I almost want to just pull him from the game. The entire class is urging him to speak just one word and he refuses. It makes me wanna pull hair. Mostly HIS.. and technically I could hahah .. but no no I'm not into the corporal punishment.

hehe... actually I find that the kids that are usually considered bad in other classes are actually good in mine. This is because I'm just as if not more playful than they are. I'm also very very persistant. It's the kid inside me. I like to play just as many tricks on them as they would on me. One incident that sticks out in my mind is when a few of the kids wanted to hide behind the door to scare me. Unfortunately I happen to see them from the corner of my eye. So as I approached the door I made sure they knew I was coming by pretending to talk on the phone very loudly, but as I open the door I bent down so i was coming from beneath and as they "boo"ed me from above I grabbed their feet from below which ended up scaring them.. hehe .. that made me laugh so hard.. the kids that were watching also laughed.

I don't like to discipline but that being said, I'm not afraid to be strict with the kids. It's funny because I really have to pretend to be mad. More often than not I usually talk with the individual kids after I've distributed the class activity and diverted their attention on the task at hand. I pull the whole, you respect me, and I will respect you. You act like a kid and I will treat you like one.

Enough about that, I've discovered that when Koreans say hospital, they usually mean doctor's office. Initially when they kept asking me that I replied no I don't think its that serious. Finally when they told me the wait time is only half hour I agreed to go only to find out that it's really just a medical clinic. It's a bit scary for me to go to the clinic, because I'm used to my doctor that tells me step by step what I'm taking and why. Now I have to trust them on their word. I've gotten two needle shots to my butt by the nurse and all I know about them is that it's for spittal cough.. NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS and NO IDEA WHAT MY BUTT HAS TO DO WITH MY COUGH.. but if i get this enough times i'm gonna have some big ass J-Lo butt.. haha I wish.

I'm craving chicken noodle soup like no tomorrow. All the soup I've seen so far is cream based. I suppose I could make my own chicken noodle soup but that would mean require work.

On the bright side, Anne and I have discovered this gym where the Korean Air Professional team plays. We've been going to watch them practice and the plan is to slowly infiltrate the coach's good side and then first ask if we can shag some balls and hopefully we can move on to actually peppering with the ball on the side. I had to explain to him that we are going thru volleyball withdrawal with the analogy of smoking addiction and then trying to quit smoking. It was a real breakthrough they totally understood me. Also another coincident that I hope will work to my benefit is that the coach found out I teach english at Hagik Elementary school and it just so happens that his son goes there.. and is in 3rd grade hahah I teach 3rd grade. So maybe his kid will tell him about how all the kids love me.. at least I hope they do and I hope its not all just an act.
Any who time to cook and then take my meds.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chuseok Holiday in Busan

I'm back at last from my 3.5 day trip to Busan. Busan is the 2nd largest city in South Korea. It's got a lot of beaches and since it's located on the south-eastern part of Korea, its a lot warmer. We bought KTX tickets and because the trip was during Chuseok, the busiest time of the year for travelling, we were only able to secure seats at 7:25am there and 5:25am back.
We totally overestimated the amount of time it would take for us to get to Seoul station and the KTX platform and so we were there a bit earlier than expected. I'd like to say that I enjoyed the scenery on the way to Busan, but unfortunately because of how early our flight was we were so tired that I only got to see bits and pieces of the countryside. The pieces that I did see, were beautiful and picturesque, but sleep was more important.
When we arrived in Busan, it took us 2.5 hrs to find a place to stay. It wasn't that they were full cause Chuseok is actually low season for the hotels cause everybody goes home to family. It was the fact the different places we were thinking of trying out were spaced apart and we were travelling in a large group and we had no idea how to get where we wanted to go. Finally after we were thoroughly tired from dragging our bags all over the place, we found rooms in a place called Hotel Angel. We stayed basically in a traditional korean style place. It was also very cheap. for the 2 nights we stayed there it came to a total of 30,000 won and the place was modern, clean and very cozy. We had 4 rooms which would've worked out to be 3,3,3 and 2 but, Lindsay, Natasha, Anne and I decided we wouldn't cramping a bit and staying together in one room. We weren't allowed to have more than 3 per room so that's why we couldn't rent one less room.

When we got into our rooms, we were all so tired that we decided to take a nap. The funniest thing was that we decided that we'd turn on the tv just to see what was on. Natasha while flipping through some channels managed to flip onto some local porn station. The dude was soo ugly and you could totally tell that the sex was pure acting without real intercourse. but nonetheless it was hilarious and the four of us could not for the life of us turn away from it and we were completely hysterical. Eric, Andrew and Matt hearing all the commotion started ringing the doorbell to our room. Despite flipping the channel, eventually the boys decided to channel surf and landed on the same channel. We watched a bit of it because it was soo funny. The girls sounded so whiny and the guy was really hideous. Eventually we stopped watching it and took this huge group nap. When we woke up we were all eager to get on with some sightseeing. We went to grab some dinner first and ended up eating at some korean place. The meal wasn't too bad except they have some weird idea for Anne didn't quite like it.

After dinner we all got together to try to decide what it was we were going to do. The group kind of formed 2 separate cliques. This wasn't a big problem because we still all got along and we still did stuff as a group. Lindsay, Natasha, Anne, Me, Eric, Andrew and Matt ended up going to Gwangilli beach. We managed to find our way there which is impressive and walked a bit along the beach. The water turned out to be very very warm despite what our coteachers had told us. We were very excited to swim in the ocean the next day. It is very interesting how different our perception of things are from our Korean co-teachers. I've been told that the walk to Carrefour is very far, meanwhile it's only really about 15 minutes. I was warned before heading to Busan that people don't swim at this time because the water is too cold to swim and yet the water was warm.

After our walk along the beach, we ended up in this carnival-ish place. Where there were 3 rides. We had actually seen something like this during our orientation. There are 3 rides, one of them is like Jet Scream in Canada's wonderland but it doesn't swing all the way around. The other is something like Cliffhanger except there is no water. Finally the last one is something like the disco ride in the ex, where the ride goes round and round, except that a) it's more of a comedy show, b) it goes on forever and c) you get bumped and basically the operator talks, makes fun of you and tries to bump you from ur seat as much as possible. I went on all three and the last ride in particular was very painful. Because we clearly stood out, the operator picked on us. It also didn't help that we were sitting with 4 other beautiful Koreans. The operator also used the ride to flirt with them. Thus we were picked on for the majority of the ride. Both Lindsay and Natasha ended up with bruised arms and Anne was flung out and her flip flop at one point flew off her feet and smacked one of the Korean girls on the head. LOL.. The ride lasted for at least 30 minutes. It was the hardest ride I've ever been on.
(Jet Scream-like ride is on the left and the long-ass crazy ride is on the right)

The next day (Thursday) we woke up as early as we could which was around 9:30am but with 4 girls in a room, and Natasha last, it took us so long to get ready. We ended up eating at 11am and Tous les jours bakery and afterwards headed off towards the beach. Ryan, a Korean university student Anne and I had met on the bus one day joined us since his hometown was about an hour away. This time the entire group went so we really were a huge group. We went to a different beach this time, Haeundae beach.
We got there around noonish and I got settled as soon as I could and headed out to the ocean. It took forever to convince the girls to go into the water. You could see though that the only people swimming were foreigners. The water was cool and refreshing. It was cooler than the night before for two reasons, a) we were at a different beach, b) the water the night before had been warmed by the sun for the entire day. In any case when they were finally convinced to get into the water the group of us except for Ryan and Natasha started swimming. It was incredible. The waves were strong and I really wanted to ask some random surfer to borrow his board. But I refrained from doing so and just swam along. It was such a funny sight because all of a sudden there were a lot of Korean's watching us, SOME EVEN TAKING PICTURES. hehe i got the group to do the pyramid. that was fun!

After the beach we all headed out to grab some lunch and we had to split up because half of us wanted Seafood and half of us wanted Bennigans. Eric, Aaron, Roland, Ryan, Myself and Anne went for seafood. I had heard great things about the seafood here because here, you'd buy the fish and they'd prepare the sashimi for you. I don't quite know which fish I had, but some of it was great, the Mackerel had some ifs skin still on and it did hurt a bit to eat. But everything else was great. hehe Something else was served as an appetizer. We'd seen it before in street vendors, but had never known what it was. As you can see from the picture, you can sort of guess what it is. It was larvae of some sort. In any case, I decided I was going to try it at least just to know what the hypes all about. Well.. I didn't think twice, I've learned that if you're going to do something, thinking about it makes it harder. So Anne's got a picture of me putting it closer to my mouth and I ate it. I had to wash it down with Soju and water. but... the taste? ugh. I would not do that again. One of the other guys, Aaron and Roland despite not quite liking it, ate it again and told us it's better with hot saunce. I didn't try. It wasn't as crunchy as I expected but rather a bit soft. The fact that I knew what I was eating made it worse than it really was. and afterwards, I could smell that thing on vendors a mile back. The smell alone was enough to start my stomach churning and my gag reflex on alert.

After lunch, we met up with the other group and proceeded to look for the Busan Aquarium. I love aquariums but I've been to two this year, Monterey bay aquarium and Busan aquarium and I gotta say, they're pretty much the same thing. It still was fascinating nonetheless. The aquarium took a while because there were so many of us and because we all liked different things. The picture to the right is one of our 7 timer shots. I love my camera (Thank you Uncle Mike!!!). I can set the timer to take 7 shots instead of just one so everywhere we go, we've got to have at least one 7-shot timer photos. We also try to change our pose as much as possible. Lindsay, Natasha, Anne and I have actually taken quite a few of these.
After the aquarium we headed back to the hotel to shower and wash up for dinner and whatever we may do afterwards. Originally, the group wanted to go to Nori (karaoke) but the girls (L,N,A and Me) also wanted to go to some club afterwards. So we got kind of dressed up but wore our sweaters over whatever we were wearing because it got cold at night. We ended up eating Sang Juk Sow, Ok I'm saying that completely wrong, basically its pork barbecue. It's really good cuz u cook the meat yourself but you wrap it in lettuce leaves or huge ass mint leaves. It's delicious but the pork is really fat. So we hit up the Nori-bong and it was hilarious. It was also very cheap. Turned out to be 20,000 for the room and basically that was it. We sang our hearts out, in my case I sang my lung out. My throat had been sore from the screaming at the mini amusement park and although the saltwater from the ocean felt like it might've cured the rising cough. It was back from the Nori-bong. We didn't quite sing so much as YELL. and by the end of the night, I couldn't hold a tune for the life of me. We never did end up going to the club because the timer on the Nori-bong kept resetting itself so we had no idea what time it was and we completely lost track of time and ended up staying at the Nori-bong until 3 am.

Friday, our last full day in Busan was amazing. It was the official Chuseok Holiday so most of the stores and restaurants were closed. We hit up Tous les Jours again for breakfast and then proceeded to the Haedong YongGungsa Temple. The temple is right by the cliffside overlooking the ocean. It was so picturesque, with the waves crashing onto the rocks. There were a lot of people there for Chuseok.

After the temple we headed back to the hotel, we headed back to Haeundae beach to grab a bite. We ate Vietnamese food. I had been craving pho. The Pho here is expensive (~7000 for a small). We ate it nonetheless and even ordered "spring rolls" which turned out to be the rice wrap ones. I wouldn't have mind it except they decided to change up the ingredients. They had pickle, carrots, fake crab and some pickled turnip. All in all, I wish I had the originals. This one didn't quite taste right.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags. We'd already checked out because we'd figured that since our train departs at 5:25 am There was no point in us renting a room. And we'd decided that we just wouldn't sleep and that we'd spend the night at the beach and then just cab it to the station. But before we did that we decided we'd try to hit up the "hot springs". There are actual hot springs, but the place we decided to go turned out to be a jimjilbong. Which is basically a bath-house. By the time we'd figured that out, we'd already arrived there. The guys were gonna go for it, and since I'd already done it. I was willing to go. The other girls weren't so willing. So we were gonna just wait around for the guys. As we headed downstairs we saw the domed saunas in the common area and when the girls found out we didn't need to be naked in the Sauna, we decided to head over there. hehe I didn't tell them that after the sauna, they're gonna want to go into the bath. So we headed to the Sauna and it was beautiful in there. This one was a lot bigger than the one I'd gone to before. Since I was the "veteran", I showed the girls the various things they could do. We first went into the 47 degree sauna, and unfortunately I don't have any pictures because my batteries died. We could've brought our cameras there if we wanted because we were fully clothed.
(This is one of our 7-shot timer photo in our styling sauna clothings.)
In any case after the sauna, the girls finally decided that they were gonna give it a go. They initially wanted to try to sneak in with just the bottom of our suits and hopefully no one would notice. haha. so we tried it, but we were intercepted by some naked old woman who gestured that we needed to shower first. So we showered and tried again to sneak into the bath with our bikini bottoms. That didn't work and by this time, Lindsay and Natasha backed out of the whole thing. So it turned out to be just Natalie, Sarah, Anne and myself going in fully nude. They totally enjoyed the whole experience and I am proud of Anne for going in. I know she was initially fully against it. In fact I think this whole Korea thing has made her braver than she normally would be. The girls that didn't go ended up regretting it and that is the reason why I feel you should at least try something once. Lindsay felt worse because she had backed out of the Bungee jump and now this, but we're going to take her again for sure. While initially the idea of bathing around ur friends naked seems weird. I find that it takes ur friendship one notch up. We didn't scrub each other. but like I said, it's surprising how fast u get used to being naked around ppl. I find it to be such a feeling of freedom.

After that we headed to the beach and spent the night there huddling and freezing our ass off. It was quite the experience. We met up with some random Canadians there who were teaching in other parts of Korea. At around 3, we decided to head towards the train station and just chill there. This was the first time that I got to see so many homeless Koreans and the first time I felt rather unsafe. A lot of the people there were drunk or they were kinda off in the head. Finally our train arrived we boarded and once again, I was way too tired to enjoy the scenery. I'm gonna try to take the KTX next time but hopefully during the day so that I can take in the scenery of Korea.
I had a great time, but now i'm suffering the consequences of lack of sleep and over-exhaustion. I'm sick as a dog.
Step on the wire, the wire won't bend, that's the way my story ends!!
p.s. I've posted my racing video on one of the older blogs and I also posted the video of my bungee jump in the "high kick and great leap" blog

Monday, October 02, 2006

thoughts of home

I called home today. I miss my parents a lot. I love my newfound independence but I find it hard that I can't be around for them. I think about how much I've disappointed them in the past but I know that despite it all I'm also a source of pride for them. I sat here and cried because each and everytime I talk to them especially my Mom, I can feel her pain and I cry not because I am homesick but I wish we understood each other more. I wish I can erase her pain and everything she's gone through. I also wish she can be happy. I probably shouldn't write this especially because I told them about my blog. But writing about everything makes me feel better. I remember thinking initially that I came here to run away from things at home. But now that I'm here, I feel that I can see things clearer. I still feel that I'm trying to avoid dealing with what's going on. But I also feel that I can't do anything unless I learn to be independent. I can't shelter them from what they're going through. But I can be their silver lining.

I am very proud of what my parents have gone through and what they've managed to achieve. I wish for my parents to find happiness somewhere. They've experienced a lot of betrayal and a lot of hardships that they have a hard time finding the good in things. I know that we don't always get along. but here in Korea I think about those times and oddly enough it doesn't make me bitter but rather care for them more because at the end of the day, we can only hurt those that matter most. I don't think that came out right. What I'm trying to say is that I know they love me very much and it is because of them that I have this bright outlook on life. They've sheltered me from the hardships they've had to endure and endured them so that I would have a better life and it's because of them that I'm who I am. At the risk of sounding very cheesy. I just wanted to say I love my parents, I miss them very much and if anybody ever sees them on the street, please be kind to them. I hope everything works out for them and I hope that I can give them as much pleasure in this world to make up for all the bad that's happened to them.

it's called sucking up

I had to go into work today but only to do absolutely nothing. Tomorrow Chuseok holiday begins and I'm pretty much off for a week. I wanted to spend the time lesson planning and had brought along books to prepare. However my coteacher spent every moment with me and we spent the entire day watching this dvd I had bought. It's a korean movie called windstruck. Such a sad movie... my coworkers laughed at my uncontrollable tears.

Everybody at work, my coworkers, my head teacher, my vp and my principal are in love with me right now. I bought some pastries from the nearby bakery and shared it with everybody. They were so impressed my principal decided to treat me out for dinner. On the way there he decided to sit next to me in the back seat and pretty much SPAT ALL OVER ME as he excitedly talked to me in korean. As this was NOT the first time he had done that, I pretty much just smiled and nodded. The weirdest part... no one translated... I don't get it. Did he really think I understood what he said? In any case, the dinner went well, except I didn't understand ne thing said. but the one part my coteacher translated was that my principal had asked one of the third grade teacher to take over the library responsibility since the teacher that was in charge was about to go on maternity leave and she had 3 previous years of experience. According to the principal the added responsibility made the woman burst into tears. The next day she had returned and apologized for her actions and agreed to the task. When told this story I told my coteacher I was willing to help since I did have experience before in a library. She found this very amusing, told the principal and suddenly the entire room erupted into laughter. My principal in the middle of his laugh kept saying U BEST UBEST! well DUH...and now i still have no idea if I'm going to be helping out with the library or not. I figured I'd just stick my head in the library from time to time. See if I can help with anything.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The High Kick and the Great Leap

Saturday Sept 30.

I went to my first soccer game ever. We went to Munhak Stadium where the 2002 FIFA World Cup was held.
It was such an interesting experience. Despite not even playing the sport let alone understand the rules completely my competitive side took over and I was screaming my hearts out.

We were able to get half-priced tickets bc someone brought their korean friend who managed to get a membership right then and there. The game itself was cheap 10,000won regular price but 5,000 won since we got membership. Some of the teachers bought school gear and got season tickets with it.

The team we were cheering for was Incheon United. The opposing team was Pohang Steelers. It's a University league but yet the crowd was so organized in terms of cheers and chants. We learned as much as we could but mostly kept up with the clapping. It was such a blast just cheering. I never thought I could be a spectator but I find that if there is a huge organized rally and u throw urself into it then spectating can be incredibly fun.

I think that's the problem with Baseball, there isn't enough organized cheering to make it a fun spectator sport.

In any case during half time, a group of (for lack of a better word) Cheerleaders were dancing and although they looked good, in my opinion they weren't real cheerleaders because there were no jumps. The funniest thing about them was that after one dance wherin they cheered for the home team The Uniteds, they stripped to another cheerleading suit and cheered for the Steelers. How efficient, one dance group for both teams!! Well, I thought that was funny.

We failed in our attempt to get autographs but managed to get on the Jumbo-tron without doing anything ridiculous. I had wanted to get an autograph of the Serbian Player that was on the Incheon team.

Speaking of Jumbo-tron, I thought it strange that despite the stellar plays by other players, it was the foreign players that tended to be shown on the Jumbo-tron. In fact there was one that I wanted to boo off cuz I thought he sucked it up. So I'm hoping that he was on the Jumbo-tron bc he was so terrible they had to keep showing his plays. I run the risk of sounding like a traitor but I felt that the Steelers deserved to win the game more. They played better all around and I felt they were much more organized. In any case the final score of the game was 1-1. I've been invited to go again and I think that I will take up that offer.

Sunday Oct 1st, 2006

The original plan of the day was to set out all the way to the other side of the subway and give moral support to our two friends Mike and Eric who were gonna go bungee jumping off a 45 m tower. Initially I was gungho to go but was discouraged by my father who reminded me of my back injury not too long ago.

In my mind, I imagined bungee jumping to be with your feet, so I can imagine the rebound trip to be very hard on your back.

We made the 2 hr trek there by subway, transfering a number of times before taking a cab ride to this national park. When we got there we found out that the next jump was at 4pm and that we had basically 1.5 hrs to wait until then. Sitting around and watching other jumpers, I started to develop a strong desire to go. I admit feeling a bit nervous that being said, I think excitement outweighed my fear. After seeing that there were two types of harness one on your feet and the other one a body harness. I made my mind up to go.

We managed to convince Anne to go as well, but failed to convince the other 3 people to go. So in total 4 of us went and 3 of us stayed behind with the cameras. We managed to convince Anne to go by saying look if those fragile Korean girls can go, so can you. Well it worked. At 4pm we made the trek up in the elevator and waited in line up there as one by one other jumpers made the great leap. I kept my mind focused on the music up there and so it was that I found myself more excited than nervous. The problem was that the dude up there kept postponing me. I was finally the last among my friends to go. Eric went first, Anne went second and Mike went third. Finally it was my turn.

When I was standing by the edge, two things I remember distinctly. My heart was pounding very hard. The edge was a lot more fearsome than I had initially thought. I stood by the edge willing myself to jump, but my right hand which had somehow found itself holding on to the pole, refused to let go. Finally I decided that I was ready. The dude with the cowboy hat asked me if I was ready and started to count me down. five-four-three-two-one, and I was airborne. I took the swan dive position and leaped... I started to scream but found that part of the way down, my scream did not voice itself tho my mouth was open and willing.

Most people only fear the first initial flight off. What they don't realized is that bungee jumping consists of a number of bounces each just as scary as the last. The moment you are propelled up again, you realized the rope is no longer taut and secure as you thought and as u plummet down once more, you feel the same adrenaline rush that you felt the first time.

All in all, it was INCREDIBLE. I love the feeling of being airborne. I love the adrenaline rush. Will I do it again? I'm not sure. It's not that I'm afraid. I've experienced it and I enjoyed every moment of it. I just felt incredibly guilty disobeying my parents, it's the fact that I feel that I'm their last hope that gives me that much more pressure to do right by them. I know that I was playing with fire and that I could've easily gotten hurt by it. But this is something I've got to do while I'm still young.

What's next? Skydiving, though I probably won't tell my parents about it until after I've done it.
P.S. is the spacing good enough now? =P
P.P.S. Eric got the videos, so I'll post it up when he uploads them and sends them over

Here's the video: