Wednesday, December 31, 2008

5 Random Things to Love about Korea

1. Gonggi

When I walked into two different classes today the children were playing this game. I hadn't seen them play before, but it could be that before I just wasn't paying attention.

These are my four teachers who taught me about the game. Their names are Lynn, Maria, Sara & Lucy. The game is played kind of like jacks. Here is a you tube example. These are NOT the kids I teach (just to avoid confusion) but they do give a good example of how the game is played.

I went out this afternoon to try to find the game pieces for myself and my newphew but struck out, which brings me to:

2. The Stationary Store
This is NOT Hallmark that we are talking about. The stationary store (where supposedly I could by Gonggi) is a veritable treasure trove of wonderfulness.
First, the one closest to us is hidden in a very unlikely place (further the treasure analogy.) Once you find the entrance you go down a twisty dark stairwell, but behold at the bottom, there is a veritable cornucopia of unexpected color, light and plastic!

I LOVE the Stationary store! There is paper (of course) but also art supplies, toys, hardware, gifts, party supplies, convenience store items, hair clips, glue guns, candy, etc. So many little things I want to bring home! I only made one purchase which brings me to:

3. face warmers/hygenic mask
This much disputed item either breeds sympathy or repulsion. On the flight over a girl was wearing a normal clinical white mask like a construction worker or dental assistant might sport. I think in her case it was a fear of being sick. Around here, however, you will see random people on the street with what look like doctor's masks except in different colors, fabrics and patterns. One of my students had one on today. I asked her about it and she said it keeps her face warm. I was beginning to get the picture that this was the idea anyway, because I don't generally see them on people walking around the Emart or hanging out in the classroom. They get put on when walking outside. My nose often turns so red on the long walk to the cafeteria that my students tell me I look like rudolph or like I have a strawberry nose. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate the cold. So, I invested in a facewarmer today. I am excited about wearing it tomorrow.

4. Maxim & Hallabong - Hot Drinks
Maxim - It isn't a raunchy men's magazine, and it isn't a feminine product. It is S. Korea's instant coffee! While I will always prefer pressed or brewed coffee, this is not an entirely bad stand in if you don't mind your coffee sweet. I found some in the Stationary store (of course!).

Hallabong Tea - Created from the Dekopon citris fruit and grown on Hallasan Mountain in S. Korea, Hallabong Tea is a native specialty. The tea is sold in a jar and looks like orange marmalade but it is a mixture of Dekopon and honey. You ladel two spoonfuls into a cup of steaming hot water and stir. Delectable does not begin to describe this sweet soothing liquid. This is definitely something I will be bringing back to the States with me. Michelle was nice enough to buy a jar and leave it in the kitchen for us all to enjoy and I have a steaming mug of it sitting here to sustain me as I create this post.

5. Korean Labels and signs
I just never tire of how fun it is to see things in a different language. It is not so noticeable in Spanish or other languages that use the same characters that English does, but in languages with a completely different alphabet, even the most 'normal' things look interesting.

There is ALOT of English around here even though we are surrounded by Korean. There are Dunkin Donuts, 7-11's, Outback Steakhouse, Baskin Robbins, Smoothie King, etc. Many Koreans speak English. Sometimes though, it still ends up making you wonder who exactly is in charge of translating and marketing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hallabong tea sounds divine! I've got to find a Korean grocery, stat!

The face warmer is cute. And a little disturbing. It's like a surgeon going in to surgery wearing crazy and I don't know what to do with it.