Remember When.. and pumpkin pie

September 29, 2009
not relevant, but pretty

not relevant, but pretty

Remember when you couldn’t wait to be able to stay up.  It was a special treat (I’d sneak down and watch Monty Python on the TV).. Yeah I really am that old.   It is 8:10 pm as I am writing this, and I can’t wait to go to bed.  I am totally beat and it is all my co-teacher’s fault.

It’s mid term so all the kids and the teachers are finishing early.   Today, all the Foreign language teachers went together to VIPs for the salad bar.  I, of course, ate too much.  The soup was really good.  The tacos, were… how should I put this…. interesting. I know corn is a Mexican staple. And I am no longer upset when I find corn on my pizza.  But.  Corn does not belong in taco meat.   Since the sour cream on Sunday wasn’t really sour cream, but frozen yogurt, I should just feel grateful that the sour cream and guacamole was real. Sometimes food doesn’t translate well.  However sometimes local variations are pretty awesome. Case in point, pumpkin salad.  It is similar to potato salad, but with pumpkin.  Now I would have never thought to put pumpkin and mayonnaise together, but here it works pretty well.

After lunch, my co-teacher and I went for a bike ride.  It was supposed to be leisurely.  Ha.  We went to her apartment, and I borrowed her husbands bike.  We started quite slowly and leisurely, but there were two very large, very steep hills.  Co-teacher was truckin’.  I was sweating. I was crying.  I felt so pathetic.

We started out around the Han river. I have to admit it was beautiful.  And there was a  nice cool breeze.  Then we went to Olympic park.   Now that is a nice bike riding area.  We were not alone in the assessment, and I loved how everyone and their grandfather were out and about, strolling, walking, jogging, biking, and rollerblading along.  We continued around the park, then went along the Han some more, then continued across a fairly scary bridge.  Co-teacher was truckin’.  I was sweating. I was crying. I was panting. I continued to feel pathetic.

However.  The ride really was fantastic, and I can’t wait to go again.  I want to find out how to get to the river ride near my apartment. Apparently there is a secret tunnel.

After our ride, co-teacher took me back to my apartment and I met up with the other foreign teacher at our school (I’m high school, and she is middle school).  We went to the awesomeness that is Costco.  Now I realize that grocery shopping is not under ordinary circumstances an entertaining or special evening.  But.  I live in Korea, where the food doesn’t always translate.   We found— non flavored yogurt, frozen veggies (a rare treat here) and …….. PIE.  Pumpkin pie to be exact.  It looks perfect.  I can’t wait to get started on the awesomeness that is pumpkin pie.


Happy birthday Jen

September 27, 2009
I present... Gift Spam

I present... Gift Spam

At first we were going to go to “homo” hill.  To get to homo hill, you have to go past hooker hill. Actually I think “hooker” is probably a more insulting term than “homo”, but then “homo hill next to hooker hill” has a certain alliterative ring to it that would be lost if we said “sex worker hill”  I loved the names of the bars, but “Eat Me” fusion food was probably my favorite.

Apparently “homo” hill wasn’t where we wanted to go, because most of the bars that had dancing had a cover charge. So we went to the latin bar “Calente” . Calente is awesome.  I actually don’t like Itaewon much as a night scene, but I do like this bar.  The vibe is all about dancing, and although there are some guys trying to get their game on, it wasn’t creepy. Most just want to dance.  Its one of the few places where the guys don’t just stand around the dance floor and watch the women dance with themselves.  Some of the men there can really dance.

I didn’t stay for the whole all night thing, and although I didn’t make it before the midnight fairy tale deadline, I got home before I totally turned into a pumpkin.   I had a wonderful time. Jen is one of the most beautiful women in the world (inside and out)

I was just glad my headache had disappeared before the big night.   Do you know all the things you can find in Gwahwamun/City Hall area that are not a pharmacy?  And unlike the States, you can’t buy aspirin or ibuprofen at a mini mart.  Well, I found —  5, yes count them -5 Dunkin Donuts, several cotton candy stands, two festivals, a blood donation stand, a man selling paper frogs and foxes that could dance, a woman selling buddhist clothing, and an antique book stall.  I finally found a pharmacy, quite far from Kyobo bookstore.  It is generally unwise to go into Kyobo with a headache, because it is beyond crowded, and it is much more than a mere bookstore. Think books, stationary, music, and stickers. Lots and lots of stickers, ‘cuz even grown men will put stickers on their cell phones, phone books, and agendas.   But by the time I got there, my headache was mostly gone, and I was surprised it wasn’t very crowded at all. Apparently everyone was at one of the festivals.

Fun times

September 25, 2009

Right now my school is in the middle of mid terms. This means I still have to come in, but I don’t have a lot to do.  I’m working on my lesson plans, hoping to get ahead. Right now I’m trying to find a bunch of cool women to introduce my cool young women to.

On the fun part, I went to the Seoul Flea Market on Wednesday, and although it was 1/2 closed, I enjoyed looking around.

almost all closed

one stop shopping

one stop shopping

almost all closed

at the entrance

at the entrance

We stopped for some dong dong ju, a kind of rice beer,  but it is a bit sweeter and more fuzzy than beer. It is also drunk from bowls.dong dong ju

dong dong ju
I could give you a photo of the “Korean pizza” that isn’t even close to pizza, but is more like a fried pancake with green onions and mushrooms, but there was this guy, who hit my arm and asked me to take a picture everytime I got out my camera.  I don’t know why he wanted me to take his picture, but here you are.

random persistent guy

random persistent guy

Wow Photos!

September 21, 2009
Simone, one of the cooler women I met at EPIK,  just showed me how to put photos into my blog. These are the first three, with more to come later.
This is a really cool building I saw in Seoul
This is a really cool building I saw in Seoul
Saschoom: A musical/dance extravaganza!

Saschoom: A musical/dance extravaganza!

A beautiful woman dancing a traditional Korean dance in a park.

A beautiful woman dancing a traditional Korean dance in a park.

dancing, videos, and rad randomness

September 20, 2009

It was another good week in the neighborhood, whether or not you would like to be my neighbor.  My students were pretty good, and I’m starting to recognise a few by sight.   I went dancing with my co-teacher. Every Thursday is a cha cha lesson at another school in Gwanhwamoon.  (Gwanhwamoon is an area in central Seoul, and it is a very nice area, one of my favorites) – I had my butt handed to me again by some of the older dancers.  My…. it is depressing when a group of over 40’s and a few over 60’s can out dance you.  I’ll catch up though. I like going because it makes my co-teacher smile.  She says it’s because it’s polite, but I think it is not a polite smile, it is a joyous smile.  She really has a beautiful smile.

Friday we had a group come in to make a promotional video.  I dressed up, and had to do a re-do lesson for one of my classes. They wanted to show one of the advanced class, but since I had already taught them this week’s lesson, and next week’s lesson is a review, we had to pretend it was a new lesson.   Some of my students are quite the Sarah Heartburns.  I then had to go outside and “pretend” to laugh and talk to my students, but actually I wasn’t pretending.  I got a fairly good introduction to the cutest of the current boy bands, and found out the only band I knew was actually very old and not cool anymore.  That’s ok, because I’m actually very old and not cool anymore.  I still had a good time, even if it was “pretend”  I wonder if they will let me have the same thing on the lawn for real?

For rad randomness I had a pretty good weekend.  Saturday I was supposed to go on  a bike ride with the bike club at school, and although I did look forward to it, the thought of a five hour 56 kilometer trek was just a bit much, so I canceled.  I wonder if they would be up for a one hour 10 kilometer trek.  That would be much more my speed right now.   I’m sorry I didn’t go, but I was glad to see a friend from Incheon.  We drank wine and talked into the night, until she had to go.  I hope next time she can stay longer because it is always good to drink wine and talk into the night.  Today I got to eat lunch with another EPIK teacher I met during the orientation. She is one of the coolest women I’ve met in a while, and I was glad to get a chance to sit outside drink coffee and talk about politics.  I don’t get much of a chance here in Seoul, because most of my friends are not American or not interested. (or both)  During my toastmaster’s meeting I ran into another EPIK teacher, and we decided to go to some of the other meetings around Seoul. I’d like to find one that is a bit more laid back than my current one, although I do like most of the people who go there.

All in all a pretty good week/ weekend.

Why I love my students and a mini adventure

September 16, 2009

I love my students.  This week we are doing a lesson on ingredients.  So I downloaded a cooking show, and had them read a recipe, and then had them get into groups to make their own recipes.  Well, I got to hear some very interesting takes on common foods.  I really liked the super sandwich.  It included chicken, ham, bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, and lettuce.  I also liked the vegetables that should be “cooked until they die”.  I never knew vegetables could live through the chopping process. I guess we learn something everyday.

One of my students is a bit of a bad girl.  She was all “hoochie baby”, rolling her eyes and generally acting bored through the lesson.  I wanted to say ..’ listen hoohice baby, I was a hoochie mama way before your mama even knew what hoochie was- so don’t even go there’  but I didn’t.  Instead I waited and watched, and believe it or not, she came up with a pretty good idea.  So I said, “good idea”  She looked up at me with a deer in the headlights wide eyes shocked expression.  Then she smiled quite shyly, and straightened up in her chair.  She worked pretty hard the rest of the lesson too.  Never underestimate the power of a kind word.

After work I felt a bit restless and bored, and no one was answering my phone, so  I decided to have a bit of a walk.   I started on a quest for some street food.  I found a nice little chicken on a stick stand, and kept going.  I found a nice furniture store, and was able to negotiate two bookcases and delivery on Friday, mostly on my own.  I felt pretty good, so I kept going.  I stopped at a small park and watched a kid kick a rock around. I thought – boy, he is easily amused, then realized so was I, as I was just as amused watching him as he was kicking the rock.  I kept going, and found an outdoor market.  I love outdoor markets.  You can find everything you ever wanted, and a few things you never knew existed.  There are of course the plastic everythings,  pancakes in the shape of a fish and filled with sweet bean paste (they are really quite good) cinnamon donuts that aren’t quite the same as we would have in the states, but they smelled really awesome.  Unfortunately I could not say the same thing about the live fish in rubber tubs, the pig somethings that I’m pretty sure I don’t really want to know about and some kind of herbal tea.

After I walked through the market I got a little bit turned around. I wasn’t too upset because a) I don’t have much of a sense of direction and b) it was still pretty early.   I walked further, peeking into a couple of restaurants that I made a note of to visit again, if I can figure out exactly where it was, and asked a random street guy where my subway station was.  He pointed the direction I just came from, and I wound up on a shopping street/market.  This one had street vendors but also a lot of shops.  I was feeling a bit peckish so I got some kind of snack on a stick, but I’m not quite sure exactly what it was.  It tasted pretty good, and then I had the fruit juice stand make me  a banana juice.  I like these stands, they have the whole fruits in a cup, and you can pick out the ones you want.   I kept walking, and came out on a main road.  I asked a woman this time to help me find my subway station, and she pointed in the opposite direction I was going to go.  I kept walking, met a  Pakistani who was selling jewelry, bought a pair of lovely green dangle-y earrings and finally found my way home.

Something I love about Korea.  Half the small grocery stores and convenience marts have tables and chairs outside, and many of them have potted plants around them to make the rest stop more pleasant.  Many people stop and have a quick drink or snack and watch the rest of the people go by.   I like that a lot.


September 14, 2009

Well, I’m comfortably cocoon-ed in my apartment.  I am drinking the good coffee, with a bottle of wine waiting for later.  I feel comfortable in the apartment, some art is on the walls, the lights are soft, and I had a small adventure in my neighborhood. (ate some good street vendor food, and found a small little alcove with chinese pines and a sculpture of what I think was two birds eating each other’s head- but in an artistic/romantic way.

My school is an all girls high school, and I plan on introducing them to some girl power.  They are pretty good, at least so far. I’m the first foreign teacher the school has ever had, so I’m a bit of a celeb still. The girls wave and say hi, then giggle and run away. I must admit to a bit of paranoia when they do– is something on my shirt, on my face, on my teeth?  But after a quick check I don’t worry so much about it.   The teachers are very nice, and they seem to like me.  The school made sure I was surrounded by English speaking teachers. The woman on my left is the chemistry teacher, and I know she is a great teacher, because many of her former students still come around the teacher’s room to chat with her.  The woman on my left is an English teacher and she is very young, friendly and talkative.  The school itself is on a hill. Some mornings I feel I should grab some rope to help pull me up. I really is that steep.  But the walk down is pleasant, and there is a mountain that we can look at when we eat lunch.  I think I’m going to like it here a lot.