Seomun Market and other chat

Trip Start Aug 24, 2006
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Thursday, October 12, 2006

I think i have the squeakiest chair in the world at school. Everytime i breath it sqeaks. It's ridiculous and drives me insane!! I can't move without annoying everyone in the room.

Anyhoo, speaking of chairs, on monday night we went for korean food - Shabu Shabu. Koreans sit on the floor to eat. And I haven't yet taken up yoga in order to make me flexible enough that my legs don't go numb after 5 mins. The koreans seem to have this in-built folding mechanism that they use to just flop down onto the floor and look comfortable. I lean over and moan as i descend slowly towards the floor and try my best to sit with my legs crossed under me before i have to just sit with them straight out under the table and directly under the burning furnace that is cooking our food. It the best option of the few that i have.

I can't remember if i have told you about shabu shabu before? First, they bring over a broth which you bring to the boil on your little stove, then we added the seafood - crab, clams, mussels, shrimp, some kind of fish, two baby octopus (purple ones) and other things - once they have been swirled around in there for a while - you scoop them out in the soup and eat them. Next, you throw in the raw beef and let it cook (which takes an average of 4 or 5 seconds) and then scoop that out and eat that. Keeping in mind this is a korean restaurant - so we already have dishes of kimchi, radish, fermented vegetables, different spicy sauces etc). Next, we throw in the noodles - huge thick japanese type noodles. Delicious!!! And finally, once we have finished the noodles and the broth, we put in rice with spinach and a raw egg and fry it on the bottom. When its done, they turn the stove heater thing off and we scrape the rice from the bottom. Mmmmm yummy its good!!! One of my fave's!!! Apart from the seafood chat.

So, that was our monday night!! Tuesday, it was mid-term day at school. So, jen and I went into school (as even though I am not teaching nor needed for anything else the vice principal still insists i come in). So, we sat about in my office for a while and everyone 'oo'd and aah'd' at her and told her she looked like Paris Hilton. And how she is soooo much more beautiful than emma or I. They have so much tact here.

After we saw all of the students leave we headed downtown to do some shopping!! We bought lots of ridiculous looking Korean things, but they make me laugh. So that justifies it!! After a few hours of retail therapy, we got the subway back to Igok and then met Mr Lee, his wife, Ed and Emma to go and play basketball. It was brilliant fun! I am so unfit its ridiculous! But i loved playing - and my defense was amazing - i got quite competative!! Hahaha!! Once we were adequately red in the face, we hopped in the car and went downtown for some real good sushi!! Mmm! I love it!! Makes me happy! So, during dinner we got a Korean lesson. It is lovely that we are all so keen to learn korean and are always asking how to ask for things in korean. I love it!! My vocab is growing every day!!! The hardest part is the pronounciation - its so different!!!

Wednesday after sitting around in school for the third day in a row we went to seomun market which is just a huge market selling absolutely everything!! We arrived and walked past about 50 women who just sit on the ground and sell vegetables at the side of the street. The only pre-requisite is that you must be over 60 years old. There was one i swear is at least 100years old. She appeared to be eating more garlic than she was selling. Poor little soul!!

The shops have a few items of clothing hanging outside their shop - and the inside is basically their store house - where everything is kept mashed up with one another - no box's or labels or anything!! I dunno how they find anything!!!

We had 'mandu' which is dumplings in a wee random shop. With some random old women. I love it!! They just stand and talk at you then laugh hysterically! It's funny! Then we practise our korean on them, which is always useful.

Further into the market they sell loads of silks for making traditional clothing, and food stalls are set up right alongside the shops. Everything is sold here - and categorisation is weird - some peoples stalls look like they're not sure what it is they intended to sell - they have so many different things on them.

Near the back of the market are the live food stalls - chickens, ducks, hare's, cats, and puppies. The cages were stacked full - no free range organic animals here!! We were looking at the puppies and there were about 7 per cage. Delicious. And there were two cats in a cage. Which was taken away, and then brought back empty. Jen thought she was going to be sick. It was quite disturbing, but you've gotta try and accept it. What did bother me was the way the animals were treated. The woman was just grabbing animals by any limb she could. And every animal was shaking in its cage. We asked how much a puppy was (in the shops here they cost around $200 - half that for UK money). The puppies in the market cost $20. They are for eating and so worth very little. Most didn't even have their eyes open they were so young - they shouldn't have been away from their mothers. We almost bought them all. Gutted!!!

Shortly after walking away from the 'Pet Corner' a motorbike came wizzing past us and the driver was so busy staring at jen that he turned his bike too fast and scraped the metal pole sticking out the back along emma's back and knocked her over. It's ridiculous here. In the tiny wee streets where people can hardly fit, these bikes come along and actually knock you out the way.

I'm not gonna link my stories anymore - I'm just gonna give you the info that I wanna.

Whilst buying some korean key-rings, some people came running over, set a camera up right infront of us and started filming us. Weird. We weren't sure what to do. We started talking in korean and the woman kept swatting us and saying things in English because she wanted to show off infront of the camera. Anyways, supposedly we were on tv last night. One of my students said to me 'Teacher Teacher!! You at Seomun Market?'

I said 'Yeh!! Did you see me there? Were you there?!'
She said 'No. I saw you on tv'.

The things i learn in class. Korea is bloody crazy!!! And remember emma's music concert? It was on tv the past two nights! Haha!

Well, I have recently returned from my Japanese lesson. Yes, that's right. Japanese. And yes, I live in KOREA where they speak KOREAN. But, as with most things - i was conned into this. The teacher asked me if i wanted a japanese lesson - and i said yes. Thinking she would come over right there and then and tell me some japanese words - whilst i have an english-korean translator with me. Next thing i know she has returned with her diary and is scheduling in a weekly meeting time. This is ridiculous. So, anyways, yesterday i receive this message on my computer (via the internal school messaging service)

How are you
it is a Japanese teacher.
Under remembering cyo?
It is the first study tomorrow 12th Thursday 5 instruction 4 layer consultation thread.
The compiler English puts out percentage of petty above, the bedspread.

This is what I have to deal with. So today I turned up not knowing how scared to be. And it turns out the whole lesson is going to be translated via this translating device that she has. Like the babelfish website - where it translates literally and thus in the wrong order with the wrong words. She typed something today that was translated, i cant even remember what now, and then she said 'Go. Type. Respond'. Bloody hell. I didnt have a clue what I was responding to because i'd just nodded in agreement, like i always do. So, she gave me my japanese lesson which was excellent fun - particularly because she translated the japanese into korean for me. Which makes it so much easier. And now i have homework of memorising and writing for next week. Great.

I hate this nodding in agreement thing. Most of the time it works. And I am only trying to be polite and try my best at everything, however it always seems to backfire on me. Dammit!

Finally, to end this novel, I just want to quickly tell you about sushi last night. I was napping, and was wakened to Mr Lee calling emma asking her to come down and meet him for sushi. So Jen, Emma and I met him and went for 'sushi'. Again, I was conned. We arrived at the front of a live fish restaurant - as in the fish and crabs and octopusi (whats the plural for octopus?!) were swimming about infront of me. We were marched upstairs to meet 40 of emma's school teachers and were seated with a huge platter of diced raw fish infront of us. For the four of us to share. Raw fish and wasabi. No rice. Last time I checked this wasn't the definition of sushi, but when i politely asked in an inquisitive manner (trying not to show my fear) i was merely informed that this was Korean Sushi. Excellent. I've done that stupid nodding in agreement/ i'll try everything once thing. And look where it's ended me this time! Bloody hell. I hate disappointing koreans and not liking their food and i try my best to show my appreciation. However there is only so much slimey raw fish i can eat on its own. Euch. Crazy.

I will go now. It is time to go home. It has taken me all day to write this - in between learning japanese and being given the translation in korean, and teaching classes because miss lee only has one eye working, and working with a supply teacher that doesnt speak englishee. I am never bored here! Sorry for the story overload!!! See you soon! xxxxx
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Comments

danp
danp on

This was hilarious, I had so much fun reading your experiences in Korea.

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