Archive for September, 2008

Changing Winds

Yesterday, the winds shifted, and autumn has officially arrived.

At some point in the year, the winds in Korea shift from being from the west, originating in Manchuria, to being from the north, originating in Siberia.  This air, brought in by the Siberian winds from the steppes of Russia, has a very different quality.  Not only is it markedly chilly (duh…), but it is also clearer, cleaner, and very windy.  Usually this shift happens very quickly, but here in Jindo, it took one night.  On Thursday, it was hot.  That night, we had a HUGE windstorm strong enough to knock over several motorcycles (not mine, thankfully), and on Friday morning I woke up to chilly (upper 50s) air that I can only describe as smelling like autumn.  It’s not quite the same smell as New England, but it has similar notes of rotting leaves and turned earth, and it has that crispness that only comes in autumn.  It’s about as close as I can get to being back at home, and I’ll take what I can get.

The quality of the light is also different.  It’s more intense, in a way.  During most of my time here, the light is very diffuse.  It’s sunny, but there’s a lot of haze at high altitude, and so while it is very bright, it is sometimes difficult to even locate the sun in the sky.  As of yesterday, the skies have had distinct clouds, and the sky above them is a deep blue.  The sun that shines gives off an almost white light, except in the evening, when it becomes a deep yellow.  It makes far more of a difference in how Jindo looks than one would think.

I have been really missing New England of late, and I find that this recent shift of weather has helped with that considerably.  The only downside is that it does signal that Korea’s famously bitter winter will begin soon.

I’m out of the mold pit!

I’m out of the mold pit and back into my old but newly renovated place.  There were some complications in the move, and they switched me into a different apartment that is now (unfortunately) next to my co-teacher (so I feel somewhat like I never completely escape work), but in general, I’m exceedingly happy to be back in my old building, and I will have internet again starting this evening.  My internet at Gunnae was the school’s internet, and so it was censored, which was irritating as hell, because it blocks some completely random sites, including some teaching sites.

Anyway.  I’ll post a video walkthrough of my place once I get everything put away.

*sigh*

Just the thing I like to hear from my co-teacher:

Me:  “So, how is the move tomorrow going to work?”

Co-teacher:  “I have no idea.”

Me:  “Can you find out?”

Co-teacher:  “Maybe?”

Yet another banging-my-head-against-the-wall moment.

From a drive the other day…

I sometimes drive around the island aimlessly on my scooter, and sometimes it yields good results.  Here’s a shot I got the other day, during one such drive:

Boats in Paengmok

Boats in Paengmok

Stuff.

So, uh, the Korean Air Force has been flying fighter jets in low passes over Jindo all morning.  It’s really loud, and more than a little unnerving.  For the first 3 months I was here, I never heard a plane – commercial or military, but in the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing fighter jets on a daily basis.  Korean Army, what are you up to?

My Chuseok vacation ends tomorrow, but I’m teaching at Jodo, which is my new favourite school, even though it’s a long (1.5 hour) commute.  Plus, when I get back in the evening, I will be moving back into my apartment, which I am so excited about.  I am glad to be getting out of the mold pit.

Surreal News

 

So, rumors abound that Kim Jong-il has had a serious stroke (this one seems pretty confirmed), or perhaps is even dead and has been replaced by body-doubles.

Things could get very interesting here, very soon.

Reunification, if it were to happen, while ultimately eventually a good thing, could seriously cripple South Korea for a very long time, and, consequently, have a major effect on Asia and the world in general, as well. Though, seeing the end of the last Stalinist state in the world could be very, very interesting.

Huzzah!

I only live in the mold pit for another week!  w00t!  For those of you curious as to what I mean by “mold pit”, here are some photos, for explanation:

gunnaehouse-1
gunnaehouse-3
I’ve been living in this place since early August, but never really moved in, since I was told I would only be here for a few months.  It’s really gross – there’s only one working light, there’s bugs (including centipedes) everywhere, there’s a huge mold problem (as seen above), and they’re building a new building about 50 feet from my window and start work on it at 6am.  I like being even further into the countryside (my current village has fewer than 100 people, I’d estimate), but this house is….gross.

School Attire

Some of you have asked what I wear at school, when teaching. So, for a week or two I’m going to take a shot while I’m at school, to show you.

Here’s last Friday’s:

School Attire - Sept. 5th

The only thing inaccurate (in terms of being atypical) in this shot is my shoes. Generally I wear a pair of indoor-only flats that I carry around in my storage compartment on my bike, as in Korea, you don’t wear “outside shoes” when you’re in a school/non-western restaurant/house. However, that day I had forgotten them, and all the “loaner” sandals that were even remotely my size had been already taken, so I was allowed to wear my own shoes for the day.

Stuff.

Today was a school holiday, so I decided to drive the scootercycle to Mokpo.  The drive to Mokpo was fine. Driving around the city was a bit challenging, as I had no clue where I was going, but the drive there was fine. As predicted, it took about 45 minutes to get there, a full half-hour less than the bus. Most of the drive was at 80-90kph, which is generally about as fast as I’m comfortable with on the twisty roads here in Korea. I have a crate on the bike now though, and when it has weight in it, it really helps with turning and wind gusts, so I may just keep my bag of dog food in there permanently from now on, since I am always forgetting my tupperware containers of the food anyway. I think I’m just too light to really make the bike behave well. I get blown around a *lot*.

I went to E-Mart (Korea’s answer to Target, or a “HyperMarche” in France) and bought another rug (I have 5 now. Korea doesn’t do anything other than like, doormat-sized rugs, so I have them all over the house), more dog food and treats (half the price they are here in Jindo. Ironic considering this is “the dog island”), a shirt and skirt, an anti-bacterial cutting board, and some more nice wooden chopsticks (Korea uses metal ones, which conduct heat). I was going to go to HomePlus to buy a second one of the skirt I got there last week that I like, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there, so after half an hour of driving around aimlessly, I went back to E-Mart and got a burger from the McDonalds there, before heading home.

Got home, and found that my co-teacher emailed me asking for a document and photo I have given them 4 separate times (Korea is chronically disorganized). The document was a format my computer (and, for that matter, pretty much any western computer) can’t read, and she wanted a new photo taken as well. She says she wants this tomorrow, and yet she sent the email at 6pm, after the photo studio had closed. Korea is notorious for informing people of things and asking for things at the absolute last minute, and it is one of the things that I find truly frustrating. They seem to have major problems with thinking about the future at all, and it really, really shows.

Okay, no more griping. Time for dinner.

Here, have a photo:

 

3 minutes from my house...

3 minutes from my house...

Some recent videos…

So, I figured I’d post some of the video clips I made this weekend.  Enjoy.

 

This is the village I live in.  That video shows the main (only?) road.

 

That’s part of one of the ways I can get home from work.

 

This was video taken on a sidestreet in Jindo Eup, the county seat and main/biggest town on the island.

 

Some footage while driving near my house.  This starts off about 3 minutes from my house, and is of a road I drive all the time.

 

These videos were taken by putting my camera around my neck/shoulder and resting it on my camera bag, behind me, as I drove, hence why it looks “backwards”.


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