Archive for the 'bike' Category

The Human Popsicle

Oh my god. That was the coldest I’ve ever been in my life, I think.

I drove my motorcycle to school in this:

snowday-2

(that’s actually yesterday’s snow, but today was the same, possibly even harder) 

My WWII German parka got its trial-by-fire, and by the time I got to school, the formerly gray parka was completely white in front. Snow was plastered to my entire front, and I had to wipe off the front of my facemask every 5 seconds. I wish I had a photo, I must have looked hilarious.

In my defense, it wasn’t snowing until about 5 minutes into my 20 minute drive, so I had no idea.  I would not normally drive a bike in conditions like that.

Even wearing two pair of dense wool socks as gloves while I was driving, my fingertips still hurt, after 10 minutes in a heated room.

Here’s a video of the snow.  It’s choppy, but you’ll get a basic idea:

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!

Stuff.

Having the new bike is really helping with my mood, in general.  I hadn’t realized how much it was bothering me to have my travel restricted to the (very limited) bus service here.  I’ve been driving it around parts of the island I hadn’t even previously realized existed, and coming across people who I’m quite sure have never seen a Real Live Foreigner™ before, from their reactions.  It’s been enjoyable, and I’ve been getting some good shots.

That said, with the recommencing of school duties today, I found myself rather depressed this morning, for some reason.  In general, I do pretty well here – I’m not really sad, or lonely.  But, sometimes it does hit me broadsides.  I miss having Marc next to me when I wake up, I miss the forests of both Massachusetts and Virginia, and I miss being able to feel laid back.  The communication barrier adds a general level of stress to my life here, and while it is low level, it is constant, and that can begin to wear on me.  I’m hoping to go up to Seoul for Chuseok so I can attend Quaker Meeting again, as I think it will help.  I have found that attending Meeting really does wonders for my mood here, as it provides a reasonable amount of familiarity, something I sorely lack here most of the time.

Without further ado, here’s two photos from yesterday’s drive:

 

Seaweed Farmers in Paengmok

Seaweed Farmers in Paengmok

and

My bike at sunset in the most rural part of the island.

My bike at sunset in the most rural part of the island.

 

Classes start for me today at about 11am.  Since it’s the first week for the kids, I’m giving them an easy day.  I’m going to have them each tell the class three things about their vacations, and then I’m going to call on random kids and have them try to remember what other students did.  Simple, easy for me (I’m a little tired after spending 4 nights sleeping on someone’s floor), relatively easy for the students, and will help to ease them back into the idea of being in school again.  That’s this week’s basic lesson plan.


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