Archive for February 2007

The unexpected joys

Well, I now know exactly what kind of dog the Koreans eat. Interestingly enough, it is only one type – a big, beige, fluffy, husky looking dog.  On Saturday I went to the open market near our dong. Normally, I love outdoor markets, especially in foreign countries but this one was a little harder to handle. First , you have to get over the smell of the silkworm pupa being cooked (trust me it’s disgusting). Then, you have to navigate through the fish section – you know the smell. But the seafood section even grosses me out. Next to all the things that normally don’t grace a western table – squid, octopus, eel, tuber thingys,  they also have this gross delicacy called something like warty sea squirt. It looks like………mum, I can’t even describe it without putting you off your food so I won’t. But trust me, you never want to see one let alone eat one. Once the gagging had subsided, I made it into the meat section. There are rows and rows of cages filled with chickens, duck, geese, pheasant, goats and dogs. Then next to each cage is a huge slab of cut up meat. Surprisingly, dog looks a lot like beef – very dark red. Sometimes you would see a whole dog that looked like it had been fried. The hair had been burnt off and the entrails removed but tail, teeth and paws were all still attached making it unmistakeably a dog carcass. That was a little tougher to see, all hanging above the live dogs. The irony of course is that you will see Koreans walking their own little poodles up to the cages and buying a dog to take home. When I have travelled outside of Seoul I have often seen this type of dog caged up and now I understand why.

On a lighter note, the lovely yellow dust is starting to blow over here. This is the dust from the Gobi desert that blows across China, picking up all sorts of pollutants along the way. It will occasionally cover the ground in yellow dust and you have to be very careful not to spend much time outdoors on these days. Luckily the US army has a website to check the dust levels so now you too can check in and see which days I won’t be breathing!


Add comment February 26, 2007

The pics that I promised.

Here are the photos from leah’s birthday that I promised I’d put out.

school-and-leahs-birthday-night-068.JPGStarting out the night with Leah and Lindy.

school-and-leahs-birthday-night-059.JPGWith Angela.     

   school-and-leahs-birthday-night-067.JPG With Robyn.

The group expands……….


                                (Sophia and Robyn)            


( Young and J)          (Shevin, Angela, Sophia)


(lots of random friends)


(John)                       (Robyn)

Then things got a little silly. Turns out we have watched way too many episodes of America’s Next Top Model and now fancy ourselves as aspiring models. Here are our attempts (remember Tyra’s advice is 1,2,3, turn and pose, click):


I know. We have a ways to go!

But I have to compete with   school-and-leahs-birthday-night-108.JPG

school-and-leahs-birthday-night-051.JPGLindy apparently spent so much time posing (back at the house before alcohol ever got involved) that she had to be woken up!school-and-leahs-birthday-night-153.JPG

By the end of the night we were shocked by our own photos. school-and-leahs-birthday-night-159.JPGschool-and-leahs-birthday-night-143.JPG

1 comment February 21, 2007

So much to do……

wow! Things really got busy there for a while. First, we had Leah’s birthday – lots of fun, and I promise I’ll post pics next. Then, Valentines day when I got a great package from Brian with movies, chocolates, bubble bath, perfume. The boy did well! From students I got a further 2 boxes of chocolates,  a chocolate rose, a real rose and lots of cards. From the headmaster (previous donater of sweet potatoes and toothpaste), I got a gift set of……….wait for it……………..shower gel. Yes, I now have 4 large bottles of shower gel, 2 refill packs and a loofah. Do we really smell that bad to the Koreans?

Anyway. Right after Valentines it was time for lunar new year. Similar to Chinese New Year, all the Koreans go visit families and pay respects to ancestors. For us, it meant a half day on Friday and a full day off on Monday. With all this free time, we decided to go snowboarding. We left at 2pm Friday anticipating lots of heavy traffic. Actually we made the 2 and a half hour trip in 3 hours. Pretty good I’d say. Of course it helps that we, uneducated foreigners unused to the road rules here in Korea, drove the shoulder the entire way. Ah, stupid white person privileges.

The short trip meant that we arrived there with plenty of time to unpack, eat dinner and relax a bit before the slopes opened for evening tickets at 6pm. Most of our group were staying in the hostel but I stayed with Sam and Robin at a condo there owned by a student. It was a great place – cute kitchen, nice living room, western bathroom, lots of games and movies. The funniest part though is that I still can’t get used to the lack of beds. Even in a great apartment owned by wealthy Koreans with beautiful furniture all around, you will open the bedroom door and find nothing. Just a bare floor waiting for them to put out their yo’s. 

Boarding that night was great. The whole place was pretty empty but it was also very pretty and completely decked out. It turns out we were there the same weekend as the International Olympic Committee who are evaluating the resort as part of their bid to host the 2014 Winter olympics. Everything was half price and top quality.

We stayed on the slopes till 11pm then had a few beers and went to bed. Next morning we were up early for breakfast (there is even a Starbucks up there), and on the slopes by 8:30. Abbie and I, both beginners, spent the day together trying not to hurt ourselves too badly.  We made it to the long green slopes and by the end I was able to make the big S shape down the hill going toe, heel. I was going fast enough that when I fell, I slid, bumped, tumbled and crashed. Of course this happened multiple times leading to my Sunday on the couch when I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I have never been so sore – my neck, my shoulder, back, arms, wrists, all the way down by body. But it was absolutely worth it!! I can’t wait to go again.

I’m bad a**!!How I looked coming down the slopes (and yet somehow the workers all knew I wasn’t Korean)

school-and-leahs-birthday-night-172.JPGI’d like to point out how coordinated I look considering the only part of that outfit that I own is the jacket.

Saturday night we got back in time to stop by a house party at one of the apartments and then head into Apgujeong for J’s birthday. Reminder: J is Adam’s navy friend. We got all dolled up and went to this very swanky club. Leah and I thought we were in the twillight zone for a while as we kept losing our table. I mean honestly, how do you lose a table of 8 people? Turns out that the bar rotates so every time we returned from the dance floor, our group really was in a different spot! We were pretty tired from boarding so we didn’t stay out long and made it to bed about 2:30am.

Sunday was the best day ever though. Six hours of Gray’s Anatomy, the entire day laying on my couch watching TV and reading magazines. Every time I moved it was painful but most of the day was great. The best feeling of course was knowing that we still had a day off on Monday.

Add comment February 21, 2007

Did you wonder?

Ever wonder how different our school is? Here is our lunch menu for the week:

Monday: mushroom soup, stewed pork rib, panfried kimchi, green salad, kimchi.

Tuesday: Seollong tang (it’s a soup), pan fried beef, jelly salad, green leaves salad, radish kimchi.

Wednesday: Military soup, pan fried fish, stir fried broccoli and mushroom, cucumber salad, kimchi.

Thursday: green leaves soup, stewed beef and egg, jabchae, lettuce salad, kimchi.

Friday: fried rice with kimchi, miso paste soup, stir fried chicken with pepper sauce, sweet potato salad, green leaves salad, kimchi.

As you can see Kimchi is a staple of the diet here and after7 months here, I will actually eat about one piece per meal (the best way to eat it is fried in pork fat). Kim chi is a fermented cabbage that is buried in big pots over the winter. Then it is served in this really spicy red sauce. Oh, and by the way…….jelly salad is really disgusting. ………and I have no idea what military soup is.

Add comment February 13, 2007

It’s that time of year

Koreans love to give gifts and so they are extremely excited about upcoming Valentine’s Day. I tried to go shopping on Sunday – never an easy thing as it seems to be the day when the entire country decides to go shopping. But, the shops were full of gift sets for Valentines. Now, these are not the typical gift sets you might think of in the US. Not candy, chocolate, wine. No. These were gifts sets of spam, olive oil, anchovies, octopus, tea, and the list goes on. It seems that anything you regularly buy can be put into a gift set so that you have enough to last you for the next few months as well as a pretty box to keep it all in. So far this year I have received only 2 gifts from the school- 11lbs of sweet potatoes, and a box of shampoo, toothpaste and soap that will last me for years. Am I right to be worried about this day???

Add comment February 12, 2007

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