Thursday, September 30, 2010

Miscellaneous absurdity

I wore a low-cut top to school once. I was sitting in a chair when one of my kindergarteners came to check it out, looking down my blouse and poking me, which I'm kind of used to and don't react lest I encourage them.
She said to me, "Teacher, you this (pointing at my chest) is big."
I nodded, "Yes." What else can I say?
"Teacher, why?"
"Because God made me that way."
She giggled and asked, "What you? 32?"
"No, what?"
She spouted a few more numbers as my eyes got very big and I wondered how to end this line of questioning.
"Oh, you want to know how old I am? I'm 24 years old."
She gave up and left me alone.
Kindergarteners. Sheesh.

One of my pre-k classes drew lovely self-portraits, but Joey drew his with pigtails and a pretty pink bow atop his head. Wow, Joey. So beautiful.

A first-grader complained that the classroom was too hot. I was comfortable and didn't feel like turning on the fan or opening the window, so I told him to take off his jacket. He looked very confused, so I unzipped it for him. Then he looked down and giggled. Anywhere else in the world, I'd go to jail for undressing students.

And my favorite incident was in the playroom for "gym time" with my 4-year-olds. One crawled up the slide to kiss me on the nose and shocked me. Then she gave me a dirty look as if the static electricity were my fault. Priceless.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Heaven is a hilltop

Heaven is a hilltop on an autumn afternoon.
Sun slides slowly through the soft pine shade.
The warm cool air eases, muscles rest, sighing sounds.
Insects sing sweetly sleepy soft songs.
Breeze blows beauty, slows breath, rolls like peace...
Ajoshi spits.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Everland is an amusement park in Korea with a zoo, rollercoasters, a waterpark, parades, and more. I took a tour bus there for 6,000 won and a city bus back, which took nearly 2 hours for a 30-minute trip and was just miserable and uncomfortable. The more you know...

And the T-Express is the steepest wooden rollercoaster in the world and quite possibly the BEST one I've ever been on. And I've ridden a lot of them.

That's what she said!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Crazy awesome weekend

Saturday started out with my yearly women's checkup- not crazy awesome, but the doctor spoke great English and had me in and out of her office in under 10 minutes, not counting the hour in the waiting room because Saturdays are busy. She said she'd call if my test results weren't normal, and I headed back to the subway. Then I realized the doctor didn't have my phone number. I rushed back and realized the receptionists don't speak English, nor do I speak Korean. Thinking quickly, I jotted my name in Korean and my phone number on a scrap of paper, held it up and said, "Hand ponah changee?" Without batting an eye, they grabbed my chart and added my number. Konglish language skills FTW!

That afternoon, I took a reggae/dance hall (think Sean Paul) dance class with a dozen white girls. It was even worse than you'd imagine. Except for me because I'm awesome and love this music. The class was pretty basic and I would recommend it to anyone since there was only one movement I didn't get.

Then a friend and I went to Myeondong to shop until we dropped. I got the new 2NE1 album and some awesome skirts at Forever 21. I don't know how I lived without them before today. Unfortunately, I failed to find a black hoodie in my size or price range at H&M. :0(

Sunday Sunday SUNDAY!
I crashed for about 4 hours before getting up to catch a 5:30 a.m. bus from Itaewon for the DMZ International Peace Marathon race. The rain stopped shortly before we arrived. As we 10K-ers lined up at the starting line, the announcer called for everyone in the crowd to give everyone else a shoulder massage in Korean. It was awesome. We set out in a beautiful road race amidst a gray sky, blue mountains, and yellow-green fields in the most perfect cool fall weather.

Holy crap, road running is hard. It never occurred to me to attempt it before race day, and by about the 6k mark, my knee was all "hajimaaaa!" I had never run the full distance before and was shooting for maybe 65 or 70 minutes. I came in under 62! Olleh!

My next races are a 5k on Oct. 2, 10k on Oct. 30, maybe another on Nov. 14 and the Warrior Dash 5k obstacle race back home on April 16. I'm so excited!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jeju for summer vacation

I went to Jeju island, the Hawaii of Korea, with Adventure Korea for four days. This is a ridiculously photo-heavy post, and probably half of them are not safe for work. Enjoy.

Lion's Head Rock at Udo

Outside some amusement park we did not enter. I was thrilled to get this in just one shot.

A tea farm and museum

Trekking (Does it resemble Hawaii?)


Loveland NSFW- a sculpture park created by university students

We had gotten pretty burned out on disgusting Korean tourist food and found a place that served cheesesteaks. This is what we got.

And this is how we felt about it, though to be fair, it tasted great.

We got to do a hedge maze!

Jeju has famous women divers who hold their breath for a really long time. And I got a doll!

Lava tube

It was dark.

We went horseback riding. They made us wear a funny hat. This is how I feel about it.

We hiked up to see some volcanic craters and stuff.

That's our beachfront hotel on the left. And we had the only room of our tour group with an ocean view!

Beach party preparations

Let the shenanigans commence!

Consequently, I spent my last day recovering napping under a lovely palm tree and missed kayaking.

Mud Festival (belatedly)

I just realized that I failed to post anything about my July 24 to 25 visit to the Boryeong Mud Festival, a festival which is exactly what it sounds like. I went with Adventure Korea and ran a 5k race with the sun beating me like a red-headed stepchild, in the mud, on a sprained ankle. It was fun. And then we went to the festival.

A big thank you to Anthony for taking most of these pictures since I didn't have a waterproof camera.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Typical Korean b.s.

Yesterday our morning classes went on a field trip for some sort of sex-ed presentation. We native teachers didn't go, but we still had to come into work at 9 a.m. to clean whiteboards. How long do you think it takes four teachers to clean eight whiteboards? The answer is not three hours.

So I brought in my laptop and cranked out three travel articles for a new Web site, 1122 words in about an hour, and I was feeling sluggish and uninspired.

As it turns out, the spray cleaners we were given to use on the whiteboards should absolutely not ever be used on whiteboards. After a single writing on the newly cleaned boards, the erasers fail to erase anything and now leave horrendous black streaks worse than any ink accumulation *before* the so-called "cleaning." Super.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The New York Times printed an article about South Korea's struggle with racism. Much as I appreciate an article highlighting these problems, I could do without the "Oh, pity the poor South Koreans who get shit for associating with foreigners" slant. Did it even occur to the writer to look at this from the perspective of foreigners themselves? Surely those who are victims of racism would be important to interview for such an article. What do you think?