Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Yes, that does say Thai texas BBQ sauce. We have NO IDEA how they combined the flavors of Thai food and Texas BBQ, but there was no way any husband of mine would pass up a bottle like that with his two favorite meals being a toss up between Texas BBQ and pad thai. We will let you know how it turns out. Korea always has surprises up her sleeve! What'll it be next!?
Monday, May 24, 2010
When I taught in Korea last year, one of my primary activities was shopping. Myeong-dung is the heart of the shopping district in Seoul catering not only to the effeminate girly, bordering on doll like Korean style, but also to some Western styles, if you are small enough to fit in the clothing. My favorite store in Myeongdong is Forever 21. It is an American store, but here it has four fabulous stories. What I love about Forever 21 is its low low prices. Of course the quality of the clothing generally runs abreast the price, but the clothing is often very fashionable.
This year, my first shopping spree didn't occur until five months into our time here. This may have transpired because of the distance we have to travel in order to go shopping, but my reasoning is that last year I worked with over ten girls. These girls loved to shop and loved to dress nice. My work environment was one in which, what you wore was not overlooked. On the flip side however, here at our new school, the only female teachers I work with are Korean staff, and it isn't that they don't matter, but generally we have different fashion anyways, so what I think is stylish and what they find attractive are seldomly the same. In turn, that means, I don't really care what I look like. The guys certainly don't notice if I am sporting a new headband, or found a new eyeshadow so shopping holds much less importance this year than last year. (What an argument for being the product of your environment)
However my male counterpart, the love of my life has been begging me for a shopping trip. I tried explaining to him that there wasn't much for him to enjoy, but I finally gave in last weekend. Another shopping area in Seoul is Dongdamun. However, Dongdamun is an entirely different shopping experience than Myeongdong; reason being that the great shopping is supposed to take place in the wee hours of the morning. And by wee hours, I am refering to the hours between midnight and three am. A group of us decided this three day weekend would be the perfect opportunity for such a shopping spree because that extra day to recuperate was entirely necessary. Commiting to shopping past midnight meant that we were committed to staying up all night as the subways stop running before midnight and don't start up again until 5:30am the next morning.
What we found, was an entirely surreal affair. It reminded me of tax free weekend back in the US. It was insane the number of people shopping at this hour, not to mention the number of parents with children. I am surprised we didn't see one sleepy tempertantrum. The shopping took place inside and outside. We were told that prices dropped considerably after midnight as that is when the wholesalers come, but I barely bought anything. I couldn't find these deals of which legend had told. Maybe we were in the wrong place which is entirely possible since there seemed to be endless amounts of shopping. But my main complaint was that nothing I was interested in purchasing was I allowed to sample. I could not try a stitch of clothing on. It seems to be policy in Korea that you buy directly off the hanger and just assume everything will fit perfectly. It is true, many of them have the same figures; bird like bones, long legs and no hips but with the introduction of fast food, curves are beginning to appear in this country. How is one truly to know if something is worth purchasing unless they can try it on. It is so frustrating. So I didn't buy anything. I couldn't be sure that anything I liked would fit.
The shops began to close around 3am so because we still had a few hours to kill before the subway re-opened we went to a movie. Side note: Military time goes from 0:00 to 24:00. At this movie theater, our movie showed at 27:15. When I asked what that meant she told us that it was 3:15 am. Why would they complicate such a simple time scale? Who knows. Our movie (the new Robinhood) was over at 5:30 am, however we didn't arrive back in our beds until 8:30 am because the train going all the way to Youngmun, where we live, didn't come for about one hour. I was grateful for the warmth of the evening, but grumpy at having to wait for such an absurd amount of time.
All in all it was a fun evening. Now if only I could get my sleeping schedule back to normal!
Point and case as to why I didn't think Kyle would enjoy shopping. These shoes are men shoes. They are gold displayed on gold flooring.
Guy clothing in Korea is often very effeminate as well. With this shirt, you could even have a strange linx cat to wear on your shoulder in case the shirt wasn't girly enough.
Corndogs covered in frenchfries. Kyle bought one. And with his mouth full exclaimed "delich!"
Matching outfits are all the rage for couples in Korea. Want to show that you care? Wear the same outfit. So far, I haven't convinced Kyle ;)
I got in trouble for taking this photo. Maybe they knew that it didn't make since.
Another one that belongs on Engrish.com. (Braised chicken, falls in love with sea scent) A truly odd chicken who falls head over heals for the scent of the sea. I can just imagine the chicken wandering the shores of the ocean wishing for just one tangible moment with the sea scent.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
"May I ask you a few questions?" the girl asks.
We are familiar with this drill. Students are often given the task of conversing with foreigners for grades. As teachers, despite our desire to return home as quickly as possible, we felt obligated to play along.
"Sure" we said with as much enthusiasm as we could muster.
"I was given a project for my school to have a creative conversation with a foreigner. Do you mind performing a finger puppet play with me? It won't take very long." she asks kindly
I have to remind my brain to close my mouth. We have been asked survey questions before, but never asked to perform a play, let a long a finger puppet play. I volunteer Kyle as I am quite tired.
The play is written in English and is a shortened version of a Korean folktale. I didn't film the entire thing as I wasn't sure how much space we had left on our card, but you get the idea.
Click to watch here.
The Sun and the Moon (from Wiki)
In the world before the sun and the moon, only the stars existed.
It was in these early days that there lived siblings: Haesik (해식) the older brother and Dalsun (달순) the younger sister. Their mother was a poor peasant woman who sold rice-cakes for a living.
The mother was returning from the village one day when she was encountered by a tiger perched on a hill demanding a rice-cake in exchange for sparing her life. She gave it to him and the tiger went away, only to appear before her at the next hill; this time demanding two rice cakes. She gave him the cakes, only to find him again on the third hill, this time asking for four rice cakes. When the mother finally ran out of rice cakes to feed him, the tiger threatened to devour her.
The mother pleaded, saying she was the sole mother of two children. Upon hearing this the tiger's hunger grew even more vicious. He devoured the mother and then took on her clothing as a disguise. He then made his way to the house where he knew the children awaited.
At the house the children were worried that their mother was not returning. Haesik suggested they lock the door, when he heard a voice calling them from outside. Dalsun, the younger, thought it was her mother, but Haesik knew the voice was different and sensed that something was not right. The tiger urged them to open the door, but Haesik staunchly refused.
Not giving in, the tiger used some of the powder left from the rice cakes and applied it on the back of his hand, making them look white. When he inserted his fingers through a space in the door, Dalsun became convinced that it was their mother and immediately opened the door. The tiger chased them until the children climbed up to the safety of a tree.
When the tiger found an axe in the house and began chopping down on the tree, Dalsun made a prayer asking the heavens to send down a strong rope if they should be saved and a rotten rope if they were to be damned. A strong rope was sent down, and both siblings climbed up until they reached the heavens.
Seeing this, the tiger made a similar request, but the rope he got was rotten and he fell in a millet field. His blood stained the millet and this is why millet stalk is said to be red.
In heaven, Haesik became the sun (Haennim 햇님) and Dalsun became the moon (Dallim 달님), but later Dalsun complained that she was afraid of the dark. Thus Haesik decided to stand in for her so that Dalsun could become the sun.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
We bought a mop recently while riding on the subway. You would be surprised what wonderful things you can purchase on the subway. I always have cash handy. Anyways, we saw this mop and as I complained a few posts back about our continuously wet floor, I thought it might be a good investment to purchase a mop. Not only was it great for cleaning our floors but it also doubled as a highly entertaining comedy sketch! Kyle is imitating the ecstatic house wife giving the thumbs up.
(At the top is says "Good Housewife" and "shaping your good life")
Super powerful water absorbent
Virtue, wipe off dirts effectively!
Super -powerful electrostatic function
Can absorb all granular and silky things
Environment Protection, economic
fashionable and convenient!
(who knew a mop could be fashionable and convenient at the same time?)
day and day happy
We make delicious bread with pleasant mind in the clean environment
( I sure hope you make it in a clean environment but what makes it a pleasant environment? Do you give your workers Valium?)
Your heart will beat with delight from it's perfect quality.
(except that my heart did not jump or beat with delight as this was the worst tasting cheap wine I have ever tasted in my life)
I saved the best for last. This "free girl" as the Korean students refer to her is on our English Village campus. Check out her tablet. "Jury IV." And no that word is not supposed to be jury as in a court case. It is supposed to say July IV. Oopsie daisy! We mixed up our "r's" and "L's" and no one bothered to double check before printing.
(This is a website that collects misused English from all over the world if you find what we have posted funny and just can't get enough!)
Friday, May 14, 2010
So as most people know, we work in South Korea. But about three years ago, the government of Korea decided that what the country was lacking was English Villages. Camps where students of all ages could attend to learn English from native English speakers. They endeavored to construct a campus that truly encompassed the English language spirit so a replica of colonial Virgina was constructed. The end result is a campus of red and white brick which stands out in Korea like a purple alien finger. In my humble opinion, the campus is gorgeous and the surroundings are utterly breathtaking especially now that the trees are budding leaves and are no longer deathly brown. The government did cut corners however in parts of its construction and during the rainy season waterfalls can be found in doors along the walls.
In the video, I talk about how there are discrepancies in this American village displaced to South Korea. However after reviewing it last night I realize that I made a mistake in the video. As I am looking at the beef eater statue (the current British guard for the Palace) I refer to him as a redcoat which is what I think they were going for with the militia man in a red coat, but obviously that was not their costume in colonial Virgina. I hope you enjoy our snow covered tour.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Korea is a hodgepodge of cultural oddities. Some aspects of Korea are wonderful. CHEAP public transportation is an excellent example. I can complain all I want that the Korean subway moves slowly and is inefficient in it's design, but I cannot complain that it costs me a total of $2 to go clear across the city. The subway in London is close to $8 one way. And we all know how I LOVE a good deal.
Another fabulous aspect of Korea is the street food. It is greasy, fattening and readily available on each and every corner of Seoul. It is one of the most commented aspects from the rare tourist visiting Korea. Street food is awesome!
However, the facet of Korean culture that I least appreciate is the bathroom. But more specifically the shower. (There is more about the Korean bathroom that we shall delve into later, but as I am choosing not to write a dissertation on every irritating feature of the Korean restroom, at least in this post, we shall stay short and to the point today) Our shower is great (when there is hot water). We've got water pressure and a wide stream, however what I find fault with in the bathroom is the lack of separation between shower and the remaining space. In most American homes the shower head is either found above the bathtub or blocked off by glass walls or ceramic tiling. It is a vital design in the bathroom that the shower is separated from the toilet or the sink. I never even knew there might be others in the world, at least those with running water, who might purposefully choose to stray from this brilliant design. However in most Korean bathrooms, the shower is the bathroom, not a separated part of the bathroom. There is no barrier to block the water from spraying the entirety of the room. Our drain for the shower is actually below the sink in the middle of the bathroom. Yes, it is strange, but more than strange, it is just plain irritating.
What are the downsides to this bizarre design you might ask?
-There is ALWAYS a wet floor. The Korean solution is bath shoes. Every bathroom, even public bathrooms such as in restaurants, provide shower shoes. The problem lies in that shower shoes get wet as well and if you walk into the bathroom in your socks or slip your socked feet into already wet shower shoes the result is sopping wet socks. Who likes their socks wet? Psychopaths, those are the only nutcases crazy enough to enjoy wet socks.
-Wet toilet- Have you ever sat on a wet toilet seat? And I mean a dripping wet toilet seat. Let's just say, it is pleasant. It's about as pleasant as falling into the toilet bowl because your husband forgot to put the seat down.
-Wet things- When there is no closed off storage space in your bathroom, you have the added pleasure of watering everything you keep in the bathroom. Your toothpaste, you moisturizer, razor you name it, it gets wet. If you don't think that your inanimate objects need watering and shade to grow then the bathroom is the wrong place for them.
What are the positive aspects?
I have yet to discover why this design would in the least be beneficial. Maybe it makes it cheaper to construct and also less work for the builders?
Maybe Koreans really like everything they own to be soaked daily. Maybe Koreans never wear socks in the house. I really can't answer why one would design such a disastrous bathroom, but I can tell you, I DON'T LIKE IT! And when I am getting back to the USA, one of the first things on my 'To Do List' is to take a hot bubble bath. Yesssiree, I miss my bathtub, and my normal shower.
But for all those folks who might be concerned about our welfare after reading this cantankerous post, please don't worry. We are actually very happy at the moment despite the tone of a few of the previous posts. We are productive members in society. We are together. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is lying next to me. Life is good, despite an ill-designed bathroom.
Friday, May 07, 2010
Enjoy! Here is the link if you are having trouble viewing it.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
My birthday has come and gone. We are not discussing my newest age. I have stopped counting, so if anyone asks, I will tell you 21. Why does it seem that when we are young, birthdays arrive ever so slowly, like a feather floating on the wind currents calmly breezing and chilling on the drafts as we jump up and down trying to grab it from the sky. But when we get past 20 they zoom towards us like a blazing flame-encrusted alien asteroid shot from a speed of light powered cannon. I am dodging those ever growing alien space balls as skillfully as I can, but in all honesty, my reflexes are seriously lacking, and they hit me much too often for comfort. I am on the fast train to thirty years old, and as much as I beg and plead with the train conductor to freaking slow down this mad dashing train, he only laughs menacingly and calls out to the worker sporting overalls and a shovel in his gruff callous voice "More coals to the fire!" I can almost see the brick wall looming on the tracks with the big 30 bedazzled in pink rhinestones mocking me.
I just need a watch to slow down time. Anyone have one? It's not that I don't ever want to be thirty, it's just that I thought I would have accomplished so much more by that time. I imagined that I would be a grown up by my age, but I don't feel like a grown up. I don't feel like an adult. I still feel like we are just playing house. What I really want is a few more years before I am thirty so that the dreams of an eight year old can be realized. Is that really too much to ask?
So although I would have preferred to ignore the day reminding me of that looming brick wall, we did actually celebrate the day of my birth. A friend came to stay with us. Enchiladas were had. ( A serious treat from some lovely co-workers!) Saturday, Kyle and I had a joint birthday bash in Itaewon (the foreign district) with an Indian buffet and chic bar called the bungalow with sand on the floor to complete the bohemian vibe with friends in Seoul. Sunday afternoon, we had a BBQ with co-workers and celebrated a joint birthday with one of our co-workers wife who had also had a birthday that week. It was a solid week of celebration and super duper fun. And although I wish my birthdays would stop stacking one on top of the other like precariously piled jenga blocks, I was able to look past what it means to be my age and live life as best as I know how.