Seoul, Weddings and a Love Motel

Trip Start Aug 24, 2006
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Thursday, November 30, 2006

So, i just set my coat on fire. I am sitting in my teachers room (staff room type thing) and there is a fan heater right beside me. The head teacher just came running over and gently pushed my chair away and started patting down my jacket as she dragged the heater away. I couldn't smell anything thanks to my cold. So i guess colds can be deadly - if only due to the fact you can't smell when you're on fire.

So....hmmm.....last tuesday i went for a massage. The parlour (reception desk, 6 beds and changing room) is all one L-shaped room. So i stripped down in the corner of the room and then got onto one of the preheated beds. Lovely. So I am lying next to emma, and she is lying next to some naked korean woman who seems to have some epic korean drama that she is telling everyone. Ofcourse i start giggling and so does emma and the two girls that are massaging us are saying things to one another and then laughing hysterically. One even had to stop massaging me for a minute because she was shaking so hard from laughing. Lovely. But they were sweet, so it was ok. I think they were laughing at seeing two beached whales on their beds. Something new for them. They kept leaning round and peering in at me and emma and saying 'You are booteefool' 'booteefool hair colour' and stuff like that. So the massage was lovely, then out came The Suction Machine. First, I want to make something clear: Koreans are insane. If I haven't made this clear enough in previous entries, I will give you another example now. Fan Death.

Fan Death basically means that you will die if you sleep in a room with closed windows and closed doors and leave the fan on. It will kill you because the fan creates a vacuum of carbon dioxide over your face and thus you die. I am NOT joking. Every single korean believes this. Try and find one and ask them. They also believe that EVERYTHING that you eat has a certain function. For example walnuts are good for your brain, and pear juice is good for preventing colds. Perhaps they are right about some of these. But anyways, my point is - koreans think everything is good for something. Bringing me round to suctioning - they believe that hoovering the body is good for circulation and thus weight loss. The girls kept pointing to the suction device and saying 'diet! you diet!' Which is something you always want an anorexic person to say to you when you're lying naked infornt of them.

So, out comes the suction cap (it is a clear circular nozzle about the size of the circle you can make with your hand if you do the underwater OKAY sign by touching your forefinger and thumb together). So, they place this on the top left hand side of your spine and suck your skin up into it. And i mean UP. My skin rose right up...about 4cm. So, they suck for 3 seconds and then release for 3 seconds, then suck for 3 and release for 3, then move onto the point below. They then repeat these steps for both sides of the spine. So, for the last week ive had 20 perfectly circular love bites down either side of my spine. I look like ive been kidnapped by aliens or have escaped from the matrix.

After they suction you, they hoover you - starting at your hips and skooshing up your back. Unfortunately i have some fat in my hips - so my sides aren't in a straight line - they curve a bit. So the hoover kept shooting off of me and into mid air. Excellent fun for me to watch them struggle with my fat. My fat actually made my giggle for once, rather than cry in disgust.

So, we promptly booked up for another 5 massages after that. Hilarious fun! The naked woman beside us got hoovered on her front too. And the face masks here are full face masks - you get your mouth and eyes pasted in too. Scary. I'm not ready for that yet tho.

So, that was my tuesday night. Wednesday night i played badminton for 4 hours straight then drank a billion litres of water afterwards. It was harsh and i couldnt walk for days afterwards, but i enjoyed it and needed to make up for the years that i haven't exercised for. I think i succeeded quite well!

When i was getting changed for badminton i decided to get changed in the toilet. Emma's school is quite new and rich - so they have 'throne' toilets (the ones you can sit on) whereas my school only has the squatting in the floor ones. Another example of koreans insanity. Anyways, the toilets at Emma's school also have etiquette bells - remember they are the ones you press when you are going to be a little noisy whilst you are..well...you know, and it plays songs of birds and crickets and jungle/rainforest type noises. How polite. So anyways I go to the bathroom and then ask if i can press the etiquette bell - since no-one else was in the bathroom (other than me emma and young-mi my co-teacher). Emma gives me the go-ahead cos ive never heard one. So i decide that i will flush the toilet first before pressing it. So i lean over to flush the toilet, and for some god-blessed reason i decide to lean across the toilet rather than bend down from infront of it and press the lever. But this is no ordinary lever, oh no, this is the Bum Spray lever. And water comes skooshing out at my face and hits the wall. At this point emma decides i'm taking too long and walks in and presses the etiquette bell in the cubicle beside me. So there I am screaming with water spraying at the wall infront of me and bouncing back and covering me and my new sports clothes in washing water and going in my shoes and all over the floor and there are birds and crickets chirping at me. And i couldnt run out of the cubicle because i was half way through getting changed. Oh my what an experience. It didn't help that emma and young-mi were roaring with laughter outside and ramming the door trying to get in and see the state of me. I will never forget that day. And i'm sure you never will either. Who puts Bum Sprays in school toilets? Especially powerful ones?! Ridiculous.

So, anyways, Thursday we had thanksgiving dinner at courtney's house with roast chicken, sweetcorn, rice, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, carrots, brocolli, gravy...i cant remember what else. I ate too much. But i needed to put the weight on that i'd lost from the night before. And eating all the calories in one meal was a great idea i thot.

So, at the weekend we went to Seoul. The capital of Korea. The place where there are more people than the entire population of Australia. And I've heard that Australia is a pretty big place. So you can only guess how quiet and quaint Seoul isn't. We were initially going to Seoul for one of my co-teachers wedding. However i managed to turn it into an escapade for 7 of us to all go up there. So i set my alarm nice and early so i could get up and curl my hair and make myself beautiful for the wedding. Low and behold the alarm didnt go off and so we had 20mins to get ready and get out. I dont know how we managed it. We also managed to get to the station on time and get on our train. So we arrived in Seoul (after me only being shouted at once from a korean man for talking too loud) and managed to get lost in only 3 different subway stations. Eventually got off at the right stop of our hotel. And by 'hotel' i mean 'love motel'. Where naughty people run off and stay for a night. The earliest check in is 9pm. Lovely. So we worked our way round backstreets and little alleyways where there were pigs heads just lying on the ground. Full ones and flattened ones just staring at you. Delicious!! Waiting to be eaten. If there was ever a time i was to become vegetarian - this would be it. So we got to a love motel, checked out the rooms and then dumped our stuff. The rooms have four different shades of lighting - spotlight, greeny/blue ambience, orange glow or black. Once we'd played with the lights sufficiently, we ran off to start shopping.

So Seoul is very unlike Daegu. Every 4th or 5th person there is a westerner. It was insane. I kept hearing people speaking English and spinning round to see who it was. In Daegu I can go a whole week without seeing another foreigner. So that was weird, especially since i'd only been on a train for 2 hours - it wasn't like i'd left the country or anything. So we barely arrived at our shopping destination (Itaewon) and we had to head off for Miss Lee's wedding. It took us 40 mins in a taxi to get there. I forgot that the entire population of Seoul would be driving like maniacs on the road at the same time that i needed to get to a wedding. Although, unlike usual, i wasn't late and i arrived on time for the wedding. The wedding was as i described before - the bride sits in a booth and gets her picture taken with everyone as they walk past. Then we all gather in the hall and the ceremony takes place and they say some things to the bride and groom like 'Have lots of babies' and things like that. I'm serious, that's what they say. Then they bow to each of the families and then to the guests and then get group pictures taken. Then its all over. I was given some free Japanese/Korean cakes. They are still in their boxes. Mainly because they are disgusting, and nothing to do with the fact that I've managed to restrain myself from eating them.

After the wedding Emma and I headed back to Itaewon to carry on shopping. We bought a couple of presents (mainly for ourselves) and then met everyone else and went for dinner. The bars are full of westerners. Except the majority of the westerners are american - and the majority of them are american soldiers. Need i say more? Euch. They aren't as handsome/amazing/funny/brave/strong/witty as some crazy person has apparantly told them. Yet they ALL seem to believe it. It is such a shame. Poor boys. One must feel sorry for them.

So the next day we walked around the corner from our Love Motel and went to a traditional market in Insadong. Where only the seller debates the price with you. For example I picked something up and the seller came over and said "$10" then i nodded and continued looking through the selection then he came back and said "ok. $9". But i hadn't even said anything? So i bought a few things and asked for a lower price (it should have been $13, but i said i'd give him $12) and he wasn't having any of it - like it was as if i had insulted him?! But he started the lowering business? Huh, confusing. I don't get it here!!

Other sellers would laugh at me and give me the price i wanted and then free things and would say "You will be business woman! Berry berry good!". Which cheered me up.

Everyone in Seoul speaks English, no matter how many times I would ask for something in Korean, they would answer me in English. Even giving me the price of things in dollars.

So we finished spending our life's savings and headed back to the station to get a train to Daegu. We got the last 5 tickets on the train. I have never seen so many people in my life. They were like ants absolutely everywhere in this huge huge station.

Since being back in Daegu I have had another massage, played badminton again, been to costco and bought syrup and candy canes (amongst hundreds of other things) and now I am going to Courtney's to eat bread and pasta. Delicious! Can't believe it's the weekend again!!! Going to Seomun market tomorrow to practise not buying puppies and then going to the orphanage to practise not stealing little adorable children. Hopefully have a quieter day on sunday and will upload the millions of pictures then!!

Have a nice weekend!! xx
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