Saturday, January 10, 2009

On my own

Looks like I am on my own today. One of the girls said she would go with me into town, but she has disappeared and made plans with other friends. There has been alot of that on this trip. It is all ok though. I figure I will take my camera and my cell phone (which works here but costs a fortune) and go see what I can see. The intimidating thing is that it is 10:00 am and still only about 16 degrees outside with a high of 22 and a 20% chance of snow!

Anyway, hopefully this evening you will get a nice full update with lots of pictures and good stories!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oh! The places you'll go!

I have so many thoughts that I want to share, and so many ideas big and small about my time here that I have been loath to sit down and try to sort through them, but here I go.

First, I have a sad confession to make. *deep breath* I don't like kimchi. I know! How horrid! How could such a thing be? The truth of the matter is that it tastes exactly like it is described - Rotten Cabbage It is pungent and usually fishy and it just tastes like 10 day old garbage. There, I said it. I am sorry, Korea! I love so very many things about you and I will continue to love you for all of your amazing qualities, but I have to admit, I love you inspite of your kimchi.

In happier news, one of my students, Sara, gave me some gonggi of my very own!

I made the little paper box for them right away and I am cherishing them as I write this (looking aside at the box where they lay nestled waiting for me to practice some more.) Last night Amber and I went into the hall about 10:00 and tried to play. News flash, Gonggi is not so easy. The kids make it look simple. I am old hence I am slow. It will take some practice, but I was making progress last night. I will have to take myself back out into the hall so my Korean neighbors can laugh at me some more. But maybe, someday, I will be able to pick up all 4 and do the hand flip thing. (See previous post.)

I wanted to tell you about the water coolers in the cafeteria. They are really neat and make alot of sense. There are sanitizing containers and you pick up a little metal cup, get water, then when you are finished you put the cup in one of the holes in the bottom of the cupboard (and presumably, they are taken away, washed and replaced.)

More on the Bungeoppang: the nice seller who gives me extras. When I bought them on Tuesday, he gave me a banana cream one as well as the sweet red beans.

Yesterday, Gillian (one of the Korean English teachers) and I had dinner. The bowl is Bi Bim Bop which was amazingly yummy. The other is kimbap which is kind of like a sushi roll. There was also amazing soup and the obligatory side of kimchi which thankfully Gillian doesn't like either, so I did not have to feel a complete traitor when I admitted I didn't like it.

This evenings I took the #40 bus to Emart.

As mentioned before it is like a grocery store, departments store and mini-mall all rolled into one. I went by myself and had time to walk around and look at things at my leisure. It seems a little overpriced compared to other places I have shopped, so my total bill this time was only about $7.00. I bought some Korean 'cider' which is very popular here. This would be an Inigo Montoya moment where "I do not think that means what you think it means" is appropriate. It is not 'cider' at all but rather a clear carbonated drink somewhere between gingerale, 7-up and something else.

I also bought some DimSum freshly made:

and proceded to eat it all *ugg*.

I also bought some of the yogurt drink the kids have everyday at school. I bought a package of 20 (it cost me about 1.50) and intend to drink half of them and bring the other half home for my family to try.

I was going to take the bus back to my apartment, but when I got down to the street level I saw the bus I needed go flying by. It was terribly cold tonight (about 25 F) but cold enough that I did not want to stand on the corner for another 20 minutes waiting for the next bus, so I walked back. The walk would have been darling on a warm summer night, but in the cold it was a little uncomfortable (especially with all my groceries in my backpack.) Also, about 2/3rds of the walk is a pretty steep uphill climb. But, I like walking, and I also like exploring by myself AND I was glad that I had learned the way of getting to Emart on the bus ride over, so I just embraced the half an hour walk and thanked God that the uphill climb kept me warm enough to keep my mind off the cold.

On the way back I pass what must be a hospital or a medical center and there is a statue of Christ that always catches my attention.

His face looks rather reminiscent of the statues of the greek gods, and not so much Semitic. This is probably a result of scholasticism (the Catholic church's daliance with Greco-Roman culture that emerged just prior to the Rennaisance in an attempt to reconcile Aristotilian/Greek philosophies to the teachings of the Catholic church.)
Anyway, it is attractive but not very accurate.

I am now over half-way through my time here. I am a muddle of emotions. I love it here. The thought of going home, settling down and not getting to return breaks my heart, but the thought of another year away from home is also heart breaking. I don't have an answer.

There are many other things I could share, but I need to get settled for bed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The not so important stuff

Sunday I went to the DMZ. I want to post about that, but I need to think on it a little longer and do a little more research. So, for the not so important stuff:

Before the DMZ tour on Sunday we walked around a Namdaemun market in Seoul for about an hour. I liked the little metal disk in the street that told us where we were.

We saw a shop where they sell traditional Korean outfits for children.

The tour bus was scheduled to pick us up at the Hilton at 11:00 am so we wandered around the lobby a little. This was the huge christmas tree dominating the lobby. It was quite beautiful.

The nativity there was very pretty.

Can you find the KitKat bar?

After the DMZ we went to Seoul Tower. It has a beautiful view of the city.
The tower:

The night view:

Afterward I ended up walking through the city for about 40 minutes by myself. It wasn't so bad. I always feel like you never really get to know a city until you walk or drive around it by yourself. I never really got to do that in the big cities in the DR (a little bit in the colonial section of Santo Domingo), but it was nice to have a chance to do so here. It is like Seoul and I kept passing each other at parties but we formally met last night, though the encounter was brief. I hope to rub shoulders with Seoul more in the future.

From DMZ Trip and 1-5-09

Here are a few other odds and ends. A stop sign in Korea (this one is at the corner up in the University where I teach.)

Our Korean Dorm mother. She is so sweet and cooks for us sometimes and is just generally kind, patient and helpful even though her American tenants can sometimes be quite annoying!

North Korean Soju - ummm, ick.

One of my favorite Korean Snacks:

How I am wasting my time (but a handy skill to keep kids entertained in odd times of nothing to do.)

Tonight's snack (and tomorrow's):

The frozen version of Bungeopang has icecream inside instead of red beans. I am addicted to Milkis and allow myself to drink one (almost every day) only because I know in less than three weeks I won't be able to get it anymore.

Alright, that is enough for now. I am still trying to get rested from yesterday's excursion.