Archive for the 'adventures' Category

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”.

Update

The rumor was true.  My Supervisor from Hell™ is indeed being transferred to Naju, and so I am getting a new one on Monday.  I’ve already met the guy, and he’s awesome.  His English isn’t great, but it’s better than SfH’s, and he’s very friendly, has been to the states, and loves both Boston and the Sox.  So, this bodes well.  Maybe my luck is changing, eh?

First week of the new semester went well.  Korean kids spend much of their vacations in various other forms of school, so there isn’t as much of a post-summer rowdiness issue as I have experienced in teaching in the US.  But, there’s still some, so I took this week relatively easy for them.  Next week though, it’s back into the abyss.

I’m really, really enjoying my new scooter.  Makes getting around the island quite easy and pleasant.  It also makes it easier for me to get around to take photos like these:

Field of Sunflowers

Field of Sunflowers

and

Dolduksan

Dolduksan

I can theoretically drive it all the way to Mokpo, but I’m not quite that brave yet.  Maybe after another week or two, once I’m more comfortable with the highways.

Apparently, come October, I may be essentially the only foreigner on the island. They can’t find replacements.  The irritating Torontonian (or whatever they call themselves) left in August, and he taught at the high school. Lisa, who teaches at the “English Town”, leaves to go home to Nova Scotia in October.  There’s a guy who works at the local hagwon, and while I see him more these days, it’s still not really regular. That leaves me, that guy, and E. However, E is married to a Korean, and we (the other foreigners) don’t see her that often, and we’ll see even less of her when her baby is born in September.

According to the recruiter that works to find jobs for this area, nobody wants to work in rural areas, and they’re having a really difficult time finding anyone to come work here. Hopefully they’ll find someone soon, or I’ll have to recruit someone myself!

Recap Part 1!

So. A lot has gone on lately!

Last Friday, JETI (both us teachers and our trainees) went on a field trip to Namwon (to see something involving the Korean folktale Chunhyangga) and then to Wolchulsan. The first leg of the trip was entertaining, mainly because they insisted in dressing up us silly foreigners in traditional Korean clothing, dressed as the characters from the story. Here’s me as the love interest:

Me as Chunhyang

Believe me, those clothes are fucking hot to be in in this weather.

It was neat, and there was a very detailed temple (the shots in the two posts before this one are from there), though the lunch we had was so spicy that about half the foreigners started to feel ill, myself included. For the second half of the day, we went to Wolchulsan, which took almost two hours to drive to. Wolchulsan is Korea’s smallest national park, but it’s quite beautiful. If you can make it up the mountain (mountains in Korea are phenomenally steep – often almost straight up), there’s a very wobbly “cloud bridge” that spans two minor peaks. Sadly, we were running out of time, so I didn’t get too many shots. Here’s one of me on the bridge (it’s a long way down from there, believe me):

 

Me on the Wolchulsan Cloud Bridge

Me on the Wolchulsan Cloud Bridge

 

My friend Colin thinks that should be captioned “sweaty on a bridge”. I kind of agree.

After Wolchulsan, we headed back to JETI, and me and the two teachers from Wando (Melisa and Dan) went into town and caught a bus to Wando. Unfortunately, there were no seats left, so Dan and I had to spend almost three hours sitting on the floor of the bus, in the aisle, but it wasn’t the end of the world. The ride down was quite pretty. When we got in, they ran into some other Wando friends (Wando is about twice the population of Jindo, and half the size) right off the bat, and they offered to put me up on their couch. I said I was fine with staying in one of the cheap motels nearby, but they said that there was some sort of beach day tomorrow that all the foreigners in the area were going to go to, so it would be easier to just stay with them so we could all go together.

Okay, that’s it for now, as I need to sleep. Tomorrow I will talk about: Wando (and Myeongsashimni Beach), Gwangju, Korean Fashion, finally having an “aw, I like Korea…” moment, and yesterday evening’s Three Stooges inspired antics.

BackPost

This is a post from July 18th that got lost in my masses of drafts.  It’s a bit out of date, but entertaining, I think:

As Marc said yesterday, “Life with [me] is always an adventure…”. Yesterday was no exception.

I got off work at 11, because my co-teacher had to go to Gwangju to pick his son up from high school (public schools have small dormitories here for students who don’t live conveniently close), so I came back to the apartment and finished my lesson plans for the camp I work a week from now, and then Marc and I picked something off the tourist map for Jindo and headed there on a bus, after dealing with the stationmaster, who I suspect sees me as a bit of a moron because I can’t read their bus schedule.

We headed to Namdoseokseong, a 13th century fortress that still has all of its walls intact, and a reconstruction of a couple of the buildings inside. The neatest part, to me, is that people still live almost entirely inside the walls, in the village. There were only 3-4 houses that were outside the walls. What was even neater was that the old roads and stone irrigation ditches were still there and still being used, virtually unchanged. I’m pretty sure that none of the houses inside were original, but many of them used the traditional stone/mud/thatch construction that was used for most of Korean history, so it was virtually the same as it would have been. Don’t worry, I will post photos soon.

Where the nuts part starts is actually when we LEFT the fort.

So, we had checked when the next bus left the station before we left, and then figured we’d track how long it took us to get there the first time, and then just add that to the new departure time, to figure out when to catch the bus back. By our calculations, it should have come around 5:15, so we got to the bus stop around 5. A few minutes after we got there, three old women were dropped off at the bus stop by a tractor, so we assumed that was a good sign that we were at least somewhat right about the timing. Nope. 5:15 passed. 5:30 passed. Around 5:30 the women were picked up by a car. That was disheartening. Around 5:50 I tried to talk to some old men who were just sitting around one of the buildings about having them call a taxi. They said, basically, “bus in 10 minutes!”. So I went back to the bus stop, since they seemed to think that it was better just to wait. Around this time, I decided to explore the tidal flats behind the bus stop. While chasing a crab around, I took a wrong step, sunk ankle-deep into the mud, and lost my shoe. I then had to dig around in the mud for my shoe, resulting in one muddy arm and one muddy leg (the other leg wasn’t exactly clean either). I rinsed myself off in an only slightly cleaner stream, and then found a utility sink to rinse off the dirty water. We waited around 20 minutes after I had talked to the old men. No bus. By that time, the men had disappeared. Around 6:30, two cars worth of Koreans pull up, get out of the car with a camera and tripod, and gesture towards us. We assume they want us to take a photo of them in front of the fort, so I agree. As it turns out, they want us IN the picture. Foreigners here are a bit of a spectacle, so this is not the first time I have been grabbed to be in a random photo. It’s a bit demeaning, but whatever. So we let them have us in their weird family/friend photo, and then since we did THEM a favor I asked them to call us a taxi, since their 8 year old son spoke some English. They gladly called, and the taxi finally came around 7:00 and we were back in Jindo around 7:30ish.

I am often entertained by this sort of zaniness that is so pervasive in Korea, though sometimes, such as that day, I do find it more on the frustrating end of the spectrum.  Makes life an adventure though, as Marc found out while he was here.  You have to be very flexible here in Korea, or you’ll go crazy.  It’s something I thought I was good at in the US, but Korea takes it to a whole new level, and I’m still adjusting, two months in.

Here’s a photo from the bus ride there that day:


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