Sunday, September 28, 2008

11. Batterbatterbatterbatterbatterrr!!

First up, the weather here has changed dramatically! It like someone just flicked a switch and said "Ok.. COLD!". And now ever since that last post, its been cold as! You can't open the windows at home anymore, and at night and in the mornings you can see your breath!! Winter's coming, and apparently its gonna be a killer! I cant wait! :D


Ok so where was I.. Oh yes, Thursday night we had a biiig one (as you can tell by that pathetic last entry on Friday). We were so excited that it was Friday the next day that we thought we'd all go out. Its funny though, it always starts off like that over here... "Hey, what are you doing? Feel like a couple of quiet ones?" then it starts growing more and more and more! We ended up getting home at 3am. I got home and Youngdong was still awake and felt like some Soju, so we went over to Family Mart and got a bottle.. Ended up getting to sleep at 530 Friday morning.


On Friday I went to work from 230pm to 9pm and again the same thing "Hey a few of us are here at Oriental Bar, come on over.. its FRIDAY!". Well a 'few' ended up being Nine foreigners, and so we moved on to Garten Beir for a bigger table. Anyway, usual story; we had a lot of fun, and I got to know the people here a bit better. Alison (my kiwi friend) had a few more than the rest of us, and provided us with entertainment for the rest of the night, it rocked! She's hilarious when she's drunk.. and she didn't even have sheep as props! I find that "going out for drinks" is really a cover-up expression. What we really go out for is a few laughs but mostly the company, the people who we have no other choice but to become close to. So the group began to diminish as it usually does, and I ended up getting home at 5am (Hey, its Friday!).


So at 830am I get a call from Alison asking if I wanted to see some funny pictures.. the first thing i said was Why arent you sleeping!?!? I seriously have no idea how she did it but she barely slept and was fine the next day! So I told her I'm going to sleep some more.. It was not to be.. Ray called at 9am telling me that he's at Dunkin Donuts having coffee and leaving to go to Seoul soon. I told him I'll be there, and an hour later I met up with Ray and Olivia (A new hagwon teacher from some in New York).


I happened to be fasting that day, until about midday when I'd get a call telling me that I could eat again. So at around 1115am we got on the bus, and i fell asleep as I find i normally do on the bus now. At 1pm we got off at DongSeoul bus station and still no call.. I was starving by this time. So i called home and they told me that Chook had sent me a text message.. just for future reference; I barely recieve any text messages here.. sometimes they go through but mostly not.. So at least I could eat now. We headed to Itaewon to meet up with a friend of Olivia's. He got there and we headed in in the direction of some foood.. Ray loves his Hummus, so when we saw a Turkish place called Ali Baba's, thats where we went.. he almost ran in there the poor guy! The Hummus was different to what we usually get back home.. we thought it was fresh and thats why..


Then Ray said that a few of the others from Hongcheon are at a Ball Game, so off we went! Its the first time I've been to a Baseball game and man was it awesome! The atmosphere was electric and the crowds were basically devided into teams. On our left were the Danghae Lions and on our right was the bulk of the home team: the Doosan Bears. We happened to be going for the home team. It just seemed so surreal, I caught myself thinking "How the hell am I here?". The sun was setting over the city and the sky was a masterful mosiac of clouds comforting huge buildings brimming with Saturday night buzz!! All around me were people yelling and shouting and chanting BatterBatterBatter!! I'm hoping to get some pictures from Ray's camera sometime soon, so when I do I'll post them up here! It absolutely rocked!!! After the game I decided I needed more sleep so i headed home with Mike, Ray and the others went to Gangnam, which is apparently the higher-class side of Seoul. They were headed to some clubs Ray knew of there..


Mike and I got off the station at around 11pm, and decided to go grab some food. Burger King at the stadium was ok, but just not enough.. So off we went to grab some food, and then Mike felt like walking around the city for a while. We did that, and we chatted, I got to know this person known as Mike on a deeper level. As I mentioned before, because we're so isololated from anything western, over here we're forced to be extraverted, and so the small group of foreigners here get to know one another even without meaning to.


That was basically all I have to share in this post. In about half an hour I'm meeting up with Mike and Natalie (a new teacher from Canada), who can play the fiddle. So we're going to sit back by some river and listen to Mike and Natalie do their thing.. It just seems fitting for a Sunday afternoon..
Here are the pics I just took from Alisons camera this afternoon:



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There was Me, Jesse (yellow shirt), Alison (white top), Mike, and this pic above is of Nathalie. A dragonfly found her violin stick a comfy place to sit for a while..

Friday, September 26, 2008

10. Technology..

Thanks heaps for the comments guys, I love getting comments like that! :-)

This is just a short note to let you know whats been happening since last weekend in Seoul.. Nothing much really! Its now just becoming normal, as in I'm settling in well and I go to work and know what to expect and then at times i meet up with some of the foreigners at night..

I'm sitting at the moment at a cafe in Honcheon, connected to wireless internet and being able to make cheap long distance calls to people I haven't talked to in donkeys ears! I love how I can call Fiji from this little old country town, it still amazes me!

So thats basically all i wanted to say today. Oh and the weather here is perfect! The sky is a clear bright blue with a few scattered clouds, in the shade its cold and in the sun its beautifully warm.. currently 15degrees. I'm lovin it!

I' thinking about going to Seoul tomorrow, but not yet sure.. I'll see what I feel like doing. Ok bye for now :-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

9. A Series of ___ Events


Jethro Whitley, a 50-something African American from Ohio, enjoys his creature comforts. There's nothing more relaxing to him than kicking back in a quite corner of an upmarket Jazz bar with a non-alcoholic cocktail and good company, or a book; whichever tickles his fancy at the time. After spending most of the morning convincing himself to get out and visit a big city and to leave his empty country apartment somewhere in South Korea, he finally got on a bus bound for Seoul. The bus was only half full, but after seeing a foreigner fast asleep in his seat, Jethro seized his opportunity and made a bee trail for the seat next to him.

It had been 5 days since he had landed in Incheon International Airport to start his new job as an English Teacher. During those five days he had explored his small country town as much as he could, mainly during his early morning jogs. The 13hour time difference had made it difficult to adjust to Korean time, so he sometimes ventured out at night. Though never into any bars or shops, or any place that looked unsavory. When asked later why he doesn’t frequent the bars in his town, his prompt reply left no room for compromise: "I prefer to sit in a bar with sophisticated people - city people like myself". That was the reason Jethro had finally set foot on that bus, that was the reason he sat next to a foreigner, and that was the reason he was headed blindly into one of the largest cities in the world.

The foreigner stirred from his sleep just before the last stop, and kindly introduced himself. With the niceties out of the way they found that they were headed in the same direction: Itaewon. So after checking the times for the last bus back into the sticks, they set off towards Itaewon. The Seoul Subway system is quite advanced, and extremely confusing. But after asking a range of other people, they set off in the general direction, knowing to get off at Sindang and then transferring to Line 6 towards Bulgwang for 5 stops. Finally they had arrived at Itaewon. Their story here becomes like most stories about people discovering new things and places. So I won’t mention it. Just know that they saw many things that reminded of Western Culture in their hometowns.

By 5pm they had walked up and down the 'main strip' of Itaewon. Itaewon is most famous for begin the foreigner capital of Seoul. So Jethro felt right at home. The two had pizza for lunch and then decided to split up for a while. Jethro went to look for another bookshop where he could buy some books on how to teach English. His companion, Sharad, had already bought his novels and was looking for a quite coffee shop where he could begin. The main strip of Itaewon has three visible Starbucks, "visible" as they are the ones seen from street level. There are many alley ways that lead onto a wide range of 'themed' attractions. Sharad, being of Indian background was missing some home cooking, so he went to the Indian side of town. Never in his life had he thought that in Korea he'd hear Hindi being spoken so freely on every corner, though he did not know why; it was like music to his ears.

He interrupted one such conversation and said two words; two words he'd been dying to ask for 3 weeks: "Garam Masala?", instantly the man pointed to a foreign foods store, and was on his way. Arriving at the Foreign Foods store, Sharad thought he was in heaven! It had been so long since he smelled those sweet spices that reminded him at once of his family. In he went, taking in everything that he could, much like a child at Disneyland, surely two eyes were not enough. After finding the Garam Masala he set about to look for Cardamom. He couldn’t find it and not knowing the English name for it he asked the Indian looking shop keeper if he had any "Illychi". After the shop keeper replied something in Hindi, he set about looking for it. It was the first time Sharad had spoken Hindi in over 5 weeks, and after telling the shop keeper that he wanted it for Chai, the shop keeper sent word for some powder. Mission successful, except for one small problem.. No Money! How could he have been so stupid in thinking that $50 will suffice for the day? So he was forced to choose one or the other.. Chai is more important to Sharad than Curry, so the Cardamom it was.. till next week.

Now he knew he had money on his card, so he went looking for an Indian restaurant to have dinner somewhere. Taj Palace on the second level seemed to be the best out of the 4 or 5 he saw. For $16 they had a buffet which would do just fine. After looking around to see if others were eating in the 'traditional manner' (which they weren't), Sharad decided to break the trend and attack his Dhal and Bhaat the way he was taught. The owners seemed quite pleased about that, and offered him a range of other condiments too. See Sharad was vegetarian that week and so he could only select a few things from the Buffet, but for him it was more than enough! Next time, he thought, he'd try the Tandoori and Tikka and Vindaloo.. next time. After ordering some Indian Chai and 2 Naan's for the road, he left to see if 'ole Jethro had made it back at all. Luckily enough they met on the street and Jethro not having eaten yet, decided he'd get some fried vegetables from a stall on the street. It is in his nature to talk a lot, something Sharad is not particularly used to. Jethro spent a solid 5 minutes explaining how 'damn good' the food was.

By this time it was 830pm, and the last bus from the bus terminal left at 930pm. So off they went to the subway and as they were about to get on the line back, Jethro pointed out a quicker way of getting the Express Bus Terminal. It would cut 4 stops off our list and spare some for a drink before getting on the bus. They arrived at the train station and then walked across the street to the bus terminal. But when they went to their gate (gate 4), they found none of their cities listed on the boards. When asking about the bus, they were told that they arrived at the Express Bus Terminal instead of the Dongseoul Bus Terminal. "Ahh, and so the fun begins", thought Sharad. Meanwhile Jethro was in a frenzied panic. So off they rushed to Dongseoul, but of course, they were too late. Sharad asked for a refund on the tickets, and was surprised when they gave him the $9 back. Jethro needed to be at work the next day by 830am; he had only one option. Take a taxi to his country town. Taxi drivers said that it would cost him $100 to get to his doorstep, Jethro was seriously considering this, though Sharad had told him there's always another way. "Why not look for a hotel around here, split the cost, and then catch the first bus out of here?". It made sense, so off they went in search for a hotel, the taxi drivers told them that there wasn’t one around for quite a while, but as they kept walking they found Hotel Dong Seoul. It looked quite upmarket, and when Jethro, looking very tired, frustrated, and nervous asked reception for the cost; I think they took pity on him and gave the room for $60. The cost on the back of the door for the room was $121 per night.

Sharad was excited, being in a new town, no idea where. But knowing he's somewhere in the greater Seoul area. He wanted to go out, but Jethro wouldn't hear of it. He was tired and wanted to sleep. But then after some convincing they were up and went to a coffee shop called Tom N Toms Coffee! After complaining about how "ghetto" the place was, Jethro went back to the hotel room - "There's just too many buses!!". Sharad decided to walk around and ended up in a bar. After having a couple of quiet beers and exploring a bit more he went back to the hotel room. Thinking all the while how in the world he ended up sharing a room with Jethro, whom he had just met that morning. Aint life grand!?!

I find that I’m most high/excited when I’m thrown into an unknown situation. I was loving every bit of not knowing where I’d sleep that night, and not knowing where I’ll end up, or for that matter, who I was with. Maybe having enough money to get out of it helped me to be happy about it. Also I'd like to say a big "Cheers bruuu" to Alice who I met on Saturday night. She came up to me and told me that I've been keeping her awake late at night! "Your the guy with the BLOG?!!", she said. I had no idea anyone else bar people at home read this, so it was a huge shock to hear someone ask me if I've seen anymore snakes since Sutasa! It was great to meet you.. and I didn't really mean all those things I said about the Sheep.. well... sort of.. yeah, ok so thats a bit of a lie. I meant it all! :D
(Finally, a Kiwi to joke around with!! YAAY!!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

8. Just another night..

Last night after work i was invited to one of the public school teachers' place for a few quite drinks, conversation and some music. This couple Kyle and Kim from Arizona and Florida, are really great people! They plan on getting married in January in Thailand somewhere. So we went to their place and downed one or two quiet beers, then decided to head downtown. We headed for Garten Bier where we met another couple of people, by this time it was around 10pm and there were around 10 of us.

After a little bit of drinking, Kyle and i decided to go get some food. We went outside and to this 24hr "Diner" type place and he told me of all the things on there that i could eat. That was really good of him, so i took at take-out menu and started marking everything i could have. We had some noodles, which were pretty good! And then headed back for the beer garden for some more drinks.. By then a couple other foreigners had joined us. So we sat around and slowly but surely the crowd began to diminish until there was only three of us left. Myself, Mike, and Ray.

Mike got a call and had to leave with a huge smile on his face, and that left me and Ray. Now Ray is from Jersey (man i feel like i'm about break into a Billy Joel song here ".. and he gets me my drinks for free.."). I never really got to know him, you see he's Korean but born in the US so he's back here indulging himself back into the Korean culture. He speaks Korean, but with an accent. He's a strong person, by that i mean with a very opinionated personality. I mean that's not a bad thing either.. he seems to know when to voice them, and when to let things slide. I got to know him quite a bit last night.. slowly i'm getting to know everyone of these guys and girls. And they all have such amazing stories to share! There's only one person that kinda mystifies me, that's Susan.. she's one of those strong and silent types, which is usually not what you say about a girl. But she seems to have so much insight and experience, yet still she sits back and lets the others talk. But more about her when i learn more about her.. it as much about the people here as it is the place!

Anyway, Ray said he was hungry, so i went with him for some more food.. but then decided we could both do with another drink. I dont think i've ever talked that much American Politics in my life! He's a philosophy major, so i kept my own. But yeah, from Muslims to Big Brother, to Obama, to Miss Lewinsky! Then after a jug, we did actually get hungry, so we went down to this place and i ate this Sushi type thing called Kim Bap which was ok. To put it into perspective.. Mike left us at about 1am, and i ended up stumblin home at 5am.. Ray's a great guy, i just got to know it..


So what's next? I have no idea, i'll see where the tide takes me..

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

7. Chuseok!

Ok first and foremost, Minz has asked me to tell everyone that you can comment on every entry. All you do is click on the "Leave Comment" link and choose the "Name" option. That way you can create your own name and leave a comment. Oh one thing though, you'll have to type in the letters in the picture to be able to leave a comment. Sorry Shai and Taj, for being so 'social', here's the next entry, i think you'll like it! :D


"It is with great regret that i must... ", so starts my next letter. But more on that later. So its been a while since i've written here, its because of Chuseok (pronounced Chu-so, yes Indians will find that hilarious). Chuseok is the Korean Thanks-giving day, the day they bow down to ancestors and offer them rice and saki and visit their graves. This holiday is one of the biggest in Korea, usually lasting for 5 days, however this year it fell on a weekend so it was only 3 days long. So what did i do for the 3day long weekend? I went to Seoul!!

Seoul, the home of 23million people, 3 million MORE than all of Australia. Considering that Australia has around 7.6 million square km's and Seoul Metro has only 605.25 square km's.. u do the math! This place is HUGE!! and SOO many people!! and SO much to do!! and Starbucks, KFC, Maccas, and Shopping Malls!!! Ok so i'll start at the start shall i?

So we left Hongcheon on Saturday around 4pm. I was on one of my walks, and Jay called and said lets go for a drive. I came down from the mountain and we were off to take pics of mountains etc etc..

And then out of nowhere Jay says, Sharad, lets go to Seoul! Ok i said, but i dont have any clothes or anything.. thats ok man, we'll stay over one night and comeback tomorrow! So we were off to Seoul, by this time it was around 6pm and we got hungry.. so we stopped over at this nice place and had a meal..
http://photos-h.ak.facebook.com/photos-ak-snc1/v319/239/74/771232844/n771232844_1457207_6963.jpg


We ended up going to Incheon which is where the international airport is to visit one of Jay's friends. I wasnt feeling too good from the meal we had (yes in that picture above, you can see raw crab as the main dish), so i stayed at a motel for the night while they went and had some drinks. Next morning i woke up at around 9am, had some coffee watched some TV and then decided i'll go explore this place too. What i found was Wolmi-do, which is an island! People were coming here with their families for the Chuseok break..
Back home we go to a fair and we see things like dagwood dogs, fairy floss, candy, chips, hot dogs, etc etc. Here they have dried squid as a snack, and fried sweet potato sticks, and huge donut type things on a stick..
As i was waiting for Jay to come over i went to have some coffee at this place, was hazelnut and black.. interesting!

Then is was off for some lunch, and shat else to have on an island but Seafood! Even after the raw crab i wasn't feeling too well, but they assured me that this would be cooked and delicious..

I must say, it was quite good! Very spicy and i kinda did stay away from the wierd looking seafood stuffs.. This was the pier we were on:

As it stands, i'm really bad at taking pictures of the Moon. But from a moving car i'm just plain terrible!

Ok and after that point i stopped taking photos. We went to this place called Itaewon next to check it out. Its where the major US army base is, i couldnt believe how many foreigners there were! So many Americans walking the streets or sitting at a Starbuck chatting away, so many Nigerians also talking in their little groups all over the place. Oh and there were Indians there too! I found that fact amazing until i saw 2 Indian Restaurants! We had already eaten at this places called Buddha's Belly - a Thai place. After we walked around the place we went to somewhere else (i forgot the name) to another friend of Jays. He owns a 24hr PC Cafe, so we went and spent a bit of time there until his wife came and took over for the nightshift. Then we all went out to a Japanese pub and had this stuff called Makkoli which is a soft beer type thing made from rice. Then we went to another place because this guy (Kim Hum Um) wanted to show me everything! On the way to this place we stopped over at this noodle place. Well it wasnt really a place, rather like a stall on the road. You know, like in the city at 4am there are all these Kebab stalls, well the thing in Korea is hot and spicy noodles. I must say, it was one of the best noodles that i've ever eaten! So after this other place where we had beer we went to a night club. Now this is interesting.. We got into the night club and went into a private room (like a singing room) inside the club itself. And the way the waiters make their money is by bringing in girls from the dance floor into the room for the men. Obviously our room was filled with guys over 40 (and me) so every girl that came in took one look, had a drink (mainly out of manners) and then left about 5mins later.. I found it hilarious and when i asked they said something along the line of: "this way you dont have to introduce yourself, the intro is already made for you". I guess thats a logical way of thinking of it. Oh bytheway in the room they had a fruit platter and seafood platter and whisky and beer galore! Another way they make money is by opening all the bottles in front of you so you have to buy them!

After the night club they decided that they were too drunk to go anywhere else but bed (this was only decided after a guy tried to releave himself on a parked police car.. with the police still inside). So off we went to a 24hr Sauna. Now these things are big in Korea.. You walk into a sauna and they give you a key. First you go and take your shoes off. Then we went up a couple of levels to the mens locker room. We got here and eveyone was naked or passed out on the floor. So i took a 'pillow' thing and found my self a corner of the locker room to sleep on too. Woke up two hours later (8am) to the sounds of all these naked men laughing and joking. I went through these doors and saw about 5 baths full of different types of water at different temperatures. Then went though another door to see 3 Sauna's at different temps and one cool sauna at 14degrees. Now i love the cold so i went in there for a while..


Then after the others woke up and brushed their teeth, we left. We went back to the PC Cafe and by this time it was around 11am and we were starving. So at this cafe they have noodles, and his wife made us some noodles. We ate that and then decided we'll stay in the coolness of his shop to watch some movies. So i watched a few good ones that i haven't seen before like the Dark Knight (-yes i know). The quality of these movies are great! I dont know where they download them from but they rock! So in between movies i'd go for a walk to explore the place. I was looking for a Starbucks but couldn't find one. Then around 6pm we got hungry again and decided we'll all go out to a restaurant. This time Kim Hum Um's family would be with us, and where else should we go but to a seafood place! They had soo many different types of seafood there! The main 'dish' was an arrangement of different types of Raw fish. I was fine with not eating it though cos there was soo many other things to eat there!

So all in all, i can honestly say that I've eaten more Seafood in that weekend than i have in 6 months in Australia. And so we left that night at 9pm and had to drop the other friend off in Incheon. Since we only had 2hours sleep the night before we decided to sleep there the night and make the journey back to Hongcheon in the morning (some two hours away). And that was the story of my first time in Seoul! And now i'm going back next weekend! :D

Hmmm, where was i? Oh yes "..resign my position at your Hagwon". Yep so last night i took Jay out for a couple of quiet beers. We talked for a while and then i broke it to him that i'm thinking of leaving. He didnt take it too badly though. He told me how much it'd affect his business, and that the other teacher (Thomas) is also thinking of leaving. By the end of it, i felt so bad about leaving him in that predicament. I offered to do everything i can to find another person for him by the time i leave. I gave him one months notice, as it says in the contract. I'm thinking about teaching at a public school next..
Well thats all for now, i think i'll try to keep this updated a lot more to save on these long entries!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

6. Fish 'n' Snails anyone?

So i left you after Sunday night. Well that night i slept like a baby! Then on Monday i didn't do too much except recover from being so sore!

Yesterday (Tuesday) i tried this new dish called Saengsun Hwe which is a famous dish here, with raw tuna in it.. it was an experience! I don't really like fish at the best of times so no surprises that i wasnt too fussed about this dish too. After that for lunch, i went exploring the city more, but this time i went to the Indoor markets which are pretty damn big! I bought my first Pot for making Indian style tea in.. and the shop owner gave me a strainer for free! So then i went home after work and tried to sleep but couldnt. I watched What Happens in Vegas, thanks to Youngdong for d/l'ing it for me.. but still couldnt sleep so i got up and Youngdong suggested that we go downtown for a drink at this bar he knows. "Its 1am on Wednesday morning, are you sure it'll be open?".. sure enough it was open!

So at this bar on the second level of a building with Christmas lights all over the place, we drank a few beers (and Jay came along too), and of course there was the Anju which, this time they ordered Sea snails! Yaay. So i tried some of that, and it wasn't too bad.. but i did kinda stay away from it, and had more of the vege's instead..

And then todays dawned and i woke at about 10am after getting home at 3am and watching some Vampire movie after that. Then Youngdong made a speciality dish of his called Kung na Mul Bap, which is bean shoots and rice in a pressure cooker and then a sauce and kimchi stuff that goes with it. And thats about all..

Tonight we're going out for a few beers with the group, and hopefully we can make some plans for the long weekend coming. It's Korean Thanks-giving.. that should be fun :)

PS: I saw this on one of my explorations, i thought it was pretty funny..

Sunday, September 7, 2008

5. Sutasaaaaaahhh

With one cup of sweet black tea in me and some provisions (corn chips and water), today I went to visit this place that Stevo told me about called Sutasa (sa meaning temple). It's a Buddhist temple about 10 minutes taxi from here, or a 3-hour walk. I taxi'd it of course! I got to the place (which is an experience in itself, with so many mountains absolutely everywhere you look!) Then I went through this decorated archway thingo and into the temple. There were about 4 or 5 of these 'huts' and each had these little description in front of them..








And then I went walking towards the mountains, and you see all these little places where people can just sit and listen to nature, kinda like this:





and then.. well then the inevitable happened. I was faced one again with a choice of direction. Take the road less travelled or keep to the path? As has become a kind of rule with me, I had to take the muddy, dark one that led into the mountains.




But then another intersection! Both looked equally mysterious! So I decided to go up hill, because I love going up hill!





Remember in one of my other entries I said that I saw a huge spider in its web blocking my path, and I took it as a sign to take another road. Yeah well the same thing happened here but this time I chose to ignore it. I saw the spider on the path, but since the path was so big I could easily duck underneath its web and keep going! Bad idea! At first I thought I saw a stick move, looking closer I saw that it was a SNAKE! After my initial shock I took this picture as it was getting off the path.




I decided that I'd keep going.. I took one more step and saw another one!! Sure snakes are great and I love em, but these weren't behind some glass nor at a safe distance, they were about a metre away from me..






After the initial shock, the first thing that came to my mind is the paths of the two snakes. They made a rough 'X'.. as in turn back don't go this way. Well that's what I saw anyway! So I went back to the intersection and took the downhill path towards the stream. Ahh I said to myself, this is the right path..







So the path ended up meeting back with the road a little while later, but there was some construction going on in the place (I assume they were building more hiking paths). So I passed a lot of pathways like this:



And then I ran into a group of workers who were on their lunch break. They sat on in a circle on a blue tarpaulin, with all their side dishes out and chopsticks and bowls and everything. Nothing like the rabbit food or meat pies I see Aussie tradies eating at home! They invited me to join them, but I wasn't hungry, and besides, I was on a mission to see more! So I kept going, and you wouldn't believe where I ended up! Out here in the middle of nowhere.. I ended up in somebody's backyard!




That led me to a road, and by now I had been walking about an hour and half, so I decided it was time to head back. The way back is through another guys' backyard! So I went and as I crossed his driveway I saw a bench with a squirrel on it, so I decided that's where I'd rest and eat my lunch..



Ok now as i sat there I saw birds and more squirrels and spiders and heard all these different insects.. but as I got up to leave, this stubborn guy wouldn't move out of my way.. so (MOMMA WARNING! ITS ONLY A SMALL PICTURE SO YOU CAN SCROLL DOWN FAST) for everyone else, just click on the picture to see it full size.
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There you go momma, so you can keep reading this without being scared of the picture! So then off I went on my way back to Sutasa, I thought I'd get back and go have some proper lunch and some Makkoli which is traditional Korean 'beer' made from rice, it's really refreshing! That however, was not to be.. On this side of the stream they had made a pathway in some spots so people could pass..





But then... and here's where the tale gets interesting.. I saw a sign with a cartoon character on it, pointing to a track going uphill, so I decided I'd take that (knowing that all the paths must lead back to Sutasa), Bad Idea number 2! I had 2 gulps of water left, no food, no phone (battery died), and my camera.. this is where I stopped taking pictures..




I'm not sure if you can see that or not, but it's looking downhill on my path. So I started walking up hill, and I don't mean an easy on-your-treadmill-type-incline, this was tough, in some places I had to get on my hands just to pull myself up the hill! Then I stopped, after half an hour of walking straight up hill, my breath was getting short and I was seeing stars. As most of you know, I'm not the healthiest person around, so I sat on the ground until my breathing returned to normal. Then I was up again.. I thought I saw where it started to go back downhill, but it was just an illusion, the path turned right and went up another steeep incline. By this time I was drenched in sweat, I took long gulps of air and had to lean against every tree that was in my path. Quite a few times I put my foot in the wrong place and slipped because of the loose soil. But it wasn't a far fall (because of the incline), I was able to get a hold or some root of a tree and pull myself up again. After an hour of walking straight up I decided to stop and rest, though this time I lay on the ground and used my bag as a pillow. I lay there for about 10 minutes and decided that the end couldn't seriously be that far away, and I just had to do it. I kept going, I found rare places that were flat but straight after there was another incline even bigger and badder than the last.



Two hours in and still no end I used every motivation technique I knew how, I thought of heroes in stories, and of Bheem and Hanuman, and though they gave me strength, it was only in short bursts. By this time I was needing to take a breather every 5-10 steps, my legs just said NO. And that's when it hit me, I haven't been climbing one big mountain to get to the other side and go back downhill! I've been walking on the crest of a series of different mountains! You know when you look at mountains from a distance and you see the top outline? Yeah well I was walking along those tops! And I was going in the opposite direction to Sutasa. So I made an executive decision.. I finished off the last of my water, found a suitable walking stick and went back down. I used to think that going downhill was easy.. man I thought wrong! So many times I actually had to run down the hill because going step by step I'd slip on the loose dirt. Then stopping was another matter! I just had to aim for some tree and cling on to it to stop myself. Well an hour later I was back down to the cheesy little mocking cartoon character. I gave him a quick punch and took the other path. In 4 minutes flat I was back at Sutasa. I wouldn't have been able to walk if i didn't still have my trusty walking stick with me. Actually I ended up a bit further away from the actual temple, this place seemed to be a camping place by the river and they had toilets. So I went in, turned on a tap and doused my self in this ice cold water!

Then it was off to Sutasa Village to get something proper to drink. I got a 2L bottle of water and a 175ml of Cranberry juice and mixed them together. Then I ordered the only thing I knew how to 'Bi Bim Bap', which is rice and vegies. That was good! Then I had some coffee and just sat at this table by the river, not wanting to get up.. Eventually I asked the shop owner to call me a cab, then I came home and started writing this. Man I'll sleep well tonight! Everything aches!



I know that today's climb was the toughest thing I've ever done. I pushed until I just couldn't go any further.. But if someone had shown me yesterday what I'd go through today; would I still have gone?




Probably not.



But then, isn't that the whole point?


Saturday, September 6, 2008

4. Tiny Jarred!


Well I left you at Friday night. After work I called Mike and asked if they went out or not.. he told me yes they had and they were at this place. I had no idea where it was so I asked him to meet me at Baskin Robins in 5 minutes.. So I met him, an American guy about 29ish.. and we were walking down the street when he suddenly disappeared! I looked around and he went into this little doorway lined with this eerie green light. It was sort of hidden and if I hadn't have stopped then I wouldn't have noticed it at all!! He told me it's a German Beer Garden, but it has no German Beer! Can you imagine German anything is a little country town like this?? So I went up and met about 16 foreigners there! Most of them from America, one Korean teacher, one Canadian, and one Scottish guy from Mongolia! Ages varied from 26-35, but the Mongol-scot was about 45-50yo.




They had these huuuge beer jugs called Pitchers I think (or maybe that's just what the yanks call them), the locals call them 2000cc, for about $6. Introductions were a bit tough, most of them couldn't pronounce my name, until one girl yelled: "The Subway Guy!!". I thought wahhaat???? They were talking about Jarred the Subway guy hehe.. I think that's what most of them know me as now! So after a few more beers and a lot of making friends and exchanging numbers and joking around (especially with the Scotsman), they decided to go to another place, I thought I'd go along for the ride - I was having way too much fun for a small thing like sleep to stand in my way! Actually that's not entirely correct, you see, the owner of the bar was a friend of Kang Young the Korean teacher who was with us, and they asked to quieten down a little. When Kang Young relayed the message there was heaps of shouting and laughing and one of them yelled out: "WHAT THEY WANT US TO BE QUIET?? DON'T THEY KNOW WE'RE AMERICAN??" (ok so that was a filtered version of what he said, but you get the general idea). We didn't get kicked out, technically that doesn't happen here.. but I think because the owner was a friend of Kangyoung we decided to go somewhere that they could make as much noise as they wanted!



Where else would we go but a singing room!! I'll tell you now, the singing room is so much more fun with friends and a few drinks in you, instead of grape juice poppers and six children! They of course, sang songs that I knew, only a bit though. There was a lot of Coldplay, and Kylie Minogue, and even Living on a Prayer from Bon Jovi!! We could barely talk by the end of it!! It rocked!! :D After that the group had diminished to about 7 of us. Most had gone home, and Scotty, whose name changed every 5 minutes was too drunk, so I put him in a cab and sent him home. Now I call him Fat Bastard (but he's skinny) - in a Scot accent, and he calls me Tiny. We decided to go home which was a five minute walk away! And so ended my awesome night.. Tonight I've been invited to Kang Young's son's first birthday party followed by Val's birthday bash.. I told YoungDong that I'll stay in with him tonight so I had to refuse.. that, and I dont have a present!



And today? I hear you ask.. well today I woke up at 11:30am, and Youngdong said we should go down to a restaurant to eat some food. We walked about ten minutes away (which incidentally ended up being near the rice fields I trekked near on August 27th's entry) and we sat on the floor as a feast of seafood noodles were brought to us. Youngdong didn't know the English name for oyster so I told him and then he asked me what this other thing was.. I had NO idea! He told me that it's seafood, so I asked if I just put it in my mouth and eat it like that. He said yes. But just as I was about to put it in my mouth he said "Wait! When you eat then you feel BANG so be careful". I tried to get him to explain to me what the hell he was on about, but his broken English couldn't explain more. So I ate it, it was slimy in my mouth, but that was nothing compared to biting into it! I bit into it and out exploded this really hot, slimy stuff that tasted like the ocean! Not in a good way either! THEN there was the rest of it.. you know when you walk past Chinatown and sometimes they have these dried fish shops, yeah well that smell is what this tasted like! And it was hard so I had to keep chewing it as more and more of this hot stuff kept coming out of it! It's something I've put into the "Experience Once" chapter of my life. Here's a bad drawing of what it sort of looked like..


Ok so that's all for now, and if your hanging out for more pictures, I should have them tomorrow! I'm going to a Buddhist Temple called Sutasa, which Stevo told me about..

Thursday, September 4, 2008

3. Steeevo!!

Last night I was walking home from the Hagwon, and I saw a guy sitting in a coffee shop on his laptop. When I looked closer I noticed he was white!! I dont think I've ever been that happy to see someone because of the colour of their skin.. wait that came out wrong.. let me explain.. Living here means that I haven't had one good long English conversation in nearly a month. Not only that but when I do talk English, it has to be sloooowwww and steaddy so the children can understand me. So seeing this guy there, a foreigner.. maybe a possible friend, I jumped at the opportunity.




So I went inside and ordered a Hot Chocolate, and sat down on the next table to finish a letter I was writing home. He seemed very busy on his laptop so I thought I shouldn't interrupt him. Anyway, I saw he was online so I pulled out my laptop and connected to some random network. That's when Becca started talking to me! She said "imagine your hitting on a girl.. but don't go too far". You see, I didnt know how to approach the guy and I thought "Hey, your white lets be friends" wouldn't really work. So taking Bec's advice I went up and said "Hey, you from around here? Or just visiting?". What he said next shattered all my hopes of conversation.. "Verduchski" or something to that effect. So I say: "Do you speak English".. and that's when he started laughing and said "Hell yeah man how are ya?". He was playin with me!




So long story short, we sat there for the next hour or two just talking! Man was it good conversation.. he actually understood my jokes, instead of me saying it and laughing at them myself.. So I told him my situation and he gave me all these contacts of other foreigners around here. Apparently there's about 20 of them!! Wooo!!! Then he started to name off the places I should go.. how best to get there.. what I should do with my spare time... what I should eat.. etc etc etc. THEN he told me that he's leaving for Russia today at Noon. :( He's going to stay with a Russian girls family who he met in Seoul while he was working at a Hagwon there last year. But it's for three months and he's coming back to Korea on November 27th.




He ended up being the friendliest person I've met in a month! So tonight as I was walking home from the Hagwon, I gave Mike a call (Mike being another foreigner, Steve's friend) and asked if he wanted to have a couple of beers.. He said he can't cos he hasn't slept in 2 days but tomorrow night (Friday night) there's this big foreigner's dinner followed by drinks and playing pool at some pub/bar/restaurant. I wont be able to make it for dinner because of work, but I'm definitely going to meet everyone for drink etc.. I cant wait! A chance to meet people.. finally!!!




Ok so thats all I wanted to report really.. oh and in class when I told one of the older ones that I'm Hindu he said Namaste! That was pretty cool!

Ok thats all for now.. :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2. Baby

Yesterday after work I decided to go out and look for other foreigners, to no avail. I went to that funky looking bar/restaurant I mentioned earlier, and had a couple of beers. A few guys saw me drinking alone so they bought me a beer and asked if I'd join them. There were three of the 28, 30, 34 years old but they acted like children! It rocked!

So I had a drink with them, and with using their phone dictionaries and my own conversational dictionary.. I sorta got a good conversation outta them! I have to teach today so I told them that and left. The 35 year old was a civil engineer of some sort and wanted my number. So I gave it to him, and got his in return. He also gave me his card.. They couldn't believe that I was 23 years old. They kept calling me a baby!

Oh and a package came for me yesterday at work! Taji had sent me Dilmah tea bags and leaf tea and also UT porridge!! Man it's been so long I'd forgotten what black tea tasted like.. So I had my first cuppa this morning sitting outside in the brilliantly sunny weather.

Nothing much else to report for today. Hopefully this weather keeps up so I'll check out a different bar tonight and have a drink there.. hopefully there'll be another foreigner there.

Monday, September 1, 2008

1. Welcome to September!

The first of September dawned a nice 19 degrees and pouring down rain! For some reason I woke at 6:15am and couldn't get back to sleep. So I just lay there sleeping in bursts of about 20 minutes, and everytime I'd look at the time only a few minutes had gone past.

So anyway, I woke up and since there was nothing to do, I watched Happy Feet and Ratatouille on the laptop. Then I had some cereal and went to work at around 2pm.

I got there and as with every monday, my first two periods I just prepare for the week. I got a lot done and read through some educational games to play with the youngins. So I dont mind Mondays too much.

In my first period these little ones (different from the others the other day), they found the hair on my arm amazing! So as I was teaching then they kept on playing with my arm.. using the whiteboard eraser to try and erase the hair! I can't blame them for being curious because most Asians have barely any hair at all. It's all good and well until they try to tickle me. Then it's time I get up and show them whose boss. Simply picking them up renders them useless, but then the others gang up on me to save their friends.

So then in third period, a middle schooler, about 14 years old noticed my hair too while I had him up and was teaching him something at my desk.. He doesn't speak much English but look at my arm and was like "Whoaa". Then I stuck my hand out, and it's like he was waiting for my approval.. stoopid litte brats haha! :)

Finally they never cease to amaze me. One boy named Paul (I'm not sure if I've mentioned this already), but on his break he pulled out his MP3 player and started playing songs he liked. Amongst some Korean Songs, there were: The Eagles, Beatles, and Billy Joel! So I asked him why he liked that kind of music.. and in his broken English he said, "I dont know.. it just ummm easy music".

Ok well it's time for me to sleep I think.. I added bigger pictures to the cacoons post for those who requested it. I'm not sure what the white ones were though.

Bye for now!